Ba Ha Ba (Bar Harbour in Boston Accent!)
Trip Start Dec 26, 2012
56Trip End Jan 15, 2013
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Where I stayed
Bar Harbour Regency
What I did
Acadia National Park, Mountain Island
The journey this day was to take us to the nearby town of St Stephens, known as Canada's chocolate town. The Ganong family have a factory and a recently opened museum here. Ganongs is known for its claim to fame as being the first ones to produce a foil wrapped chocolate bar. ( This happened because one of the brothers who founded the company used to go out fishing, and would put chocolate in his pocket, forgetting about it only to find a melted mess later on. He began wrapping them up, and the idea caught on, necessity is the mother of invention...
We then crossed the US border at Calais, which the Americans pronounce as "callous", and not the more elegant French way. We all had to get off of the bus this time and walk into the facility to show our passports, while the officials went on and checked the bus, they trusted us going into Canada from America but not coming back
Lunch was in a small home style cafe famed for its delicious blueberry pie, in Mathias, an area of Maine known for its wild blueberries. Frank took us through the town centre of Augusta, which we'd basically bypassed on the way up, and we saw more beautiful historic buildings, including the domed capital building.
We had frequent glimpses of the lovely coastlines of Maine, as we continued travelling on towards Bar Harbour (pronounced Ba Ha Ba) in Maine accent! It's famed for its proximity to Acadia National Park, one of the most visited parks in America, and that wasn't hard to see why! Frank drove us through villages that were in grander times the haunt of the rich and richer, with houses that seemed more like mini mansions to our eyes. Bar Harbour and its surrounding areas became a huge draw for tourists and the social elite in the mid 1800's, popularized by artists and journalists. They would flock to the area each summer, even though accommodation and other facilities were very basic, staying with local farmers and fisherman in their simple cottages, and became known as "The Rusticators" by locals. By 1880 there were already 30 hotels competing for the tourists dollar. The huge houses the wealthier tourists eventually built inspired a new style, known as Cape Cod. I tried to get some photos but once again it was a bit hard when the bus was moving so fast.
The Arcadia National Park is to be found on a small island just off the coast of Maine, called Desert Park Island, however, it certainly does not resemble a desert
This huge mountain is on one side of it, and we drove all the way to the top for incredible views in every direction. Lynda told us that she had never seen such perfect weather as we had that day, in that location. We could see all the way down to the small town of Bar Harbour, with boats, sailing ships and even a clipper in full sail dotting the bay. The park is one of the first established in America, and was due to the generous donation of thousands of acres of land from a generous visionary called George Dorr . It's the former haunt of millionaires such as Rockefeller, Morgan, Astor, Vanderbilt and Carnegie, whose families loved the quiet getaway from big city hustle and spent the summers there, building huge estates and mansions. That era of extravagance ended with a terrible fire in 1947 that raged for 10 days across the island, destroying many of these.
It was thanks to the power, influences and money of these social elite, however, that the preservation of the island has been set in place
We had a lovely stay, even if it was only for one night, at the Bar Harbour Regency Hotel, right on the bay just a few km out of town. Our original group of 14 had our farewell dinner there, lobster again ( steak for me and a few others for whom the novelty of shell cracking had worn off!) It was a fun, relaxed way to enjoy our final dinner together, the view out over the ocean was superb. It was easy to see why Barack Obama and his family had chosen to stay and holiday here. I wonder if the whole hotel had to be booked out to house all the protective service guys?!
Before dinner that night we had also driven all around the coastal drive, seeing more evidence of how the other half live
The final day was one of travelling back toward Boston, seeing our last glimpses of the beautiful Maine coastlines. Freeport was our stop for lunch, it's known as one of the first outlet towns in America, and as such was crawling with tourists bent on spending a lot of money on every designer name brand you can think of. I think a few of the guys were not too happy that we'd stopped there for lunch, and less so when Lynda suggested that we could choose to shop instead of have lunch, and buy something to eat on the bus, ha! A few of us just wanted to get out of the increasing heat, and retreated to the huge local retailer L.L Bean. I'm not a fan of big department stores generally, but this one had character and class, as well as a display of stuffed Canadian animals showing all those I'd seen so far, and many that I hadn't
The final leg of our drive took us back into Boston. We dropped off 8 people at the Logan airport and the final six of our group were taken back to the hotel Omni Parker House in central Boston where it had all begun. So it was a series of goodbyes over several days, which was good in a way because you weren't trying to say goodbye to everyone at once, and not doing it properly.
The heat of Boston hit like the proverbial fan forced oven as I stepped off the bus for the final time...it hadn't improved since I left, in fact, it was worse! I immediately began to regret that I'd been cheap on myself and booked accommodation sans air conditioning. No more 4 star hotels for me, it was going from princess treatment to the life of a peasant again. It sure was lovely to have your bags taken everywhere for you, luxurious bathrooms, delicious meals and warm and friendly company every day. I'm glad I had enjoyed it so much while it lasted.
Boston was beckoning to be further explored.