The flight to Boston wasn’t too bad. The coach trip from Logan International Airport to the city centre was longer than expected as there were road closures in the city centre; then it hit me, we are in the USA where everything is on the square and this is where “gridlocked” was invented.
From our initial arrival at Logan International Airport, Florie and I were impressed with our Tour Guide. A tall thin chap, he was efficiency itself, and very well organised. For the first couple of days he was relatively quiet and it later transpired, that some of us in our group couldn’t just put our finger on what it was about him, that, oh, I don’t know? This was due in part to the closet he was in.
The city centre hotel was a disappointment from entering the lobby, proceeding along the long corridors into our room with the tiny bathroom. Maybe it wasn’t any different from all the other cheap hotels in the USA. It might just be that our view of the world was coloured by the fact, when we went to bed at 9pm local time it was 3am UK time.
Friday in Boston
I awoke at 3am local time to hear the elevator engine whining away above our room, then 3.15am then 3.22am etc. At 5.04am the guy in the next room went for a pee, it must have taken him 5 minutes to finish. This not only highlighted the thin cardboard nature of the walls; but was also a testament to the amount of drink the guy must have consumed last night.
At 6am I heard their alarm clock go off next door. At 6.05am Mrs Guy, complete with hob nailed slippers went to the loo, then she opened the floodgates for Niagara Falls and left them open for nearly 20 minutes. Now I don’t shower often, preferring to bathe, but when I do, I spend 30 seconds to a minute getting wet and then turn the water off and soap myself all over then about 2 minutes washing the soap off (I fear that’s too much information). I have been trying to figure out what could have taken her so long? Was she a big woman and had to do it a bit at a time? Maybe she has a complicated body and it takes more equipment or maybe there are two men with brushes helping. Just maybe she turned on the water to cover the sounds of their lovemaking? For 20 minutes, never.
Eventually the water stopped and I could hear her hob nailed slippers trip back across the room, a male grunt followed and a minute later Niagara started again. It ceased at 6.49am.10 minutes later a door in a long echoing corridor was closed by a bad tempered person and two sets of footsteps resounded down the corridor, one clumping heavily, the other reminiscent of reluctant miners going to work up a cobbled street.
There is a lesson in this tale.
Don’t sleep with a digital clock in view!
After scant sleep we got up at 7.10am as a day in Boston awaited us. I looked out of the window to check the weather and, oh joy, it was raining. We spent the day trudging
around Boston in the wind and the rain, after taking the coach tour. We were accompanied by a guide who had a droning voice, which was just quieter than the noise of the coach engine we were seated over. Later that afternoon a group of us were stood on the sidewalk in the cold rain (like penguins in a blizzard) waiting for the coach to return, under one of the only two umbrellas we had between us; a big cheer went up as we all saw the coach appear in the distance.
Now at this point, I must confess to being an American Football fan from some years back, when it was on Channel 4. After getting some beers, Pringles and crisps I settled down with Florie to watch “Friday Night Football” on the TV, as happy as a pig in muck, thanks to my long suffering wife Florie, who sat reading in bed until “zzz” noises started after a short while.
Saturday up to Cape Cod
I had a better nights sleep after moving the clock from view; however, sometime in the night a door closed with a resounding bang and someone walked down the long corridor wearing tap shoes. This was followed later by a second person doing the same thing only faster. I had a quick look out of the window when I got up to see if it was still raining, but
no, it was only misty and damp. Today we have a coach trip to Cape Cod. Most of the morning we saw misty rainy trees instead of misty rainy buildings. The coach trip took us up the peninsular, which forms Cape Cod. We visited such places as Plymouth, where we saw a reconstruction of the Mayflower, and what the American’s think might be the actual rock where the Pilgrim Fathers first stepped ashore, which they broke trying to move it to somewhere more commercially convenient. Walking in the cold rain Florie and I are unimpressed with the place, which is full of “pilgrim” tearooms. Every building you see covered in clapboard, some are quite
nice and some are big and impressive and worth millions of dollars these are owned by the rich and famous. Then we visited Yarmouth and Chatham (which the Yanks can’t pronounce properly). It was here that the sun came out for a short time and I managed to get some sunny photographs. We went to ‘The Chatham Squire’ pub for lunch where we had fantastic shrimps and fries, washed down with great beer, plus all the American Football I could watch. Then it was on the
coach once again and back into the misty rain. From Chatham we went to Hyannis Port and saw the J. F. Kennedy Memorial plus the Korean War Memorial next to it.
Today our guide relaxed, and leaving his closet in pieces behind him he came out like a scout troupe carrying their tents for a weekend away. As the day progressed he got into his stride culminating in his performance at the pumpkin festival at the side of the road, which was just a few short miles from The Cranberry Bog where he nearly drowned, as the Cranberry farmer chased him off. It was thought by some he would be right at home with his own show on the TV called “OTT with Cedric.”
Later back in the hotel room, I was eating snacks and washing them down with good ole Yankee beer whilst watching College Football. At about 6pm I heard our new neighbours arrive, I haven’t seen them but it sounds like there are three families of Spanish speaking people with some heavy earth moving equipment and their cases. My Spanish isn’t good but it sounded to me like the women are complaining about the hotel room. Oh heavens, now some of their friends have just arrived to help them make more noise, why do they all shout at the top of their voices? The door to their room bangs loudly every few minutes and there are loud discussions going on, there has been more banging throughout the evening, as I write this at 10.30pm I can hear five or six people arguing loudly, men, women and kids. Hey listen! It’s unexpectedly going quiet. Ten minutes later when I pick up the pen again it’s still quiet. Wow that’s great, Florie and I can now drift off to sleep, the sleep of the righteous in silence, save for the whirring noise of the extractor fan they have left on.
At 2.33am I got up to look at my watch on the side (wish I’d got the clock), to check what time the Spanish circus arrived back next door. The whole extended family now alcohol fuelled and hyperactive, has arrived. I expect that everyone in the hotel can hear them, as they climb the stairs and laugh and shout their way along the corridors, to their room next to ours. Then it started again, they banged the door as they went to the bathroom, while the rest partied noisily, banging the other door (where do they all go?) three times while others shouted at each other. Marvellous, some of them are making their way downstairs hopefully finding another place to carry on the festivities, thank the heavens, it’s going quiet. We lay in our bed listening to the low burr of the extractor fan and the diminishing noise of the circus as they banged each door as they go, the noise echoing in the long corridor behind them. Hey, I nearly forgot to mention when we left Plymouth they were having an Alzheimer’s run to raise funds!
Sunday off to New Hampshire
At 6am and Florie is up making my early morning cup of tea, before I put on my heavy hiking boots and proceed to bang and kick doors as I move around the room,
paraphrasing that old saying “he who gets up the earliest bangs the loudest.” Our early start is necessary because we leave Boston today so our cases have to be out in the corridor early. On the journey out of Boston on Interstate 93, we passed the first of the autumn glory trees which we are told will get more spectacular as we progress. We had a loo stop near Manchester at a State Liquor Store just off the freeway. Everyone from the coach was in the urgent queue for the loo once again, after which they stocked up on drink for the trip ahead. It rained for the most of the day with it just varying in intensity. We upset the regular customers of one town called Hookset, when our bus of 46 people went into the only two coffee shops in the town and bought every cake they had and drank all their coffee, leaving nothing for the regulars who were starting to roll in as we left.
Our next stop was Lincoln; a lot of us went to Bob and Bill’s Beef Shack, where we had the most succulent beef roll and fries we have ever tasted, they were to die for, really tasty. Then a quick walk and straight into “Dunkin Donuts” for coffee and cake. Back on the coach once more and into the rain again. When we arrived at the car park at Cannon Mountain, Florie and I did not go up on its cable car as we were surrounded in cloud. Later we were on and off that coach like wet yo yo’s squinting at the misty views. Occasionally as we
drove high up in the mountains we were able to get glimpses of tree covered hills and valleys in mottled pine greens, yellows, golds, oranges and bright reds of the deciduous trees making a patchwork stretching out for miles before us. Then the road would turn and it cut a black swathe through the colourful foliage. Today it has been a
treat to see panoramic views of mountaintops, deep gorges and peaceful lakes surrounded by magnificent forests and glimpses of wild life large and small.
Our arrival at Fox Ridge Resort Hotel in the evening, was to a welcome of cookies and a hot drink, then we went into North Conway for dinner. Most of us went to Hooligans, an Irish pub. We shared a table with three other couples from the coach and had a great time, Florie said she had the best meal; chicken salad and I had a taste of Jeannette’s New York Cheesecake!
Monday in Vermont
The weather seems a little better today. The hotel complex we are in has many other
groups staying there. When Florie and I went to breakfast we found a queue of about 60 to stand behind like good Brit’s do. When we eventually got to the front, it became apparent that it was going to be a bun fight. This was one of the few free breakfasts of the holiday and everyone was wearing the carpet out going back for more. The couple we shared a table with were Mr & Mrs Glum. She said she was taking Mr. Glum on holiday whether he liked it or not (you could see didn’t like it). They had three full breakfasts while we were sat there, and they were going for more as we left. We are off to Vermont today.
Another day of magnificent views of the changing foliage, already we can see many leaves on the ground, so this appears to be the correct time to see this spectacle of the changing colours, the leaves may have all gone by next week. On our way through the forests, our first stop of the morning was at the Mount Washington Hotel to take photos, this is where the I.M.F. was founded, it is quite bleak up here, just like it is financially round the world at the moment.
Our next stop of the morning was at the Brick Store in Bath, right out in the wilds. The
owner boasts it being the oldest General Store still in continuous use, and he came out to
greet us as we arrived, and said goodbye to us all later as we left. It was a store from the 1700s that retained all its old character, wooden floors, shelves, counters and ceiling, in fact wood everywhere; in the Deli we tried some of the various types of cheese and some delicious home-made fudge. Next door they had a Gift Shop with over 300 exhibits of Rock-n-Roll Memorabilia. Behind the store, ran a wide fast flowing
river and across it there was a covered wooden bridge, these bridges are a feature of this part of the country, a wonderful legacy from a bygone era.
We Stopped in Montpelier, the State capital and enjoyed a walk round the town having lunch in a Chinese restaurant, it was very tasty. We had coffee and crepes in “The Skinny Pancake” the local creperie, very nice. Then we were back on the coach again viewing more dead leaves as we exited Vermont, a beautiful state that I remember from seeing “White Christmas” in my youth. Next we visited a farm, which is also a Maple Syrup Factory, they were collecting the red maple leaves that had fallen and were busy pressing them to produce the resultant golden fluid.
An hour later after sampling the different types of Maple syrup we were back on the road
on the final leg of the day’s journey to our hotel in Stowe. A pleasant family run hotel, that had wings of rooms spreading out from a central reception, you entered your room from the outside, like Butlin’s chalets. We were greeted warmly by the owner, with a cup of hot drink and a cookie, if we wanted dinner we needed to book in, right there, so for a change we were first in line.
After dressing for dinner we went down and ate some of the mediocre fare that arrived on large plates piled high. After paying $50 we hightailed it back to the room to watch the ‘Boston Red Sox’ get thrashed on the TV. Apparently they are somewhat off form this season, by the time I switched the TV off they were going down 9-1 to the New York Yankees (I’m getting into this Yankee speech aren’t I?). This is a lovely quiet hotel and I slept really well, until the diesel engine run, air conditioning kicked in at 4am, to reduce the room temperature to below freezing, starting Florie’s cough off again. I had got her some cough sweets, for just such an eventuality. But, she opted instead for the repeated low rasping cough, each time I started to drop off, until 6am when she eventually got up to make me a cup of tea.
Tuesday arrive in Canada
We left the hotel at 8.30am to go to Montreal and were sad to leave. The coffee stop at 9.40am was at Dunkin Donuts. We arrived at the Canadian border at 11am and spent half an hour being processed. Then onwards visiting the sights of Montreal until 4pm, Mount Royal, the Notre Dame Basilica etc. We had a local guide who did his best to explain the history of the city dispassionately. But as the tour progressed his pride in his French roots and his disdain for the British started to surface, as he spat each time he mentioned the English or British. Then made light of all the achievements, of the brave and honourable British forefathers who had shaped the early Canadian province.
When Florie and I arrived in our hotel room we realised we had someone else’s cases waiting for us. We had it sorted in half an hour; but when we got ours back we found that someone had been trying to force there way in, luckily we always lock them. In the evening we were taken out for a tour of the city by night, then dropped in a tourist area for a meal for two hours. Most of the people we spoke to later told us they had paid over $40 each for their meals. We didn’t tell them we got a tasty meal off the beaten track for less than $20 (I know, we’re cheap skates). After returning to the coach we were taken high above the city to Mount Royal to a strategic vantage point that gave us stunning views of the city by night. While we were up there we saw a group of young people, shot! A film crew shot them most nights around the city for a popular TV Show. As long as we didn’t flash or make too much noise we were allowed stop as long as we wished. Our guide told us an interesting and peculiar fact about Montreal, apparently each year everyone who is planning to move house or apartment moves on the same day, 1st July, he says, on that day, it’s bedlam in the city, everything stops for the day.
Wednesday in Quebec
Quebec is about a three-hour journey each way from Montréal, through horrific rush hour traffic in the city and then miles of flame coloured trees lining the main highway for the rest of it. We entered Quebec under clear blue skies and hot sunshine. We had the usual trip to see the great, the good and the powerful, we went to a high vantage point to take photos of the magnificent St Lawrence River, majestic and mighty, then we went around the old walled city, which was built on the side of a hill, and is very beautiful. At the end of the tour we were pulling our local tour guide’s leg about Yorkshire puddings and how to eat them. We were given two hours to wander around on our own. For lunch we tried the local delicacy ‘Poutine’ which is fried chips and cheese in gravy, it was delicious (about 2,000 calories a potion). Then we went further down into ‘The Old Town’ and explored its narrow streets, which were wonderful, we left contributions to the economy at a number of shops built specially for that purpose. We stopped at ‘Second Cup’ for a cup of coffee in the warm sun, later we went back to the top of the city on the funicular to rejoin our group. Back in Montreal that evening, Florie and I visited a supermarket shopping for snacks and beer then on our way back to the hotel we went into Chinatown and bought a takeaway at “The Beijing” restaurant. Then we spent the rest of the evening watching TV and binging out until Florie’s zzz’s started once more. By the way her cough is a lot better.
Thursday in the Laurentian Mountains
Florie and I got to the Breakfast Room early, before the staff had put out the food and drink. We arrived behind a small Chinese lady. She was not a patient woman and was nosing around and foraging for food, while Florie and I sat waiting patiently in the dark for the staff to bring everything in and turn on the lights. I could see from the light in the hall, she was stood in front of a commercial coffee maker and hot water supply. She was squinting at what was written on the front, then she pushed a button and held a small paper cup under where one of the large coffee dispensing jugs would normally go. A member of staff came in at this point and saw what the woman was doing and shot back out of the door with a look of horror on her face. She came back seconds later with a male member of staff who also looked aghast when he saw the little lady at the machine. He asked her what buttons she had pressed, then he ran back out of the door and came back quickly with a very large plastic container, putting it under her cup, which was now overflowing with boiling water. He got her to move away from the machine, which was spewing boiling water. The chap was pressing buttons for all he was worth for the next few minutes eventually the water stopped.
After breakfast, our trip out today is to the Laurentian Mountains to see the spectacular
views from the top. We walked out to the coach in the thick morning fog, which stayed with us to one degree or another all day. We had a boat trip on a lake at St Agatha, where there was a little less fog. The lake was surrounded by thick forests, it had expensive ‘cottages’ round its shores almost hidden in the dense forest, these were quite nice, the Kennedy’s used to have a place here and Jacqueline Kennedy often entertained there. Then we went up a mountain, to the “Mont Gabriel Hotel Complex” for a lovely lunch. When we left the hotel you could not see across the
car park for the thick fog. As we didn’t go any further up the mountain and stop to take pictures as arranged, the tour was all but finished really. However, we were taken to St. Saviour instead, a very pretty place, pretty it may have been, but after fifteen minutes we had all seen the place and had enough, then stood around the coach for an hour, waiting for the French Canadian tour guide; we eventually arrived back at our hotel at 3pm. So when we looked back, we had paid good money to go out on a sightseeing trip in the fog!
You know, Florie has been undeservedly good to me, she has been looking through the TV channels and found me Baseball or American Football each night we got into the hotel rooms. Though, we have seen our fair share of all the other programmes and adverts. Tonight we saw the Canadian Junior Ice Hockey Team beat the Russians. It’s a fast sport; it wore me out just watching the last two periods.
Montreal Ottawa Toronto in same day
Today we had breakfast in Montreal, then after a morning drive we had lunch in Ottawa. An unremarkable city, in my opinion, we stopped and looked round the Victorian parliament building. There is a statue of Queen Elizabeth 2nd on her horse, on one side of the old building and on the other side, there is one is of Queen Victoria. No wonder she does not look amused, they have placed the public loo’s underneath her statue! Later we were dropped at a nice market in the old part of the city for an hour and a half to get lunch. But it was a bit early for the shops and stallholders; a lot of them were only setting up when we arrived. This being early October, it wasn’t surprising to see a stall selling only decorated pumpkins, there were a lot of tat stalls around and inside the market. As we started to walk around we found a very, very good patisserie, which was really busy, but it was worth waiting for.
A five hour coach ride later we arrived in Toronto in time for dinner. We have only
just found out that it is Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend, so we can expect lots of traffic. You know how they say, “Never go back to try and relive a great time.” Well Florie and I came here in 2006 and had a fantastic romantic, tasty meal in “Canyon Creek” a cellar chop house and bar on Front Street. So we walked all the way across town from the Bond Hotel on one side of the city, and found our underground culinary heaven on the other. We went downstairs and were met by a lovely young lady, who couldn’t afford enough material for a full dress so she had one made that started just above her nipples and ended just below her buttocks, the latter moving violently sideways and up and down as she walked. We were shown to our own booth and we ordered our drinks and “special meal.”
Well people, on this occasion it was just as fantastic as the first time, though I must tell
you I ate a month’s calories in that one meal and staggered back across the city. This city is full of young people a large proportion that we saw were Chinese and quite a few from the Indian continent. The hotel was literally in the exciting Downtown ‘Bond Place’ and it was buzzing with people. On the way back it started raining, so we ducked into Johnny Rockets and had coffee and an ice cream sundae, I got back to the hotel feeling royally stuffed. The hotel itself was nice and had just been refurbished but they have the noisiest faucets (taps to us) and sliding doors we have ever heard, we thought the hotel in Boston was bad enough but this put that one in the shade for noise.
Saturday in Toronto
In the morning we had a City Tour of Toronto in the sun, stopping at the C N Tower next
to the ‘Bluejays Stadium’ with its remarkable, enormous, retractable roof, I saw the Bluejays playing the NYC on TV the other night. The C N Tower is the tallest tower in the Western Hemisphere, as it is a tower and not a hotel or living accommodation. After leaving the C N Tower we made our way out of the city on our way to Niagara Falls, stopping first to take a helicopter flight over the falls. Wow! What an experience, seconds after taking off we were following the river up to the falls themselves, they were a magnificent sight, with their waters falling a hundred feet to the raging torrents at the base, green and blue water swirling with white foam. The American Falls off to our left, as we approach, with a pall of mist rising from its base. Then we were at the Canadian side of the Falls with its familiar “U” shape, its centre hidden by a large cloud of mist, I can just see the little boats making their way slowly in the water, vanishing into the white cloud at the base of the falls. The magnificent views before me are coming too fast for me to process and describe. The helicopter hovers first this way then that to give the photographers on board a chance, then all too soon we are heading back to the landing pad.
In that short 10 minute flight I have taken over a 100 photos, and as I walk back to the coach, the dramatic images of the fast flowing waters falling over the tops, flash through my mind; only the other passengers who went on the flights could understand how exciting that was, all that fear, and excitement, the time flew past so quickly as I sat next to the pilot.
With our minds still full of our thrills from the flight, we arrive in a short while at the entrance to “Maid of the Mist” the little boats that we had just seen from the air. Complete with our blue ponchos we boarded our little boat and headed off in the swirling waters, towards the plume of mist rising up higher than the sheer rock faces at each side of us. We are all stood getting wet through from the all-invasive mist. The little vessel is lurching wildly from side to side, we hold on tightly as we draw nearer to the millions of gallons of water falling into the base of the falls. All too quickly we turn away from the overwhelming noise and wet and make our way with the flow of the river back to the small jetty to disembark.
Back on the coach, just a short way along the road from the Maids of the Mist, we feel the excitement rising in the coach again as passengers stand to view the gorge to our left, as we approach Niagara Falls from the top, seeing the great plume of mist rising. The coach drops us at the Falls Information Centre to take pictures and walk round. Our group is to meet up later and make their way to a hotel, where we are due to have a buffetmeal, while overlooking the falls and the great river hundreds of feet below.
With our fellow passengers filled with images, sensations and food we all finally make our way to the Duty Free Shop, which like many other duty free shops, we have seen, it is full to overflowing with over priced goods, they will allow us to buy before we leave Canada and make our way across the Rainbow Bridge to the US Immigration post on the other side. The Rainbow Bridge gets its name from the mist from the falls, which drifts downstream, towards it and when viewed from the viewing platform with the sun out, if you are lucky you will see rainbows as you look towards the bridge.
At 9pm we arrived at the Rochester Plaza Hotel, tired and sleepy from the long drive. Yet another hotel where the beds are enormous and the towels are tiny, the bath towel would not meet around my body, short by at least six inches” (yes I know, I must lose weight).
Sunday morn in Rochester
An early breakfast in the hotel turned out to be a vicious bun fight with the Japanese guests, there are two coach loads of them. So outnumbered, we had to use guile and deceit against their superior numbers and most of us got breakfast. Our party all met up in the lobby later to recover and dress the wounded before getting back on the coach to drive the 350 miles to New York City. We stopped in Oneida at lunchtime and went into ‘Roy Rogers’ a highway stop, Florie and I had cheeseburger and fries and fish and chips for lunch, very tasty.
We emerged from the Lincoln Tunnel on Manhattan Island at 3pm (something we would have trouble doing today 31st Oct.) and arrived at 4pm at the Comfort Inn, which was literally around the corner from the Empire State Building. The traffic was a little hectic as it was a holiday weekend we had to drive around a lot because some of the roads were closed due to the Columbus Day Parade. We settled in our room and rested for a while, at 7pm we were back on the coach for a Tour of New York by Night. Unfortunately it was raining and the guide was not good, but the trip was worth it; our first stop was Grand Central Station, this is a marvellous place, a marble palace with lots of chandeliers, eateries and shops etc. absolutely out of this world. Next we went out to Hamilton Park, to view Manhattan all lit up, which even in the rain, did not dampen our spirits or stop us from taking photos, the excitement of seeing New York by night was wonderful. We finished the tour at the top of the Empire State Building on the 102nd floor to see the city lit up from 1,250 feet up, which was spectacular, although I did not stay outside very long taking pictures, as it was windy and the rain was coming down sideways, up that height. Got to bed about 10.15pm and had the best night’s sleep I’ve had the whole holiday.
Monday in New York
We had a morning coach tour of New York, regrettably with the same guide as last night, but for Florie and I thought the highlight of the tour was the walk through Central Park in the sunshine, a lovely park with lakes, paths and skating ways for grumpy skaters. We left the tour at ground zero where we were a year ago and we can see a lot has happened in that time. A short while later, Florie was enjoying looking round Century 21, Macy’s store and all the shops in between, we walked amongst the skyscrapers the ones you see so often in the start of many American films and TV shows. We lunched at Bubba Gumps Shrimp Co. in Times Square. We walked back to Broadway and on to the hotel by the mid afternoon. Where I fell asleep on the bed for a couple of hours, when it was time for Florie to pack the cases neatly and for me to throw a few things into my back pack. When Florie had finished packing she went out “on the town” to look around for last minute bargains. I, on the other hand, went back to bed, banking on Florie to wake me up before the big Monday Night Football game on the TV.
Tuesday leaving New York
We had to leave our room in the morning and our flight didn’t take off until 7.20pm. So we decided to take a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise around Manhattan Island. It was very interesting cruising right round the island. A man with a smooth deep voice like a glass of Guinness, gave a running commentary and lots of interesting facts and figures and a blow by blow account of what happened, when the pilot landed US Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson River and how come everyone was saved so quickly. The pilot landed the plane right where all the ferries and Island Cruise passenger boats were, which meant they could all be at its side in seconds of coming to a stop, thereby saving everyone on board. We sailed round Ellis Island with the Statue of Liberty and we went past Queens and Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. It is chilling to think we were there only a short while ago and now looking at the places on the TV that have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
Wednesday in Blighty
The overnight flight home was a bad as many others I’ve had, tasteless food, noisy cabin and uncomfortable seats, or just plain painful when you have been sat slumped for 6 hours and you try to move (OK, yes I’m a wimp).
Throughout the holiday I kept recalling one of the reasons why we came on this holiday in the first place. About 14 years ago I knew a chap called Mick, a quiet spoken Irishman, a lovely chap who had a voice like velvet and a wonderful way with words. I was always pleased to see him; I would sit enthralled as he gave me his latest news over a cup of tea and a biscuit. I saw him one time in early December and I asked him if he had been anywhere interesting lately, he proceeded to describe the holiday he had just returned from “New England in the Fall.” He had been there with his family, and his tales of the white clapboard houses and picket fences all backed by forests of trees coloured from the greens of the firs to the flame reds of the Maple, filled my mind with beautiful images that have stayed with me ever since. Regrettably, I have lost contact with him, but it was no surprise when I heard a while ago that he had retired and is now an after dinner speaker. Thank you and good luck to you Mick should you ever read this.
Overall the group has been quiet and compliant. Nobody rocked the boat; there have been no fights or arguments, though when you look carefully you can detect an underlying disinterest in each other mixed with a little disdain. Each day there is always someone who is ready to comment or complain about some aspect of the holiday (I can never understand that in people). This group has been younger than the others we have toured with over the last few years, you can tell the ones; they are not looking forward to going home then back to work the day after we land, jet-lagged.
The tour guide was very happy and very good. He was a real character bent as a nine bob note but fun from start to finish. A real professional, he researched each trip before he went on it, he controlled the group well and everyone knew where they are going and when. He was in control every step of the way and coped very well with all the situations in which I saw him involved. Overall I would say he has been the best tour guide Florie and I have ever had. Good luck Cedric.
The coaches we have used have been large, with plenty of legroom and quite comfortable, but the long stretches that you have to cover on them can leave you pleased to get off at the end of the long day. A big plus for me was finding out that the “Yankee” coaches had Wi-Fi while we were on the road in America; the drivers were all very professional and did a good job.
Like all roads in the USA they are big with plenty of room most times. Occasionally the long coach struggled to get round some corners in the towns and cities. We did not get held up much as we approached or left the cities, which was amazing really as we were in Canada on their Thanksgiving Weekend (That’s the first weekend in October).
For those of you who have not been to America before, their portions in restaurants and take aways can be large, a lot more than we are used to in the UK. While you are on a non-stop coach trip you cannot have what’s left in a “Doggy Bag.” The food is good in the States and Canada, don’t be afraid of asking for a dish between two of you. For those of you who have been, the price has risen; we paid up to $80 for two meals in a couple of everyday restaurants.
The holiday was great, a good cross section of big cities, rural areas. Sleeping in good beds in indulgent hotels, most of the time. Eating in all types of food outlets, some I would love to go to again, others I wish I hadn’t bothered going to in the first place.
The scenery was stunning all through New England and Canada from the shores of Cape Cod to the streets of Quebec to the beauty of the Laurentian Mountains. We were very lucky that we chose the right time to visit just as all the Maple leaves were on the turn. The birds and wildlife we saw on the trip were: Buzzards, Sparrow Hawks, Jays, Chipmunks, Moose, Squirrels, Storks, Cranes, Bluejays, Beaver, Crows and fish in abundance.
Everywhere we went we saw pumpkins for sale on the sides of the road, in shops and on market stalls, all sizes, some with faces on. Shops, hotels and houses were all being dressed ready for Halloween at the end of October. Some shops and houses were covered in pumpkins, skeletons, ghosts and weird and wonderful things. It has been a wonderful holiday if a little tiring, from days of early mornings and late nights but certainly memorable.