Thank goodness I’m not employed as a travel writer. I’d be broke at the rate I get around to writing about the places we go. It’s been more than a month since we got back from our adventure in New England and Canada. Our first week was spent road-tripping from Tennessee to Ohio to Niagara Falls to New Jersey. The second week was spent a bit more leisurely. We took a 7-night Carnival cruise out of Manhattan to the ports of Boston, MA; Portland, ME; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and St. John, New Brunswick.
This was our 4th cruise and the first that wasn’t destined for tropical isles. Cruising the Northeast is a very different experience. First, you rarely see anyone wearing their bathing suit on deck. It’s just way too cold! There are also fewer college kids and more retirees. This makes for a more crowded attempt to dine early but also means the arcade and sports bar are usually pretty empty and you’re all but guaranteed to have the ping-pong table all to yourself. Or course, being close to (early) retirement age ourselves, it was also much easier to find someone to talk to, about a wide assortment of interesting topics.
Our first port of call was Boston, one of the oldest cities in America (founded in 1630). There’s obviously a lot of history in Boston – the Boston Tea Party, the Paul Revere House, the Old North Church, and more – but for television nuts like us, Boston was the backdrop for a lot of our all-time favorite shows – Cheers, Rizzoli and Isles, and Boston Legal. We couldn’t help but walk the streets thinking of Sam and Diane, Norm and Cliff, Denny and Alan and the histories of our own lives growing up with these characters. The day of our visit to Boston it was pouring rain but that didn’t stop us from walking the Freedom Trail and taking a slight detour to a tiny bar where everyone knows your name.
Straight off the boat, we both fell in love with Portland. I’m not sure if it was being immediately greeted by the Harborwalk Trail or the quaint shops along cobblestone streets or the flavor explosion we found in a bottle of blueberry soda or even the lobster roll we purchased from a hot dog cart. It might also have been the bin of fresh Swiss Chard marked FREE that we walked past in Old Port or the amazing shop called Nomads where we found ExOfficio anti-insect socks on the clearance rack. Or maybe it was simply all of the above.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
After experiencing Niagara Falls, Halifax was a bit of a disappointment. It’s your typical cruise port destination – a mecca for shopping and overpriced dining, with the true sights so far away that you either have to book an excursion, pay for an expensive taxi, or skip them altogether. We chose the latter. Instead we perused the tiny Farmer’s Market and took a long walk along the harbor.
St. John, New Brunswick
The best thing about St. John is the Harbour Passage, a gorgeous 2-mile walk along the water that leads from the cruise terminal to all of the main sites of the area. We took our time getting to the Reversing Falls and still somehow managed to make it there before the folks in the excursion group.