Archive for May, 2013

Sunset in Bar Harbor

Posted: May 27, 2013 in Bar Harbor
Tags: ,

After a week of gray… the skies were beautiful tonight!

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Maybe not so much in the weather…. still overcast or raining, cold, and really, just yucky out.  however, when family comes to visit, it always lifts my spirits!  We headed out and around, trying to make the best of the bad weather… Friday night was LOTS of catching up, Saturday was Sand Beach and Thunder Hole, in Acadia National Park, and a trip on the Nature Cruise, courtesy of the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company, http://www.barharborwhales.com/nature-cruise.php!

…which turned out to be a beautiful day for a drive through Acadia National Park!  The cabin fever was starting to get to me….

What a week!

Time has flown… but I finally got around to the breakdown of our week in Ireland, which flew by the way…

Friday:  after a LOOOOOOOOONG flight, we finally land in Dublin about 5:15am… I breeze thru EU Passport Control (with my awesome new Irish passport!) and gather all luggage while waiting for the Mom and Webster to pass through the US Passport Control line.  Frank, Anita, and Jackie land about 30 minutes after us… and we meet up with them at the luggage carousel.  Awesomeness!!  Now, the week can begin!!  We head to the Conrad Hilton, which was amazzzzzing, and just crashed.  Once refreshed, the rest of the day consisted of St. Stephen’s Green and a tour down Grafton St., and Temple Bar for an early meal.

Saturday:  There was definitely no early start to the day…. but we were lucky enough to have breakfast as part of our hotel package, and then went about exploring the more touristy bits of Dublin.  The most important item on everyone’s list was Trinity College, http://www.trinitycollege.edu, and the Book of Kells.  Guinness was also on the “must do” list, and we headed that way for a self guided tour of the brewery, and taste testing at the Sky Bar!  It was amazing to take in the city of Dublin from one of the tallest points.. it was Mom’s first time up, and she couldn’t get over how small Dublin is, once you see it from above.  After a hard day of sightseeing, we head off to Maynooth, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maynooth, and checked into our lovely little B&B, The Aaronbeg, http://www.aaronbeg.com.  The lady of the house is just so sweet, and the house is warm and inviting.  We hit the door running, over to the Avenue Cafe, http://www.avenuecafe.ie, for a spectacular dinner before the main event at The Roost, http://www.louisfitzgerald.com/roost…..drum roll please…. Mel’s Surprise Birthday Party!   Mel was soooo shocked, and we had a great time partying the night away.  Niamh had set up so we would have a corner of the bar, and only our group was allowed.  It worked out great, with quite a few guests, and lots of laughs!

Sunday:  After another morning of trying to get over the jet lag… we headed back in to Dublin, this time staying at the Kilmainham Hilton.  Sunday night’s plans were to meet at the Arlington Hotel Bar, for an evening of Irish music and dancing…  but before heading out to meet with the others, Mom, Mel, Jackie, Webster and I headed to the Clontarf Castle, http://www.clontarfcastle.ie, for dinner.  After closing down the Arlington, we headed out to find another location to drink the night away… which is surprisingly difficult to do on a Sunday night in Dublin!

Monday:  Morning started out somewhat early than the others, when he headed across the street to check out the old Kilmainham Gaol, http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/dublin/kilmainhamgaol, for a history lesson and tour.  Mel met us at the hotel and we were going to the second big event of the week… the fortune teller!  Always an interesting experience… and totally worth the wait, at the local pub of course, Boomers Bar.  🙂  After some sharing of fortunes, Frank and Anita were kind enough to drop Webster and I off at the train station, for our trip to Cork!  We checked in to another cozy B&B, the Auburn House, http://www.auburnguesthouse.com.  Once again, pleasantly surprised with the warm and inviting interior and yet another lovely couple running the place.  After much deliberation, we headed out to Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, http://www.cathedral.cork.anglican.org, because I wanted to see what it looked like when all the lights were lighting it up from the outside.. we took a wander through the cemetery and I was in awe of the design of the place!  After moseying around for a bit, it was decided dinner and drinks were next on the to-do list, and we found Sin E, http://www.corkheritagepubs.com/pubs/sin-e, and then further down the road was The Fish Wife, https://www.facebook.com/thefishwifecork, and they delivered dinner across the street to the The Cork Arms, which is a tiny, fabulous little pub with such a cozy atmosphere!  (are you starting to build a picture??  everything in Europe is just cozy!)

Tuesday:  Back to Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, however, this time we were welcomed by an open door, and folks who were happy to share a bit of history with us.  It was so neat to see the inside of a cathedral with so much history!  After we tore ourselves away, we headed back to the B&B to hook up with Frank and Anita… and headed out to Blarney Castle, http://www.blarneycastle.ie!  What an incredible experience…. I was having so much fun imagining what the castle looked like in its day, and I wished I could step back in time, just to see its magnificence!  We climbed to the top of the castle… amidst winding staircases and stone walls to kiss the Blarney Stone, explored the Gardens, the Wishing Steps, the Rock Close and the Witch’s Kitchen.. all of it, amazing.  We headed back to Dublin that afternoon, and met up with Niamh and the kiddies.. I can’t believe how big the all kiddies are!

Wednesday:  We headed out for our final day in Ireland!  Trim Castle, http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/midlandseastcoast/TrimCastle, was first on the list… Mel dropped Jackie, Webster and I off, and we headed in… what a view!  Again… I wished I could spend some time in the era, and see what Trim Castle really looked like in medieval times!  After what I think was two hours, and a very cool tour, we hooked up with Mom and Mel and wandered through the Town of Trim, and did a little shopping!  We headed up to Blanchardstown Centre, which is a mecca of shopping!!!  Really?  We just headed to Penneys!!!  What an awesome way to spend the day…. I got some really cool finds!  Dinner was in Dunshaughlin, at the Country Club Restaurant with EVERYONE, and then we headed back to Mel’s for dessert and drinks.

It was such a great week, although it passed much too quickly!  It was wonderful to have friends and family along, even if they did invite themselves….. it’s a free world, right Frankie??? 🙂  Can’t wait to plan my next trip, and I wonder where I will go… suggestions anyone??

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BAR HARBOR, Maine — The summer cruise ship season began Sunday when the 720-foot Veendam pulled into Frenchman Bay and unloaded a throng of passengers who shopped, ate and went sightseeing in town and Acadia National Park.

The Veendam was the first of 135 scheduled cruise ship visits scheduled for the 2013 season. Even with the usual amount of cancellations, that number will shatter the previous record of 108 visits in 2012.

Cruise ships have become a fixture in Bar Harbor since the early ’90s, when only two dozen called per year. In the fiscal year beginning July 1, the town will receive more than a half-million dollars in cruise ship fees, said Harbormaster Charlie Phippen. And businesses in Bar Harbor and surrounding towns will rake in untold dollars from disembarked passengers.

“The cruise ships, on a good day, can mean a [sales] increase of 40 percent,” said Matt Hochman, owner of the Opera House Internet Cafe and Trailhead Cafe, both on Cottage Street.

On Sunday, the Veendam’s passengers lined the streets and filled Agamont Park. Naralle King of Australia went shopping with two other women. She said the ship’s crew had told her Bar Harbor was “a quaint little town.”

“I was imagining a little town like Cabot Cove, in ‘Murder, She Wrote,’” King said.

Veendam offered passengers a $99 excursion through Acadia National Park, promising “one of the most scenic drives on the east coast” along the 27-mile Park Loop Road. But thanks to federal sequestration, portions of the park — including most of the Park Loop Road and the road to the summit of Cadillac Mountain — are inaccessible to motorists and tour buses.

The park will not be completely open until May 19. Before then, the Veendam and its sister ship, Maasdam, will each visit once.

Passengers who had signed up for tours through the park in advance were warned about the closure via email a month ago and given the option to cancel their excursion, said Greg Gordon, vice president of shore excursions in North America and the Caribbean for Intercruises, Veendam’s agent and tour provider.

“We still have tours into the park,” Gordon said Sunday. “We’ve visited Jordan Pond House and Thunder Hole. The response has been positive from the guests.”

But Gary Keenan, a Veendam passenger from Scottsdale, Ariz., said he opted out of visiting Acadia when he found out he wouldn’t see the top of Cadillac.

“We went online and found out the park was closed. That affected our decision,” he said.

Other passengers could not seem to care less about whether the park was open. Joy Roxas of California stopped in Agamont Park to shoot pictures of the Porcupine Islands.

“They didn’t say anything about the park,” she said of the ship’s crew. “They said lobster is really good here, and they’re known for their lighthouses.”

“We love it. I wish I could live here,” she said.

In many ways, Bar Harbor is still preparing for its busy tourist season. Some businesses aren’t yet open, but those that were reaped the rewards on Sunday.

“I put one more person on staff during cruise ship days,” said Desiree Bousquet, co-owner of Epi’s Pizza. She said that the restaurant had to prepare more “tourist foods” those days.

“We sell a lot more chowder. Lobster rolls too, and blueberry pie,” she said.

Britt Hulbert, owner of Jekyll and Hyde, said she’s opened her doors earlier each year to accommodate cruise ships that start appearing earlier and call even as late as November.

“We open in May now. In the past we opened in June,” she said. “It’s not just the cruise ships, but they do lengthen the season, especially in the fall.”

The only other city in Maine that sees significant cruise ship traffic is Portland. While Bar Harbor has seen growth in recent years, Portland has had fewer ships come each year for the past four. The city is scheduled to have 58 visits this year, and tallied 59 in 2012, 65 in 2011 and 71 in 2010.

But despite fewer ships calling, more passengers arrive in Portland each year, said Nicole Clegg, the city’s spokeswoman. This year, the city expects more than 71,000 passengers, who will each spend between $80 and $110, according to a study cited by Clegg.

“It speaks to booking bigger ships, which carry more passengers,” she said. “That’s a reflection on the industry. A lot of cruise lines are building bigger boats with greater capacity.”

The city’s new Ocean Gateway terminal means even large ships can dock. In Bar Harbor, ships must weigh anchor in Frenchman Bay and ferry passengers to the town pier.

Clegg said Portland is trying to convince cruise lines to stop in Portland before heading to Bar Harbor.

“Bar Harbor has Acadia National Park, but there’s no port facility,” Clegg said. “What we market is that we have amenities like water, electricity, things that ships are concerned about. … So we can give them that kind of stop before they tender in Bar Harbor.”

And because those aboard can simply walk off the ship and into downtown Portland, Clegg said the city is a popular stop with cruise ship crews: “It’s very easy for them to come and go. There’s a convenience factor that we can market.”

 

CORRECTION:

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Portland is the only other Maine city to receive cruise ships. While Portland and Bar Harbor receive the majority of cruise traffic, smaller ports such as those in Rockland, Belfast and Eastport also receive a handful of ships each year.