"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Towel Animals Galore

My Yoda towel animal
I adored my cabin stewards on the Holland America Veendam for the repositioning cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Montreal. Iman and Wayan were the absolute best. They were there in the morning greeting me by name, asking what tour I would be going on that day, and did I enjoy my breakast? Throughout the day, they smiled and spoke to me, asking if I enjoyed my tour and what I was doing that night. They were always there, always smiling and working hard.

My wonderful cabin stewards Wayan and Imam

My room was always spotless. But the most important thing of all, I had my towel animal to come home to each night. One night I came back after dinner and Imam was finishing up. I asked him if he was going make me a towel animal and he said no. I was very sad, but he had sort of a mischievous grin on his face as he said it. Then I realized, he wasn't going to make me one as it was already there .. a monkey hanging on a hanger. (Need to locate the photo.)

Towel animal with room service menu 
Another towel animal

Wayan and Imam up close
Thank you Wayan and Imam! You made my cruise.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Perce and Sweet Lorraine

Sweet Lorraine
I have taken my share of shore excursions on cruises. Most I barely remember the guide, typically being mildly aggravated by how much they talk and how little I will remember later. There were quite a few exceptions my last cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Montreal on the Holland America Veendam. One great exception was the "Best of Perce" tour with our guide, Lorraine - and our bus driver, Frank.

On the way to Perce

We could not have had a lousier day weather-wise. It was cold with snow still on the ground in spots. The wind was whipping and it rained off and on. But in the toasty bus with Lorraine's anecdotes and Frank checking that we were warm enough, it felt like a day out with family. Lorraine is from the area around Gaspe and Perce, Quebec. She grew up there and then moved to the big city of Montreal and lived there for 40 years, working for a bank until she retired. Then she and her husband moved back to where they grew up.

Bleak day between Gaspe and Perce
Seen with rain through the bus window
Now she works as a tour guide some days, and on the other days, she shuffles seniors to their doctor's appointments and brings them home from the hospital. She is one of the kindest people I have ever met. 

in Perce

Frozen waterfalls

Even with the bad weather, the tour was terrific. We got to see frozen waterfalls and the rock at Perce. We ate lunch at a little restaurant by the boat dock of Perce, and I was ever so grateful I wasn't doing the tour on the boat that day.

Boat by the restaurant where we ate

Cute souvenirs in the one shop that was open
The town of Perce is tiny. Since it was before season opened up, there was only one souvenir shop open. But the trip there and back, with the lovely lunch and Sweet Lorraine, made the day go by fast. It was a delight!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Bar Harbor Tour and More with Woody

Bar Harbor Coastal Cab van
I originally was wait listed on a tour from the Holland American Veendam Shore excursions. But once I met Rich and the group from Cruise Critic at the first meet & greet, I was invited along on a private tour to Winter Harbor and Acadia National Forest. I wanted to go on the private tour, and luckily HAL was very accommodating as they did send me the ticket to my room. But I asked them if I could cancel, and I am so glad that I did. The private tour with Woody could not have been better.
Inside of Woody's van
First off, Woody is just a super nice guy. He has lived in the area his whole life and knows almost everything there is to know. He is kind and cared when I got cold. He took us to all the places we were supposed to go and then some. We first went to the Naval Facility at Winter Harbor, then would back around through Acadia National Forest, stopping at all the key spots along the way. 

Arcadia National Forest
The coldest yet most beautiful spot was Cadillac Mountain. So glad we got to go there. If you squint your eyes a bit, or maybe get a magnifying glass, you can see our cruise ship right above the shoreline.

View from Cadillac Mountain
You cannot go wrong with Woody and his Bar Harbor Coastal Cab tours. You can find his website here. He does all kinds of private tours and can adapt yours to exactly what you want to see, but don't miss Cadillac Mountain. It is gorgeous. Don't forget to tell Woody we said hi ... from Luh, Rich, Al and Gail!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Bar Harbor and Winter Harbor

Acadia National Park
There are few places on earth as gorgeous as the coast of Maine. I loved Camden and all the little beach towns along the way, when my husband and I traveled there by car in 2009. Last time I was there in late September, and it was nippy. But nothing prepared me for the bitter cold and wind when we arrived in Bar Harbor on our cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Montreal on the Holland America Veendam.

The day was clear, our guide Woody was great and we took a van ride to the Naval facility at Winter Harbor. It was important to the two Navy guys we had along on the tour. I tagged along and was glad I did.

View from Cadillac Mountain
We first went to the Naval facility and then wound around for the rest of the tour through Acadia National Forest. It is stunning, but the winds were treacherous at Cadillac Mountain. One tidbit I learned is that the Mountain is named after the same guy as the car. Who knew that Cadillac was a person? He was one of the original founders of Detroit. 

Information on the Naval facility at Winter Harbor

View of the plaque at Winter Harbor
The Naval facility has a very interesting history. It served as the location of the Naval Security group from 1935 to 2002. Fun to learn a little bit of Naval history.