More Than Just A Hat - My Family Travels
Saint John
Saint John

I was pretty excited for my sixteenth birthday cruise to Canada, but when I told my friends about it, they were less than enthusiastic. One of them even said, “Canada? That’s just America’s hat!” I guess if you’re not going on some exotic adventure in the jungle or eating croissants in Paris then you don’t have a cool vacation. However, this turned out to be one of the best trips I have ever been on.

â–º  Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship

I boarded the Carnival Triumph at a port in New York City for the start of my journey. This ship had an overwhelming amount of activities to offer and during every walk I took through the decks, I found something new, whether it was a restaurant I had not seen earlier or a small dance club filled with shimmering lights and flashing colors. My favorite spot was the upper deck. You could stand right near the railing and see the ocean around you. It’s a really powerful experience sitting out there.

After a day and a half of seeing nothing but the ocean around us, we docked in Saint John, New Brunswick. I looked out the porthole in my room to see the city name spelled out in giant white letters on the side of a hill overlooking the city and the harbor. We took a bus tour around some of the major sites in the city. My favorite was our first stop—the city market. It was filled with vendors selling everything from lobsters to fruits and vegetables. One of the most astonishing things about the market was its ceiling. During the time of its construction, Saint John was one of the best shipbuilding sites, so the ceiling of the market reflects the keel of a ship. We passed the one sole McDonalds in the city and discovered that in Canada, this fast food chain sells the “McLobster”, a lobster on a hot dog bun. Unfortunately, in the midst of visiting various local churches and taking a walk through gardens to observe the old headstones and monuments, I never got to try this Canadian commodity…but it remains on my bucket list.

The second stop the following day was Halifax, Nova Scotia. My daily excursion was the Harbour Duck Tour. We sat ourselves in a vehicle that was originally created during the Vietnam War for military use and drove around the city with our extremely enthusiastic tour guide. Right in the middle of the tour, we drove straight into the water, joining the sailboats already out there. We traveled on foot to see old churches, shops right on the water, and the Citadel. I saw reenactments of soldiers dressed in traditional clothes. The huge white clock in front of the fort is marked with the time of the Halifax explosion in 1917. A French cargo ship full of explosives collided with another ship. Halifax was not your typical city. People weren’t shoving or pushing to get past you. It was very relaxed and the scenery and view of the ocean was breathtaking.

Other than having a camera on my wrist, I did not feel like a tourist in Canada; I felt like I belonged. I could picture myself living there, especially in Halifax. My friend was wrong; Canada is much more than a hat.

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