I ran into a young man from California last fall while walking around the old Loyalist burial ground in Saint John, New Brunswick. I was taking photos for my story On The Trail of Loyalists. He had come ashore from a cruise ship and was looking around, not sure what to do.
He asked me if I was from Saint John, and what he should see while he was in port. I took a deep breath and exhaled. It was a big question to answer.
“It depends on what you like.” I replied, “The place is full of historical locations, hiking, parks, the reversing falls is lovely. It is a foodie heaven, art, music, beer.” He was undecided. He said he only had till 7 pm, then he had to be on board to sail to the next destination. He just wanted to check New Brunswick off his list.
I pursed my lips, thought for a second and responded, “Forget the history, you are in Saint John, the oldest incorporated city in Canada, that is as much as you need to know. Go to reversing falls, take some pictures, then head to a pub. Listen to music, meet some locals, drink some Moosehead beer and let the dead rest. You’ll feel their spirit when you dance.” I pointed him to a pub I was familiar with. He smiled, thanked me and headed in the direction I sent him. I hope he made it back on board his ship before it weighed anchor.
It saddens me to think his short time in port qualified as a “New Brunswick – been there, done that,” but to many people, that is what travel is. There is a fine line I often straddle, between seeing a place from its origins and seeing it from its dance floor. A person can appreciate a town from both. When time is a limiting factor, the question you need to ask yourself is: what is going to give me the best memories? His seven hours in port could lead to a lifetime of fond reminiscing.
Tomorrow I will be going to Saint John for two days. The first day is pleasure — I will be visiting points of interest I have missed on previous trips. The second day is appointments. I hope to check a few places off my list, but bringing back memories to share is my most important goal.
Cheers and Happy Travels from Maritime Mac