How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE


Beijing Part 11: Special Peking Duck Dinner

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

When the bus dropped us off, we stumbled to the restaurant down an alley and a weird sidewalk, up-heaved and unfinished, or maybe under construction. We entered a shopping mall and took the escalator to the second floor. The women wanted to look around and shop. We hadn’t been in a Chinese mall yet. Again, no time. I didn’t care about actual shopping, but I wanted to compare a mall in the east to what we knew at home. From our rushed escort, I’d say they are comparable.

Fancy caving of Peking Duck

                          Fancy carving of Peking Duck. Check out the wine glass on the table.

Our heads swiveled as we ascended, but Robert whisked the English 8 into the most upscale restaurant we’d been to so far. All the restaurants thus far wouldn’t be mistaken for anything but Chinese. Excepting the staff, we might have been anywhere in the world. Our table, tucked in a quiet corner with no other patrons around, put the idea into my head that we’d been bad. (small joke)

Asked for our drink preferences, glasses were blessed with a splash—my guess—an ounce of wine. (Proof positive: Don’t do this at home, kids. Today I ran a test. I measured an ounce of water and poured it into a similar glass. I was right. Sometimes I amaze me.)

Appetizers

  • Thin beef slices
  • Radish
  • Salad (didn’t write what kind)
  • Vegetables

As expert as a surgeon

                                                                    As expert as a surgeon

The opened bottle waited on the sideboard. All meals and tips were inclusive but not extra wine. At least when you buy a bottle of wine in a grocery store or liquor outlet, you can haggle over the price. You don’t ask the price of wine in a restaurant and then decide not to order. Right? What a group we are. No-one jumped to order another ounce of wine. Was it good? It wasn’t memorable.

The duck presented with a flourish was carved by an expert carver, every cut precise. We all tasted it but what a disappointment. We were embarrassed to leave so much uneaten. Okay, I’ll tell you why: it was dry and tough. My apologies to the chef. A buildup for nothing.

  • Rice
  • Beef and onion + red and green peppers for color
  • Sweet and Sour chicken (familiar, almost like home)
  • French fries and shrimp (yes, together)
  • Chinese cucumbers (the teeny tiny ones)
  • Chicken and tomatoes
  • Soup (a mystery kind)
  • Pulled duck meat and onions
  • Something like a tortilla for the duck meat

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Wouldn’t you know, the one night we had an early evening, we ended up in a traffic jam but not for long. My feet were killing me but felt better than the previous day. These new shoes for which I paid mega bucks were comfortable but my feet perspired like fish in a steamer.

I needed bandages for the blisters. Couldn’t find the ones I KNOW I packed. Lucky for me we had a drugstore next to the small variety store on one side of the hotel. What an experience. Neither the druggist nor the cashier spoke English. I shook my head a lot and the druggist showed me a roll of gauze suitable for a bullet wound to the chest. Pantomime, hand signals and short of removing my shoes, we finally found regular bandages. Bows and wide smiles followed.

On my return to the hotel, I slipped into the variety store next door and for $3.00 U.S. bought a large can of Chinese beer–you know, to celebrate the bandages and yes, it hit the spot.

CCTV station in the background. Looks like a pair of pants.

                                  CCTV station in the background. Looks like a pair of pants.

 

Some Quick FACTS about WORK:

  • Average salary $1,000 per month in major cities / less in smaller ones
  • White collar workers $1,700 per month
  • Working for government, same salary but allows discounts for detergents, soap, condos,
  • Working for government has good healthcare and other benefits even if salary low
  • Late to work once, maybe twice, 3rd time you’re fired
  • Unemployment rate 4 – 5%
  • 70% of companies are privately owned
  • Big imbalance between the rich and poor
  • Lots of floating population from rural areas and outside the city try to move to Beijing
  • Both parents must work
  • Grandparents live close by and look after child while parents at work

Family:

NO matter how many young children we came across—not hordes—not once did any one of them flip out, scream, cry, cause any kind of fuss. How does that work here? As well, lots of grandfathers and young fathers interact with the young child. By far, most of the children have been boys.

  • Babysitter for newborn good paying / competitive job = $1,500 / month
  • Rather hire grandma/grandparents who live close to help with childcare
  • Maternity leave is 6 months with pay
  • Second child penalty 60,000 Yuan ($10,000)
  • Twins or triplets are considered one pregnancy and not penalized

~*~

Next on March 31, Luoyang Part 1: Domestic Flight

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.


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Beijing Part 9: Olympic Park

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

The Olympic Park

The Olympic grounds had been built on razed farmland. We were told all the displaced farmers had been given jobs and a better apartment than the farmhouses they’d lived in. Everyone’s happy; a win-win.

To get to the entrance of the Park, a busy four-lane highway had to be negotiated by foot. The bus had been parked on the other side. Although busy, the hazards of crossing presented less chance of being run over than in the midst of the city if you timed your jaunt.

At long last, we were free to wander the grounds. I found our time there boring, however. The sun smirked overhead. Paved walkways, expansive stone-tiled, and bricked thoroughfare stretched miles ahead, too bright and stripped of any shade. Thank goodness for hats and sunglasses. It felt a clear day and I noticed no smog to date.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtjogMtnrjw  (published Feb. 2014, 2.53 min)

or

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12e3c6mAzfQ  (published May 2014, 9.45 min)

Notice the tents with trinkets for visitors. In the background is the 25-story IBM building (in the shape of Olympic torch)

Notice the tents with trinkets for visitors. In the background is the 25-story IBM building (in the shape of Olympic torch)

 I recall hawkers in the open and sellers of tourist knick-knacks in stall, after stall, after stall, along one side of the center road. These were actually white tents four or five feet wide with a flap raised on some as a sunshade. At intervals, empty stretches separated one cluster from another. The disappointment lay in discovering they all carried the same products! Every one.

One of the last ones, a larger tent, provided a digital photo opportunity for a mock emperor and concubine, or possibly his queen. Ernesto and Lorena, known for their carefree style, donned the costumes provided and had their royal photo taken. One size fit all as the ‘costumes’ tied in the back like hospital gowns.

Another frustration: no open exhibits.

As we left the Park, the ladies inquired about washrooms. Somebody spied one and pointed. “No, you won’t like that one,” Robert said. “See there? That’s a good one.” We’d heard a similar declaration several times now. I wondered in what way it might be different and not to our liking.

The Birds Nest National Statdium

                                                         The Birds Nest National Stadium

No matter what was served at any of our meals, I would never starve. It struck me, though, lunch and dinner dishes were quite similar, with lots of repeats. Time will tell.

Lunch was served at a restaurant not far from Olympic Village. From where we sat, I saw back-to-back orange hoods / like half pods or huge footballers’ helmets and wondered what they were. Phone booths. Say what? Two by two they appeared on the sidewalk, back to back, closer than girlfriends. Migrants and low-income workers use these Public Phone Booths.

Notice the water glasses, which vary in size from restaurant to restaurant

             Notice the water glasses, which vary in size from restaurant to restaurant. 

Lunch:

  • White rice
  • Tea (always hot and ready)
  • Pork meatballs
  • Chicken with cabbage and carrots
  • Kung Pow chicken
  • Rice (with duck meat)
  • Deep fried pork
  • Cucumbers with chicken
  • Deep fried battered fish
  • Egg drop soup
  • Sliced watermelon for dessert

Some Quick Facts about Telephones:

  • Everyone has a cell phone, sometimes two
  • Use text message vs. phone because it’s cheaper
  • Use’ You Chat’ a lot
  • Two providers: China Mobile and China Unicom
  • Phone fee 200 Yuan per month or $40

Housing:

  • Apartment rent 2 bedrooms: $1,000 per month (all USD)
  • Condo rent good location: $1,600 per month (depending on that location)
  • Condos, 2-bedroom, 1,000 square meters, 1 toilet
  • Condos cost $6,000 per square meter
  • 1,000 metres = $600,000 per condo
  • A house and garage, minimum price 30,000,000 Yuan or FIVE million U.S. dollars

Up Next on March 17: Beijing Part 10: The Hutong

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.


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Beijing Part 7: Ming Tombs

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Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

After the Great Wall, a mid-day meal awaited in a local restaurant.

Lunch:

  • Spring rolls (exactly 8)
  • Fish balls with red and green peppers
  • Fried chicken
  • Eggplant with tomato and green peppers
  • Rice
  • Cauliflower and broccoli
  • Soup
  • Cut up orange wedges for dessert
  • Tea
  • The usual one small (free) glass of beer, pop or water
The Spirit Way, original road and entrance to the tombs. There are 13 tombs of which only one has been excavated (Ding Ling)

The Spirit Way: original road and entrance to the tombs. There are 13 tombs of which one only has been excavated (Ding Ling) 

Ming Tombs: where 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty are buried (1368-1644).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfynyPLm4Q0    (3.04 min)

If you would like a more in-depth version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1BqspVU2HA  (8:43 min)

Emperor Yongle with money offerings at his feet. This money is collected and used to maintain the building

Emperor Yongle with money offerings at his feet. This money is collected and used to maintain the building and no, no Chinese person would dare steal this money.  

Laundry: 

  • Hung on rope strung the length of apartment balconies
  • Clothes  hung on hangers: socks, T-shirts, sweaters, trousers, shirts, blouses
  • Did not notice any underwear or bedding

 On the way to dinner:

Robert and the driver appeared to converse more than usual. Robert’s cell rang. He talked at length. The call completed, he started another. Both he and the driver seemed tied to their phones for an unusual amount of time. Of course, I didn’t understand a word, yet it occurred to me something might be up. I can pull a rabbit out of any hat, real or imaginary.

Our bus pulled over to the curb and Robert announced he had to leave. The driver would take us to the restaurant, he said. He gave no explanation, but it wasn’t hard to see he was upset. Sue and I looked at each other. We couldn’t see any of the other’s reactions in front or behind us.

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Heavy traffic surrounded us. After Robert hopped off, we drove on for a short distance still in the inside lane. Vehicles crawled bumper to bumper. Another bus slowed next to ours. Sue and I sat on the left of the aisle watching through the window. I squeezed my eyes shut as a bicyclist, with no room to spare, whizzed by between our two buses. I almost had a heart attack.

The other bus moved on. We remained stock-still in the curb lane. Traffic rolled past. I thought the young fellow on the bike might have caused an accident. Traffic shifted moving past, yet our bus waited immobile. Why? By now, the whole group craned necks and raised eyebrows around the seats at each other. We noticed together, a car parked in front of the bus. Another five minutes or so dragged past. What could be happening? A man in a construction vest walked up to the car’s driver window brandishing his arms. I had no idea the car had an occupant. No translation was required. Move now he indicated. Nothing changed. A 20-something Chinese guy in black pants and a white shirt appeared at the side of the bus. The door flew open and he jumped in. The door slammed shut and I don’t recall any words exchanged with the driver. The parked car inched forward. Our bus did as well.

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In minutes, we turned into a driveway and a man, who might have been Security or Police, stepped in front of the bus. He waved his arms and shouted through the windshield and looked as if he wanted to push the bus back. What was going on? Words passed between the man outside and our driver or between the driver and the new passenger who hadn’t taken a seat. Too much going on to follow. The uniform vanished. The bus door opened again and the young man jumped out signaling for us to follow. I felt like a lamb on the way to heaven’s gate or maybe hell’s? All were silent, heads bowed as we passed through an alley and a maze of cars and another lot into a restaurant. I flashed my Travel Tour ID towards an approaching waitress. She led us to Table 6 which displayed our tour group name.

One of our group noticed the young man worked as a waiter there. The picture became clear. This had been an orchestrated event. Before Robert rushed off, either he or the driver had pre-arranged for our escort. The driver had stalled until the black pants and white shirt found us. The driver couldn’t leave the bus to walk us to our destination since there wasn’t room to bring the bus closer. I don’t even know if he spoke English. What teamwork!

By the time dinner finished, and we fidgeted, wondering about our return to the hotel, Robert showed up as if nothing had happened. He looked much better than when he’d dashed off. His voice, I noticed, was still a little odd. At least to me, his reason for the sudden disappearance was suspect.

“I had to see about my next tour,” he said to our obvious curiosity.

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Dinner:

  • Soup with fresh chopped tomatoes
  • Rice
  • Shrimp with egg and green peppers
  • Corn with lima beans and carrots
  • Sweet and sour chicken balls
  • French fries (surprise)
  • Chicken with fungus and green peppers
  • Green leaf vegetable like spinach but not
  • Chopped mushrooms and green peppers
  • Eggplant, light spice

We returned to the hotel around 8:30 p.m. I picked up my laptop from the room and returned to the lobby for free WiFi access. I had trouble and asked the guy at reception for help. He looked at the list available and pointed to one, even though the words weren’t in Chinese. “Maybe, this one?” His choice didn’t work. He shrugged. I went off on my own, but soon became frustrated and worn out. I wanted nothing more than my bed. I gave up on e-mail.

Finally day's end

Finally day’s end. This is how my brain felt as well. 

Next on March 3rd: Beijing Part 8: Pearl Stores and Summer Palace

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.

 


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Beijing Part 5

word-cloud-7

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Temple of Heaven:

The entrance to the Temple is a wide avenue meant for masses of foot traffic. It is clean and well-traveled, not only by foreigners like us but by the Chinese people as well. I did not see wrappers or bottles lying around anywhere.

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Click below for a three-minute video, which explains better than I can. Sorry for the advertisement. The first few seconds will show you the exercise in the park again but keep watching. Those pink feathers the man is tossing with his feet are the Badminton birdie I had referred to earlier.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Mo6_cskvhQ

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The English 8 Group (us) had removed our light jackets. The sun rose higher and the temperature grew warmer, yet around us, young Chinese ladies wore (wool?) leggings under skirts, long sleeved jackets, heavy pants (no jeans) and high heels. I love heels and wear them on occasion, but not in this kind of environment. There were lots of stairs to climb and broken concrete and uneven bricked areas all around. How they walked in those shoes without breaking their necks, and for so far and long, I cannot imagine.

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  • The park area is 660 acres
  • Commoners were not allowed inside its gates until 1918
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • All the buildings were refreshed prior to the 2008 Olympics
  • Although the doors remained open, visitors are barred from entering. We fought for a spot to look inside from the blocked doorway but could not make out much.

Forbidden City:

We walked until our feet screamed for mercy. Again washroom locations were uppermost in our minds and where bottled water could be purchased. The following video is an hour and a half long. I cannot remember all the interesting history we learned, but take time to take a peak: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XRcwAAsNz8

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Lunch:

The bus driver dropped us at the restaurant. The French group followed soon afterward as well as lots of locals. All platters of food were automatically delivered and placed on the large lazy Susan in the center of the table. Choices of one (small) free glass of soft drink, water, or beer were again offered. All the food served was family style. Our plates for eating were smaller than some bread and butter plates at home.

  • French fries (What? Shocked us too)
  • Deep fried, breaded white fish (mild taste)
  • Cooked cauliflower
  • Noodles (tasty)
  • Thinly sliced beef and cucumber platter
  • Beef meatballs with onions and green peppers
  • One large egg pancake (the size of a dinner plate)
  • White rice
  • Soup with ribbons of Nori in it (I didn’t try it)
  • Green tea
  • Peeled oranges, sections pulled apart and arranged on a plate for dessert

Note: Veggies were not plentiful like they are in the Chinese food we order in the West. They appeared to be more for decoration, except for plentiful onions in meat dishes, along with a few slices of green pepper. I ate till my tummy felt happy. I had no complaints about the food.

Tian’anmen Square

We set out on foot as the bus couldn’t bring us closer to the Square. Shortly before entering the grounds, we passed a strip mall across from the Square featuring souvenir shops and the like. Sue asked if we might shop, but Robert shook his head. Not a chance. We had a tight schedule. (Check out the writing on the building, a different spelling again.)

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The Square is so huge, the danger of being trampled during a ceremony or demonstration crossed my mind. The Square accommodates one million people. That’s the size of 90 American football fields. Soldiers still patrol the area,  although they look way too young and of slight build.

  • The monument of the heroes of the revolution is here

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  • The Great Hall of the People (in the background)

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  • The Museum of Chinese History and Revolution. We were there at the wrong time and it was closed. I don’t believe we had been scheduled to visit anyway.

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  • The Mao Zedong Memorial Hall where Mao lies embalmed in a glass case since his death in 1976. We did not go inside the Hall either. This building is at another end of the Square.

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http://www.ebeijing.gov.cn/BeijingInformation/BeijingsHistory/t1141051.htm

Dinner:

Tsingtao beer was served, the best beer in China we were told. Ernesto ordered a bottle. I had the one small free glass a change from the water I drank all day. Sue preferred pop or water and the rest chose water.

  • Sliced sausage, fungus (think of weird mushrooms) and cucumbers
  • Cooked green salad (leaves of some kind)
  • Rice
  • Chicken with carrots and cucumbers
  • Duck meat with celery
  • Chicken with celery
  • Battered deep fried fish
  • Sesame bread plus onions and peppers (can’t remember what this looked like)
  • Spring rolls (exactly eight)
  • Soup (forgot to write what kind)
  • Watermelon slices for dessert

Offered separately, for which we needed to pay, were special coffees and ice cream. The waitress quoted 20 Yuan for either (about $4.00 Cdn / approx. $3.30 USD). Sue pointed out the prices posted over the ice cream freezer were 3.50 and 5.00 Yuan. Nope. The price was 20 Yuan. Non-negotiable. We must have stuck out like tourists. With money.

Our restaurant had been backed onto a park-like setting with a large pond of stagnant water. It wasn’t clean and had ugly, black and swampy plants growing in it.

We had time to kill before the bus came at 6:30 to drive to the Opera. Some of our group decided on a walk in the park. Sue and I chose to sit and take a load off. We’d done enough walking all day. My feet shrieked and uttered profanities. No wonder—they must have walked 50 miles on our first day out.

Beijing Opera 7:30 p.m.

Before the performance, a demonstration was given on stage of a male performer applying face makeup and donning a costume with a dresser assisting.

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This is not an art form I appreciated, although the costumes were colorful and dazzling. One of the men in our group complained he couldn’t even catch a nap.

We arrived at the hotel somewhere between nine and ten o’clock. A jam-packed day three had ended. My brain, over-saturated with information, shut down. Goodnight Beijing. Hello, pillow and bed.

~ *~

Next on February 17th – The Great Wall

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.


71 Comments

Tying up Loose Ends – Homeward Bound

During summer in St. John’s, you can catch a tour bus for $5.00, which stops at all the sites for an hour each. Schedules are available at hotels. What a steal. The opportunity was lost on us as the season had closed.

Tired after our stroll on Duckworth Street, we trudged uphill all the way to the hotel. The drizzle followed us, fading in and out. One moment we snapped our umbrellas shut and open the next. Once we arrived in our room, nothing mattered more than putting my feet up and grabbing my book. I apologized to the novel for awarding it second place. Mary had other ideas. She’d heard about the sauna and prepared to unwind there instead.

The afternoon drew to a close. We had  time to kill before our last dinner with the tour group and decided to check out the atrium. A tall ladder took prominence in one area for some kind of maintenance in progress. The rest unfolded for our pleasure to amble through and explore. It was a large area.

All good things must end. Thoughts of going home struck us with a mixture of regret and relief. For dinner, we had pre-ordered Newfoundland Screech Glazed Salmon and heart of Romaine Caesar. The women dolled up, but the men dressed in casual attire. Our numbers had dwindled over the last few days from thirty-two to about twenty-four. Two servers and a Maître d’ attended us in a private room. Francis wore a suit and brought his wife. I was impressed the tour owner’s warm, down-home speech. Francis became sentimental. Can’t help but love the guy.

Sneaked a photo in art store at the Sheraton

Sneaked a photo in art store at the Sheraton

The next morning after a posh breakfast (this is the Sheraton after all), Mary wanted one last run downtown before Francis dropped us at the airport at eleven. No rain in sight. The sun smiled and the sky glowed pastel blue, a smear of clouds here and there. Yes. Believe it or not. I took this through the hotel window. Trees obscured the view of the ship in the harbor but not the clear horizon.

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Nervous as a cat, I prowled the room waiting for Mary. We had 20 minutes until transfer to the airport with Francis and a few others of our group. Seven minutes to spare, Mary arrived. We collected our bags and as soon as we hit the lobby, found everyone already on the bus, their bags already loaded.

Mary had checked us in for the flight the night before. The machine took our information but refused to spit out our luggage tags and boarding passes. No one around to help, I ran to grab an attendant some distance away though St. John’s airport isn’t huge. A desk person helped but we noticed too late she’d only printed boarding passes to Halifax and not transfers from Halifax to home. We soon sorted this out upon landing. The airport huge and obviously international, we walked for miles and miles as. Mary searched for a fish store but they had no fresh lobster. Stomachs rumbling, we checked out places to eat and shared a late lunch of salad and maybe mussels—I can’t recall— but still paid almost $50. For lunch.

* * *

Next up on November 4th – A Surprise

© 2016 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

For more related posts, click on Newfoundland / Labrador tab at the top of the page


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The First English Settlement and Oil

The day began with a disappointing fog, thick as porridge and I worried about the drive. On the bright side, the road wasn’t as winding as the previous day, but visibility wasn’t good. Soon, a fine drizzle drifted in. Mary and I weren’t in the front seat anymore, but back a couple seats. Yay.

The bus stopped in Whitbourne at Robyn’s Donut Shop for hot coffee and a stretch. It’s similar to Timmy’s in Ontario, but this establishment was takeout only. Two interesting travelers were pushing off as we exited. I wanted to ask about their biking adventures but didn’t want to run after them, nor come across as a stalker.

First English settlement

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In 1610 John Guy arrived from England with 39 men and meager supplies. They wintered in Cupids Cove (Plantation) and began building houses. The area was rocky and covered with mulberry, pine, spruce and fir trees. He returned to England the following year and came back with 16 women. Building started in earnest and more settlers followed. He attempted to establish trade with the Beothuks. In 1613 he left again never to return but became a Member of Parliament in his native land.

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We moved on to Cupids Legacy Centre, a building chock full of old collections, which took me down memory lane. Here’s a look inside and out.

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Some displays inside Legacy Centre:

Offshore Oil Quick Facts:

  • Hibernia 315 km from St. John’s
  • 200 miles offshore
  • 240 feet high / 224 meters
  • 33 meters higher than Calgary
  • Pumping 120,000 barrels a day
  • Cost $6 Billion
  • 1985 accord signed. Government wanted full control.
  • Why should Newfoundland be treated any different from Alberta?
  • Argued until PM Mulroney got in. Gulf oil bowed out.
  • Most oil fields have around a 20-year lifespan
  • Latest News June 17, 2016

Hebron Facts:

  • Hebron Project
  • Drilling begun 1981
  • 4 major fields: ExonMobil, Suncor, Statoil, Nalcor
  • Coming in a year or so (after 2015)
  • Contains 1.2 billion barrels of oil
  • Good for 20 years or more
  • Negotiated better deals than Alberta
  • Province gets 1%
  • After all costs paid, Newfoundland gets super royalty over the 30% they usually get
  • Funds go into general coffers
  • Hope a fund is set up for renewable resources

~ * ~

On the Lighter Side:

A young couple who tried to conceive met their old parish priest while walking down the street.

“How’s the family?”

“None. Can’t”

“I’m on my way to Rome. I’ll light a candle for you.”

Five years later, Mary was heavily pregnant when she met the priest again.

“I see it’s all working out for you.”

“Don’t talk, Father. Shortly after you said you were going to Rome and would light a candle, I had twins. After, I had another one. Now again.

“Good. Good. By the way, where is John?”

“He’s gone to Rome to blow out the candle.”

* * *

© 2016 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.

For more related posts, click on Newfoundland / Labrador tab at the top of the page


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Gander

Drizzle again on the agenda, we bused for about an hour-and-a-half to the sounds of an easy-listening CD. In Gander, I spotted a child on the sidewalk with a white and brown Shetland pony. A rope around the pony’s neck, the child turned round and round, allowing the pony to run in a circle. Both were cute. I’ve never before seen a pony this tiny.

At Gander Airport, Francis regaled us with stories while we crowded around. On our way to the upper level, we stopped at a framed collage of stars who have passed through over the years.

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The view from the upper level provided a full, though distant view of this famous mural.

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In 1985, soldiers returning home for Christmas from Afghanistan crashed in Gander. The deadliest crash since WWII, 253 lives were lost.

On September 11, 2001, 39 planes landed in Gander (Operation Yellow Ribbon). Passengers were not allowed off the planes for 13 hours, information about the New York tragedy withheld until they deplaned. An American journalist, Jim DeFede, contacted and interviewed about 180 people from those flights and published a book.  (The Day the World Came to Town).

  • The population of Gander 10,000
  • 6,600 (passengers, pilots and crews)
  • Lewisporte took 800 passengers
  • Mayor of Gander talked with all the passengers
  • Walmart, Canadian Tire, drug stores—every store—supplied whatever was needed at no cost
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJskIhGbDq4
  • All toiletries / everything gone from all shelves
  • 87-year-old woman needed underwear, clerk suggested thongs
  • Hundreds of thousands of meals prepared
  • Passengers organized together with their own group
  • Returning from Lewisporte to Gander and home, one Nigerian missing. Gone fishing with ‘the boys.’ Comes back every year
  • Shirley Brooks-Jones collected money from the passengers on her flight home
  • Set up a scholarship fund for the school where passengers had been housed and fed
  • Fund is 1.3 million dollars
  • Took out $850,000 life insurance policy in the event of her death to fund it

Gander Quick Facts

  • The Gander Airport mural (72 feet long) embodies the history of air travel.
  • No aircraft illustration were allowed to be used in the work
  • Opened in 1959 by Queen Elizabeth
  • Talk of a new airport, but this one is still busy
  • When planes fogged in in St. John’s, they land in Gander
  • You can at least drive 4-1/2 drive to St. John’s if need be
  • Was no direct flight to Europe from Gander. Now there is.
  • Had to go to Toronto first instead
  • Population over 11,000
  • Cubans defected to Canada, using Gander as jumping off point to Florida, to join their families

Close off the parking lot to airport, we spied an Irving gas station. Needing to replenish our spirits, Mary ran ahead so we wouldn’t hold up the bus but returned immediately because they didn’t carry anything stronger than coffee.

On the way to the hotel we passed a golf course, which is split, half on one side and half on the other. Players use golf carts underneath the highway to cross over. Terra Nova Park was on our agenda, but it was not mentioned and we did not stop.

Our room had a balcony we would not have the opportunity to use. The dining room in the restaurant had extra low lighting. When we paid for our meals, the cashier had no change for the couple before us and then not for us either. Each time she wandered off and was gone an unusual length of time.

By ten, I was a goner. I plugged in electronics to recharge overnight and slept like the dead until the alarm went off.

* * *

On The Light Side:

An 85-year-old man, in a red Ferrari, was stopped by a policeman who had ten minutes left in his shift. “Give me a good reason why you were speeding.”

“About 20 years ago, my wife ran off with a cop. I thought you were him.”

The cop let him go.

Next on June 3rd – Trinity and Port Union

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

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Discovery Center and Lunch

The boat adventure across Bonne Bay to Woody Point over, Shaun drove us to the restaurant for lunch.

As close to the internet as you’re going to get (Note #2)

Lunch:

Because of the dampness outside, I’d hoped for a hot coffee upon entering the restaurant. No luck. A full water jug center-pieced each table. The meal arrived almost immediately.

Three kinds of fish: Capelin, Turbot and Cod. Two scoops mashed potatoes dusted with fresh parsley, carrot knuckles, and a branch of broccoli. The carrots were perfect, just soft enough, and the broccoli crisp and bright green.

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The Capelin was tricky. It’s a small fish about six inches long and deep-fried. The bones, tail, and side fin were edible as was the backbone inside. The chef split the fish in half for a nice presentation, but I didn’t enjoy the (too hard- over-fried?) texture though the taste was fine.

Dessert: Nanaimo bars (one for everyone as well as cloudberry tarts (yellow berries). Shortly after, cream cheese pie with partridge berry sauce (red) arrived. Only two tarts and one bar remained at our table for four. I didn’t partake. Coffee and tea were served in lovely china teacups and saucers. Only one cup of either per customer. Oh.

Our tour group filled the small restaurant. One server delivered and picked up after all 34 meals. Afterwards she had to rush off to another job.

This is some of the art on the walls inside the restaurant:

After lunch, we walked—more like struggled—on the boardwalk along the water. The wind blew strong and fierce, too wicked for picture taking.

I was relieved to get on the bus after the wind’s blowing us about. Off to see the World Heritage Site, Gros Morne Park and tablelands.

No wind here. I managed to stash three small rocks into my pocket for souvenirs. We were told not to take any, but I’m not sure if that was a joke. Why not? Was there worry they’d run out?

The drizzle continued, though the sun made attempts to nip in and out of the clouds. Next on our agenda was the new Discovery Centre where we finally saw replicas of a moose and caribou. This was a gorgeous building but a sign next to the bathroom door warned the water wasn’t safe for drinking until it was boiled for a full two minutes. Shoot. I hadn’t thought to bring a kettle.

  • The moose is large like a horse
  • Is part of the deer family
  • Has paddle-shaped antlers
  • Females don’t grow antlers
  • Has long legs

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  • Caribou are much smaller than moose
  • Part of the deer family
  • Antlers grow tall with many branches
  • Female grows and sheds antlers
  • Also called reindeer
  • Have wide hooves
  • Like the cold and high altitudes

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We watched a film on climate change, took pictures of models, and lost Francis. We wandered about killing time until he showed up. A panicked woman from our group approached Mary and me. Her iPad said it was out of storage space and she couldn’t get in. Mary happened to know what to do because she’d the same problem the day before. She managed to get into the video files for the woman to delete some of them to free up space. The look of wonder she gave Mary was priceless.

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Jake Crocker Heritage House

* * *

Next on March 25th – Jiggs Dinner and Anchors Aweigh

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

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Whales, Fishing and Fish Oil, Oh My

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We enjoyed a mug up, or tea break along the way (See Newlandland sayings). There were choices of muffins, tea, or coffee. This is snack time after all. It took a while for service. About half-way through our drinks, it was already time to leave. Mary asked if we might switch to a Styrofoam cup to go. “Of course,” the waitress said.

“I don’t suppose I can get a warm up?” Doesn’t hurt to ask.

“Help yourself when you pick up your cup.” She pointed to the coffee service beside the cash register. The mug up had been free as was the warm up and cup.

Next stop, we visited the Red Bay National Historic Site Visitor Centre and the Interpretation Center to view the collection of artifacts.

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I cannot get my head around it. how had whalers managed to chase, catch, and harpoon a 60,000 whale and not drown in a boat the size of the chalupa (also see below).

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  • Red Basque Bay Whaling Station (Bay named because of red soil)
  • 2 types of whale: bowhead and bull
  • 2,000 French sailors came here for whaling
  • 30,000 tons of whale oil back to their homes
  • 1 barrel of oil = $6,000 – $8,000 each
  • Several whaling stations
  • First will was written in Basque Country by a sailor
  • Selma_Barkham five years in the Basque Country (historian / researcher)

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The real deal a-basque-galleon

Later, the bus stopped for a facilities break at an Express Liquor, which carried everything you might ever need: from skidoos, motor oil, fishing equipment, tourist T-shirts, snacks, and wine. Wow. Francis told us not to be shy. The 7-ll we have in Ontario are nothing like this and don’t even carry spirits.

“If you want to pick up some wine or spirits, here’s your chance.” What a salesman!

Mary and I followed the rest of the passengers like sheep. An opportunity not to pass to loosen the bus-sitting bodies. When we asked Francis the chances of finding another Express the following night around the hotel, he said, “No chance.”

“Guess we’ll plan ahead then.” I felt heat rise in my face. He smiled and I scooted away.

Isn’t this a straight highway?

The restaurant where we stopped for dinner was a disappointment. The crab cakes I ordered were a good size, nicely browned, but mashed potatoes over-powered the taste. I couldn’t taste the cod. Had they run out of fish? A salad lay limp and suffering next to them, joined in the deception with a thimbleful of homemade pickle relish and half a slice of white bread. What? Thank goodness I decided to splurge on a glass of beer before I saw my order. I thought my tummy would scream for more food, but it didn’t—not immediately. Mary and I considered ordering a pizza later.

Around 8:20 pm, the bus finally arrived at Northern Light Inn for a one-night stay. A huge bowl of non-alcoholic punch with floating inch-long slices of orange peel awaited us in the lobby. Francis handed out room keys and menu choices for boxed lunches. We had to fill out and drop them off at Reception before going to our rooms. Someone was coming in for overtime to make up the lunches, ready for pick up in the morning on our way to the bus.

The room offered a different experience again. This time the water pressure surprised us. It was exceptional compared to our previous hotel where the toilet couldn’t gather enough pressure to flush without some cajoling.

The sink / powder area were across the hall from the bathroom. Something we haven’t seen on this tour, although, I have in the past. A note on the bathroom mirror requested unused towels not be dropped in the tub signifying laundry. MADE perfect sense. Why not save towel life, excess soap, bleach, water, and electricity? I like and appreciate conservation. Why not in a hotel / motel environment?

TIME FOR A GIGGLE:

A man bought a sheer nightie for his 80-year-old wife. “Oh my gawd. All that money and they didn’t even iron it.”

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.

For more related posts, click on Newfoundland / Labrador tab at the top of the page.

Next on February 26th –  Around and out of Labrador


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Corner Brook, Newfoundland

The bus dropped us, the last of the new arrivals at Glynmill Inn, a white and green Tudor Style building. Our accommodations were pleasant, old world and tasteful. We had a sitting-room, a fridge, a bar sink and coffee maker, but no safe; a bedroom in another room and a bathroom. Though a small suite, the beds were heaven, but the pillows too plump for sleeping—at least for me.

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Food wasn’t supplied for this night. A boiled egg before leaving home and a homemade sandwich at the airport while we waited for the flight made for empty tummies. Francis, our guide, had explained where to find restaurants on West Street, the main street in town. We had enough choices and were disappointed the business area seemed miniscule. Along the way we passed two Chinese eateries, one closed until further notice, and a third tiny one. Other offerings were a pizza takeout; Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC); a yogurt place; Tim Hortons Coffee shop, and a wine-making outfit. As well close by were an A&W burger place, Shopper’s Drug Mart and an Esso Gas Station. A whimsical white building tucked back from the street drew our attention: a catering business with a café attached and a couple tables with chairs.

This statue and plaques were in front of some government buildings along the way.

We settled for Chinese, but should have listened to a couple we passed (from our tour group) coming back from dinner. One order would have been enough between us. What a waste, but we weren’t hungry anymore.

I'm the wind-blown looker in purple. Oh yeah, and my sister.

I’m the wind-blown looker in purple. Oh yeah, and my sister.

I have a question. Why do many Chinese restaurants have washroom facilities at the Exit sign, down a long flight of stairs and longer hallway? They always give me the creeps. One may well meet an unsavory customer in this bowel of the earth.

Friday night and on vacation, we had to find a liquor store. After dinner Mary accosted approached a woman unloading her car in front of the catering establishment.

“What is it you want?” She pointed to the Esso Gas Station. “You can buy beer at all gas stations, but wine only in a liquor store.”

“Is there one within walking distance? We don’t have a car.”

She pointed to a tall building in the distance where we’d find a mall and a liquor store next to it.

Behind the inn, stairs led a long way down to the water’s edge. With time to kill and the improvement in weather, my sister and I decided to explore the walking trails and maybe find our way to the tall landmark on the hill and a bottle of wine.

Long stairs to the water’s edge (The Humber River).IMG_1446

Our target: the tall white building (our landmark).

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The path is long, but the way is scenic.

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Feathered friends enjoy the water.

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A bridge to cross.

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Intent on our goal, we crossed the bridge and met a fork in the road. Which way? Another walker, a smiling young lady came towards us. I suppose we looked lost or out of place. She was from Australia, but knew Corner Brook. “Not this way. You want to go there.” She pointed in the opposite direction.

“But the white building in that way.”

“Trust me.”

Quick Facts:

  • Corner Brook population about 20,000
  • 1986 First sighting of coyote in Newfoundland (but they don’t chase moose)
  • Newfoundland Pony has unique DNA
  • 1997 declared Heritage Breed of Newfoundland and Labrador

Next on October 16:  Don’t Panic. A Walk to Remember

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

For related posts, click on Newfoundland / Labrador tab at the top of the page.