Day 3: Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, Maine - day three of the Autumn Escape East Coast ballroom dancing cruise.
Our stop in Bar Harbor was memorable for two things- the tour of Acadia National Park with stunning views out over Frenchman Bay; and the buttery, lobster lunch that left us messy and smelling of shellfish but smiling in total gastronomic happiness.
The Queen Mary 2 dropped anchor out in the bay beyond the sandbar from which Bar Harbor gets it's name, and we were tendered into the port. Bar Harbor is known for being "cottage country" for the ultra rich and famous in the mid-19th century. Although the cottages were in fact palatial mansions. Most were destroyed by a massive fire in 1947. Now it is a summer resort dominated by inns, motels and bed and breakfasts, with a tiny permanent population of around 4800 people.
There is a very picturesque harbor with a tourist centre advertising the wide range of water-activities available. Some of these activities include whale watching aboard jet powered Australian designed catamarans that take you 20 miles south of Bar Harbor where the larger whales feed. They often see harbor porpoises, sharks, seals, pods of pilot whales, dolphins and often humpbacks, Minkes and finback whales. You can sign up for a lobster fishing and seal watching boat tour or even head into Acadia national park and take a rock climbing course.
However my organized roomie, Carol had booked us on Oli's Trolley Sightseeing tour, a one hour sightseeing ride that includes a 15 minute stop at the summit of Cadillac Mountain, and a stop at Thunder Hole. It was a good choice.
We disembarked from the tender and made our way up to the landing. As we rounded the corner of the building we were entranced by the fragrant scent of freshly baking, and there in the window we saw a tray of freshly made blueberry muffins.
We promptly turned round and headed into the bakery/cafe where I bought a delicious blueberry muffin and Carol acquired blueberry scones. Great marketing technique. They say olfactory stimuli are among the most powerful sensory inputs and it certainly worked on us.
We had about half an hour to spare before our trolley booking so after we had devoured our yummy baked goods we wandered around the village green and scouted out possible places for lunch. The area around the marina is really quite lovely. We admired the view with the Queen Mary out in the Bay, and wandered through the flower arbor and along the streets.
Then we sat for a while enjoying the warmth of the sun on our faces - yes I know but my moisturizer has 15 SPF in it - and finally it was time to make our way to the meeting place for the trolley tour.
Although we got there on time most of the seats were already taken. The driver offered us the choice of a rear sear or a perch on the bench right up front. On the bench one has to sit facing into the bus ie. traveling sideways and Carol decided to head to the back. I settled myself on the bench facing the driver/tour guide with my notebook and camera at the ready.
As we headed off to Acadia National Park we heard about the fascinating history of Bar Harbor. Mount. Desert Island was explored by Samuel de Champlain in 1604. The fishing village of Eden, which was later renamed Bar Harbor, and the surroundings were the subject of landscapes by Thomas Cole and Frederic Church of the Hudson River Valley School of Painting.
As we drove up the winding road that led to Cadillac Mountain the views were absolutely stunning. It was easy to understand how the millionaires would build their vacation paradises here. We stopped on Cadillac Mountain for a 15 minute walking and photo opportunity.
I have to say that the view compared equally with the magnificent sea and island vistas as you fly into Vancouver Airport or take the ferry across to Vancouver Island.
We also visited the area of Sieur de Monts spring with the wild flower gardens and a Nature Center that shows the flora of the area.
Our final stop was at Thunder Hole. This is a narrow inlet naturally carved out of the rocky Maine shore, that ends in a small cavern. When a large wave rushes into the cavern, air and water is forced out with a loud - thunderous- roar. Unfortunately when we were there the tide was low and the plume which I amazingly managed to capture on camera in the picture to the right, was not that impressive. However the noise was still quite loud
After Thunder Hole, the last stop, the trolley tour concluded back at the marina area. Carol and I were definitely in the mood for a lobster lunch.
When we came off the tender we had been handed a coupon for a discount off a lunch at the Fish House Grill so we headed around to check it out. We found Bira also checking out the place and got a table for three for LUNCH.
The place was packed and the server seemed very rushed. We wanted to take our time and enjoy our meal so we ordered drinks. Check out the size of the pina colada - it could have satisfied all 3 of us but Bira and I, unknowingly had each ordered one.
The lobster was quite delicious and I enjoyed the melted butter with nary a second of guilt.
We finally rolled out of the restaurant and i decided to return to the ship while Carol wanted to do some shopping. I boarded the tender hoping that it would not sink under my weight! I felt absolutely stuffed with lobster, steamed potatoes and melted butter, not to mention the third of the pina colada that I actually managed to drink.
The only thing on my mind was to curl up on my bed and sleep off the food but the second formal night was coming up - and the group photo. A tough life indeed.