Saturday & Sunday September 20 & 21

 Most of yesterday morning was ours – to sleep in, eat a late breakfast, write some postcards, run a short marathon, repack our bags, or wander Montreal’s downtown shops. But the afternoon saw us boarding the m/s Maasdam – sister-ship of (and almost identical to) the Statendam. And as we unpacked in our cabins and headed for the eating/watering holes, it felt like we were coming home. Nice sensation!

Late in the day the ship’s horn sounded, we lined up on deck for the mandatory lifeboat drill, and Maasdam’s giant twin diesel engines pushed us gently out into the St Lawrence Seaway. The second of our double cruises (this time, through the coastal wonderlands of Canada and New England) was underway, and the excitement amongst our mad Kiwi midlifers was obvious.

And over the next few days we’ll learn some colonial and maritime history, enjoy some stunning autumn scenery (‘leaf-peeping’ they call it), eat some lobster, and be pampered-to-bits by our ever-attentive crew. Ahh, yes … BRING IT ON!

We arrived at our first stopover during breakfast this morning – and what a delight that turned out to be! Quebec City with its grand château on the river, its lilt of French accents, its narrow cobblestone streets and charming little alleyways and quaint boutiques and outdoor cafes and busking musicians just wowed us again and again.

Although Canada recognises both French and English as official languages (and all shop/road signs are in both), many impassioned Quebecois speak only French – which caused some frantic recalling amongst the Pinkies and Greenies of long-forgotten phrases from our school days. 

Quebec is a city built on a hill. And, today, we enjoyed a walking tour of the castle-like Chateau Frontenac (one of Quebec’s best-known landmarks) … a horse-&-buggy ride through St Louis Gate (part of the Old Quebec fortifications) … and a very posh tea-for-two (well, for 71, actually) in the Chateau’s gorgeous dining room.

After this little bit of mid-afternoon elegance, none of us felt remotely enthuisiastic about thoughts of dinner-on-the-ship … but, come 7:00 – 7:30, there were Kiwis at numerous tables in both the Lido and the Rotterdam restaurants! Funny how quickly the old appetite recovers, eh!

PEOPLE NEWS: The Midlife Madness Awards keep being dished out:

* The ‘Bicycle Built for Two Award‘ to Kaye & Tony – who, whilst taking a tandem bike-ride through the streets of Montreal, nearly came to grief when Kaye (i) stopped peddling, thus upsetting Tony’s pedalling routine … and (ii) put the brakes on when they were going uphill (to make sure they couldn’t roll backwards).

* The ‘Phantom Pyjama Thief Award to Syd – who, it was recently discovered, has had the missing pyjama-top of his sister-in-law Dianna in his suitcase for the past several days . He claims it was a mix-up following a familiy laundry session last week, but the jury is unconvinced.

* The ‘Bomb Squad Award to Ivan – who was pulled aside at the airport xray machine three days ago with what security officials thought was a detonator in his possession! Turns out the little pink piggy (which Ivan had been awarded on his previous cruise) had slipped down into the lining of his jacket – and, with its tiny battery and wiring, had raised a minor alert.

TOMORROW: We’ve another lazy day onboard, cruising through the Saguenay Fjord – a wonderland for wildlife for more than 650 animal species, incliding whales (which we hope to see yet again)!

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on ‘COMMENTS’ (or ‘NO COMMENTS’) under the title for the day’s blog, and type away! Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and don’t worry: we’ll make sure they get these messages. Also, if you want a better look at our route map and some of the photos here, just click on them and they’ll enlarge – magic!

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About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!

15 thoughts on “PARLÉ-VOUS-ING IN QUEBEC

  1. Hi Anne
    Just a note to say thanks for the postcard rcvd today. Your first sentence says it all – this is the life!
    I have written to you but my email has been “returned”. Perhaps I’ll try again tomorrow.
    Best love
    Dawn Kallenberg

  2. Hi Granma Maureen and Grandad Kev (the Covacich family)

    I am missing you both.Hope you are having a great time.

    Have you sen any bears yet?

    Tracey,James and Emma came to my concert at the weekend and enjoyed our show very much.You would have loved it too.

    Love, Ella-Rose xx

  3. Margaret Birtles

    Hi Mum, that train trip sounded awesome!! And so does everything else. Quebec looks gorgeous, brings back memories. I spent some time in that part of Canada with Glenice and co. Thanks for your postcard xx
    Hi Nana, Ciarans here and we are looking at all the photos of your holiday on the computer. Jack’s at school and Dad’s at work, Mum says we’ll show them later. I want to ring you on the phone but Mum says I haven’t got enough money. It’s been sunny and we went to the beach the other day. I miss you . Love Ryan xxx

  4. Hi Karen and Rodger, watered the plants yesterday as the weather has been quite warm, the rhodo is looking superb you will miss it this year and your blossom tree looks lovely also the magnolia.
    Sounds like you are having a great time looking forward to hearing all about it and seeing your photos. Love Pat and John xx

  5. Hi to Annette and Sheryl, Been reading the blog every day, sounds like you are all having a wonderful time. What an adventure. I will have to save up for the next one lol. Say hello to everyone. Had a beautiful weekend, now its back to the rain. See you when you get back. All the best, Diane

  6. Hi Bev, Clare & Dave, love reading the blog and seeing what you lot have been up to, whilst the rest of us slave away back home at our desks! haha… What an amazing looking trip… I’m sure you are having a blast! Take care, enjoy, but don’t forget to come back in one piece this time (this means you Bev!)
    Love, all the Mt Wellies.

  7. Hi Annette and Margaret,
    I’m not sure whether the message I’ve just written got sent, so I’ll repeat it. We arrived home from Hawaii last night. Hired a car and drove on the right side – didn’t have AAA insurance and didn’t have any accidents as a voice from the passenger seat kept saying “keep right, keep right!
    While lazing on the golden sands of Waikiki, you were idling the days away cruising and we’ve been following you each day. Felt like being with you in so many places – gazing at the calving of the glacier , cruising up the inland passage, Buchart Gardens and Lake Louise. Wondered which plane you got in Calgary, early or late flight. I guess Quebec is still fascinating and enjoyed the horse carriage ride with you!and Chateau Frontenac. Few years since we were there. Is the Maasadam as good as the Marco Polo? Thinking of you today and Anne of Green Gables. When you get to Boston, remember to see the Old North Church and read the poem of Paul Reveere’s ride. You could even have a Boston Tea Party! Sorry wont be there to welcome you home Annette at the airport because we’ll be in Wellington. But catch you when we get back Thursday. See you when you’ve finished the extra tripping Margaret. The Church concrete panels are up, towering 11 metres high, looks huge. Got another $30,000 in grants this week, so nearly got the $2 million.
    Love, Edgar and Judy.

  8. Hi Mum and Dad, ( Pam and Colin)
    Received your postcard today and the girls were very excited to receive it.
    Surprised that we got it though seeing as you addressed it to 268 and we live at 368!
    All well here, spoke with Claire yesterday and she has been a busy bee with the home show and Yaa Yaa has been here staying with them but has left now.
    Been to Gladstone yesterday and all is well there. Also met Val J for coffee, headed back home now but had a lovely week catching up with Bill and Pat.
    We love reading the Blogs, they are great.
    Miss you heaps,
    Lots of love, Sally Hugh, Isabella and Maddy.

  9. Hi Grandma (Monica Lunny)
    We got your postcard today. We could not believe that you saw a real white wolf and 2 brown bears. Are you sure that one of them wasn’t the brown bear from the story ‘A Brown Bear in a Brown Chair’ ?!?!
    We are probably going to have afternoon tea with Auntie Celia on Friday.
    After that…HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Love u

    Oliver, Callum, Baby, Mum and Dad

  10. Hi nan and poppa
    I got your card today
    I am really missing you so so much
    I am soon going to send you something


  11. To Pam Strong , Hallo Pam , Your trip sounds fantastic ! A pity I was not given the opportunity to share it with you !! Looking forward to your return when you tell me all about it . I sent you an e- mail Sun – hope it found you . Mother was pleased you ‘phoned , Two sunny days and back to usual NZ weather ! Enjoy the remainder of the trip , hope you took plenty of photos . Missing you , love you . Mike .

  12. Happy Birthday Dad! (Eric Parr)
    Hope you have a fantastic birthday on the cruise boat. I feel terrible I forgot to give you a pressie before you left, but there will be one here for you when you get home 🙂
    Work is going well – I’ve had a pretty full on two days at work, straight into it!
    Anyway hope you all have a wonderful day and a very happy birthday! love to mum and claire also of course.
    Love fiona xxx

  13. To Eric Parr:

    Happy happy birthday Dad. Hope you have/had a fantastic day.

    All is well here, we seem to be over our bugs and illness’s now, thank goodness. Kids are winding down with only 3 days left of school before a 2 week break. Wish we were Winding Down with you and Mum on the cruise.

    Happy Birthday again.

    Lots of love,
    Rachel, Noel, Campbell, Emma, Keegan & Macsen.

  14. Hi Aunty Pam

    Recieved your postcard the other day from Vancouver, looks and sounds absolutely fabulous. Great to hear from you the other day aswell and that you saw a bear!

    Rebecca and I have hard exams and assignments due so a busy time at uni and work. Was really hot on the weekend but cooled down abit now. Melissa went to stay at a friends place on the weekend because it was a girl from uni’s 21st birthday. On Sunday she went to Bobbin Head with them and went kayaking – they have a 2 person one and was really peaceful.

    Rebecca rang Grandma, sounded a bit tired and confused but spoke to her again and she sounded fine so must have just been tired because it was a long day for her after going out with Uncle Peter. She said she spoke to you again the other day.

    Michelle rang aswell, said your house and everything is fine.

    Mum and Dad are in the villa – said that it has stopped raining but it is still cold. Sure they would be having fun no matter the weather!

    So hope the next part of the trip is just as great as the first bit.

    Lots of love
    Meliss and Rebecc

  15. Hi J & R … glad to hear you are havin plenty of opportunity to practice your ‘french’ … given that you are so fluent the whole exercise should be pretty sweet aye. I like the look of Quebec .. looks incredible quaint. We were talking to S & K in the UK yesterday and they have just come back from the Beer Festival in Germany … however the tour they were on had them staying in Austia and travelling by coach for about 1 1/2 hours each day into Germany. They were both so blown away by the quaintness of the Austrian village they were staying in .. that one night S (after a few probably) was walking up the main street shouting at the top of his lungs .. this is a fake village from a movie set. They said it was so beautiful, so clean, so cute, so everything .. it didn’t seem real. Seems to have been a long trip this time .. missing you both. LOL us xx 🙂

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