Posts Tagged With: sightseeing

Against the Railings

On our previous visit to London we walked past Buckingham Palace and took a photo or two.  However, I found it the building quite featureless and bleak.

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We did not consider watching the changing of the guard as, by all accounts, it is very crowded and you have to arrive well ahead of time in order to get a decent view.  I felt that our three days in the height of summer could be better spent.

However, after doing plenty of research we decided to take a look yesterday.  We arrived about 45 minutes before the procession was due to begin and found that there were already some people milling around outside the palace gates and on the steps of the Victoria Memorial.  There was plenty of clear space at the railings so we chose our spot and settled in.

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It was a clear and sunny autumn day and the crowds built up to the extent that they were several people deep in front of the palace railings by the time the ceremony began.

We were rewarded with perfect views of the entire proceedings on the forecourt.

The guard in front of his sentry box.

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The Old Guard ready and waiting.

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The New Guard arrive.

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The Changing of the Guard.

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The band depart.

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Back to work.

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I am glad I had the opportunity to witness the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and I offer the following observations:

It is worth arriving early to ensure a spot where can get a good view.
Be prepared to be squashed against the railings.
Standing on the concrete pavement and pressed against the iron railings in 6C temperature is COLD – even when rugged up, including scarf, mittens and beanie.
It is something I have seen and done – ticked off the list and have no need to repeat the experience.

And the final word from the poetry of A A Milne………

Next, we moved on to something slightly more egalitarian.  An exhibition titled, ‘North: Fashioning Identity’ at Somerset House which we found interesting and at times, thought-provoking.

Just to remind us of the season, there is an outdoor skating rink and large Christmas tree in the courtyard of Somerset House.

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Adversity to Adventure

It is a few days since my last post about our day trip to Niagara Falls.  We had one full day after that in Toronto during which we caught up on some domestic chores, explored a little of the city and most importantly, spent our last night at a Cirque du Soleil performance.  It was magnificent and certainly worth seeing.

The title of this post comes a comment from a friend, “Great way to turn adversity into an adventure” and I will explain why.

We were up bright and early the morning after Cirque du Soleil as we were heading for home starting with a flight from Toronto to Chicago followed by another to Los Angeles and finally the long-haul flight across the Pacific Ocean to Brisbane.

However, things did not go according to plan and we arrived in Los Angeles too late to connect with the 11.20pm departure of the Brisbane flight so ended up being accommodated at the Sheraton Hotel near Los Angeles airport.  We were rebooked on the same flight the following evening so would have the whole day in Los Angeles.  We had never spent time here previously and so decided to make the most of the time we had and opted for the Hop On, Hop Off bus which does a route up the coast to Venice and Santa Monica.

After going to the end of the circuit at Santa Monica pier we hopped off and walked the majority of the way back to Fisherman’s Village near Marina del Rey.  It was a warm, sunny day and here is some of what we saw.

The lighthouse at Fisherman’s Village.

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Santa Monica beach.

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Santa Monica pier which also happens to be the end of the legendary Route 66.

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Some interesting merchandise at one of the beachfront stalls in Venice Beach.

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And artwork.

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Venice is so named for the canals which were designed in the early 1900’s but many were filled in and turned into roads in the 1920’s but a few canals remain.

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There was plenty to see and we made the most of our enforced stopover.

We are now safely at home so that is almost the end of posts on this blog for the time being apart from one final summation of the the costs.  I still have some calculations to do for that so it will probably not be until next weekend.

In the meantime, I will be back blogging at Organised Castle in the next day or so – once I have caught up on some sleep.

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Next Stop – Niagara Falls

Today we took a full day tour from Toronto to Niagara Falls.  I am struggling to remember the last time we did a group tour but I am really glad that we chose this option to visit Niagara Falls. Judy was an entertaining and informative guide who made sure that everyone had the best experience possible.  There were a couple of stops along the way, including almost an hour at the picture perfect historic town of Niagara-on-the Lake.

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There were flowers everywhere.

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Then it was on to Niagara Falls.

The buffet lunch at the Sheraton Hotel gave us our first real view.  This photo is taken from the table where we we sitting for lunch.  The falls in the foreground are described as the ‘American’ falls while the ‘Canadian’ falls which are regarded as the more spectacular ones are in the distance and partially obscured from this angle.

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Although the falls are a natural phenomenon there is plenty of man-made tackiness around them.  Some of the streets look like sideshow alley.

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However, the attraction of the falls drew us here and it did not disappoint.  We boarded the boat for a short cruise up to the base of the thundering waterfalls (‘Canadian’).  Even complimentary disposable ponchos did not keep us completely dry.  Being so close was an amazing experience but photographs were difficult to capture.

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Finally, the bus took us to where we could walk along the promenade which overlooks the falls on the Canadian side.  This was the highlight for me and I was able to take many photos from different angles.  Here are a couple of views.

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Amazing scenery and we are so glad to have had the opportunity to witness the power of the water first-hand.





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Ottawa in One Day

Like Montreal, we had just one full day in Ottawa.  Our run of luck with almost perfect weather ran out as the rain began on the evening we arrived and continued well into the next day.

After a slow start we braved the showery conditions and walked from our accommodation to Parliament Hill.

On our way we walked through the old market area of Bytown (the original name for Ottawa) and across the Rideau Canal.  The series of locks at the junction of the canal and Ottawa River proved irresistible as we watched a vessel make its way through.  It is all manually operated.  It took almost an hour for the boat to navigate all of the locks.

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Looking the other way along the canal.  In winter, the canal becomes a giant ice-skating rink as the entire waterway freezes.

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The Parliament Building has commanding position atop the hill on the southern bank of the Ottawa River and overlooks the city.

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As you can see from the sky in the photographs, it was not a great day for sightseeing but we persevered and took in as much of the city sights as we could.

The weather fined up late in the afternoon and we were able to go back to the Parliament Buildings to see the “Northern Lights:Sound and Light Show” set against the backdrop of the building.  It was well done with amazing technology and we really enjoyed it.

The next day was fine and sunny for our train trip to Toronto which is the final stop in our trip.  We have a couple of big events planned during our 3 nights there but more on that in the next post.

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Just One Day

We arrived in Montreal at 4.15pm yesterday and in just 24 hours we have managed to see and experience the highlights of the city.  Of course, this is only our opinion.

Once we had arrived at our accommodation, our first destination was Jean-Talon market which is literally about 100m from where we are staying.  At this time of the year it is bursting with fresh, local fruit and vegetables.

Our plan for today included the basilica, beer and a bus to the park.

We began by catching the subway into one of the city stations where we walked a short distance to the Notre Dame Basilica.  The architecture is more ornate than the one in Quebec.

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The interior is something to behold.

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Like Quebec City, Montreal has an old town area with a distinctly European feel, however, we had decided that it was probably enough to see the historic district in just one of them.  We did walk through part of old Montreal  on our way back to the subway and I felt our decision was justified.

From Mont Royal station we caught a bus to the summit of Mont Royal at an elevation of a little over 200m.  Judging from the number of passengers who were also clutching tourist maps, we were not alone in this endeavour.  The mountain is clearly most spectacular during the autumn months but we enjoyed a pleasant walk along the path to the lookout.

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The view of the city and the St Lawrence River.

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A return bus ride brought us back to the inner suburban area known as ‘The Plateau’.  Like many  inner city suburbs it has undergone somewhat of a rebirth in recent years.  Hidden in an unassuming building is what is regarded as one of Montreal’s top craft breweries, Dieu du Ciel.

The beer ‘menu’ is on wall-mounted  blackboards and there is no shortage of choices.  Most are their own brews with some other specialty beers as well.

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GMan tested a couple of different beers and we shared a vegetarian platter and some nachos.  By the time we left at 3.30pm there was a queue beginning to form outside.  It is clearly a very popular place with locals and tourists alike.

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Here are a couple of views of residences in the area which caught my eye as we walked back to our accommodation.


We enjoyed our brief experience of Montreal.  Our next stop is Ottawa.






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A Change of Pace

Yesterday we drove along the southern side of the St Lawrence River from Riviere du Loup to Levis where we caught the ferry across to Quebec.

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The ferry provides the best view of the Chateau Frontenac which is perched atop the cliff within the confines of Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  This imposing hotel opened in 1893 and is regarded as the most photographed hotel in the world.

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It has been a quantum leap from the rural areas of the maritime provinces to the bustle of a city.

We are staying in a quiet, residential area, a few narrow streets away from Rue Saint-Jean.  Although this street is several blocks from the walled city and its cobblestone streets, it is no less historic and interesting.

This is the oldest grocery store in North America – it opened in 1871.  We delved in and bought a few goodies.  The interior is absolutely amazing.

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Today we walked to the old walled city and took in some of the sights, along with hundreds of others.  A cruise ship in the harbour must have helped swell the numbers even further.

Part of the steps leading down to Lower Town.

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Some of the crowds on Petit-Champlain.

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Flowers are everywhere.

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An amazing mural – the front of the building really is brick and the bricks on the end are part of the mural.  Even from quite close, it is almost impossible to pick the difference.  I love the detail.

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After taking in the sights, we headed back to the Upper Town where we attended an organ recital in the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame.

The exterior is not particularly fancy.

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But the interior is a different story entirely.

We are here for 5 nights so there will be plenty more photos to show you in the coming days.


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An Historical Perspective

We spent 2 nights in Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick with no particular plans in mind.

One of the first priorities was to locate a dentist who could take a look at a tooth which I had chipped a night earlier.  That proved to be relatively simple and with the jagged edge smoothed I could happily continue the holiday and make an appointment with my dentist when we get home.

Officers’ Square seems to be at the heart of the historic precinct in Fredericton and we happened to arrive there a few moments before the scheduled Changing of the Guard enactment which happens each day during July and August.  However, the drizzle decided to turn to rain and there was an announcement that it was cancelled.

There was still time to fire the muskets, though.

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The display boards offer some additional information.

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Unfortunately, it was too wet for much sightseeing so decided on a quiet afternoon.

The next day dawned overcast but fine and we set off for King’s Landing Historical Settlement which is about 20 minutes from Fredericton.  This village showcases life in New Brunswick during the period from about 1780 – 1910 and includes farms, a school and various commercial activites such as the printery, sawmill and the inn.  Seeing the sawmill in action was undoubtedly the highlight of the visit.

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The wheel that drives the sawmill with individually cut wooden cogs.

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The exterior of the mill showing the dam wall and the water wheel.

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Kitchen duties

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And the runaway oxen

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Once again, the drizzle turned into rain so we decided it was time to adjourn to the King’s Head Inn for lunch.

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A quick visit to the cottage by the lake and then it was time to say goodbye to John and Shari with whom we had spent the day.

Thank you for a lovely time and it was great to meet up with you again.




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A Quiet Corner

We made our way along the Bay of Fundy to the small town of Saint Andrews in the south-west corner of New Brunswick.  We stayed here for 2 very relaxing nights and did very little apart from walk around the town which is located on the tip of a peninsula and is literally surrounded on 3 sides by water.

Here are some photos of the scenery and the historic buildings.

Pagan Point Nature Reserve

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Algonquin Resort which dates from 1914 in its present form following a fire which destroyed the original built in 1889.

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One of the early mansions

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And a more modest dwelling

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The courthouse

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And the gaol which now house the County Archives but is still open for tours.  We were provided with some fairly gruesome tales when we took a look inside.

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Just to prove we were inside the volunteer guide took this photo.

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A Tale of Two Tides

We are now on the south coast of New Brunswick, overlooking the Bay of Fundy which home to the highest tides in the world.  To gain the best appreciation you really need to see the area at both the high and low tides.  The admission to the park acknowledges this by being valid for 2 consecutive days.

I managed to take these matching shots at several points so that you can see the massive difference.  Each pair of photos is an almost identical shot at low tide (on the left) and high tide (on the right).

The following photos are a sequence I took during the incoming tide when it is rising at its fastest – about halfway between low and high tide.

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21 minutes later the low rocks on the left hand side are submerged.  Notice how brown and discoloured the water has become from the mud being disturbed by the tidal movement.

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Another 19 minutes and water is coming into view on the left hand side of the photo.

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15 minutes later the kayaks are where there was exposed ocean floor less than an hour ago.

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And 14 minutes further on and the water has entered Lovers’ Arch.  It is still an hour until the high tide and the water has about another 3 metres to rise in that time.  The ocean floor in this cove will be completely submerged.

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It was amazing to be able to witness this tidal phenomenon in the Bay of Fundy.



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All About Anne

This trip is 6 weeks of discovery in cities and rural areas, encompassing history, art, cuisine, natural wilderness, lighthouses, craft beer, music, geology and much more.  But if I am totally honest, it is about Anne of Green Gables.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would ever make it to Prince Edward Island – it is just so far away.  However, when I realised that you might just be possible, I decided to create a trip which would include not only Anne of Green Gables but many other things of interest to us in the maritime provinces of Canada.

The last 2 days have been simply amazing and I still have to pinch myself to believe that it is true.

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Yesterday we attended a matinee performance of ‘Anne of Green Gables – The Musical’ at the ‘Confederation Centre of the Arts’ in Charlottetown.  This is the 52nd summer season of the production which has continued to evolve.  I had booked our tickets (seats in the 5th row from the front) about 6 months ago but was a little unsure as to how I would feel about the adaptation from the novel.  All my fears dissipated as soon as it started and we both enjoyed the show immensely.

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Today we set out to visit the area of Cavendish where the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ story is set.  There are 3 sites in the area which showcase various features and landmarks which would be very familiar to readers of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne” novels.  First we visited the Anne of Green Gables Museum which was owned by her Campbell relatives.

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The property remains in the family and the house is open and is furnished as it was during the time L M Montgomery visited here.  She was married in the parlour of this home.  The most significant feature is the lake near the front of the property which was the inspiration for the ‘Lake of Shining Waters’, even though it is several miles from the site of ‘Green Gables’.

Next was the site of her home where she lived with her maternal grandparents after the death of her mother from tuberculosis before Lucy was 2 years old.  Although the house is no longer standing the property is beautifully cared for by descendants of the family who still live on the property.

There are detailed signs which show the well, cellar of the house and well-marked walking trails which lead you through well-loved places such as the ‘Haunted Wood’ and ‘Lover’s Lane’.

At the end of the walking trail is the entrance to what many would regard as the absolute highlight, ‘Green Gables’.

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We even met Anne.

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At each location there were plenty of souvenirs and I opted to buy just one.  It is a boxed set of 5 DVDs.  I am looking forward to watching it and hopefully my granddaughters will come to enjoy it as they grow up, too.

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I hope you have enjoyed sharing my ‘Anne’ adventure.


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