New York – strong first impression, a bit overwhelming

Sailing into the Manhattan harbour might very well be the most impressive way to first see New York. Under a beaming sun, we cruised underneath the Verrazano-Narrows-Bridge and past the statue of liberty. The entire way, we had a fantastic view of New York’s skyline. Up till this point we only knew it from movies, tv or the internet. It took a while to fully internalise that buildings like the One World Trade Center or the Empire State Building actually exist. This was an almost surreal experience.

Overwhelmed by the Big Apple

Since we had only one full day before we had to take a train to Niagara Falls, we decided to explore the area around our hotel. This proved harder than we had anticipated; Midtown Manhattan, it seems, is bursting out of its seams with people. I had sever seen this many people crammed so close together – safe for maybe at a festival. I don’t think there was a single moment where we couldn’t hear a single siren or car horn. Another thing we had to get used to, is that, because of all the buildings, you often can’t see the sky unless you specifically look for it. To get over the shock, we treated ourselves to a burger and some fries at a real New York burger chain, called Shake Shack, and put up our tired feet in the surprisingly calm Bryant Park.

Boston – Love at first sight

The penultimate scheduled stop of our cruise was Boston. A city which immediately captured Rik and me. We started exploring from the center and made our way over the Commonwealth Avenue. On our way to our goal – the Mapparium, a three-story-tall, stained glass, inverted globe depicting the earth – we encountered many charming little corners of Boston.

The Mapparium was very impressive both optically and acoustically. Unfortunately, the visit left us with a bit of a sour taste since it was located in the Mary Baker Eddy Library. In case you are unfamiliar with that name – as we were – Mary Baker Eddy founded «Christian Science». Followers of Christian Science strongly believe that prayer can heal all kinds of illnesses and actively discourage fellow believers to stay clear of any modern medicine. So, any money you spend going to the Mapparium goes towards religious nuts.

By water

We had a significantly less trouble parting from our money when we spent a few bucks on a ride in a paddle-powered swan boat in Boston’s public garden. What made it even better was the saxophone player playing the Star Wars theme song on a nearby bridge.

 

By foot

After a nice stroll along the Charles River we decided to top off our day in Boston with a brief visit to the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. We found it to be a beautiful building, but very much geared to tourists. Safe to say we didn’t buy any food there. For that, we made our way back to the ship where we could enjoy Boston’s beautiful skyline.

Halifax – Sport and Games

When we arrived in Halifax, the weather left a great deal to be desired. So we decided to kick the day off by walking to and subsequently paying a visit to the Public Library. This hyper modern library is located in the heart of the city and contained an eatery which offers a fantastic piece of cake. And since it was the weekend, we also got the opportunity to play some pinball. Yes, pinball, in a library. On the third floor, where you can find all kinds of media for kids and teenagers, there is a room with pinball machines from all decades which you can play for free on the weekends.

We were making our way to the citadel when we were surprised by a rain shower. As entrance into the citadel was free, as a way to celebrate Canada’s 150th birth year, we used the opportunity to visit the citadel and the museum inside it. By midday, the raining had stopped and we could step outside to see – and hear – a historic canon being loaded and fired at 12 exactly. If you ever visit Halifax, we can recommend making sure you’re there for this midday ritual.

In the afternoon we took it upon ourselves to shed some of the Calories we consumed on the cruise. In two hour kayak tour, we explored the harbor and the nearby Georges island. Tons of fun was had! The weather got a lot better as the tour progressed and by the time we got back to shore, the sun was beaming down on Halifax where the ongoing busker festival had really kicked off. Myriads of food stands, musicians and acrobats lined the streets. Luckily we had time until 11:30 to board the ship.