Travel With Bradley

Latest

Day 7 – Sydney, Cape Breton – Thanksgiving Day

Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia – Canadian Thanksgiving

What a marvelous day!

The sun shone and the sky was blue as we approached the World Largest “Playable Fiddle” which weighs 8 tons.  Yes it can be tuned and is in the Book of World Record.  If a giant arrives possibly it can actually be played.  Its an amazing tourist landmark.  Whoever thought of it deserves a medal.

We docked early this morning.  The Norwegian Dawn is also here but her passengers had to tender in as the dock in Sydney can only handle 1 cruise ship.

The locals warmly welcomed us.

The complex next to the pier was filled with artists selling their wares.  Its an impressive facility.

Up the street in the Catholic Church Hall, I met and bought from a couple young artists.  One guy who looked to be in his teens sold very inexpensive framed prints made with stamps.  

I chatted for a long while with the “Sticks and Stones” Artist.  He travels the World as he speaks a number of languages so its easy for him to find work during his travels.  I purchased from him a very unique iPhone charger that he made from local driftwood.  His framed artwork is made with Sticks and Stones.  If I had more luggage space I would have bought one of his pieces.  He doesn’t have a website but if you are interested in his art, the email is sticksandstonesart@icloud.com

Surprisingly since its Thanksgiving a number of downtown shops were open.  There are some really good quality shops in the downtown core including a shoe store that has been in business for over 50 years and an exceptional art gallery.

During my walk back to the ship along the wide boardwalk I chatted with a few locals who wanted to know where I was from and how I was enjoying the cruise.

A number of my group gathered for an afternoon “Nova Scotia Kitchen Party” which featured my brothers good friend, Aaron C. Lewis on the guitar, piano and vocals (very talented at all – his Dad was the founding member of the Carlton Show Band – Pig and Whistle TV Show), award winning fiddle and piano player Kimberly Fraser, and fiddle and guitar player, Lawrence Martel.  A young stepper entertained us too.

Their 90 minute performance flew by.  My passengers are all hoping that we’ll have them entertain at the Walters Theatre.  Some of them were up square dancing!

A wonderful day in a beautiful part of Canada.

Time to get ready for dinner – the chefs are preparing Turkey as one of the entrees in honor of Canadas Thanksgiving.  

Day 6 – HALIFAX, Nova Scotia on Thanksgiving Sunday

Halifax is a beautiful Canadian City. 

The Zuiderdam docked at the Halifax pier early this morning.  There were no official border procedures to go through.  We filled out Canadian custom forms a few days ago and the cruise line staff submitted them.  There weren’t any customs officials at the pier.

I joined a group of my travelers on a half day excursion to famous, Peggy’s Cove.  Our guide was Monica (Monique).  She was excellent.  I know her employer well so I am going to be sure to let him know what a wonderful guide she is.  John our coach drive was excellent too.

We enjoyed a picturesque rural drive.  The Mountain Ash and Maple Trees are showing some Fall Colour but just like in Ontario the leaves are turning later than usual this year.

Lobster fishing is very important here.  It may be lucrative but it’s major investment – $300,000 for a license and around $800,000 for a fishing boat!  The fisherman current gets $6.00 a pound for his lobster catch.  It takes between 5-7 years for a lobster to weigh a pound.  If a fisherman catches a smaller than a pound lobster it has to be thrown back in.  This area is divided into different lobster fishing zones – in the Halifax Region a  fisherman can only catch lobster from Nov 1 to the end of April.  This protects the lobster population.  

The second largest industry here is rubber tire production – employees 3000.

Tourism helps the province too.

The population in Peggy’s Cove is just 38 but thousands of tourists visit this natural attraction because its so picture perfect.  

Celebrities such as Tom Selleck and Sandra Bullock often rent homes close to Halifax.  Canadian Singer, Anne Murray owned a home here for many years.

The boardwalk along the Halifax Shore extends 5 Kilometers.  Its a major tourist attraction for the city and is very beautiful.

Thanks to my brothers recommendation I savoured the crab cakes at Salty’s Restaurant which is located at the end of the boardwalk – the crab cakes were the best I have ever tasted.

I also found a very good mens clothing store called Colwell’s.   

The Halifax farmers market was well worth visiting along with all the pop-up shops in the terminal building.

Halifax is a perfect destination to celebrate this Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend.  I’m excited that tourists onboard the Zuiderdam from all over the World are getting this opportunity to visit Eastern Canada.

The Zuiderdam culinary staff featured a create-your-own Canadian poutine bar and craft beers from Eastern Canada have been brought on board – including Blueberry Ale.

The indoor pool onboard the Zuiderdam was a popular stop to relax late this afternoon.

I’m so thankful to be Canadian.

Day 5 – Bar Harbor – Lobster and Blueberries

Day 5 – Bar Harbor, Maine – Acadia National Park, Lobster and Blueberries!

I have just been mesmerized by the sunrises we have experienced during this Canada/New England cruise.  The sky has been waking up with its bright colours dancing all over the place.

The Oceania Insignia has been sailing with us throughout this cruise.  It is here with us again in Bar Harbor.  Bar Harbor is such a scenic destination.  I’ve visited this part of Maine with tour groups many times over the years and its always a favourite.

Todays weather – perfect – a sunny, fall day – temps hovering around 60F.

This is a tender port of call.  The Zuiderdam has a number of new state-of-the-art tender – very nice.

This destination has attracted the very wealthy for many years.  It competed with Newport, Rhode Island.  Today many of the mansions have been turned into beautiful, Bed and Breakfast Inns.  I noticed the innkeepers had all displayed “sold out” signs.  It is a holiday weekend in the USA – Columbus Day.

During our tour through Acadia National Park we were surrounded by fall beauty everywhere we looked.  The Park was very busy with tourist.  The producer from the television series, “Law and Order” has built a beautiful mansion cottage close to the park and celebrity, “Martha Stewart” also lives here.  We were told she is very well respected by the locals.

Years ago Maine Lobster was a poor mans food.  It was ground up for fertilizer and also served to inmates in jail.  How things have changed!  Today its a delicacy.  We enjoyed a melt-in-your-mouth, Lobster luncheon in the elegant Bar Harbor Club, a private members facility.  We were served a whole lobster (not just a tail) with melted butter, sweet corn on the cob, red skinned potatoes, mussels and as a sweet finish – wild blueberry tart.  Gentleman staff members walked from table to table in the chandelier filled ballroom, offering to remove the lobster meat from the shell so we didn’t have to struggle with it and were they ever quick.

The Main Street in Bar Harbor is filled with touristy shops, restaurants and ice cream parlours.  It was a beautiful day for strolling and picture taking.

After we arrived back on the Zuiderdam I basked in the sun on my stateroom Balcony and ended up with a sunburn!  My passengers have been making good use of their balconies during this cruise.

At dinner my passengers expressed how happy they were with this port of call.   Everyone had a wonderful time in Bar Harbor.

Tonight’s cooking class was themed – Chocolate – how delicious!

There is a storm 130 nautical miles from us so the Captain warmed that the waters may be choppy around midnight.  

Time goes ahead by 1 hour at 2am.

Tomorrow is Canadian Thanksgiving Sunday and we’ll be spending it in Halifax, NS.

How appropriate that we return to Canada on Thanksgiving!

Day 4 – BOSTON

Day 4 – Impressive – Boston, MA 

Today we visited the home of the movie, “Good Will Hunting” – BOSTON.  As we drove around the city we saw a number of film crews set up.  Boston’s “Cheers” Bar attracts hoards of tourists but it was just the last show of the tv series, “Cheers” that filmed in Boston.

Boston is basically the same size as Disney World and has a population of 750,000.  Education is a big industry here.  There are approx 350,000 students studying in Boston/Cambridge.  The pharmaceutical industry is prominent too – more pharmaceutical jobs in Boston that any other place in the World.

Boston sells more ice cream than any other US City.  It is mandatory that every meal served at Harvard University must include ice cream!

We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day for our city tour – balmy temperatures with sunny blue skies.

Our guide was a colourful one.  We learned a great deal from him.  His children have done well so he is proud and he has been married for 49 years.  He is a true sports fan and this is a sports city.

We headed into Cambridge so we could walk around Harvard.  The hardest thing about Harvard University is getting accepted as a student.  If you get in you pay a big tuition – 75G a year but it is pretty difficult to fail.  Students live close to the campus in  impressive student housing.  A tutor is included with each house  to help ensure students are going to be successful.  Ninety percent of Supreme Court Judges and eight Presidents graduated from Harvard.

There is a large Chinese and Italian district but as the cost of living in this city continually increases its pushing out the older immigrants who can no longer afford the high costs .  These areas in turn are losing their character.  Condos are being built in these areas so there goes the character.

The lady that was looking after the coach shuttles returning to the ship shared that she pays $1000.00 a month for a 200 sq ft apartment!

Unemployment in Boston is less than 1%.  Our guide told us that he doesn’t want Amazon to come to this city (its a major contender) because a bigger population will just raise the cost of living even more.

We drove past Boston’s, Parker House Hotel which has the title as the oldest hotel in the USA – known for its Parker Rolls and Boston Cream Pie.  The original Ritz Carlton hotel was located her.

Clam Chowder and Lobster Rolls are the local delicacies that the tourists want to try.  Neptune Oyster is one of the most famous Lobster Roll restaurants – served cold with mayonnaise or hot with melted butter – $32.00 each!

Boston is proud of its Irish heritage and hosts one to the World’s Largest St. Patrick Day parades.

Reebok running shoes headquarters is here. 

In Boston if a Trader Joe’s Food Store opens in your neighbourhood the value of your home will go up!

We finished our tour at Quincy Market – our guide told us that is the 2nd most visited “man made” attraction in the USA.

What really impressed all of us is how progressive this city is – the waterfront development, the underground transportation system, expansion of the convention centre in order to accommodate 100,000 delegates, they have cleaned up the salt water in the port and Boston is now regarded as the cleanest port in the USA – whales can be seen close to shore – we all commented on how clean the city is.

Boston will be a future, “Travel With Bradley” Motor Coach destination.  Many of my passengers that were with me today said they, “Can’t Wait To Return”.

A fantastic day!

Day At Sea On the Zuiderdam

Day 3 – Day At Sea

Even though its a Day At Sea many of my passengers were up early.

It was a stunning sunrise – those of us that watched it were in awe.  The temperature was balmy.  Its still summer here.

I visited with many of my passengers at my hospitality desk.  I praise Holland America because they still allow me to use a flip chart which my passengers check daily so they can learn about the latest “Bradley’s News”.  Other cruise lines no longer allow the use of flip charts so that makes it much harder for me to communicate with my passengers.

The Captain made a bit of a detour arriving in Newport, RI at 8:30am to pick up a lifeboat (1 hour stop).   Oceania’s Cruise Line Insignia which was docked next to us in New York City yesterday is also here as this is their first port of call.

It was wonderful to enjoy a scenic glimpse of Newport from the water.  This was a bit of a teaser as we didn’t get ashore.  Newport is a great destination to visit especially during the holiday season when the Newport historic mansions are decorated for Christmas.

I think Holland America offers one of the very best Dining Room Breakfast Menu in the cruise industry.  One can choose from many upscale menu items such as Crab or Mushroom Benedicts.

The Zuiderdam is a very clean ship – spotless in fact.  I have an excellent stateroom attendant.  He is already rearranging my things!

I really enjoyed the informative, “Lunch For A Rainy Day Cooking Class” that was sponsored by America’s Test Kitchen.  I learned so much during the 45 minute session.  The instructor is excellent and Holland America uses some audio/visual techniques to elevate these on-board classes.  Well Done!

The next class I joined was all about the Go Pro Video Camera Model #5.  The instructor was from Israel.

My passengers gathered for a group luncheon in the Main Dining Room.  The service was excellent and so was the food.

Afterwards some of us attended another cooking class “Salads As A Main Meal” – Caesar Salad with Chicken (the instructor pan seared the chicken on one side then steamed it to keep it moist) and a very attractive looking Cobb Salad.

It was then time for Afternoon Tea – this event attracted many from my group.  

I found a bit of time to work out in the well-equipped gym before sitting on my stateroom balcony to bask in the summer-like temperatures.  We couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day.  The sea was as smooth as glass.  The Captain told us to keep our eyes open for whales.  I was almost late for tonight’s Formal Gala because I was mesmerized by the pods of dolphins next to the ship and didn’t want to leave their show.

My passengers dressed to the nines for the Formal Gala.  

The Gala menu was impressively designed.  The meal was extra special.

Some of us enjoyed the Dueling Piano Country Show in the Billboard Live Lounge after dinner.  Everyone sang along to “Country Roads”.  

The Captain toasted everyone in the Main Theatre prior to tonights big Production Show.

A couple from New Zealand chatted with me in the theatre.  They flew to Houston and then visited New Orleans, Florida, Nashville, Memphis and then boarded the Zuiderdam after spending 5 days in New York City, will end in Quebec City, then travel Toronto, fly to Vancouver for a few days – will fly home from there.

Tomorrow we dock in Boston, MA.  We are all looking forward to it!

En-Route to New York City

Day 2 -En-Route to New York City

Todays temperature reached 80F!

The breakfast buffet at the Scranton, PA Hilton is always a treat.  The chef who  cooked the made-to-order. omelettes was quite the character.  He certainly made everyone smile first thing in the morning.    He makes his omelette similar to a thin crepe.  There was certainly enough choices on the buffet to please everyone.

I ordered a to-go Starbucks Ice Tea for the road  – there is a Starbucks outlet in the lobby.

We departed on time and made a rest stop en-route to New York City.  There were major traffic delays getting into the city so we lost a bit of time but our knowledgeable young city guide from the Bronx did a great job showing us around – Central Park, Carnegie Hall, Times Square, the Textile District, the Village and SOHO.

We arrived 15 minutes late for our lunch at Katz’s Deli but kindly the manager kept our tables open.  It truly is an experience dining here and the food they serve is top quality – hot piled high deli sandwiches on rye – potato knishes, cole slaw, potato salad, the best steak fries, 2 types of dill pickles and of course melt-in-your-mouth NY Cheescake.  

If you were not part of a group you would need to get in a long line to order and get into another long line to pay.  When we arrived there was a large group of fireman picking up a take-out order.  This establishment is popular not just with tourists but locals too.

New York City is a very expensive city to visit and in-turn our family style lunch at Katz’s was very pricey but well worth it.  I’ve visited this city many times so I’ve dined at many famous New York restaurants but its Katz’s Deli that offers the most memorable culinary experience in my books.   When I think of New York City, Katz’s always comes to mind.  If you visit New York – you need to put it on your bucket list.

Like in many major cities its difficult for a restaurant to survive but Katz’s has been around since 1888.  Nine months ago the Opry in Nashville opened a restaurant in Times Square and it has already closed….  Its a tough grind in NYC.

There is much traffic congestion in this city so it takes a long time to travel a short distance but overall I found the drivers to be courteous and due to the possibility of getting a $300 fine if you honk-your-horn you don’t hear many horns unlike years ago.

You can easily spend many days exploring New York City and its different Burroughs so in our short time we just got a taste what the city is like.

There is no other city quite like it.

At the cruise pier I handed the porters a substantial tip and they took good care of our luggage.  I noticed that security checked my luggage.  I had a zip lock bag of toiletries and instead of them opening the zip they sliced open the bag….

We boarded the Zuiderdam in a matter of a few minutes – the check in process was seamless.  I was very impressed.

I attended a number of meetings with the on-board staff in order to finalize arrangements for my group.  I felt like I was bouncing all over the place but I accomplished a great deal in a short period of time.

There are many Australians sailing with us.  

My group has been assigned a prime area in the dining room for their dinners.  ITs on the upper level in a quiet area close to the vast windows The mainly Indonesian crew do a stellar job throughout the ship but they truly shine in the dining room.

Tonight’s dinner was excellent and I expect the quality will continue throughout our voyage. 

The 8pm evening sail away out of New York was just spectacular.  The city was lit up in all its glory.  Sailing past the Statue of Liberty always brings a tear to my eye.  

The Beatles show that featured Jesse Kazemek, in the main showroom was excellent (husband and wife duo) and I really enjoyed the high energy band in the BB Kings Lounge and the dueling Piano Players.

The beds in our staterooms are so comfy it didn’t take long to fall asleep.  

New York City Here We Come!

The summer certainly flew by….  I just can’t believe it!

Thanks to all of you that visited the Walters Dinner Theatre this season.  My family is so thrilled that it was a completely sold-out run of shows. Due to demand we extended our season – the final performance was tonight.

Now that the theatre season has ended,  my travel season has once again begun and I’m excited.

Last night I welcomed my Canada/New England Cruise passengers and we enjoyed a delicious pre-tour welcome dinner and relaxing overnight.  There are 48 of us.  This morning after a hearty breakfast we boarded a Ayr Motor Coach and started our journey to the Big Apple, New York City, where we will board Holland America’s Zuiderdam.

Getting into the USA was a breeze today – a very quick and friendly process.

We made the most of our 90 minutes at Destiny USA a large entertainment complex in Syracuse NY.  I presented everyone with $25. to cover their lunch.  There were so many wonderful restaurants to choose from but I think my passengers favourite was the infamous, Cheesecake Factory.  Some of them even purchased Cheesecake for a midnight snack – sadly, they didn’t offer to share with me!

It was pouring rain when we left Woodstock, ON Canada this morning.  The sun shone and we enjoyed balmy summer like temperatures when we were at Destiny USA.  On our way to Scranton, PA we encountered a bit more drizzle and when we arrived at the deluxe Hilton Hotel it came down in buckets.   Temperatures continue to climb – its expected to be 80F in New York City tomorrow!

The drive from Syracuse to Scranton was very picturesque – the rolling valleys are covered with trees that are just starting to show their bright fall colours.

We crossed into Pennsylvania State at 3:45pm.

The staff at the Hilton in Scranton, PA was ready for our 430pm arrival.  I have brought groups to this lovely hotel for years.  This is the very best property in Scranton.

At 5:30pm I invited everyone to a 1 hour cocktail reception.  This group was anxious to mix and mingle.  

We were constantly getting “Severe Weather Warning” messages on our phones during the cocktail party but that didn’t damper the fun everyone was having.

Dinner followed at 6:30pm in the Hiltons newly renovated modern ballroom.  The scrumptious buffet featured moist lightly crusted chicken, blackened pork, salmon  – variety of salads,  fresh vegetables, potatoes – homemade layer cakes for dessert.

After dinner some headed to the indoor pool for a refreshing swim while others enjoyed a nightcap in the lobby lounge.

I constantly left my evening functions so I could stay in contact with the front desk staff in regards to the weather.  By the time we were done dinner the most severe warning had passed.  The current danger for many local areas is flash floods.

I couldn’t ask for a better group of travellers.  We are one big family already.  Everyone is getting along so well – mixing and mingling.  Thanks to Kevin Bridge, our coach driver.  This is the first time he has driven for me and he is doing a great job.  He has fit right in.

We are all anxious to board the Zuiderdam cruise ship tomorrow.  After breakfast we’ll depart for New York City where we will be met by a local expert who will tour us around for a couple hours.  I want everyone to experience a bit of the city before we head to the cruise ship.  We could have ate lunch on board the cruise ship but everyone that visits NYC needs to experience Katz’s Deli – a New York City culinary landmark  – so I have included a luncheon there before continuing to the cruise ship.

A great deal of this cruise journey is going to be spent in Canadian waters so I probably won’t purchase an internet plan on the cruise ship because I’ll be able to connect to wifi when we are on shore in Canada.  I’ll continue to write blogs when we visit Boston and Bar Harbor, Maine and my current plan is to post them once we arrive in Halifax.

Be sure to follow along!

The Pioneer Woman Celebrates Her Nan

During my upcoming February 2019 Texas Tour we’ll travel into Oklahoma to visit the Pioneer Woman Mercantile which is owned by Ree and Ladd Drummond.  Chances are you have tried Ree’s recipes or have watched her hit television show on the Food Network.

Ree Drummond is a gem of a farm girl.  She is obsessed with butter, Basset Hounds and Ethel Merman.    Ree raises her family on a ranch outside of Pawhuska, Oklahoma.  

Her television show documents daily life as a ranch wife and mother.  This down home country gal’s blog attracts 22 million monthly views.  Ree’s television show and blog focuses on food, living on the ranch and family.  

A couple days ago Ree emailed a blog post to her loyal followers letting them know that her upcoming television show would be “A Different Kind of Show”…..

Although her Mother-In-Law’s situation with cancer was terminal the family did not expect her end to come so quickly.  They had just started filming a block of television shows at their ranch when she suddenly passed.   After much pondering they decided to continue with the television taping in order to “Celebrate Nan”.

This was a sad show to watch.  The “Celebrating Nan” episode shows us a loving family and friends struggling to get through a tough time.  We can all relate.  Country Folk came together to beautify the cemetery which is located on their ranch and Nan’s favourite food and recipes were prepared.  The show truly “Celebrated Nan” and even though I never met “Nan” I felt that I knew her a bit after watching the show.  

Ree wrote that her family could have filmed their television shows pretending this didn’t happen or they could show what was really going on in their lives.   She decided to take the real route and I admire her for that.

I’m sure you will agree that writing about this is an odd way for me to highlight an upcoming tour but after watching the “Celebrating Nan” television episode I am even more anxious to show you the community where the Pioneer Woman lives with her family.  

Ree’s children often work at the family-run Mercantile.  They are sometimes the ones that bring out the sticky buns (served in a coast iron skillet) or the Southern Mac and Cheese.  

Everyone has a story.  The Pioneer Woman has found a way to share her story with all of us.  

You’ll have a great time if you decide to join me on this Texas Tour February 13-20, 2019. 

See you aboard!

Details – Sunday Aug 26th Travel Shows!

Tomorrow many of you will be travelling to the Walters Theatre for the annual,  “Travel With Bradley” Travel shows. GPS Address – 836074 Hubbard Road, Blandford-Blenheim

The email confirmation that was sent to you last week confirms which showtime you booked –

10am

12:30pm

3pm

5:30pm

Your reserved tickets will be available at the theatre entrance under your last name.

If you didn’t RSVP in advance and would like to attend one of tomorrows travel shows there will be a handful of complimentary tickets available at the door for each show.  Over 700 people have RSVP’d.

Please try to arrive no sooner than 30 minutes before your scheduled show time in order for us to easily accommodate traffic flow and parking.

If you are wondering where you can grab a casual bite to eat either before or after the shows here are my recommendations –

6 minutes from the theatre

Innerkip Highlands Golf Club – the closest good option to the theatre – 805940 Oxford Road 29, Innerkip, ON – 519-469-3924 – offers a casual dining experience (burgers, fish n chips, sandwiches, salads)  in their restaurant – dining room offers a beautiful view overlooking the golf course

12 minutes from the theatre

Jims Lunch – 28 Oxford 2, Princeton, ON 519-458-4444 – small country diner that has been serving good home-made food for decades – when I was a young boy my Grandmother would give me handfuls of coins so I could treat myself to one of their freshly scooped butterscotch sundaes!

16 minutes from the theatre

Quehl’s Restaurant – 33 Woodstock Street S., Tavistock ON 519-655-2835 – Quehl’s is our official caterer at the “Walters Theatre” – they will be serving their delicious brunch and dinner buffets at their restaurant in Tavistock tomorrow  – there is Main Street road construction in Tavistock so just follow their restaurant signs which will guide you to their restaurants back entrance

17 minutes from the theatre

Adam Brenner’s “The Garden Stand” – 90 Wilmot St, New Hamburg – 519-390-0808 – This is a “To Go” Gourmet Food Shop – where you can purchase fresh and frozen gourmet meals, wonderful dips, dressings, salads – I always leave with an armful of goodies – Sundays hours are 10am – 4pm

27 minutes from the theatre

Camp 31 – 22 Paris Rd, Paris, ON – 519-442-3560 – they serve the best BBQ around

—-

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow at one of the shows!

I can’t wait for you to see my NEW, “Travel With Bradley” brochure – it looks GREAT!

If you are unable to attend the show tomorrow the NEW travel itineraries will be upload to the “Travel With Bradley” website sometime later in the week – some journeys will only accommodate a small number of passengers so I expect they will sell-out quickly. www.travelwithbradley.com

Drive safe.