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MEMORIES (No. 22) - US PACIFIC COAST - 2016

MEMORIES (No. 22) - US PACIFIC COAST - 2016

Postby judgegeoff » 04 Apr 2021 07:16

Day 7 – Monday 16th May 2016 - Day at sea

After showering and dressing we went to the Main Dining Room for breakfast, followed by a visit to the theatre to attend the lecture ‘beyond the Podium – Whales, Dolphins and Sea Critters of the West Coast’ by a speaker named Jim Rowe. He was an excellent speaker, had a thorough knowledge of his subject and we found his lecture to be both informative and entertaining.

We remained sitting in the theatre for a ‘Destinations Highlights’ talk for Astoria and Seattle given by the South African Excursions Desk Manager. Unfortunately, it was rather disappointing as he did not give us very much useful information except how to get from the ship to the towns – In Astoria there would be shuttle buses and in Seattle we would be able to just walk off.

After lunch in the Main Dining Room, we relaxed on deck and did a lot of reading for the rest of the afternoon. Here are a few photographs I took on the ship :-

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Looking down onto the swimming pool deck…...

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…...with its two pools.

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Plenty of comfortable seating.

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The promenade deck on a grey and blustery day.

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I had a choice of loungers!

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Tidy decks.

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The ship’s Library was on two levels…..

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…..was also the venue for the internet PCs.

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The entrance to one of the eateries.

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Inside the buffet restaurant.

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The Grill – a casual eatery serving burgers, hot dogs and pizzas etc.

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Chris tucking into the Grill’s burger and chips.

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Alfresco eating.

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Cellermaster’s Wine Bar.

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At 5:15 pm we went to the Constellation Lounge for an Officer’s Party when we were introduced to the Captain and most of the senior officers.

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The Constellation Lounge.

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A big circular skylight in the lounge’s ceiling.

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The Captain making a speech.

After the party, we went to the theatre to see the show ‘Boogie Wonderland’ featuring the ship’s singers and dancers and the ship’s orchestra. It was a very good show and we really enjoyed it.

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Going into the theatre.

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Plenty of room, although it did fill up before the show started.

After the show we had dinner in the Main Dining Room and then went to the Rendezvous Lounge for an ‘Irish Pub Night’ with a duo called ‘Five O’clock Somewhere’, The duo were really good and we stayed there rather longer than usual, to enjoy them.

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The Rendezvous Lounge.

….and so to bed. Tomorrow we would be visiting Astoria, Oregon.


================================================


Continued tomorrow …………….
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 22) - US PACIFIC COAST - 2016

Postby Gillzajoker » 04 Apr 2021 10:45

Nice to see more photos of the ship, Geoff. Good to hear you had at least one very enjoyable
talk, but unlike on other ships recently, it seems the Port Talk are the usual humdrum waste of
time. But at least your evening entertainment exceeded your expectations. :D
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Postby judgegeoff » 05 Apr 2021 07:23

Day 8 – Tuesday 17th May 2016 - Astoria, Oregon


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Astoria is a port city and the seat of Clatsop County, Oregon, United States. Founded in 1811, Astoria is the oldest city in the state of Oregon and was the first American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. The county is the northwest corner of Oregon, and Astoria is located on the south shore of the Columbia River, where the river flows into the Pacific Ocean. The city is named for John Jacob Astor, an investor and entrepreneur from New York City, whose American Fur Company founded Fort Astoria at the site and established a monopoly in the fur trade in the early nineteenth century. Astoria was the first place west of the Rocky mountains to have a US Post Office and it was incorporated by the Oregon Legislative Assembly on October 20, 1876.

The city is served by the deepwater Port of Astoria. Transportation includes the Astoria Regional Airport. U.S. Route 30 and U.S. Route 101 are the main highways, and the 4.1-mile (6.6 km) Astoria–Megler Bridge connects to neighbouring Washington across the river. The population was 9,477 at the 2010 census.

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Our first view of the port, there were lots of wooden piles sticking out of the water.

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Timber was clearly one of the city’s main exports.

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The Astoria–Megler Bridge is a steel cantilever through truss bridge that spans the Columbia River between Astoria, Oregon and Point Ellice near Megler, Washington, in the United States.

We left the ship after having breakfast in the Main Dining Room and, in the port’s terminal building, found that the city’s Mayor was individually greeting all the passengers as we went ashore. Astoria was clearly a very friendly north-west USA city!

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Our pristine ship……

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…..our comfortable temporary home.

The town had put together a fleet of various vehicles to act as shuttle buses and we caught a bus disguised as an old-style tram to take us the short ride from the port. The buses ran on a circular route around the town, effectively a hop-on/hop-off service. Tickets were $6 each but were valid all day. We thought that this was a very good service.

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Our transport to the town.

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En route to the town.

We left the bus in the town centre and had a walk around the town and then stopped for coffees in a cafe named ‘Street Fourteen Cafe’. Throughout the town there were senior citizens wearing tabards marked ‘GUIDE’ who were there to guide and advise visitors – it really was a very friendly town.

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Astoria town centre.

We passed the Garden of Surging Waves which is a city park designed to honour and celebrate the Chinese heritage of Astoria and the Lower Columbia River Basin. It is situated directly across from Astoria's City Hall

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The entrance to the gardens.

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The gardens.

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Astoria City hall.

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Street Fourteen cafe.

We came across the Liberty Theatre, one of the city’s historic buildings. Opened in 1925 as the first theatre to be re-established after the destruction of the Astoria fire of 1922, the Liberty Theatre was seen as symbolizing the city's rebirth. Its Italian Renaissance architectural and decorative style was unique among Astoria's commercial buildings and stood out from the rest of the post-fire reconstruction. Notably, the auditorium features a set of 12 mural-style oil-on-canvas paintings depicting Venetian canal scenes by local artist Joseph Knowles, extending the Mediterranean atmosphere of the architecture. The building was built for the theatre chain of Claude Jensen and John von Herberg, one of over thirty venues they operated throughout the Pacific Northwest.

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The Liberty Theatre.

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The theatre’s lobby – very American.

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No stairs, just a ramp.

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The theatre was showing old black and white silent films, accompanied by piano music. A nice place to rest the feet for a few minutes.

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Very Venetian in style.

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A very ornate light fitting.

Whilst in the theatre the rubber tip of my walking stick broke off, so we asked one of the town’s guides if there was a nearby pharmacy where I could buy a replacement tip or a new stick. She said “Oh, you don’t want to buy one, let me see what I can do” and made a phone call on her mobile phone. After a short conversation she pointed out a nearby church and, if we turned left there, we would see a red building. This was a ‘Senior Citizen Centre’ and they would be expecting us and had a selection of walking sticks for me to choose from. We thanked the lady and set off for the centre. Arne and Sue decided to leave us and explore more of the town on their own.

At the Centre, we were met by a very nice lady who gave me the choice of 5 or 6 walking sticks and I selected one and asked her if I could purchase it. She said, “No, just bring it back when you have finished with it”. I told her that we would not be returning to this area as we wished to visit the Maritime Museum on the other side of the town, so she said “Well, just take it anyway”. As she would not sell me the stick I suggested that I make a donation to the Centre and she agreed to this. The people there were very friendly and invited us to return at 1:00 pm when we could have a three-course meal for just $6 each. As passengers on a luxury cruise ship, we did not feel that we could avail ourselves of a subsidised meal!

Leaving the Centre and its very friendly people, and equipped with a new walking stick, Chris and I caught a shuttle bus (looking more like a motor caravan than a bus) to the edge of the town where there were the Columbian River Maritime Museum and Coastguard Station and dock.

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The Coastguard Station.

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US Coastguard cutter 623.

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The bridge across the Columbian River.

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The “Columbia”, a lightship at the Maritime Museum.

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A large ship’s anchor outside the museum.

Leaving the Maritime Museum we decided to walk back to the town centre and, on the way, passed the Fernhill Glass Company where a chap was demonstrating the art of glass blowing. He was very skilled and we always enjoy seeing the glass being shaped into beautiful objects.

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Fernhill Glass.

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The glassblower was making a glass flower.

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It was very hot in the room. Chris purchased a small hand-blown glass pendant.

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We passed an iced custard parlour (like an ice cream parlour, but selling iced custard. Mmmmm!

Leaving the glass blowing demonstration we met up with Arne and Sue and we decided to find something to eat and drink. We were magically drawn to the ‘Fort George Micro Brewery’ which had a public bar. They had a very impressive list of artisan beers including ‘Quick Wit’, ‘Suicide Squeeze’, ‘The Optimist’ and ‘Brown Eyed Girl’. We weren’t sure what to order, so the waiter said he would bring some samples in small shot glasses, so we could each order the beer that suited us best. We sampled the shots and then made our selections and, when they came, they were in large jam-jar shaped glasses. We decided to have some chips with our drinks and the waiter suggested we just order two portions for the four of us as they were very big. When they came they were massive and the two portions would have fed a dozen people!

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Fort George Brewery in Astoria.

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Inside the brewery’s bar.

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What’s your poison?

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The shots were enough for one member of our party!

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Believe it or not, this is a single portion of chips! They were absolutely delicious though, possibly the tastiest chips we have ever tasted.

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The brewery’s lorries had these dangerous-looking spiked hubcaps – visions of ancient chariots!

Fully refreshed (and still able to focus our eyes) we decided to catch a shuttle bus back to the ship. Back at the docks some of the local people had set up some stalls selling artisan, food and craft items.

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The stalls.

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Chris bought some soap made from goat’s milk from this lady and her goat.

Astoria was a lovely place to visit and we had been bowled over by the friendliness of the local people. We had really enjoyed our day in Astoria.

Back on the ship we had our usual ice creams and hot drinks and then showered and got dressed and went to the Constellation Lounge for our drinks, before heading for dinner. After dinner, we relaxed in one of the lounges before retiring for an early night. Tomorrow was going to be a sea day.

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A pilot boat followed us out of Astoria.


===============================================


Continued tomorrow ………….
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 22) - US PACIFIC COAST - 2016

Postby Gillzajoker » 05 Apr 2021 12:11

Loved hearing all about this lovely place, Geoff! When you think that a generalisation of
Americans is that they are rude, loud and brash, it is great to have that disproved, isn't it. :D
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Re: MEMORIES (No. 22) - US PACIFIC COAST - 2016

Postby Camela » 05 Apr 2021 23:18

That Senior Citizens' Centre was something else simply helping people.
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Postby judgegeoff » 06 Apr 2021 07:01

Astoria was the sort of place that we could see ourselves settling in very easily - except maybe not with the cold winter weather. Lovely people though. :)
Geoff

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Postby judgegeoff » 06 Apr 2021 07:28

Day 9 – Wednesday 18th May 2016 - Day at sea


After breakfast in the Main Dining Room, we went to the theatre to listen to Jim Rowe’s illustrated talk on Vancouver and British Columbia and, as before, it was excellent. After the lecture, we went up to the Constellation Lounge for a question and answer session on ‘Life at Sea’ with Sara Romero (the Cruise Director), Tina (the Band Master) and the chap in charge of entertainment. It was fascinating to learn what life was like ‘below decks’ and we soon came to realise that we ‘on top’ had a much more comfortable time than those ‘below decks’.

Sara was very young to be a Cruise Director and was on a 4 month contract – she worked at least 15 hours a day and would possibly ‘burn out’ if she worked for a longer period. Unlike the singers and dancers who train together and are sent out to the ship as a team, the orchestra members are employed singularly and come and go.

When new guest acts join the ship for a cruise they have just about an hour to rehearse with the orchestra, so the musicians have to be very adaptable.

The entertainments manager would be leaving us when we reached Vancouver, as he was being transferred to a Celebrity ship in Scandinavian waters. All his possessions were in a single suitcase and a backpack. Since the coming of digital equipment like MP3 players and Ipads etc., he has learned to travel very light.

After the session, we went to the Al Bacio coffee bar on deck 5 where we met up with Arne and Sue for speciality coffees. The four of us then went to the Gamma Room in the Conference Centre on deck 3 at 1:30 pm, where a meeting was being held for all passengers that were staying onboard the ship when it reaches Vancouver. We would be given new SeaPasses for the next cruise but, at the end of our day in Vancouver, we would have to go through US Immigration. However, in order to avoid the crowds and queues, two dedicated booths, numbers 7 and 8, would be reserved for returning passengers. It all seemed to be well organised but…………….!

For lunch, we tried the burgers, chips and salad being served by the Poolside bar and found them to be excellent. For desserts, we went to the Gelato on deck 5 where we were able to use ‘Elite’ members coupons for some speciality ice creams. However, neither of us were impressed and we preferred the taste of the complimentary ice creams in the buffet restaurant.

We had another look around the shops and bought Chris a Ralph Lauren handbag as an early birthday present. The rest of the afternoon was spent reading books and catching up on our diary.

In the evening we went to the theatre to see singer Jesse Hamilton perform R&B, Soul, Jazz etc. songs and he was very good. Before he had joined the ship he had been playing the role of Simba in “The Lion King” on stage in New York and, before that, he had been playing the Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz” stage musical.

We met up with Arne and Sue for dinner in the Main Dining Room and one of our table companions, a police officer of 30 years who had served in Seattle, gave us a few ideas for what to do on our visit there.

After dinner we went to the Rendezvous Lounge for a drink and then, on the way back to our cabin, noticed that there was a ‘Silent Disco’ going on in the Martini Bar. This is where people wear headphones, either red, blue or green, playing different music. But it was very surreal to see people dancing and gyrating at different speeds – and all with silence! Very weird. And so to bed, we would be in Seattle in the morning.


====================================================


Day 10 – Thursday 19th May 2016 - Seattle, Washington


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Seattle, Washington.

Seattle is a city on Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by water, mountains and evergreen forests, and contains thousands of acres of parkland. Washington State’s largest city, it’s home to a large tech industry, with Microsoft and Amazon headquartered in its metropolitan area. The futuristic Space Needle, a 1962 World’s Fair legacy, is its most iconic landmark.

================================

This morning we found ourselves berthed in the cruise port terminal at Seattle, Washington. After breakfast, the four of us left the ship and decided to make our way to the famous Pike Street Market, but had some trouble making our way out of the cruise terminal, through a high-level car park and across a road bridge to an elevator that took us down to street level – the signage was awful!

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A map of the area showing the footbridge over the road to the Triangle Building.

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The view from the footbridge.

We soon reached Pike Street Market which was opened on August 17, 1907, and is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers' markets in the United States. It serves as a place of business for many small farmers, craftspeople and merchants.

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The market exterior. Inside it was huge.

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Inside the market.

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Here is your 5 a day!

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This shellfish selection looked delicious (we love fish, especially shellfish).

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There was a whole section of flower bouquets.

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Bouquets from $10 (about £8).

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The $15 (about £11) selection. A bit cheaper than back home!

After walking around the market we were rather thirsty so we decided to visit the Starbucks Cafe, the first-ever Starbucks Cafe but, when we got there, there were queues just to enter it, so we found a quieter cafe nearby. Whilst drinking our coffees we decided to go and visit the city’s Chinatown and, on leaving the cafe, a very helpful lady in a tourist information booth told us how to get there.

Buses numbers 7, 14 or 33 would take us to Chinatown, so we did not have long to wait – the fare was $2.50 each (for any distance) with no change given. When we got to Seattle’s Chinatown we found it to be very disappointing with very few Chinese shops. The shops and businesses were just like any others in Seattle except that most of them had Chinese names. It did not feel very Chinese!

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Seattle city centre – plenty of overhead tram wires.

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The best bit of Seattle’s Chinatown.

Very disappointed with Chinatown, we caught a trolley bus and went to the Columbia Centre Tower, the tallest building in Seattle.

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A colourful Seattle tram.

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The Columbia Centre Tower.

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Completed in 1985, at 287.4 metres (943 feet) tall, the Columbia Centre Tower is the tallest building in the state of Washington. It has 76 storeys of offices above ground and has 7 floors of assorted services below ground. To reach the viewing room, we had to ride up three separate escalators and then take an elevator up to floor 40, change elevators and then go up to floor 73. Entrance to the viewing floor was $9 each for us seniors but was well worth it as the views were absolutely stunning. It was a fairly clear day and we could see for miles in every direction.

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Looking down over Seattle.

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We could see our ship in the distance…..

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…...zooming down to the ship.

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Seattle’s commercial district.

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Zooming in on Seattle’s iconic 605 foot tall Space Needle, once the tallest building in the city.

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Looking down on the beautiful St. James cathedral.

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Vehicles looked like ants!

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The viewing rooms panoramic glass was kept spotlessly clean.

On leaving the tower Chris and I were hungry, but Arne and Sue were not, so we split up for the rest of the day. We found a likely looking seafood restaurant nearby and had a very tasty lunch. Chris had seafood and chicken gumbo with rice and I had a traditional fish and chips with salad.

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Our lunch venue.

Fully refreshed (and perhaps a little too full), we decided to walk back to the ship. On the way, we saw this rather amusing sign outside a bar.

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Bedford wanted to turn left, but we carried on walking.

We saw a Walgreen’s Pharmacy and were able to buy a set of two spare rubber tips for my walking stick (I now keep one in my knapsack when on holiday). We popped into Pike Street Market again for a while and then continued on to the ship – finding the elusive road bridge was much easier from that side.

Back on the ship, we had our usual hot drinks and ice creams and then, after showering and changing, went up to the Constellation Lounge for our complimentary wines. At 7:00 pm we went to the theatre to see an excellent show starring Jesse Hamilton (from last night) and David Howarth, a British pianist now living in America.

After the show, we had dinner with two very friendly Americans, Dick and Barbara, who gave us some tips for our visit to Victoria, the day after tomorrow.

Tomorrow we would be visiting Nanaimo, our first Canadian port.


===================================================


Continued tomorrow ………………….
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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Postby Gillzajoker » 06 Apr 2021 10:46

Pleased to hear that you enjoyed the talks, Geoff. One suitcase and backpack for the EM?
I always have a wry grin when I see, in some drama or other, someone 'leaving home for good'
with one suitcase. I'd need 3 Pickford wagons! Haven't seen a silent disco before, and don't
think I fancy it!
Glad you finally were able to 'access' Seattle - you would think they would have been better
organised for cruise visitors, wouldn't you? Shame about Chinatown, usually they are all very
interesting in every city. :D
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Postby judgegeoff » 07 Apr 2021 04:00

Day 11 – Friday 20th May 2016 - Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada


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Our 3 Canadian ports (Nanaimo, Victoria and Vancouver) were very close to each other.

Nanaimo is a city on the east coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. As of the 2016 census, it had a population of 90,504. It is known as "The Harbour City". The city was previously known as the "Hub City", which has been attributed to its original layout design where the streets radiated out from the shoreline like the spokes of a wagon wheel, as well as its generally centralized location on Vancouver Island. Nanaimo is also the headquarters of the Regional District of Nanaimo.

The Indigenous peoples of the area that is now known as Nanaimo are the Snuneymuxw. The first Europeans to find Nanaimo Bay were those of the 1791 Spanish voyage of Juan Carrasco, under the command of Francisco de Eliza. They gave it the name Bocas de Winthuysen after naval officer Francisco Javier Winthuysen y Pineda. When the Hudson's Bay Company established a settlement in 1852, they named it Colvile Town after HBC governor Andrew Colvile. In 1858 it became Nanaimo. The city has been called "The Harbour City" since the lead up to Expo 86. Coal mining was the main business of the town but, in the 1940s, lumber supplanted coal as the main business although Minetown Days are still celebrated in the neighbouring community of Lantzville.

======================================

During the night our ship had passed from American waters and into Canadian waters. This morning found us moored in the city of Nanaimo, but we were experiencing our first rain of the cruise.

After breakfast, Chris and I caught a complimentary shuttle bus (with 4 drop-off points) and got off it at the first stop, which was at a theatre by the small boat harbour.

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Where are we today? A rather wet Nanaimo.

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Nanaimo’s modern theatre was one of the four shuttle bus stops.

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The small boat harbour.

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It was a very peaceful spot.

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Looking back towards the ship.

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Where do you wait for a ferry boat?…... On a boat of course!

We noticed that there were a lot of seaplanes in the harbour and the bay, it seems that they are used as taxis in Canada and are sometimes the only means of getting from one place to another, especially in the remoter areas.

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A typical seaplane.

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Much more exciting than black cabs.

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Taxiing out before taking off.

We walked along the interesting harbour front until we reached the Maffeo Sutton Park, where we met up with the retired American policeman and his wife who we had dined with on the ship. We thanked them for recommending a visit to the Columbia Tower in Seattle, as we had enjoyed it very much.

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Setting off towards the park.

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A statue of Frank James Ney who was the Mayor of Nanaimo for 21 years (1968 to 1984 and 1987 to 1990). He was known for his outgoing personality and attended civic events dressed as a pirate. He had 11 children (some adopted) and once spent a day in a wheelchair, after which several modifications were made to the town’s streets to improve mobility and access for the disabled.

There were some interesting Native American carvings in the park.

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A Native American carving of a stylised bear…..

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…..a plaque in the park.

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A huge Native Canadian stylised carved crab.

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This American robin came to say ‘Hi’ to us. He was larger and thinner than one of our robins.

We went to the ‘Tea on the Quay’ cafe for refreshments and Chris had an orange, cranberry and white chocolate scone there and said that it was delicious. When we left the cafe we found that the rain had stopped and it was brightening up. We popped into a ‘Dollarama’ store (similar to our Pound stores) and found that it was very similar to our stores. We then returned to the theatre and caught a shuttle bus to the town centre.

In the town centre, we visited St. Andrew’s Church which was quite an interesting building internally. Built in 1893, the Church is a good example of Late Victorian church architecture.

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Nanaimo town centre – not too busy.

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St. Andrew’s Church.

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The church’s interior.

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A simple stained glass window.

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We wondered what these brass fittings on the pews were. Does anybody know?

Leaving the church we had a look around some of the town’s shops and found a speciality food shop and cafe with delicious smells coming from it, so decided to have a snack lunch there. We both chose double-smoked Wiltshire bacon rolls which were absolutely delightful. To finish we had coffees with Nanaimo bars – a sort of spiced and nutty biscuit base with a layer of solidified custard and then topped off with a thick layer of chocolate. Very yummy, but no doubt millions of calories!

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A smart shopping arcade in Nanaimo.

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We passed this interesting building……

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….which turned out to be a Greek Taverna.

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More window shopping.

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McClean’s Speciality Food Shop and Cafe where we had a snack lunch.

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The famous (but deadly) Nanaimo bar. Mmmm!

Leaving the cafe we met up with Arne and Sue and we decided to go for a drink to the town’s old railway station which is no longer used as a station but is now a pub. The lines are still there and trains thunder past, but do not stop any more. By now the sky was blue and the warm sun was shining, so we sat outside the pub drinking our beers. Arne and Sue had not eaten, so ordered a portion of chips to share.

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The ex. station pub.

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Cheers!

After our drink, we made our way back to the shuttle bus stop but found that there was a long queue there. A shuttle bus came soon after we joined the queue, but it was full and did not stop. This was followed by another full bus. Arne and Sue decided to walk back to the ship, but it was too far for Chris and myself, so we decided to walk to the previous stop to hope that there was no queue. Halfway there an empty shuttle bus passed us! Eventually, we reached the previous shuttle bus stop and found just a short queue and were able to catch the next bus back to the ship.

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Back at the ship…..

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…..going back on board.

After our usual hot drinks and ice creams we got showered and dressed and went up to the Constellation Lounge for a pre-show drink. I didn’t go to the show, but Chris did – it was a show “Star Factory” and featured the ship’s singers and dancers as well as acrobatic dancers (on ribbons and ropes).

We had dinner in the Main Dining Room and then Chris went up to the Constellation Lounge to see a comedy routine “Dancing with the Officers”. She said it was a bit silly but quite good fun. I stayed in the Rendezvous Lounge with Arne and Sue and listened to the Infinity Orchestra. One of the advantages of cruising is that we feel that we can do separate things on the ship as we consider it to be a very safe environment.

And so to bed! In the morning we would be visiting Victoria, British Columbia.


============================================


Continued tomorrow ……………..
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 22) - US PACIFIC COAST - 2016

Postby Gillzajoker » 07 Apr 2021 10:59

That certainly looks a delightful place to have a good wander around, Geoff, and I found the
history interesting, (but won't try and mention things by name, as they were certainly a mouthful).
And speaking of mouthful - I bet that cake (a variation of millionaire's shortbread, perhaps?) was
a full day's calorie intake in itself! But.... you have to spoil yourself on holiday, don't you? :D
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