Today we are headed to the final proven stop on the route of the Vikings. We are at sea all day as we pass down the Labrador coast, still seeing the occasional iceberg. The wind is 25-35 knots on our stern, but at least the temperatures are around 50 degrees.
August 25, 2018
L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada
The Seabourn Quest pulled into a bay a few miles from the tender landing point and anchored shortly after 0700. By 0830 we were ashore and headed first to Norstead, a re-creation of a failed Viking settlement from the time of Leif Erickson, predating Columbus in North America by 500 years. The actual site was discovered in the 1960’s and the archeological evidence confirms the written sagas from the Viking era.
Norstead was built for the 2000 Millenial Celebration to avoid too much damage to the actual site from the tens of thousands who attended.
The actual site is now a Unesco World Heritage site and a Canadian National Park. At the site, the foundations of the sod houses are still visible, but have been recovered with sod to preserve them for future generations. Adjacent to the foundations is another recreation of what the site would have looked like 1000 years ago, complete with actors in period attire doing daily activities similar to what historians believe may have taken place.
|Forge at L'Anse aux Meadows|
|Recreated settlement at Norstead|
|Inside the sod houses|
|Using Norse tools|
|Entrance into Sod Houses|
|Large Sod House, Contains Viking Longboat|
|Sod House Church|
|Looking over Archeological Site|
|Original Foundations recovered to protect the site|
|Leif Erikson Memorial from Seattle|
|The statue is near the tender landing|
|Building are filled with items that would have been from 1000 years ago|
|What a cooking fire and oven may have looked like 1000 years ago|
|Sculpture at L'Anse aux Meadows|
At the small boat landing there is a donated copy of the Leif Erickson stature from Seattle, donated by various Seattle civic groups in 2013.
The site at L’Anse aux Meadows marks the end of the verifiable trail of the Viking presence in North America and is believed to have been used only as a gateway for other explorations, for which no firm evidence has been found elsewhere. The expansion of easier trade routes in Europe is thought to be the reason the site was abandoned after only 50-70 years.
The archeological sites we saw in Greenland were abandoned in the 1400’s, probably due to the increasingly cold climate from the climate changes then occurring.
So ends the Route of the Vikings, but still more stops before we arrive in Montreal.
August 26, 2018
Red Bay, Labrador
After leaving L’Anse aux Meadows, the Seabourn Quest travelled only 45 nautical miles across Belle Isle Straits back into Labrador and anchored off the small town of Red Bay, only 230 residents. This town was once a thriving Basque fishing and whaling village, but that is long gone. There is no cell phone service and few other services.
At 0800 we departed on the tender and boarded a school bus for the lengthy trip west down the coast, passing several more small communities, over a combination of paved and gravel roads, both filled with potholes. The school bus seats are very close together and the bus had poor suspension. Nonetheless, after 75 minutes of bouncing, we arrived at one of the tallest lighthouses in Canada, the Point Amour light, which has been in continuous operation for 160 years. The light is 132 feet above ground and 180 feet above sea level, easily illuminating the 9 mile wide Belle Isle Strait.
|Miriam at Point Amour|
|Point Amour Lighthouse|
|Wind Signal Flags|
The lighthouse is one of four “Imperial” lighthouses, so-called because England provided the funds for construction, that provide navigational aids to Belle Isle Strait. Belle Isle Strait is a shortcut between England and the Saint Lawrence, nearly 200 nautical miles shorter that the deeper water route via Cabot Straits on the south side of Nova Scotia.
We were able to climb the lighthouse and walk through many rooms of exhibits and enjoy some local desserts made from the Partridge Berry.
Returning to the ship we stopped several times for photo opportunities and at 1600 the Seabourn Quest weighed anchor and set sail for Corner Brook, Newfoundland, diagonally west across Belle Isle Strait and 190 nautical miles further towards our final destination in Montreal.
August 27, 2018
Seabourn Quest arrived at the pilot station about 0600 and was tied to the dock by 0730. Our tour today was a bus tour to Gros Morne National Park. The park is a combination of geological anomalies, wildlife, beaches, small villages, historic lighthouses, and most importantly, the barren tablelands.
|In front of tablelands|
|Barren Tablelands in Gros Morne|
|Lobster Head Bay Lighthouse|
|One of four "Imperial" Lighthouses on Belle Isle Strait|
|Moose Windvane in Gros Morn park|
|Lots of rosehips in Gros Morn|
The ship was close enough to the dock that they were able to throw heaving lines ashore and slowly winch the ship back to the dock. The problem was resolved, apparently, and the ship finally departed Corner Brook at 1930.
August 28, 2018
Seabourn Quest continued into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and entered the river about 1900. Quebec City is some 200 miles inland, but the river is still very wide. We spent several hours trial packing our luggage for the trip home on the 30th. We also had the final lectures on “The Route of the Vikings”, this time looking at the Eastward expansion into the Caspian and Black Seas.
August 29, 2018
Arriving at the cruise ship terminal just below the Chateau Frontenac at the foot of the old part of Quebec City at 0730, we joined 17 fellow passengers whose travel agents were part of the Virtuoso Network. After a driving tour of the old city we headed to Ilse d’Orleans, an island just downstream from the city. Originally named Ilse d’Bacchus by Jacques Cartier in 1536, it was renamed by XXX after himself about 1540.
Visiting a Cassis farm and winery we tasted several concoctions of Cassis or Black Current wines and liqueurs. Following a sightseeing tour of the eastern end of the island, we stopped at a restored dwelling dating from the 1500’s that belonged to a surgeon and landowner. The host was in period costume and the house was well done. Lunch was at a small restaurant “Moulin Laurent”, a converted mill, hence the “Moulin” or windmill in the name. During lunch the skies opened up and we boarded our bus in the rain for our final stop of the day, the “Isle de Bacchus” winery where we tasted three varietals and toured the operation.
|Approaching our dock in Quebec|
|Old City Streets|
|One of Quebec city gates|
|L'Isle de Bacchus Winery|
|Historic Mansion from 1500's|
|Moulin Laurent Restaurant|
Heading back to the ship in the rain, we finalized our packing and met with friends in the Observation Bar for last drinks before departure and disembarkation the next morning. The final “sailaway” party for the ship was moved to the Grand Salon because of the rain. After being underway for several hours, the captain made an announcement that there was a main engine cooling issue that required immediate attention and that we would be anchoring in the river until it was rectified. We were worried since we had an early flight and any delay would mean missing the flight on a holiday weekend with no backup flights. After some time, the problem was rectified, no firm explanation given, and the Seabourn Quest raised the anchor and proceeded at full speed towards Montreal, with a one hour delay expected.
August 30, 2018
To our surprise, time was made up and we docked only 30 minutes late and we actually made our transportation 5 minutes early, only to run into traffic jams on the way to the airport. Arriving at 0835, we checked in and found Patrick had been randomly selected for additional screening (searches) which took extra time. However, we still arrived at the gate in time for our flight to Chicago and the connection to Seattle. We had a 7 hour layover at O’Hare, but our passes to the “United Club” provided a place to wait with some food, drink and fewer crowds than in the main terminal.
The United flight to Seattle was uneventful and our trip ended with our arrival home just before midnight.