Land Ho!

Trip Start Sep 12, 2007
Trip End Sep 29, 2007

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Flag of Canada  , Newfoundland,
Sunday, September 23, 2007

Weather forecast:  Sunny, clear to partly cloudy skies, 63º
Land ho!  We docked almost an hour early in our first Canadian port and were greeted by bright sunshine, clear skies and the cry of sea gulls. be back in North America!
Breakfast, we decided the night before, would be room service eaten on the balcony.  What a treat! I wish we had found the room service cards earlier, but most days have been overcast and light rain.  John had his usual small meal of ham & cheese omelet, bacon, sausage, hash browns, toast and OJ.  I had a soft-boiled egg, bacon, toast, strawberry yogurt and coffee.  The balcony faced the rising sun so it was quite lovely to be enjoying the start to our day by pampering ourselves.
Interesting Newfoundland facts courtesy of Celebrity's Port Explorer pamphlet:  the province has 580,000 people, 120,000 moose, 1 million caribou, 100+ million seabirds and the world's largest humpback whale population.  Naturally, the whales had already migrated south by the time we arrived so our hopes of going out to see them was dashed.
As we exited the ship, some beautiful black Newfoundland dogs and their handlers enthusiastically greeted us as well as a trio of uniformed fife and drum players. Frances had pre-arranged a private tour of the area with Adventure Tours and Mandy as our guide for the day.  Our tour vehicle (school bus to be exact)  was waiting for us as we exited the ship.  Fellow Cruise Critic tour passengers were:  Sam & DeeDee, Mark & Mary Jane, Janet & Joe, Ronnie, Harry & Peggy, Marilyn, Jon & Cheryl, Jack & Elayne, Carole, Jon & Debra, Roy & Diane, Larry, Tony & Jane, Deanna & Jay, Carolyn & Dave, Pam & Kevin, John & Elaine, Lonna, Adrienne & Jack, Jack & Norma and ourselves.
First stop was at the top of Signal Hill. Years ago, the sea watchman at Cape Spear would see the flag on an inbound ship and raise the same flag.  Likewise, the watchman at Signal Hill would raise the same flag as Cape Spear which would in turn alert the merchants on Water Street at the harbor which ship was coming in.  The townspeople then had two hours to prepare the docking and subsequent unloading of the ship.  Signal Hill is also where Guglielmo Marconi received the first Trans-Atlantic wireless message in 1901.
St. John's is the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador and is North America's oldest European-settled city, and England's first overseas colony.  On July 8-9, 1892, a fire destroyed 1,700 buildings downtown leaving 1,900 families homeless but only resulted in 2 deaths.  Newfoundland was an independent country until 1949 when it became a Canadian province.  Now you'll have some ammo for your next trivia contest on Canadian history!
Next stop was at Cape Spear which is the easternmost point of North America.  It also boasts the oldest lighthouse in Newfoundland.  Our guide told us we were extremely lucky to be visiting on such a warm, beautiful day.  This area actually holds the prestige of being in the Guinness World Book Of Records of having the most consecutive foggy days.
Last stop for the day was Petty harbor which is still an active fishing community which catches crab, lobster, halibut, cod and turbot.   Lunch was at a small family-run restaurant called Boréal Gift & Coffee House on a hill overlooking the small harbor.  Even though our large group had pre-ordered, each order was prepared on the spot one at a time (or so it seemed).  John had a ham & cheese (shredded Cheddar cheese) sandwich on whole wheat bread, pasta salad, carrot stick and dill pickle spear.  I was adventurous and chose the Moose & Cheddar Sandwich on toasted wheat with the same sides and a tiny blueberry tart for dessert (which turned out to be bite-sized).   I was pleasantly surprised that the moose was identical in taste to roast beef and was quite delicious.  Another exotic meat that I can add to a list of foods I've tried that now include buffalo, rabbit, alligator, venison and some things from a traditional Chinese wedding feast that I don't even want to know about!  As long as I don't grow antlers, the moose was great.
Because the whales had already migrated south for the winter, our boat tour was cancelled and we elected to return to the harbor area.  Town Ambassadors were stationed everywhere and were extremely helpful in guiding us to whatever we were searching for, provided maps, etc.  We got directions from a nice gentleman to an internet/coffee shop called Café Mocha and the owner bent over backwards to make us feel welcome.  He let us borrow his laptop to check email and other important stuff.  Naturally the mouse and cursor made a beeline for the Arizona Diamondbacks homepage so we quickly verified that our team is still in 1st place by now 2½ games.  The owner also unlocked building doors to allow me to access the bank's ATM downstairs!
Back onboard the ship, an announcement was made about an hour after our scheduled departure that due to high winds at the harbor entrance and 'adverse weather' conditions, the ship would not depart until 6am the following morning.  That evening the dining room had quite a number of empty chairs so I assume a good many passengers chose to eat and/or party in town.  John's dinner choices were Caesar Salad, Entrecote Café Dé Paris (center cut of beef) with Twice-Baked Potato.  I had the Crisp Garden Greens Salad with Celebrity Dressing, Entrecote Café Dé Paris and Potato.  We both chose the Chocolate Chiffon Pie and John convinced the waiter it was so good that he brought a 2nd slice!
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