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Holland America Maasdam
Voyage of the Vikings cruise
July 23-August 27, 2011

Click here to see the cruise itinerary
The Village of Cap-aux-Meules in the Madeleine Islands is really just a collection of tidy, colorful frame houses
that form part of the province of Quebec, Canada.
The tiny town of Woody Point in the fjord of Bonne Bay, Canada is surrounded by Gros Morne National Park.
We hiked from the ship, through the town, and up into the Tablelands. Along the trail were waxy looking "flowers"
in boggy marshland. The sun was strong, but the cool breeze and temperatures in the 70s were wonderful.
The next morning we approached Greenland and saw
what the Captain termed a "medium-sized" iceberg
that was half the size of our ship!
  The village of Qaqortoq, with 3,500 inhabitants, boasts
over 5% of the entire population of treeless Greenland.
The people were really friendly and some spoke English.
We tried to enter Prince Christian Sound. But after 10 hours of sailing through dangerous icebergs, we had to turn around because the fjord and passageway were blocked by ice. The best part was watching the seals play.
Yes, in Iceland you can drive from North America into
Europe! We are standing in Europe next to a rock cliff
that is in North America. This is the continenal divide where the tectonic plates of the two continents meet.
  Nearby, the Gullfoss waterfall cascades from
one continent to the other.
Hot pools and mud pots are more proof of
the thin crust of the Earth in this area.
  The original Geysir, for which all other geysirs are named,
spouts every 5-7 minutes.
The famous Blue Lagoon is surrounded by volcanic rock. For a mere $40 you can swim all day in the healthful,
mineral-rich waters that are the product of the industrial waste of the nearby power plant.
From the tiny village of Djúpivogur, Iceland; we walked out to the Bird Sanctuary on the Norwegian Sea.
The temperature was in the mid 50s, but it felt colder because of the ocean wind.
In the Scottish Highlands, we didn't see "Nessie"
at Loch Ness; but we did see the lovely grounds
at the ruins of Urquhart Castle.
  Nearby Eilean Donan Castle was in much better condition.
Rosslyn Chapel, made famous in The Da Vinci Code,
was filled with engravings and "secret" symbols.
  Maggie Dicksons Pub served a delicious platter of
chicken wings, fried shrimp, sausages, haggis wedges,
BBQ ribs and salad.
It was a rainy evening for the performance of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. But with the backdrop
of the Castle, the sound of the bagpipes and fireworks exploding overhead; we had a wonderful time.
It wouldn't be Amsterdam, Holland without canals
running between the rows of houses. . .
  and bikes everywhere. This parking area is
three tiers deep - all for bicycles!
The famous White Cliffs of Dover, England
were shining in the sun.
  We climbed up to the Dover castle
that stood over the city.
The beautiful city of St. Malo, France is still surrounded
by a thick walls. We entered through one of the arches.
  Inside the sights of pastries, high fashion and great
architecture reminded us how much we love this country.
Right next to our ship in Falmouth, England was the
HMS Argus; which was turned into the movie set for
Brad Pitt's new movie World War Z!! We saw several
limos and actors, but never saw Brad or Angelina :((
  In the town, we did see lots of pasty (meat pie) shops and one bar advertising that "Brad Pitt drinks here for free".
Cobh (pronounced Cove), Ireland is a
colorful town proud of its maritime history.
  One town square has a memorial to the Lusitania victims;
and nearby the Titanic, whose last port of call was Cobh..
The Botanic Garden in Belfast, Northern Ireland
was a lovely place to walk.
  The Crown Bar bills itself as the "most elegant pub in the
world." The mosaics and tile work lived up to the hype.
The beautiful Isle of Skye is just off the coast
of mainland Scotland.
  As we were walking in the village of Portee,
we saw this rainbow and started looking
for leprechauns and a pot of gold. . .
then, we remembered we were in Scotland; not Ireland!
Which one's not a troll? Here in Akureyri, Iceland
trolls, elves and other creatures of legend abound.
  The day was sunny; but with highs in the 40s, we were
bundled up at the Botanic Garden. Not the locals,
though, we saw a crowd at the outdoor swimming pool!
The harbor into Nanortalik, Greenland was
full of icebergs larger than the tender boats.
  We talked to this couple (kind of, they didn't speak English; so we gestured) about their clothing - seal pants and boots. She explained that she hadn't made her beaded shawl, but she did make her purse, wallet & glasses case from seal skins.
The air was warm; so the fog was thick in St. Anthony, Newfoundland as we hiked out to lighthouse point.   The Maasdam looked like a Ghost Ship hovering on a cloud in the harbor full of icebergs and cold water.
Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia was a cute little
lobster fishing village outside of Halifax.
  The colors and shapes on the coast line nearby reminded us of a surreal Salvador Dalí painting.
The Shoreline Trail at Bar Harbor, Maine had beautiful coastal views on both the land and sea.   Arcadia National Park, filled with pine trees and ferns, had chipmunks with the biggest cheeks we had ever seen.

Favorite pub in Edinburgh, Scotland:

Maggie Dicksons Pub, 92 Grassmarket (near the Castle) - 0131 225 6601- fun atmosphere, large portions, really good haggis - We recommend the meat platter for 2 (shrimp, chicken wings, ribs, sausages, haggis wedges & salad).