Thursday dawned much like Wednesday…brilliant blue skies, crisp autumn temperatures, and abundant sunshine. I’m happy to say the one component of Wednesday that was nowhere to be found on Thursday was the frustration. We took a tour with Paul McNeil, the owner of Halifax Titanic Historical Tours. He was a fantastic and VERY knowledgeable guide, so we more than made up for the information we lacked on Wednesday!
All 10 of us managed to get off the ship with all our worldly goods we needed for the day, including my camera. Paul was waiting for us right outside the terminal exit, so we piled into his spacious van and we were off!
The day was off to a great start…at least we had a vehicle and a guide, so about a 100% improvement from the day before. Paul took us on an orientation tour of the city, where we had a chance to admire the architecture, the gardens, and the vibrant street art of the city.
There are two historical events that are a very prominent part of the city’s past. The first was the sinking of the Titanic, as many of the recovery boats launched from Halifax and a large number of the victims lie in three cemeteries in the city. https://novascotia.ca/titanic/connection.asp
The other historical event is the explosion of the SS Mont Blanc on December 6, 1917. The French ship was carrying explosives when it collided with another ship in the harbor. A fire quickly raged out of control, and the ensuing explosion killed 2,000 people and injured 9,000. The explosion also leveled trees and structures in a 1/2 mile radius, the results of which can still be seen today. When people began reconstruction in the devastated area they chose concrete blocks instead of wood with the belief those structures could better withstand an explosion. This Wiki page has good information about the explosion: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halifax_Explosion
Paul shared several stories about the explosion, including that of the Richmond School where many children were killed either inside the school or walking to school.
Paul told us another story that sparked a tradition that endures today. After the explosion, one of the first cities to respond with significant supplies and relief assistance was Boston. As a thank you, Halifax sent a Christmas tree to the city of Boston in 1918. The annual gift of a Christmas tree began in the 1970s and endures to this day. In Nova Scotia it is an honor to have a tree from your property chosen for Boston. https://www.boston.gov/news/bostons-2017-tree-lighting-marks-100-years-friendship-nova-scotia
Paul was great about knowing exactly when we needed to be at the Citadel to get the best spots for the firing of the noon cannon and the changing of the guard. He pulled all the way forward as far as a vehicle could go, and they literally shut the road down behind us! He was also great about helping us maintain our spots when the big buses arrived, and telling us when to Run! Run! Run! to be in the front row for the changing of the guard immediately following the firing of the cannon.
Another highlight of the day with Paul was our drive to Dartmouth (across Halifax Harbor) and lunch in Fisherman’s Cove. Fisherman’s Cove is a tiny, unspoiled fishing village with a great restaurant and no tourists! We had a fantastic lunch at Wharf Seafood Restaurant with WAY more food than we could eat!
Our day with Paul was fantastic, and filled with way more information than I can remember. We thought Halifax was a beautiful and interesting city, and we would definitely love to return for a longer visit. It would be a pleasure spend more time in and around Halifax and tour with Paul again!
We spent some time in the terminal before we returned to the ship, because I felt compelled to support the local economy! Actually, we also had some Loonies we didn’t want to take with us. I bought a couple ornaments for our travel tree, but I also picked up an interesting Titanic book Paul had used during our tour. It tells the stories of the victims who are buried in Halifax.
Now, about the title of this entry. We were in the Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax learning about the Titanic victims buried there. I was zooming to take a picture and I heard a horrible pop come from my lens. I have no idea what I did or how I did it, but from that point on the lens wouldn’t retract normally, and the more I used it after that the worse the focus got. It would probably only auto-focus once out of every 10 tries, and manual focus wouldn’t work at all. Fortunately we were almost at the end of our day, and with only a sea day between us and NY I knew I could get by with the other lens I brought. Still, I had a pretty sick feeling in my stomach. The lens is my main “go to” lens for a reasonable travel solution, and it’s on my camera about 90% of the time when we travel. I knew the lens was likely going to need to visit the camera hospital (it did), and I though it would be expensive to repair (it was).😢 I did a little test run when we got back to the ship to see if maybe it had magically repaired itself, but it was to no avail…I switched to my wide angle lens for the one remaining cruise day, and packed my broken lens for the trip home.
It was a beautiful afternoon, and we had some lounging time when we got back to the ship. I took advantage of the time to start taking some ship shots. Here are some outside shots, mostly of the Seawalk and the cabins beneath…I wanted good documentation of the impact of the Seawalk on the balconies below to help with future cabin decisions. I already had it in my head that we would wait for a sale and move to a Mini-Suite for the British Isles trip, and I wanted to be ready with first hand knowledge when the time came!
We had another great evening with a leisurely dinner, saw the great production show Born to Dance, went to the Balloon drop, gambled, and just generally enjoyed each other and the ship. It was hard to believe we only had one day left…after our 12-Night cruise in April and May a week sure seemed short!
I’ll wrap this up with lots of shots of the ship in a couple days. Before I can do any more blogging I have some papers to grade. I teach an on-line graduate course, and since that’s what pays for our travel I need to get busy!