Autumn East Coast Dance Cruise on Cunard's Queen Mary 2

The Chateau Frontenac dominates the skylineAfter leaving Halifax we had a full day at sea en route to Quebec.  The dance workshops and dance lessons that filled the sea days can be read about in Dance  Boot camps at Sea. 

While we danced on cruise day 5, the Queen Mary 2 sailed North-East from Halifax till she rounded Cape Breton and entered the Cabot Strait which marks the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Entering the St. Lawrence River we berthed at the port of Quebec.

Carol  is raring to go exploreme tooI have visited Quebec City several times since we stayed a few nights in the city on our cross-Canada journey so many years ago. On each subsequent occasion it was for a scientific congress and so I had less time to explore the city than I would have liked.

Le Lapin Sauté
52, rue du Petit-Champlain
Quebec, QC
Ph: (418) 692-5325

With only one opportunity to enjoy a lunch in the Petit Champlain district we chose a tiny neighbourhood bistro that featured charcuterie. The restaurant is small accommodating only 32 diners but serves up a variety of foods apart from rabbit. They also feature duck, lamb and salmon for fish lovers, with thick slices of bread topped with local cheese that has been browned in the oven and maple crème brûlée for dessert.

chilling out with a glass of roseI was attracted by the name - I am a sucker for puns. Le Lapin Sauté I think translates as the jumping rabbit but of course sauteeing is also the cooking technique. Anyway I looked at the menu and was hooked.

I was feeling really sad after my visit to the Maritime Museum. It was awful enough to think about the devastation that nature in the form of an errant iceberg could cause - but that was not something that  could have been controlled. On the other hand to read about those government officials who deliberately sent human beings back to a place where they would be sent to concentration camps and slaughtered.  It was sickening.

 I needed to process what I had seen, and was not up for company so I decided to go and have a quiet solitary lunch in the Britannia restaurant.

A lot of people were ashore and the restaurant was relatively quiet. The obliging maitre d' sat me at a table by myself.  I chose the appetizer of Spanish serrano ham served with a parmesan brioche and fig and mango chutney.

the trans-Canada Highway - we missed the most eastern sectionHalifax has a special importance for me as it was our entry point to Canada almost 40 years ago when we immigrated with our three young children from South Africa. Our original intent had been to land as far east as we could and then take a couple of weeks and drive the trans-Canada highway to Vancouver. This cross-Canada journey had been an adventure that my husband had wanted to do as a boy. Where  this idea came from I have no idea but at last here was the opportunity for him to do it.

From a practical perspective, when we found out that there was no direct flight to St. Johns, Newfoundland but there was one to Halifax, it was a no-brainer to decide that Halifax would have to do and we would have to complete the Nova Scotia- eastwards part of the highway travel at a later date. So it was Halifax we flew into and there that we officially became landed immigrants to our new country. We spent a few days there, drove out to Peggy's Cove; bought a VW Camper to drive cross country. Got to Fredericton and the engine packed up. Not good. We spent several days - unplanned - in Fredericton waiting for parts.

Wendy and her hostsHoney makes sure Chris is picture-perfectAfter a busy day and the very satisfying but filling lobster lunch at the Fish House Grill in Bar Harbor I felt as if I would not want to eat again for a year. 

But we were asked to gather for group pictures before dinner, so there I was at dinner time with the gang in the lobby, watching Wendy try to marshal her staff for the pictures of the hosts for this cruise.

Wendy was trying to get everyone together while Honey was adjusting Chris's cummerbund and Bruce was giving  advice in the background.

Imogen and I took advantage of the moment to get a photo too.

view from Cadillac MountainBar 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.

yup- we 're tempted by the fresh baked aromaHowever 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.

love those blueberry muffinsWe 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.

lobster with steamed red potatoesFish House Grill

1 West St

Bar Harbor, Maine

Ph: (207) 288-3070

Fish House Grill on Urbanspoon

Reading the information on the Bar Harbor stop on our Autumn Escape dance cruise I learned that one of the things we had to do was indulge in lobster.

Lobster is BIG in Bar Harbor - at least all the restaurants catering for us hordes of tourists off the cruise ship were advertising lobster lunches. We decided to try the Fish House Grill  which we walked past just after leaving the tender that brought us ashore from the Queen Mary 2.

tuna tartare with quail's eggVox Populi,
755 Boylston Street, Boston.
Ph: (617) 424-8300
 
On the Autumn East Coast Dance Cruise, our ship, the Queen Mary 2, called in at Boston harbour for a day. After taking one of the Boston Duck tours, a friend and I went shopping. I was hoping to find an elegant black and white dress for one of the formal nights on board.
 
I do not enjoy shopping but it certainly worked up my appetite so we wandered around to find somewhere for a light lunch.
 

Me and a Boston DUKWFortunately my friend Carol is a great organizer because left to me, I would probably not see much of the various ports at which we call. Remember for me its the journey!  But thanks to Carol we had a  itinerary planned for this first destination in Boston.

We decided to have an early breakfast in the King's Court buffet, where we met  up with Dorothy and Bruce, and enjoyed a good chat. I was scheduled to have a lesson with Honey at 9:30 so I headed down to G32 where we worked on styling and following. Its those arm movements that get me every time. I think I have to just get less self-conscious and just let my arms move naturally.

Carol and another DUKWAfter the lesson I found Carol waiting in the cabin and we headed ashore. We had booked a Boston Duck Tour and needed to get to the Tour start center at the Prudential Building.We got there a little early and wandered through the shopping center before returning to wait for our tour.

sirloin steak in the Todd English restaurant - minus the risottoThe threat of turbulent seas from Hurricane Earl meant that the cruise itinerary had to be revised. So when I checked into my stateroom, there was a notice saying that the Queen Mary 2 would remain at the Brooklyn Pier till later that night and in the early hours, set sail, so to speak, for Boston. So instead of visiting Newport, we would have an unexpected day at sea.

I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to try a lunch at the Todd English restaurant so I trotted down the corridor to the aft end of the ship and made a reservation for lunch at 12:30 for Carol and myself, and figured I would check with her later.  I had been wanting to check out some of the alternate dining opportunities both on the Queen Victoria and on the QM2 but since with DAS we generally have each evening's dinner as a group, I have been reluctant to seem unsociable and skip out on a meal. So this unplanned day at sea seemed like an ideal time to eat out.

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