Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thursday, September 27

It is so nice to have continuously smooth seas at last. We wake up a little after 7, after getting an extra hour last night. Now we are only one hour off our home time. It won’t change again for about two weeks when we cross the Georgia Alabama line.

Carolyn peeks out and we have some full fledged color in the trees. Things are just beginning to turn. Later we learn they had their first frost the other day. It is still a little grey, but no rain....Yea! We are heading to the dining room for breakfast when the Captain announces the tender service has just begun. Yes, another unscheduled tender port and we see why as we are eating breakfast. The NCL Dawn with her 3,000 passengers pulls in and takes the only dock space. So much for the small luxury lines getting the best berthing spaces! This happened to us a couple of times last year on the Regent Mariner also.

By 9:30AM we have our act together and are on the tender to La Baie’s terminal. The tender dock is very nice with a really nice terminal with craft shops and a nice information center. There is a little skitt taking place on the dock with maybe 25 town’s people dressed in 1800's costumes.
There are lots of welcome people answering questions and directing us to where we need to go. Carolyn had read on line that there is a HOHO bus that operates when cruise ships are in town. We ask and are directed to a tent selling tickets just outside the terminal. For $15US cash pp, we buy tickets for the two different bus circuits....five stops in La Baie and four stops in Chicioutimi, a small town about 20 minutes away. La Baie is at the head of the Saguenay Fjord and Chicoutimi is on the Saguenay River. At this point, we are the only ship in town so we catch a nearly empty bus and head over to Chicioutimi. This area was first settled in the 1830s and became a lumber center over time. There are some really nice Victorian buildings.

Our first stop is the Cathedrale Saint Francois Xavier It was built in the mid 1800's and has burned twice, but from the pictures it was rebuilt the same way each time. It is a beautiful church on the inside and very well maintained.

The area, of course, is French and heavily Catholic. From there we walk the main street that is one cafe after another.
Dick needs to find an ATM so we can have Canadian dollars for a taxi tomorrow. Problem solved, we pick up the bus at the next stop at the foot of the main drag. From there we head to the old part of the town that was heavily damaged in the serious flooding in 1996.

We stop at the old pulp mill that closed in 1929 due to the crash.
It is a pretty set of buildings that are now a regional museum. Nearby is the Sacre-Cour Church, the best sample of Gothic design in the area, built in very early 1900s
and the little white house which is the only house in the path of the water to survive the three day 1996 flood. From here we head back to La Baie and a nice little local craft market set up in front of the local church.
This market is small but only sells local handmade crafts like soaps, candles, wood crafts, paintings, jewelry and foods like jams and spices at good prices . There are a couple of food booths also. Carolyn finds two nice pieces of jewelry. This stop is the last one before the terminal on both circuits and you can switch circuits here or at the terminal.

The crowds are picking up so we figure the NCL ship has let its passengers off. We opt to take the La Baie circuit bus back to the terminal so we will be sure to have a seat from the terminal stop. Good move because when we get to the terminal there is a huge line for the next bus. The bus fills and we are off to the Air Defense Museum, next to the air base.  It has a nice outside display along with an indoor museum. It cost $6.50C pp.  We pass on this and go on to the next stop for the oldest part of La Baie. This part of town was also heavily damaged during the 1996 floods. There is a nice view out over the fjord at this stop along with the area museum and several craft workshops.

The town built a monument to the flood out of yield signs in the shape of a pyramid, Pyramide des Ha! Ha!
The Ha Ha River flooded the town and the pyramid of red yield signs symbolizes that the "people yield to the force of nature." We ride the bus back to the terminal and walk along the nice park like area to get some photos of the fjord and the three ships in town today.

A small expedition ship arrived after we left this morning. This is such a red letter day for the town and its developing tourist trade that the teachers have brought their classes down to the park to see the ships!

We are really impressed at what the area has done.  It has been a great day and the people are super friendly. The HOHO tour is well worth the money and time. There is a guide on the bus telling everyone about the area and another guide gets on and gives an overview of what there is to do and see at each stop.

We get back on board about 2:00PM in time to have lunch at the Grill. The day is cool, but the sun has come out so we enjoy our lunch with a view!
Back in the room we work on pictures and the blog. Then Dick goes for a dip in our favorite hot tub on 6 forward. Carolyn goes out and tires to capture the little bit of fall color.

At 5:30PM we go up to the Observation Lounge to get seats for sail away. Since it is cool they announce that the vodka and caviar party is moving from Deck 8 to the Lounge. We really don’t like it when they move the party indoors...the Lounge gets so crowded you can’t move around and you definitely can’t enjoy the views...oh well.
We adjourn to the aft deck on 5 that is empty for some great views and enjoy a beautiful, but rare for this cruise, sunset as we sail into the main part of the fjord.

We go for our last dinner at 7:15PM. The Restaurant is almost empty. Carolyn asks for a table for two and we are taken back to last table in the back corner and she nicely rebels. We want to sit where we can see what is happening. So, they come back and try to seat us at the next table over...still one of us will be looking at the wall, back in the corner! She tells them to try again and to put us with Martin. This time they put us at a two top in the middle of the room...much better. We have the special, beef tenderloin, and a side of soft shell crab then finish off with the chocolate pots! The beef has been excellent! We will miss the pampering service!

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