Cemeteries, the Halifax Citadel, and Pier 21

Cemeteries, the Halifax Citadel, and Pier 21

I was on my own since Julie had to go to work. Friend that she is, she left me the car. My favourite thing to visit on trips is cemeteries, followed by churches. I overdosed on the former on Monday and will not bore you with the couple hundred (!) photos I took. :-S

First stop was the Fairview Lawn Cemetery to view some of the Titanic graves.

I wonder how many people have visited this grave since 1997:

This person was identified at a later date, probably through DNA testing. Science never ceases to amaze me.

Next stop was the Old Burying Ground, Halifax’s oldest cemetery. This stone stood out:

And I thought she had a bad reputation…

After spending some time at this cemetery, I hiked to the bus terminal to inquire about transportation to the airport, which was a waste of time and I should have just called the Airporter shuttle service.

There was money left in the metre after this, so I walked up Spring Garden hoping to find some cute shops to explore. Unfortunately, a lot was closed since it was Remembrance Day Monday. But I did find a fantastic little bookshop on Queen Street. There, I chatted up the seller and he went off to his attic in search of some Wallis Budge for me. While he did that, I hurried back to the car as my metre was about to expire! When I came back, he looked relieved (and a tad dusty).

After much consideration, I only took three books as I had to keep in mind that my luggage was carry on! The first book was the Budge, called The Mummy, which is actually a really good primer on ancient Egyptian history, language, and customs as well as descriptions of funerary rites. The second book was about the move of the temple of Isis at Philae, and the last about how the Rosetta Stone cracked the hieroglyph code. I was thrilled with my haul!

Next stop were some antique shops on Agricola, but they were all closed, so I just had lunch, then I headed for the Citadel.

There, I took a couple of pics of the Clock Tower:

I then climbed all the way up the hill to look at the ruins:

Since none of the exhibits were open, access was free and I could have driven my car up to the lot there, but the hike was nice!

Coming back down, I served through an expanse of grass and just happened to find 1.85$. How odd is that?! LOL

I finished the day at Pier 21, Canada’s Immigration museum, which is the equivalent of Angel and Ellis Islands in the US. The movie alone was worth the experience; it featured some Oscar worthy performances! I won’t spoil it. 🙂

Julie and I went shopping after a fabulous dinner (made by her) of fresh Digby scallops (num, num) and I found a brass candlestick in the style I collect at a Value Village of all places!

Day 4, “Welcome to the Pacific Ocean”

Day 4, “Welcome to the Pacific Ocean”

A day which can only be described with superlatives…. And pictures, of which I took dozens, none of which can convey the sheer beauty I encountered today.

Alcatraz was breathtakingly beautiful in a barren and desolate sort of way, architecturally graceful ruins blending in perfectly with scrub grasses, trees, and various flowers. Birds abounded and, in fact, most of the island is white with guano. It is a stark, foreboding place, but truly beautiful. I just wanted to set up a tent and stay there for spell. Some might think me crazy to find that place so pretty, but it is if you like ruins that blend in so thoroughly with their natural surroundings that you could not possibly imagine one without the other, then Alcatraz is the place for you. Here are only a few pictures that give the tiniest sense of the island’s magic:

The inside of the cell block is, of course, another story, but even that surprised me, with its pale pink and mint green colour scheme (!).

Wandering through the standard pathetic gift shop, I couldn’t help but marvel that I got the perfect Alcatraz souvenir my first night in San Francisco, when I picked up that pastel picture.

Upon returning to the mainland, Neil and I made a quick stop at the cable car museum then went to pick up my rental car:

Let’s play “what’s wrong with this picture.” I have no license plate. Apparently, this is perfectly legal because the car is new and I have a totally insignificant sticker on the front windshield. Yeah. I sure am looking forward to getting pulled over on the interstate. 🙂 Otherwise, YAY! This is my car! Okay, it’s the newer model and is an automatic and has four doors, but things are still in the same place. And, of course, the Hyundai Accent is one of the most superbly comfortable cars in the universe.

Neil guided me to a place across Golden Gate Bridge called Point Bonita, where there is a lighthouse. The vistas were incredible.

Amazing day.

Decided that I’m too burned to take the long route to Vegas via Sacramento and Reno, and will therefore be taking the shorter route via the I-15. I’m therefore leaving sometime around 6 tomorrow (hopefully earlier) and should be in Vegas no later than late afternoon.

I’d forgotten it was possible to be this happy and joyous.

Day 2

Day 2

My feet tell me that I definitely over-extended myself today…. 🙂

Unfortunately, I’m still not used to the whole picture thing, so I have tons of pics (and movies) from my morning, but that’s it. I’ll get them on Flickr… eventually.

Here are the day’s highlights, and only highlights because if I put down everything I saw and did, no one will believe that I actually did and saw all of that. It’s been that sort of day. You try to see San Francisco in only two full free days there!


From Neil’s, conveniently located in Russian Hill, near Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, I trekked to:

1) the famous Lombard Street, touted as the crookedest in SF. Apparently, the locals know that’s not true, but the real crookedest street is in an unsavoury part of town…. At any rate, the crooked part of Lombard is beautiful, paved with bricks and immaculately landscaped. I have no idea how residents of this part of the street manage to navigate in and out of their driveways. I’m no photographer, but I think this pic is pretty good!
2) Pier 39. There, I used my CityPass to visit the Aquarium of the Bay. I got a stamp on my hand that would have given me in and out privileges for the day, but I saw everything in one visit and didn’t return later for shows. Highlights included a tunnel surrounded by water in which we could see sea stars, leopard sharks, bat rays, skates, big sea bass, and much more. Very cool. I walked through twice. A highlight of this walk was a display where there was an open skate pouch (‘mermaid’s purse’) with a live developing embryo in it. Followed an awesome touch pool where I got to feel leopard sharks, skates, sea cucumbers, sea stars, urchins, etc. I have to say that except for the sharks, I could have been at a similar establishment on the east coast, the species are that similar.

3) After the aquarium, I had time to catch the 10:45 Bay Cruise, also courtesy of my CityPass. When I got on, I thought it was going to be a bit hokey, but no. We got an awesome tour of the bay, going all the way under the Golden Gate Bridge and then circling Alcatraz (which I’ll be visiting on Saturday with Neil). I took some awesome pictures of the bridge from many angles and most of Alcatraz. The weather was beyond cold and I was so glad I’d brought a sweater. One lady had just a tank top and I swear she was turning blue, until a gentleman took pity on her and handed her his jacket. Some people are just silly. A highlight of the tour was seeing the sea lions of Pier 39 who used to be chased away but are now a tourist attraction (as is just about everything in SF!). The narration (by Jules Verne’s character Captain Nemo, believe it or not) was pretty funny and very informative.

Here is the underside of the Golden Gate Bridge (choosing that one because it’s not a view you often see of this bridge!):
and here is Alcatraz (I can’t wait to be able to remove the people in the foreground from all my Alcatraz pics!):

I was surprised by how beautiful and lush the island is. Saturday’s visit can’t come soon enough!

4) It was noon when we got back and I had just one more stop to make at Pier 39. My CityPass had a bonus ticket for the Boudin Bakery, which produces the most famous sourdough in San Francisco using ‘mother dough’ that’s been fed since the 1800’s! This museum was fabulous and really set the history of the bakery into its historical context. The thing I’ll remember the most is the story of how during the earthquake of 1906 the owner of the bakery had just enough time and presence of mind to scoop the starter into a bucket before running to safety as her business burned to the ground. Saving the starter meant that she could restart her business and, essentially, lost nothing. Now bad for some flour and water! The self-guided tour ended at a tasting room where I got an amazing snack of sour dough, ciabatta, and chocolate and raisin breads, with various toppings like marinated parmesan.

5) My traitorous map made it seem like the Exploratorium was close-by, so I decided to hike there next. Let’s just say I arrived an hour later extremely footsore. 🙂 I hadn’t spent any money yet today (!) so I decided to not look for lunch and just ate at the museum before exploring. The Exploratorium is so much fun. For those in Ottawa, just think of what the Science and Tech museum used to be like, and then multiply the fun factor by at least 1,000. Every single exhibit is interactive and teaches you something about a different branch of science. One of the cooler exhibits were a ‘shadow camera.’ I have no idea how it worked, but a flash of bright light would capture our shadows. Really, really cool effect. There were also some developing chicken embryos in the same style as the skate pouch. I spent a full three hours at this museum until I’d had my fill of fun. I’m such a kid. 🙂 A final note regarding the Exploratorium is an hysterical find at the gift shop–an Einstein action figure. Love it! Coming out, I went around a lovely lagoon bordered by ‘palace’ ruins. I’m adding this so I can mention the only moment I regret not thinking to pull out my camera. A family of mallards was swimming close to shore looking for handouts. In the middle of the family, nonchalantly trying to fit in, was a sea gull. I’ve never seen a gull behave like that and I wasn’t the only one to find the sight pretty damn funny!

6) I was completely burnt out by this point, but I had a rogue ticket left in my book for a downtown attraction. The other two were for Golden Gate Park. I wasn’t sure I’d have time to see the downtown one any other day and it was open till 8:45 today. Since it’s something I wouldn’t have paid to see, I decided that a half-assed, ‘been there, done’ that tour would be sufficient. Which it was. You see, I’m not a fan of modern art, as in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (or SFMoMA for cute). Now, there were some things I actually liked and I really enjoyed the Martin Munkasci photograph exhibit, but, otherwise, modern art exasperates me!!! The big going on today was the ‘Matisse as sculptor’ exhibit, but I just breezed through it since I’m not a huge fan of Matisse. At any rate, I did the SFMoMA in 45 minutes flat and I can’t imagine I would have spent more time there had I not been so burnt. I’m embarrassed to admit that the best part of going to the SFMoMA was the LONG bus ride from the Exploratorium. Hey, I can’t like everything!

7) After dinner at a nearby diner I realised that I wasn’t going to be able to walk home, so I hired a cab. Now, that’s exhaustion for you.

My left little toe is currently double its normal size thanks to an impressive blister and my SPF 60 failed me around mid-day, so I’m a tad cooked (but not burned, thankfully) and very footsore. What an amazing day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ll just add that Neil came home with an impressive earthquake survival kit, given to him by Google. Obviously, Google knows something we don’t know, and I’m quite nervous. 🙂

Hiking Around Melrose

6:28 pm

What a delightful day I’ve had.

1)         A-two hour ‘stroll’ around a tiny museum about Trimontium, a Roman fort near here. Why two hours ? A most wonderful audio tape packed with wit, humour, and facts.

2)         Lunch. I decided to treat myself since I have a bit of extra money. I came in around 11 :50. ‘You serve lunch?’ I asked. ‘At 12’ ‘Oh, then I’ll have a half pint of Guinness while I wait.’

3)         The Trimontium walk, which just happens to occur only on Thursdays! A guide led us to the fields and explained where everything was. It cost about £2, but I had met an elderly man named George Giles just before the walk and he insisted on paying for me. We made conversation during lulls in the fascinating lecture/stroll about Trimontium. Our conversation (a lot about religion and belief or lack thereof in God) continued around tea and cookies (part of the tour).

There was a pause while we walked along a wall that was about the width of this open notebook (a ft or two.), with a four-foot drop on one side and an eight-foot drop on the other! Upon reaching town, we parted with a cheek kiss (very comfortable) and a handshake. When he’d gone, I found myself holding a £10 note in my hand. So, I’ve met a wonderful man, sort of the grand-father I never had, and I’m financially ahead and I found some thistles which I’ll go pick (just one) this evening.

The only problem is I didn’t get around to calling the Dumfries tourist information centre (literally no time to do so). I might do so early tomorrow morning. I can afford two nights in a B and B if necessary, although I’d like to remain under a £20/night limit.

8:58 pm

Found a thistle. Damn are they painfully prickly!!! Tomorrow, I’m taking a ‘scenic’ tour to Moffat. From there, I’ll try to get to Dumfries! I figure a night or two there then Ayr.

Everything is so lovely!!! The Abbey is bathed by late evening sunlight which is literally radiating through clouds. I’ll be honest, there’s a hole in the sky which looks like the gateway to heaven. Only heaven is on Earth.


Stirling Castle and Falkirk

8:34 AM

A note from yesterday: I rode on a second floor of a double decker bus on the way back from the Bannockburn Heritage Centre! Sure, it wasn’t a red one (it was cream and blue), but it was cool riding up there! The view was magnificent!!!

I’ve had a good morning. The breakfast here was great and served with a smile and ‘good morning’. Rather than icky processed cheese, we were offered a strong, white, real cheese. Of course, there was too much for one meal, so I have lunch too! (Great money saver, making two meals out of breakfast, but I did feel a little silly carrying a sandwich through the hostel! At least, I had baggies!)

It’s too early to ‘do’ anything so I think I’ll head for the bus station to enquire about buses to and from Falkirk as well as buses to Melrose. (Don’t ask when a decision between going to Ayr or Dumfries led to a decision to go to Melrose!)


I’ve misplaced and most likely lost my watch, darn it! (It was just a cheap one I use for travelling. The bracelet broke during my Ben Nevis climb, and I was just carrying the time piece in my pocket. I did end up finding the watch later that evening.)

After 5, most likely 7ish.

Mighty impregnable Stirling castle. Not much of it remains. What’s left dates from the time of the Stewarts (about the sixteenth century). The oldest feature of the castle is from the reign of Robert II (late fourteenth). Unfortunately, the castle is under going major restoration so a lot of it was inaccessible and what was accessible had yet to be restored! Still, it was fun walking the ramparts, almost crawling into dungeons.

Included in the price of the castle ticket was ‘Argyll’s Lodging’, a fine Renaissance home. I got to explore at my leisure.

Then came the Old Town Jail. Now that was worth £2!!! My tour included myself and a guy from Holland, so it was even better. One man enacted several characters very convincingly (you’d forget it was the same guy playing each part!). The jail was reminiscent of the Ottawa-Carleton jail.

Then, a bus to Falkirk (Scots for ‘speckled church’, isn’t that bonnie?) where I visited Callendar House. I went for the battle of 1298 exhibition and am glad there was other stuff, too, because the exhibition wasn’t great. It was more of a ‘Braveheart’ exhibition and pre-wars of Independence show than anything else. They had a reproduction of the Wallace ‘portrait’.

But the rest of the museum! 1) a working Georgian kitchen where I sampled sponge cake and a lettuce and spinach soup, which was very palatable ! 2) a clock maker’s shop where, in costume, using old tools, a man repairs clocks for the museum. 3) a general store where we sampled ‘sucre d’orge’ [barley sugar, a rock hard candy]. 4) a printer’s shop. Of course, there was more to the museum than that, but I really like the living history ‘stuff’.

Since no one knows where the battle really happened, I didn’t bother heading for the ‘Wallacestone’ where Wallace was supposed to have commanded the battle.

Returning to the bus station, I asked about Melrose. ‘The Borders?!’ the man exclaimed (not rudely). I could have sworn I said a bad name/word, etc!!! Turns out no buses run there, so I was told to go to the train station. ‘Take a train to Berwick (England!!!)’ That would have cost £19 and I would still have to catch a local bus to Melrose! So, tomorrow, I’ll head back to the bus station and ask about other places of interest, Ayr, most likely. I have to be frugal! It’s sort of pleasant not knowing where I’m heading to next. I just have to make sure I have a bed at the other end!