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Day 4, Part 1: St. John, NB, Canada
Once again, I took so many pictures this day that I am going to divide it up into 2 posts. I have 132 pictures to share with you, and that is only a fraction of the number that I actually took!
All ashore this day was 8:00 AM, and we were supposed to meet our tour guide at 9:00 AM. We woke up to our ship thruster alarm clock, got ready, got some food from Cabanas, and left the ship at 8:40.
This was not a tender port as St. John is a large city with a decent-sized port. When we first got off the ship, we were in an industrial looking area. Also, it was COLD! Before we left home, the forecast said highs in the upper 50’s, so we had only packed hoodies. But, this morning the temperature was right around freezing. It did end up warming up later, but at this point we were cold. We had all worn 2-3 layers of long sleeves/sweatshirts/hoodies because that’s all we could do. Thankfully, the wind was not blowing.
Worth noting is that both the shopping guide and the monitors at the ship exits said that we needed to bring our passports. But, no one ever asked to see them. We brought ours because I am a rule follower, but I don’t like to bring them off the ship because I feel like the chances of them getting lost or stolen are greater than us needing them.
We had to walk through this building to get to the street. We were supposed to meet our tour guide at a location nearby.
We exited the building and I pulled out the map that the tour guide, Alex, had emailed me before the cruise. His instructions were very easy to follow.
For those of you not familiar with St. John, it’s claim to fame is that it sits on the Bay of Fundy, home to the highest tides on the planet and one of the 7 Wonders of North America. Because of the geography of the area, the tides rise by about 50 feet every 6 hours, and this dramatically shapes the landscape as you will see later in the post.
As we walked down the street, I turned around to take this picture. You can see that there was another ship in port with us. It was a large Royal Caribbean one, but I didn’t make note of the name.
See that lamp in the picture below with the 3 red lanterns? It is called the Three Sisters Lamp and it was where we were to meet Alex. It was practically right across the street from the ship.
We crossed the street and I turned around to take this picture of the port building that we had walked through. You can see the Magic behind it.
These are the views of the ships from the lamp. I didn’t realize from looking at the map how close it really was! I was thinking we would have to walk a few blocks, but we weren’t complaining because like I said it was COLD!
Alex pulled up in his minivan just a few minutes later. He owns Go Fundy Tours, which I learned about on TripAdvisor. He had the heater cranked up for us which was nice, and immediately passed out gifts. We each got a small bottle of maple syrup, and I also got a jar of maple butter and a magnet. Of course I was the most excited about the magnet! He also passed out bottles of water.
It was currently low tide, and our first stop was the Reversing Falls Rapids. At this spot, the river actually changes direction at low and high tide. At this point, the water was flowing inland because the tide was rising quickly.
This was looking towards the ocean, so the water was flowing to the right:
Unfortunately they built a paper mill right here which made everyone mad because this is a huge tourist spot and it is not pretty to look at:
This was basically a quick photo op as we would come back later to see the water flowing in the opposite direction. Alex told us that he would be our photographer for the day and that he wanted us to put our cameras away and not view everything through a camera lens. I mostly obliged. He ended up taking over 300 photos and had them on Dropbox ready to download about an hour after the end of the tour. I was very impressed by that.
Our next stop was a pretty lake that I can’t remember the name of. It was also just a quick stop for a photo. There was so much that Alex wanted to show us that we moved at a very fast pace, which was fine with us. We are totally “jump out of the van quick to take a picture” type of people.
Next we drove to the tiny town of St. Martins. It is on the coast and most of the people are retirees who just live there for the summer and then go back to their real homes farther inland the rest of the year. Right before we got into town, we stopped at the Quaco Head Lighthouse. The views from this spot were beautiful.
In the photo below, you can see a lot of rocks behind us. When we came back later in the day at high tide, almost of them were underwater.
In fact, I’ll give you a sneak peak right here. This is the same spot about 6 hours later:
Next we drove into St. Martins and parked so that we could walk around a little bit. First we went into the visitor center.
While inside, we learned that the top of this lighthouse used to be on top of the Quaco Head Lighthouse that we had just visited.
The views from the very top:
In the photo above, you can see the harbor area is practically dry due to the low tide.
Here you can see where St. Martins is in relation to Saint John.
Next we walked across the street to a small gift shop. While the inside of the shop was nothing to write home about, the grounds were stunning! Alex had us pose for several photos.
We walked across the street to check out a covered bridge and a very dry harbor.
These boats were all floating when we drove by later in the day at high tide:
Nearby is a popular tourist spot called the St. Martins Sea Caves. Most tourists walk across the beach at low tide in order to get to the caves. We saw lots of people doing this, but Alex said that the rocks are slippery and hard to walk on, and he prefers to take his clients to a lookout area above to view the caves. We had to walk through a forest to get there. It was warming up by this time, so we weren’t uncomfortably cold anymore.
During the walk, Alex found a tree branch and we had some fun with it.
This was the view of the beach and caves (right side of photo) from above. At high tide, this is all underwater and the caves are not accessible:
Next, we continued the drive up the coast and entered the Fundy Trail Parkway. Our first stop was an observation deck to see “Flowerpot Rock”. Here you can see the power of the tides and how they have worn away the coastline.
Our next stop was at the Melvin Beach Lookout for refreshments. Alex had gone to Tim Hortons earlier that morning and picked up coffee & tea (which he kept piping hot in thermoses) and muffins. It was so good and the perfect late morning snack with beautiful views.
After we refueled, it was time for the most physically demanding part of the tour: the hike to/from Melvin Beach. I didn’t ask, but I am assuming that Alex only brings people here who appear to be relatively fit (which if true, I will take as a compliment) because while the hike down to the beach was easy, the hike back up was extremely long and steep. Here we are before, looking pretty normal:
We hiked down the path and came to Melvin Beach, which is covered with large, smooth rocks which are not very easy to walk on. I’m still amazed I didn’t twist an ankle or totally wipe out.
We let the girls play on the beach for a while, and then took some group pictures before heading back.
Now for the hike back up. The girls are in great shape, and my husband and I are in decent shape. The girls were wondering what the big deal was, and my husband and I walked (hiked, really) extremely slowly and took a few short breaks along the way. Here we are afterwards – as you can see, we don’t look quite as energetic and many layers have been shed:
I’m going to stop here and continue the rest of the day in the next post.