I tossed in that “in the daylight” line because the last time we were in Québec City, we were here overnight, and I was lucky enough to be able to get some incredible shots. This time, I got a chance to actually take the same photo at midday that I took five years ago at 5:00 a.m. It will give me a great photo to show to people when they think I am crazy for getting up so early just to take photos. In fact, while I am mentioning it, here are the two pics, side by side. Five years ago at 5:00 a.m. and yesterday, at around noon. Click on the photos to read my captions.
It was around 5:30 am and as usual I was wandering around downtown Québec City, taking pictures. If you have never been to Québec, it is built on two levels. You can get from the bottom (where our ship was docked) to the top in one of two ways. There is a funicular (which I rode with Kathleen later in the day) and a very steep climb which is what I was doing when I looked down into the lower part of the city and got this shot. Again, for me, the light made all the difference. That and the solitude. It’s photographic proof that there are great photos to be had at as the sun comes up. And it’s a huge reason why I love cruises that have overnight stops so I can get up and take photos like these in cities around the world
It was noon. There were a lot of people and the sun was HARSH!
We had a pretty good day in Québec City. Kathleen and Jocelyn had gotten totally worn out from our three days in Montreal, so I set out with Cathy, Mike, Steve and Jamie to explore the city. As I mentioned above, we were here just about exactly five years ago. It was a lot warmer yesterday than it was five years ago. Our ship was docked just a few hundred yards up the pier from where we had been that time. But both were just a short walk from downtown. We walked through the lower town to the funicular that, for $5CAN, would take you to the upper town. It’s a good thing we were early because when I walked by the lower station later in the day, there was a line the proverbial mile long.
Once up at the top, we found something that amazed me—the Québec Marathon. What were the chances that the two times I would come to Québec City in my lifetime, I would be there for the marathon? Of course, that meant that we would have to see the city and work our way around the city, avoiding the race. We were able to get across the track with the help of race officials, but we still seemed to run into the racers wherever we turned.
We walked around, as Cathy was looking for a kind of embroidery museum that she had seen on her previous land-based visit. It was part of the works of the Ursuline nuns who pretty much-founded education here in Québec City. When she had been here before, she said it had been a cute little shop attached to the convent. Now, they have a complete museum, but it was more about the order’s history than the embroidery. The others decided to take a look and I decided to shoot a couple of photos of the church next door. Mike and Steve were out in almost no time, but Cathy and Jamie really enjoyed it.
I decided at that point to head off on my own to take some more photos and then head back to the ship to have a late lunch with Kathleen and Jocelyn. We ended up trying the Waves Grille. I would tell you all about the lunch and the Grille, but I am saving those thoughts for a big post on the food. That is really what Oceania is all about, and I want to hit it all at once. So here’s my meager number of photos from Québec. The light was just too harsh for me to really get into taking photos. Don’t forget; if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…
The first thing I saw off our verandah.We were docked net to the Coast Guard station and I am assuming these are buoys waiting to be placed.
The Château Frontenac Hotel.
It sits in the Upper Town.
It dominates the city.
And I have a very hard time NOT taking photos of it.
Even up close when we get into town. It is incredibly photogenic.
I think this guy is looking in the restaurant window to see how his buddies are doing…not very well.
I kept this one of the area in front the the Château because of the great clouds.
This woman is a street singer. I loved her look and Cathy gave her a nice tip for her singing and my taking her photo.
We see our first marathoner.
A very cool sculpture in a park.
I tiny hotel that looked so French I had to shoot it.
A French street not far away.
The provincial capital of Québec.
The Ursuline chapel. I loved the tin roof.
From different angles
And over the top of it.
The inside had a nice altar but after the Cathedral in Montreal, it was just meh.
Back on the ship, I saw this boat behind Vista that I liked.
When I do a live report on a cruise, I also put most of the text and one of the photos on a thread on Cruise Critic (for the non-cruisers, find out about Cruise Critic here). Fellow cruisers will ask me questions on the board, and I got one this morning. I thought I would post the question here as well. The person asking was comparing Viking Ocean to Vista and wanted to know if this was an “open ship.”
Here’s their exact question:
“Does the new Vista have the same openness as a Viking ship? Can one see the sky and water when in common spaces? Or is there drapery hanging from the ceiling, or are there walls of windows? I am a Viking Cruiser because of the ship design, first and foremost.”
Here’s what I told them:
If it’s sky and water you want, stick with Viking. Thanks for making me think about this. It’s not something I usually would even contemplate, but you really made me realize how little there is below deck 12. When I got up in Québec, I wanted to see the city. I had to climb to Deck 14 and go into the Horizons Lounge to be able to see the Hotel Frontenac. On Viking, I could have done that from at least three lower decks.
I would say, on the whole, this ship is more closed up. I know exactly what you mean. I found the Viking ship we sailed on to be VERY open. Like most cruise ships, some lower decks are public (in the case of Vista, that is, five and six) and some upper decks that are public (12 through 16—there is no 13). You can only see the water from the upper decks or your own verandah. I am typing this sitting on deck six. You can’t see a thing anywhere on this deck except in the dining room, and there, we have been put in a windowless corner every night because of the size of our party. Most of the rest of the dining room is covered with sheer curtains you can see through. Some people sitting by the windows have opened those up.
This also reminds me that on sea days, I exercise by walking on the ship. On Viking, there is a wrap-around promenade deck that I walk on. Here, the only place to do that is a very nice walking/jogging track around the back portion of deck 15. The Viking promenade is 1/4 mile, and the Vista track is 1/10th of a mile. So you see a lot of the same things again and again.
Quebec City is the most European of any city in North America; they speak French all the time. There is a part of the town called Old Quebec, which is really like being in France. The architecture is just gorgeous, food, shopping. I’d say Quebec City is the most beautiful city in North America I’ve seen. —Sebastian Bach
Yes, there are two posts today. If you are a cruising fan and missed the earlier one on our stateroom, it is below this one.
Here they are for my readers who follow me for my photography and have been asking about what happened on my third day in Montreal. I’m so sorry I forgot to put them out there. I got into the cruise stuff and forgot to add them.
On our third morning, I awoke onboard Vista. One of my favorite things about overnights on cruises is that you can get on or off at any time of the day or night. So I was up at my usual 5:15 and walking out of the port at 5:30. Here’s what I shot on that walk. Don’t forget; if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…
Early morning moon
Early morning mood with buildings.
Vista in the dark
A really cool dark shot. Turn your brightness up.
The Marine sign…
I am told it is a Montreal landmark.
I shot this standing in the middle of a lock on the Lachine Canal
A sign in Montreal’s Old Towne
It was like being back in France.
With tiny French streets.
Just gorgeous and blue hour gave me great light.
More of the same.
This is the front of the building I shot the night before…
..that’s now a shopping mall
Back on the streets
The light gets lighter.
And changes to Golden Hour
When I found this church.
With really nice lighting
And one last look at the sun on the dome.
Headed back by way of the waterfront to shoot the big wheel in different light.
Looking back on the city. The light was better on the city…
but the sunrise was not as incredible.
From Vista’s upper deck once back on board.
The no-longer-used Lachine Locks
But still cool to take photos of.
The city from the highest point on the ship.
Back on board for breakfast
Once back on board, we met the group (sans later sleepers Jamie and Steve) for breakfast in the buffet—which was outstanding. I will do a whole post on the food toward the end of the cruise. Then we took a walk down the waterfront with most of the gang to see Old Towne. I took about 25 photos, and I am not happy with a single one of them. The light was directly overhead and incredibly harsh. Not even going to bother to show them to you. Just know, they were bad. And nothing I could do made them in any way special, and I can usually fix them somehow.
Afternoon boat tour
We wanted an activity that didn’t involve a lot of walking, so we decided to do a harbor cruise on a smallish boat. We used Bateau Mouche. Don’t use them. It was NOT a good value. $21CAN for a 45-minute ride, of which half was the same sights as the first. We got to see the river and learned some fun facts, but we all voted that we wished we had gone with another company or skipped it altogether.
I got some photos, but the best ones were of the Six Flags amusement park that sits on a man-made island in the middle of the St. Lawrence. Those were fun. And a couple of other river-cruise-type shots. Here they are—you know the drill.
Thought I would get a pic of the other side of the Big Wheel
And the other side of the Clock Tower.
Two island monuments
A very old cruise ship now sailing with a cruise line we have never heard of—Ambassador.
Six Flags Roller Coaster
Six Flags swing.
A closer view of Habitat 67 which a Montreal friend tells me was built for the 1967 World’s Fair.
Back on land I took a short walk and got this shot of Vista.
As well as one of this old tugboat in the Lachine Waterway.
And this sadly, abandoned factory also on the Lachine.
That about covered our time in Montreal. It was a great city. Lots to do, and if you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it. We had a great time, ate great food, saw many cool sights, and so much more. Tomorrow, a little more about the ship and our visit to Québec City. We did sail right on time and had a very peaceful voyage down the St. Lawrence River to Québec City.
Montreal is a great town. There’s equal parts blue-collar town.
The saga continues. The following day (Friday), we awoke at our hotel in Montreal. This would be our last morning at the hotel as we would board Oceania’s Vista this afternoon. Of course, this meant one more predawn photo walk for me. Initially, before they had changed our boarding time, I had planned NOT to walk this morning because we would be leaving the hotel before 11:00, and I would have needed to pack and get ready to leave by 10:30. But when they pushed our embarkation back to 2:00 (more about that later) I decided to walk, and as you will see from my photos, it would have been a tremendous loss if I hadn’t.
The day before, when I had gotten lost trying to get to the top of Mount Royal in time to take sunrise photos, had been kind of a bust with me arriving after the sun was over the horizon and having missed the blue and golden hour of light. But today, I decided to walk Montreal’s waterfront and didn’t miss anything. One of the reasons I wanted to walk the waterfront was to take some. early morning photos of Vista (our home for the next two weeks). On the way I would get not only photos of Vista but some cityscapes of Montreal from the bottom looking up, some early morning lights and then one of the best sunrises I have ever had the pleasure of shooting.
Sunrise the day before, I had been kind of blah. Even if I had gotten to the top before the sun came up, it was rather hazy up there. Not so this morning on the waterfront, as you shall see. Here are my pics from that morning (with captions). Don’t forget; if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…
My walk started in this park where I just wanted a photo of this sculpture. As I walked up to take it, I realized I was in the middle of more than 100 sleeping homeless.
This is the square in front of the cathedral.
It looked totally different than the night before…
When it was packed with people.
The outside of the basilica.
Right behind the basilica, there was Vista.
Up close and personal.
Then the sun started showing itself in the blue hour.
Mother Nature provided the light and Montreal, the subject matter.
I must have shot 30 pics of the big wheel and the reflections.
When it switched to Golden Hour, I just started snapping.
Every time I would think it couldn’t get any better…
This wonderful structure is just called The Clock Tower. It became my focal point.
The Jacques Cartier Bridge with Six Flags amusement park behind it.
The Jacques Cartier Bridge again.
Molson Beer is the second oldest company in Canada after the Hudson Bay Co. Their sign is reflective so that’s the sun you see.
And the sky got better…
As I said, whenever I tried to walk away, I would get called back.
The tower was just the focal point I needed.
But I finally gave up as the sun itself crested the horizon.
Lots of small shops lined the waterfront.
The yacht club had a real sand beach.
Loved the blue.
Behind me was the city.
And of course, the Clock Tower once again.
Molson sign a little later.
Food trucks on the waterfront.
The sign at the port.
Vista, head on.
A very interesting piece of architecture…
An apartment complex called Habitat 67.
An old, abandoned facility on the harbor.
On my way back to the hotel I walked through Old Town.
I would come back here the next morning off the ship.
But the reflections of the light on this dome (above a shopping mall) were too good to pass up.
Old Town Montreal or a street in France—you decide.
Finally, back to our hotel.
After breakfast, Mike, Steve and I wanted to go back and get more photos inside the basilica. because we had been rushed the night before after the performance. There had also been so many people. We still had tickets that would let us in for a tour, so we headed over. We got some great shots–here are mine.
We had missed the stained glass windows the night before..l
because it was dark outside.
The main altar
Truly a huge work of art
Incredibly well lit
Some of the parts in closeup.
The lectern was about halfway down the side of the church.
There was a private chapel behind the main altar.
The pipe organ at the back.
After shooting the church, it was back to the hotel to pack for the ship, process photos, do a little writing and then grab an Uber. Even though we had received the e-mail about not boarding until 2:30, our check-out time at the hotel was noon. So we thought we could just as easily wait at the port than in the hotel lobby. Plus, if we went over early, we could drop our big luggage with the porters. But Oceania surprised us by just letting us onboard. And I have to say it was probably the best and smoothest embarkation we have ever had in 30+ cruises. We were getting out of the Uber at 12:20 and sitting down to eat lunch in the buffet before 1:00. More about that (and the ship) tomorrow.
There’s never one sunrise the same or one sunset the same. —Carlos Santana
I am starting this post at 4:15 in the afternoon on our first full day in Montreal. It’s not even dinner time and we are exhausted already. Kathleen is taking a well-deserved nap and I am writing about today.
This morning I did my usual pre-dawn photo walk, and I knew exactly where I wanted to walk even before I got here. The only problem was, neither Google Maps nor Apple’s maps could figure it out. We are staying at the Homewood Suites by Hilton at the base of Montreal’s Chinatown. I wanted to walk to the Belvedere Kondiaronk Lookout which is up above all of Montreal. That’s where I shot the photo at the top of this page. The only problem was, that both map apps wanted me to take the long way to get there. Proof of this is that it only took me 40 minutes to walk back but it took me almost two hours to find the place. Two hours of walking up hiking trails in the dark. And then being sent backward and forward on the same trails, again and again being told to “take the path on the right,” when there was no path. So I would continue the way I was going and then be told, “Go Back!”
The best thing I can do to show you my frustration is to show you what the app Map My Walk showed me I had done. It uses GPS to show me exactly where I walk each day. Here’s my overall route.
See the part between the two and the three-mile marks? Those were on tiny trails in the pitch-black darkness, using my phone’s flashlight to see where I was going. See the five and six-mile markers? That’s the way I should have been going. I was trying to get somewhere near the five on the map but couldn’t figure out where to go. Finally, a very nice jogger (whom I had already passed twice) said she would show me, and I got there. Late! I had purposely left early enough at 5:15 a.m. to be on the lookout by 6:30 for the sunrise. I got there around 7:15, and I was NOT happy about it. I got photos of the view, but I really wanted that golden hour light. Oh, well. The sky was not that great this morning anyway, and once there, I did make it back a lot easier than I went up.
Here are the photos I took from the top with captions. Don’t forget; if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…
The east gate to Chinatown is right outside our hotel
Walking out, each little street in Chinatown had some great lights.
This photo of an arts building near the Performing Arts Center has some really awesome art in all the windows.
Here’s a moody shot of the performing arts center itself.
Looking down into the city as I started my long climb.
The cross at the top of Mount Royal
Looking down from the Belvedere Kondiaronk Lookout
More from the Belvedere Kondiaronk Lookout
More from the Belvedere Kondiaronk Lookout
More from the Belvedere Kondiaronk Lookout
More from the Belvedere Kondiaronk Lookout
Check out he HUGE Leonard Cohen mural.
There are murals all over Montreal.
This is what it looks like walking up to the More from the Belvedere Kondiaronk Lookout
On the way down from the More from the Belvedere Kondiaronk Lookout
You walk through some beautiful parks.
And the campus of McGill University.
This is their law library
This is their chapel
This is their art museum
Loved this little artificial park.
And you can always find a fountain and a statue to shoot.
Unnamed church. I will try and go back and see if I can get the name.
On the way past the art museum I spotted these guys taking someone away.
The west gate to Chinatown
Guarded by the fiercest lions.
Once back, I ran into my brother and Jamie getting out of the elevator. They had not gotten in until midnight the night before (lousy connections in MSP). I showered and changed as quickly as I could, and we went down and had breakfast with them. It was great seeing them and introducing them to Jocelyn.
Since I am already a day behind, I am going to stop this here and give you the rest of day two tomorrow. We have that canceled port in a few days that is now a sea day that will give me a chance to catch up. I am writing this on Friday morning, and we are packing up to head to the ship, but I want to put it online today before we go. Once we are on board, we have another full day in Montreal before setting sail for Quebec City on Saturday evening.
Just a quick post to point out a new page on this site. If you look above this post, you will see a menu. On the far right side is a new item that says, My Photographic Portfolio. If you click it, you will find a page with my 23 (I know, it’s a stupid number, but I just could not whittle them down any further) favorite photos.
You will also find links to ALL my other travel photos. I have divided my best photos into three pages; photos I have taken in the United States, photos I have taken in Europe and photos I have taken in the rest of the world. Inside those pages, you will find galleries by country, state or region. This is a project I have had on my to-do list for more than a year. When I tell people here in Trilogy that I am a travel photographer, they ask me where they can find my photos. Up until today, I didn’t have one place where they all are. Now I do. Enjoy.
And of course, this comes with the usual reminder: Don’t forget, if you click the first shot of any of the galleries, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…
The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. — Gilbert K. Chesterton.
The travel photographer sees it all and brings it home. — Jim Bellomo
Every time I think that things will get better, they get worse. So many bad things have happened that I can’t remember if I have already written about them or if I still have to. I have to say I have not talked to a single person on this cruise that is happy about it. Not one.
And I feel so bad for the crew. They are working as hard as they can, but they are HUGELY understaffed and HUGELY overworked. Having talked to some crew members, they work 11, 12 and sometimes more hour shifts. Everything to do with food is being manned by fewer people than they would normally have. Here’s how the end of yesterday and today went.
I posted early this morning, but I think I forgot to mention that we had a comedian who performed last night in the BB King venue, and he was pretty funny. The place was packed, and there were lots of people standing around the edges. He did two shows, we were at the first one, and the laughs were quick and numerous. See, there’s something positive.
We did dinner at the buffet, where only one side was open. That meant there were no seats on that side of the room, so we sat on the other and walked back and forth. I ate what I call my “not willing to stand in line” menu. I would get anything that I didn’t have to stand in line behind ten people to get. Not much selection in that lineup.
I have not mentioned how HAL is handling the buffet. In about 85% of the buffet, you cannot serve yourself. There is a plastic shield preventing you from doing that. In 15%, there are tongs and a space to reach through for a roll or a small sandwich. The only problem is that if you get a roll and want butter, you must get in line to ask for the butter. Or (like I did last night) I grabbed a sandwich and then took the same tongs to reach a little further back for potato chips and was quickly scolded by the person behind the counter that I was not allowed to reach that far and if I wanted chips with my sandwich, I would need to get behind the 11 people in the line. I was welcome to as many sandwiches as I could eat, but not the chips. Go figure.
Breakfast in the Main Dining Room
This morning, against my better judgment, Bob talked us into going down to try to get into the dining room for breakfast. We had not eaten any meal in there as of yet and really wanted to see what it looked like. So we went down expecting a long wait. Lo and behold, we were second in line and ushered to our table at 8:10. Keep track of that number; it’s important 😜.
At 8:40, we were still waiting for water and coffee and had not had a waiter stop at our table for anything. Judy was coughing and really needed water, and Bob pointed out that there were water pitchers on a table behind me. So I grabbed one and poured us all some water. Before I could set the pitcher back down, a waiter grabbed it from me. He finished pouring and went and brought us back to carafes of coffee, one with decaf for Bob and the other for the rest of us. Sadly, they were lukewarm and became cold pretty quickly.
The server came back about five minutes later to take our orders. He told us that it might take a while since they had just had a big group of people come in, and there were a lot of orders coming in. By this time, it was close to 8:55. I really wanted to point out that if he had taken our orders when we came in, we would have had our food by then, but I didn’t. I want to point out that this situation was NOT HIS FAULT! He was covering a lot of other tables, and the food was NOT coming out very quickly. We knew we would be waiting a while for the food to come back because the tables near us had been seated before we were, and they didn’t have food yet, either.
The food finally showed up at about 9:20. This is where it really gets good. Kathleen had ordered buckwheat pancakes, and they were OK but not hot. Just lukewarm. Judy had ordered banana pancakes, and as you can see from the photo above, they came with exactly THREE slices of banana on them. I asked her if there were any mixed into the batter, and she said, “No, these are just buttermilk pancakes with three slices of banana on top.”
Bob and I had both ordered the same thing—the ham and cheese scramble with hash browns, and I also ordered an English muffin. Now wouldn’t you think that a “scramble” would have the eggs scrambled into them? You know, scrambled eggs? No, when Bob moved aside the tortilla chips that were, for some reason covering his “scramble,” there were two (kind of) soft-boiled eggs on top. When I moved mine back…there were two hard-boiled eggs on top. That is NOT a scramble. It just isn’t. The ham, cheese, green bell peppers, onions and potatoes looked great, but the entire dish was dry without the scrambled (or poached, soft-boiled or any other kind of egg other than hard-boiled) eggs.
Not being willing to eat hard-boiled eggs, I called another waiter over and asked them to take them back and get me some scrambled eggs in my scramble. He did, and miraculously within about 5-7 minutes. But one small problem. The veggies and ham that were on the bottom were not cooked. Basically raw. The scrambled eggs were on top, and they were almost raw, very runny. And the cheese? Nowhere to be seen. It has probably run off with the hash browns and English muffins because they weren’t there either. So I pushed the veggies and ham aside and ate the wet eggs. Just as I was finishing them, out came two servings of hash browns. One was cooked almost well-done, and the other was close to raw.
We just gave up at this point as the coffee was cold, and it was obvious that my English muffin had gone to HAL food heaven with Bob’s Dive-In hot dog. I hope they are doing OK together. We left the dining room at 9:50 according to Kathleen’s recollection.
HAL rips off everyone on the ship…or at least attempts to
So after this wonderful breakfast, we decide to go and check out scenic Prince Rupert. Regular readers of this blog know that I walk a lot. My daily walk is always between four to eight miles. Kathleen, on the other hand, is not a big walker. She has a few things that make it difficult for her to walk long distances, and she can’t keep up with me. When we do go out together in a port, I try to walk slower so we can stay together, but she knows it is driving me crazy…but we make do. This also means that we like to tour by tram or bus.
So today, we get off the ship, and there is a tram that takes you around Prince Rupert. Super! When we go to buy tickets, we are asked for our sea pass card. Now this is NOT a HAL excursion. Anyone can walk up and take it. But once they knew I was off the ship, they wanted my sea pass and would not take cash. So I gave the woman the card, and she wrote us a receipt. She had told me the trip around town took 90 minutes, and the cost for us would be $59.95. She handed me the receipt to sign, and I was SHOCKED to see it was $59.95 EACH! For a 90-minute tour around a very small town. We decided to skip that.
Then we started talking to a couple of local people who worked for the tram service, who were only too glad to fill us in on what was going on. It seems that HAL (and all the other Carnival Corp lines who stopped here) were buying out all of the trams for the days they have ships in port. Then they set the price for that day for everyone. Even if you happen to drive to Prince Rupert and want to take the tram, you pay the price set by the cruise line that is in town that day. He said the day before when Princess had been there, the price had been $69.95 per person. I don’t know about you, but this is just WRONG as far as I am concerned! They buy out the entire set of 15 trams (the only ones in town) to be able to charge their own customers more. Shame on them!
And later on, when I went out walking on my own, I passed one of these trams and saw them stopped in front of a house with the driver pointing at the house. That’s cool. Then as I went past him, he moved up one more house and started talking about that one and the people who had lived there. I walked another 300 yards to the corner where I was going to turn and looked back, and he had pulled up two more houses and was doing the same thing all over again. You see, I think Prince Rupert must not have that many things to show people who are from out of town, so they probably tell the guides/drivers to take as long as you can describing things to stretch this out as long they can. I am fully willing to hear from anyone who took this tour that it was a good value.
I also want to point out that when we got off the ship, there was not a single vendor selling any kind of tour. No boats, no helicopters, no airplanes, no taxis. Nothing near the port. The collusion between the city and the cruise lines is really evident here in Prince Rupert.
Lunch on board Koningsdam in Prince Rupert—how sweet it ISN’T!
After we had tried to go out (we did walk around for a short time), we came back to the ship; I changed into my walking shorts and a tee shirt and went out to do my four miles. Had a very nice walk as the weather was uncharacteristically (we were told by a local) beautiful and sunny. And then, when I came back, I had to again…stand in a 20-minute line to get back on the ship. We took our grandkids to Walt Disney World in February, and we were told by Disney that it was the most crowded four days in the park’s history. We have stood in more lines to get places on this ship than we did there. And at least at WDW, they give you something interesting to look at while you wait in line.
Once I was back, we went up and got a sandwich/slice of pizza on deck 10 (above the buffet, next to the indoor/outdoor pool). Got it pretty quick (which was awesome), but then we both felt like something sweet afterward (I had missed my English muffin at breakfast, remember?), so I went down to check out the desserts in the buffet. Above is the list of the desserts they had on offer today. Below is a picture of the actual desserts that were available directly below the sign. This was the only place to get sweets (except for a small ice cream station serving two flavors of ice cream with a line of at least 15 people waiting at all times) on the entire buffet. This is the second day in a row that this has happened. Nothing there for sometime before the meal is set to be over. At the point I took this photo, they still had more than an hour before the time the buffet was scheduled to close. I did walk by a little later and they were putting out a few apricot tarts but as soon as they were out, a swarm of people grabbed them all. Ah, the hoarding of desserts.
They did get me to spend money on gelato again. HAL has been doing really well getting me to spend money on extra stuff. Besides the gelato, I have purchased meals in specialty restaurants (which have been really great so far) on four of the five nights of this cruise. We are eating in Canaletto (the family-style Italian place) tonight and Rudi’s (Fish house) tomorrow night, the last night of the cruise.
For your viewing enjoyment here’s my selection of my favorite Prince Rupert photos from early morning and my walk around town. Don’t forget, if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…
Early morning as we were sailing into Prince Rupert.
The sky was kind of layered.
This boat looked like it was going to sink, bow first.
But it didn’t sink and it was overshadowed by a huge freighter waiting to take a load on.
As I walked off the ship on my walk, there was a crab boat unloading right next to the gangway and these women were sorting them.
This guy would hook up the crab pots to a winch and they would be hoisted to the dock.
This guy guided them on to the dock to start the sorting.
When I came back, this guy had his crab waving to us.
As I walked up a fairly busy street, this deer ambled by and just started grazing next to the parking area.
These two Mounties were in full dress greeting people as they came off the ship. Later I saw them taking photos with people at Service Park.
Found the very cool, old and falling apart church at the top of the hill.
It makes an interesting subject but it desperately needs a coat of paint.
My Prince Rupert Panorama.
It’s after dinner as I am finishing up this post; we are back in our stateroom. I have succumbed to the lure of a reduced-cost WiFi package and picked up the last three days of the cruise for around $25 US. Worth it to be able to check some things going on with Kathleen’s estate stuff and a medical appointment I have coming up, plus I get to post the rest of the way.
We had a very nice dinner at Canaletto, and we all ate way too much. When we had been on Nieuw Statendam with my brother and his bride, we had thought the food was kind of weak in Canaletto, but it is much improved here on Koningsdam. So far, we have eaten in three of the four specialty restaurants and we have had great food, efficient and friendly service and wonderful experiences. I just said to Kathleen, “this is where HAL is putting their experienced waiters and cooks—the specialty restaurants. Where they make money.” Again, that’s pretty sad, but I believe it’s true.
I’m scammed almost every day. Or, if not scammed, at the very least someone tries to scam me. Usually more than once a day. —James Altucher
Sometimes it feels like we aren’t traveling anymore, and sometimes it feels like we are never home. Since our February trip to Walt Disney World (my last major set of posts), we have been traveling but only for family stuff.
In late February, we flew to the Bay Area to deal with the death of Kathleen’s mother and brother. Then in late March, we went down to Southern California to celebrate the 90th birthday of my brother’s mother-in-law (who is the coolest 90-year-old you will ever meet) and from there, back to the Bay Area for more meetings with attorneys, realtors, contractors, etc. We have two houses to sell and three cars to get rid of—so much fun.
But back to today—we are sailing on Holland America’s Konigsdam from Vancouver, BC, to beautiful Ketchikan, Alaska and Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Yes, it’s Alaska again, but there are two big reasons we are boarding this ship today: Alaska is not one of them.
The first is that our last cruise before the pandemic was from Fort Lauderdale to New Orleans for Mardi Gras in February 2020. We sailed with our Martini Mates and had an awesome time. My best buddy Bob was part of that cruise, and even though Kathleen and I have been on three cruises since then, this is the first time Bob and Judy will be on a ship since we got off on that cruise. So we just had to go along on this one to celebrate.
Our second reason for taking this cruise is that it is we are celebrating a first on this cruise. We are traveling with Kathleen’s daughter Michelle and her husband, Brian, on their first cruise. When they found out we were going on this short cruise, they asked if they could come along. So yesterday Brian drove us up (his car was the only one that could fit all our luggage) to Vancouver; we had an amazing dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant (Cin Cin–been going there since 2005) and spent the night at the Pan Pacific Hotel which is right at Canada Place, the cruise terminal for Vancouver. In fact, I can look out our hotel room window (where I am writing this) and see our stateroom on the ship just below us. That’s really cool.
So far, things have gone well. Brian and Michelle knew a great place to stop for lunch on our way north; otherwise, the drive was uneventful. If I have one complaint (actually two), it is that check-in time for the Pan Pacific is 4:00 pm, but we didn’t get rooms until almost 5:00. Not the kind of service I expect for the price you pay. And their WiFi has been spectacularly terrible as well.
I hope to do my usual job of blogging this cruise, but it may have to get posted after we are back. We didn’t get a WiFi package on this ship since we will seldom be out of cell phone range but putting this kind of stuff online with a phone is next to impossible. But watch this space. The posts will get there eventually.
Here’s a last-minute gift; a few photos I took on an early morning photo walk on Vancouver’s incredible waterfront. Don’t forget; if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…
Canada is like a loft apartment over a really great party.
Here we are on the last day of the year, and I only have one post left to do to wrap up 2022. Since I consider this site a travel and photography blog, I have saved my best photos post for last. And they are all travel photos so that kind of fits.
I wanted to do a David Letterman and give you a Top-Ten list, but I could only narrow it down to 14, and I need some of you to tell me which ones you like better. I shot a bunch of photos this year across two continents in seven different countries and all while traveling. I had some fantastic photo experiences, the best being in Venice and Tarragona, Spain, but I loved the other shots I got as well. So please let me know in the comments which ones I ranked differently than you would have.
Just a note: If you click on any of the photos, they will enlarge on a black background to fill your screen. That’s the best way to view them. And PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…
Number 14—The magazine ad from Eze, France
I took this from way up on the top of the village of Eze, a true hilltop town in the south of France between Nice and Monaco. When I got back to our stateroom and was going through my photos, I realized that I had taken an advertising photo. Is this not the perfect photo to illustrate any advertisement for the south of France?
Number 13—The view from the Number Two
Floating down the Grand Canal in Venice at 5:45 in the morning, I looked back and saw this view behind the #2 vaporetto I was traveling on. I stepped out onto the back deck and got this shot of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and the sky behind us, and I loved the light I got.
Numbers 11 & 12—My two best people photos
I have a bunch of people photos from this year, but I love these two the most. The first is from Corfu. We had gone on a shore excursion that took us to Olympia in Greece and then to a hotel where they did some cooking demos and lunch. After lunch, this wonderful man and his family did some amazing Greek dancing. ‘He was incredibly animated and he really played to my camera.
The second shot, from only two days before, is our guide George who took us all over Athens and then found us the best lunch in the world. I loved his quiet confidence in this shot. He was the perfect guide for us.
Number 10—A flamingo on Grand Turk Island
Grand Turk Island
If you look back on my Top Photos of 2021, what I considered my best photo was a shot of a flamingo I took while we were in the Galapagos Islands. There is something about these birds; they are both majestic and awkward all at the same time. The reflection made this shot. And the really amazing thing is that I shot it from a tour bus at about 30mph.
Number 9—The money shot in Cinque Terre
Cinqe Terre, Italy
This is incredible Manarola, one of the five villages that make up the Cinque Terre on Italy’s eastern coast. We were visiting for the day on a tour with the amazing Luigi. We were going from village to village via the ferry. When we arrived in our second stop, Manarola, Luigi told me that I wanted THE quintessential Cinque Terre shot, I would need to climb this particular hill and then look back. He was right. This shot, of the more than 600 I took that day, says it all. It’s the postcard shot.
Number 8—The Columbia Bar, Astoria, Oregon
Columbia Bar, Oregon
This one is my most peaceful shot of 2022. I love the way the spray and the water “humps” are just flowing. The lighthouse in the background helps as well. But conversely, this is really a pretty violent photo because, as anyone who has lived in the northwest can tell you, the Columbia Bar (where the Columbia River enters the Pacific Ocean) can be VERY dangerous. Lots of ships have been wrecked trying to sail through these waters.
Numbers 6 & 7—Wedding pics in Venice
Walking into Piazza San Marco in Venice at just before 6:00 am and finding the entire piazza empty except for these three people almost took my breath away. I had been there the afternoon before, and the crowds had been immense, smothering and overwhelming. To walk into the piazza and find this couple and their photographer taking photos right at dawn was like a miracle for me. But I can’t decide which one is my favorite, so this is another chance for you to pick.
Number 5—My best panoramic shot of 2022
This is a manufactured panoramic shot I took while in an indoor shopping center in Naples, Italy. I love taking panoramic photos. Not the kind you get with your iPhone but this kind. Ones where I plant my feet and move the camera by pivoting my upper body as I take a series of shots. Then I take them back into Photoshop and stitch them together to create what I was seeing from where I was standing at the time. This shot is one of the few vertical panoramas I have taken. I started as three vertical shots. If I have any complaints with it, it is that it seems slightly tilted to me and when I try and fix that, it only looks like it is tilted in the other direction. But I still love it.
Number 4—A hole to the sky in Barcelona, Spain
We were on a tour in Barcelona, Spain, and we had stopped to see Gaudi’s La Pedrera—Casa Mila. This is a multi-story building that initially housed two condominium-type dwellings for two fairly wealthy families in the early 1900s. Just before we took the elevator up to the top floor to work our way down, I leaned out into the center of the building and took this shot, looking straight up the shaft that is the inner courtyard. I had no idea it would turn out this good. And it really helped to have amazing weather, so I had the blue (with wisps of clouds for contrast) sky.
Number 3—The lights of Kotor, Montenegro
Someday I will blow this shot up and hang it on a wall. It might be the best nighttime shot I have ever taken. We were in Kotor on our Viking Sky cruise. During the day (while Kathleen was quarantined due to Viking giving her food poisoning), I hiked up this mountain/hill and took many great photos looking back. I was so impressed with the city. Luckily for me, the ship did not sail away from the city until fairly late that night. We were in our stateroom watching another episode of Downton Abbey (what else do you watch on a Viking ship 😜) when I happened to look at the bow cam on our TV and saw this scene. I literally grabbed my camera and ran to the front (and top) of the ship to get this photo of the entire town lit up, including the old fortress that protected the city. I have to give huge credit to my new Nikon z7 being able to get me a shot this clear when I handheld it at 1/20th of a second. Amazing.
Number 2—Man eating breakfast in Venice, Italy
My favorite (and I believe the best) photo I have ever taken was a shot like this. It told a story. You can see that one here.This one does the same thing for me. I was up early in Venice and pretty much lost and wandering the calles and campos I turned a corner, and there in the distance was a man having breakfast. And just like my best photo, this one was all about the light. Or, in this case, the lack of it. What light exists does exactly what I want it to do, it send my eye directly to the subject. No photographer could ask for more.
Number 1—The blue hour (actually about 15 minutes) in Venice
Lots of people know about the “golden hour” of photography. It’s that time just before sunrise or after sunset when the sky turns golden. What you may not have heard of before is the term “blue hour.” This really isn’t an hour but it’s the 15-20 minutes just before or after the golden hour. The sky is transitioning from the black of night to the golds, oranges and pinks of the sunrise. If you get lucky and do some planning, you can be in the right place (standing on the Rialto bridge) at the right time (the blue hour) to get the shot you want.
So that’s it. Another year of photography behind me. I like to think that I get better each year. Retirement, or at least cutting back on work and being able to focus a little more on taking pictures, has helped me improve. Sitting here writing this at 4:00 am on New Year’s Eve I feel really good about the shots I got in 2022. Can’t wait to see what I put in my post a year from now.
Happy New Year! Hope we all have an awesome 2023.
Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still. —Dorothea Lange
Yesterday I was sitting on the couch working on yesterday’s post about panoramic photos. About halfway through uploading photos, I had to make dinner, so I thought I was saving the page, but the actual button I hit was “Publish.” When I hit that, WordPress (where I host my website) sends out an e-mail, and that’s it. I can make changes to the post, but you won’t be notified when I do.
The problem was, I still had a BUNCH of pano photos I still wanted to post. So here they are, and hopefully, you will appreciate them. I have never been able to post them in the past in my daily travel pics on Instagram or Facebook because they won’t let me add them and show you the entire photo. You only get the middle part. I hope you enjoy them. Make sure to open them up on the biggest screen you have. Otherwise, you won’t get their full impact.
These first two are special as they depict the same scene, just taken from two different angles. I was standing in the same spot. In the first one, I started on the left with one ship in view and moved to the right until I had done almost a 360-degree turn. On the second one, I started with both ships in view and moved to the right. The first one is a BUNCH of pics stitched together.
Here are a few more with comments. And of course…don’t forget, if you click the first shot, you can scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. (If you have to, make sure to at least turn it sideways to view them horizontally.)