Monthly Archives: July 2016

Baddeck by Bras D’Or

We spent one night in Baddeck so it was really not much more than a staging post on our way to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Before we set off we took a look around this pretty lakeside town.  The fog provided an amazing backdrop to the lighthouse.

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Our next stop was the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.  Most people know that he invented the telephone but we were unaware of the many other inventions in which he was involved.  Although Mr Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and lived in Boston and Washington in the USA, it was Baddeck where he and his wife made their home and truly lived their lives.

Here are replicas of a couple of his other projects – the Silver Dart aircraft and HD4 hydrofoil.  The hydrofoil was the fastest vessel on water at the time.

Alexander Graham Bell was involved in teaching deaf people to speak.  His wife Mabel was deaf.  He was also a co-founder of National Geographic.

In so many ways, he was a man well ahead of his time.  Check that quote from him on this 2009 poster.  “Our coal and oil are going to run out one of these days and we’ll be without it and we’ve got to develop methods or substitutes for these fuels.”  1922

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I think the world needs a few more visionaries like Alexander Graham Bell.

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On the Move

Staying in Halifax and surrounds for 5 days enabled us to see a good range of scenery and attractions in the area.  Then it was time to move on to Cape Breton Island.  Although the island is part of Nova Scotia, I think they tend to regard themselves as different to the mainland.

As usual, we tried to take the ‘road less travelled’ and stay off the major highway once we left Halifax.  The extensive coastline of the maritime provinces offers something new at every turn and this time it was the Eastern Shore that shone.

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This tiny cottage was the centrepiece of another museum.  It was built in the 1850s for a fisherman, his wife and 7 children.  The flat-roofed ‘summer kitchen’ was added by the next generation.  They had 13 daughters – all raised in this house!

We also saw the barn, outdoor wash-house and the chicken run where we saw this beautiful Barred Plymouth Rock rooster.  He was just beautiful.

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More coastal scenery.

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The water is amazingly clear and the colours of the rocks are many and varied.

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We arrived in Baddeck for our first night in Cape Breton.  More about that next time.

 

 

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More of the Coast

After a hot and sunny day when we were sightseeing in Halifax, the next morning we were greeted with fog and drizzling rain which increased steadily during the course of the morning.

We had decided to have a relaxing morning and then head out in the afternoon to visit Peggy’s Cove and other waterfront locations in the area.  This was all relatively close to where we were staying.

The iconic lighthouse was overrun by busloads of tourists but I managed this shot with the minimum of people in it.

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Another oft seen image and it is not difficult to see why.

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This is a working maritime community and the lobster pots bear witness.

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The fog returned…….

Polly’s Cove is a little further on and as devoid of people as Peggy’s Cove is popular.  There is no signage, lighthouse or buildings.  Careful directions from a local meant that we found it or we would have been like everyone else and not taken a second look at the small, gravel area to pull off the road with a barely visible entrance to the track.

The track widens once you are away from the road.

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It narrows to a point where it is barely visible in the lush summer growth.

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Finally, we arrived at the cove.

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The Nova Scotian coastline has so many moods and there will be more to come in future posts.

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History in the City

Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia and the major city in the maritime provinces of Canada so it would be remiss of us not to take a closer look.

The vibrant and interesting waterfront is not surprising, considering the importance of the harbour from both a commercial and military perspective.

We visited the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic which is located close to the waterfront and the Halifax Citaldel Historic site.

It is definitely worth arriving at the citadel before midday to witness the firing of the cannon at noon.  It was all serious business and then there was time to pose for photographs.

All of the staff were in costume including the pipe and drum band.

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The views over the city and harbour were outstanding and it is easy to understand the importance of the strategic location of the citadel.

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There is an excellent military museum located within the citadel which we found most informative.

Then it was time to relax and eat our lunch in the tranquility of the Public Gardens before we made our way down to the waterfront.

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Our next stop was the Maritime Museum which was quite different to the Fisheries Museum which we had visited the day before.  We chose a small number of galleries to look at closely and one which particularly interested me was the displays and oral histories relating to the Halifax Explosion.  I had not heard of this at all before we came to Halifax.  You can read more about it here.  The Halifax region has certainly witnessed its fair share of disasters as it was the closest major city to the sinking of the ‘Titanic’ and many of the victims are buried in Halifax.  This is also detailed at the museum.

Although there is no evidence that pirates really kept parrots, Merlin is an interesting exhibit at the museum.

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Coastal Capers

On Sunday we headed down the coast from where we are staying at the Head of St Margaret’s Bay.  We drove as far as Lunenberg where we visited the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic.

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This was most interesting and the bonus was that it was covered by our museum pass that we had purchased the previous day.

We met this character on the wharf outside.

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A stroll around the town revealed many brightly coloured buildings.

On the way back we stopped at Mahone Bay, another waterfront township with a myriad of craft galleries and eateries.  There was a storm brewing.

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There was next to no rain and very soon it was bright sunshine and very humid again.

 

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A New Country

We have been without internet for a couple of days so I will try and and rewind to fill you in on what we have been doing.

After our visit to the JFK museum we flew from Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia and so began the Canadian leg of our trip.  The first night was spent in Halifax where we collected our hire car the next morning. We had booked a medium sedan but were fortunate to have the vehicle upgraded to a SUV.  This is the Fiat we are driving.

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It is comfortable and the additional clearance will come in handy on some of the rural roads.

On our first day we headed to New Ross and visited the New Ross Farm Museum.

There was an excellent display of the history of farm machinery from the very earliest hand-made implements.

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We saw heritage breeds of sheep as well as horses and cows and these very happy geese.

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A special quilt exhibition caught my eye.  I love these words from the lady who curated the display.  To me, this is the essence of patchwork and quilting.

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Here are a couple of examples for my friends who are interested in these crafts.

During my research I had discovered that there is a Nova Scotia Museum Pass which covers about 27 museums all over the province.  We bought a family pass and are confident that this will prove to be good value for money.  More about other museum visits in future posts.

 

 

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A Boston Legacy

If a brewery tour was a change of pace from the Bunker Hill monument, then the next day in Boston was completely different yet again.

We headed off to the JFK Presidential Library and Museum.  Apparently, there are 13 presidential libraries and this number will continue to grow with the completion of each successive administration.  The idea was conceived by Eleanor Roosevelt.

The JFK Museum is located next to the University of Massachusetts on the shores of Boston Harbour.

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This was the view from the entrance gallery through the pavilion to the water.

The first stop was a 20 minute movie which documented the life of John F Kennedy from his childhood up until his nomination as the Democratic Party candidate for the 1960  presidential race.

This is followed by multi media galleries which bring to life every moment from election night 1960 until his untimely death in 1963.

The admission cost was $14 per person and we felt that the experience was worth every cent.

Photography (no flash) is encouraged, however, I felt that photographing individual exhibits did not really do justice to the museum.  I chose some words which I would would like to share with you.

We could all do with a little hope and perhaps it is time for each and every one of us to take some responsibility.

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A reminder not to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.  Let us just get started…now.

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And finally, from his 1961 Inaugural Address, my personal favourite.

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I believe that this is what each and every one of us should be doing every day.

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Catching Up

We spent close to 24 hours travelling by train from Chicago to Boston so nothing too exciting to report.

In fact, the most memorable moment was when we both realised that we had left our hats behind on the train.  Oops!!  GMan had already decided that his had seen better days and he would probably replace it after this trip but we had do it rather sooner than that.  The temperature in Boston was well over 30C so we picked up these hats at the local chemist.

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Our accommodation in Boston was only a couple of blocks from the Bunker Hill monument so it was an easy stroll even in the heat.

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We climbed the 294 steps to the top of the monument.  At least it was not hot inside, thanks to the insulation properties of the huge granite blocks.  Here is a view from the top.

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In the afternoon we had a complete change of pace and took a tour of the Samuel Adams brewery.  It was interesting and informative as well as highly entertaining, thanks to our guide, Alicia.  We gained a bit of notoriety as those who had travelled the greatest distance to Boston.

I did not take any photos, however, these are the labels which also double as entry tickets.  They use different labels for each tour – there are about 10/day as it seems to be very popular.

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Chicago – The Final Day

Our last day in Chicago was another interesting mix.

We started by packing up to leave our accommodation but since our train did not depart until 9.30pm we needed somewhere to leave our luggage for the day.  I had done some research on this before we left home and discovered that there are lockers available at Union Station in Chicago.  I was pleasantly surprised as many transit hubs no longer offer this service since the 9/11 attacks.  It would be $16 for a locker large enough to store our 2 cases for the day.

However, it does not pay to be too independent.  I enquired at the Amtrak information booth in the main hall for directions to the lockers and the attendant asked if we had a private sleeper booking.  Once this was confirmed, he assured me that we did not need a locker as we were entitled to entry to the Metropolitan Lounge which includes a baggage holding service.  With our bags, safely stored at Union Station it was time to see some more of Chicago.

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The Bloomingdale Trail or 606 is a 2.7 mile elevated walkway northwest of downtown Chicago.  It can be accessed easily from Damen Station on the blue line.  The trail has been established on a portion of disused railway line and is modelled on the same principles as New York’s High Line Park which we visited in 2012.  However, it is different and almost double the length so is more of a trail than a park.  On a warm Chicago day there were plenty of cyclists and joggers making the most of it.  We simply strolled and took in the sights, including this piece made from recycled tyres.

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By this time we had worked up an appetite for lunch so headed to ‘Antique Taco’ which was a short distance away.  I did not take any photos as I was far too busy enjoying my meal but I can report that it was excellent and is deserving of accolades from Fodor’s.

Here is the menu so take a look.  We shared a salad which I am planning to replicate at home.  Sweet and spicy chicken tacos and mushroom tacos completed a memorable meal.

Just north of downtown Chicago is Lincoln Park, home to the free Chicago Zoo.  The walkway as you approach the zoo provides an excellent photo opportunity.

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Almost the first exhibit we saw was red kangaroos but the real highlight for us was the gorillas.  There was a group of about 8 of them, some quite young up to a huge mature male.  They seemed to be having a great deal of fun.

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The look on the face of the snow leopard reminded me of Mr K – they really are just big cats!!

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And back to Union Station to await our departure to Boston.

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Checking Out Chicago

We came to Chicago with very little in the way of plans or pre-conceived ideas.  In fact, the only ‘must do’ that we had was to eat a meal at ‘Antique Taco’ in Wicker Park.  This made Fodor’s list of top 10 taco meals in the US.  A big call, but one that we were keen to test out.  That had to wait until our final day and more about that in the next post.

Now, to catch up on yesterday.  I did not write this last night as the jet lag meant I had barely slept the night before.

During our first day in Chicago we noticed some posters for an exhibition titled, “America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s” at the Art Institute.  This sounded interesting so we added it to the itinerary for yesterday.

But first, we headed through Millenium Park to  the pathway which runs right beside Lake Michigan and walked south for a couple of kilometres.

This interesting artwork is a feature of the park.

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As we headed towards the lake this building caught our eye.  It looks like Federation Square (Melbourne).

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We returned via South Michigan Avenue and saw this impressive ‘advertisement’ for  the Terracotta Warriors which are currently at the Field Museum.

A bit further on was this interesting installation.

After lunch we visited the Art Institute.  The historic exterior of the building gives no indication of the modern, light-filled galleries in which are displayed an impressive array of all types of artworks.  As well as the exhibition “America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s”, we also saw a large collection of Impressionist works and some contemporary pieces.

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Here is a sample of a few of the Impressionist works.

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And something completely different.

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After leaving the gallery, we crossed South Michigan Avenue and noticed this sign.  Perhaps one day we will come back and take this drive all the way to Los Angeles.

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Finally, we headed a little further north along the lake to North Avenue Beach.  The weather was around 30C so there were plenty of people there but not too many in the water.  It was not hard to figure out why when we went in for a paddle – the water was cold!

I took this last photo as we were walking back along the waterfront with our ice-creams.  I think it captures Chicago perfectly.  A mid-west city by the water.

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PS  There has been a delay in posting this as the free Wi-fi on Amtrak was a bit dodgy last evening when I wrote the post.

 

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