As a child one of my favorite places to visit was Hampton Court, home of Henry VIII and his many wives. The gardens are beautiful and the maze is a real challenge. That’s before you get into the Palace itself with the animated staff and furniture and décor from the original days of Henry.

Not forgetting the kitchens and hallway where the ghost of Anne Bolelyn is said to walk with her head under her arm. Luckily I haven’t witnessed that phenomena. Here is some info on the Palace and I hope if you are ever in the area you will make the time to visit – it’s a place you won’t soon forget.

The Maze -
Get lost and test yourself in the most famous Maze in the world. Entry is included in the All Palace and Gardens Admission or you can purchase and Maze only ticket.

The Kitchens - The kitchens were built to feed the court of Henry VIII – over 600 people twice a day. See the sights and smells or a real Tudor Kitchen.

Animators – Hear about the life of Henry and his courtiers and you might even see the big man himself.

Henry’s Crown – See the recreation of Henry VIII’s Crown of State. 

The Chapel – The Chapel has been in use for over 450 years and visitors are welcome to attend services on Sundays.

The Gardens – 60 Acres of internationally celebrated and beautifully maintained Gardens at Hampton Court Palace.

The Palace was originally the property of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem until it was taken over in 1514 by Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop or York and Chief Minister to Henry VIII who spent the next 7 years rebuilding the Palace into the finest Palace in England. Nothing was too lavish as Wolsey attempted to create a Renaissance Cardinal’s Palace in all it’s grandeur. Even today most of Wolsey’s original building work remains and his seal remains visible over the entrance arch of the clock tower.

Wolsey passed the Palace onto Henry VIII as a gift in 1528 when he realized that his enemies and the King were engineering his downfall. He died in 1530.

After the King took ownership he immediately started rebuilding and expanding the buildings. In order to transform Hampton Court into his principal residence and to house his huge court of over 1,000 people he built the huge kitchens and expanded the buildings to hold his assembled court. The King owned over 60 houses and palaces but none were big enough to house the assembled court. He followed the same style as Wolsey in his building and this remained the same for nearly a 100 years until classical influences from Italy were added to the London Palaces of the Stuart Kings.

Henry added the Great Hall were he would dine in state at a table set on a raised dais. The still functioning Astronomical Clock was gifted to Henry. The clock was important especially for those transported by barge Thames side as the clock showed them when low water levels created dangerous rapids.

The Palace was the scene of many historic events including the birth of Edward VI. Henry died in 1547 and was succeeded by Edward, then by Henry’s daughters Mary I and then Elizabeth I. Elizabeth had the Eastern kitchen built which is today the Public Tea Room.

The Tudor period came to an end in 1603 with the death of Elizabeth I. James VI succeeded her as King of England. King James met at the Palace with the English Puritans in1604. An agreement was not met but led to King James commissioning the King James version of the Bible.

In 1625 King James was succeeded by his son Charles I. For Charles Hampton Court become both his Palace and his prison. Charles’ was executed in 1649 and the Palace then became the property of the commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell. Many of the contents were auctioned off while the building itself remained relatively unscathed.

King Charles II and James II visited but resided elsewhere. During their time French Court standards made Hampton Court appear old-fashioned. It wasn’t until 1689 that the Palaces antiquated state was addressed. William of Orange and Queen Mary II (daughter of James II) embarked on a massive rebuilding project at Hampton Court. Half the Tudor Palace was rebuilt replacing Henry VIII’s state rooms and private apartments with new ones that reflected the unique status of William and Mary as joint sovereigns. When Mary died William lost interest and the work stopped.

In 1702 William fell off his horse and later died. He was succeeded by Queen Anne who completed the decoration and rebuilding at Hampton Court. The Stuart period ended in 1714 on the death of Anne.

Anne’s successors George I and George II were the last Kings to reside at Hampton Court.

Today the grounds are laid out in the grand style of the late 17th century with Privy Gardens, sunken Gardens and more. Part of the gardens recreate the style of Henry VIII’s gardens of 1536.

After George II no King has ever lived at Hampton Court. George III never set foot in the Palace.

After some heavy restoration plans were completed during the reign of Queen Victoria the Palace was opened to the public.

During the 20th Century Hampton Court became a major Tourist Attraction and still is to this day. The Palace was home to some esteemed servants and subjects of the crown. One of these elderly residents caused the major family which spread to the King’s Apartments in 1986. Restoration work completed in 1990.

Make sure to visit the Palace if you are visiting London you won’t regret it.

Lindy Rothenburger one of our agents recently visited the Umbria & Tuscany areas of Italy on an inspection tour for our future clients. – June 1 to 7, 2013 and wrote this wonderful account that will help anyone wanting to visit the area.

This is a fascinating write up on the area, that will give anyone wanting to visit the area a very detailed account of things to see and do and places to stay in the area. For more information or to book at tour please contact Lindy at lindy@a-ztours.com

Written by Lindy Rothenburger after a recent visit.

Gatwick Airport – they have a funny system at Gatwick. Once you are through security, there is a huge waiting area with big screens showing which gates the flights will be leaving from. My flight was at 9:10 and boarding was at 8:40 but the gate number was not displayed until 8:20. Then as soon as your gate number is displayed you make your way to the gate and almost right onto the plane. It is a good 10 minute walk or more so you have to head to the gate as soon as the number is displayed.

EasyJet - They allowed me to check-in online and select my seat a whole month prior to my departure. I had my boarding pass weeks before I left Vancouver. The bag drop at Gatwick Airport was easy. They don’t even offer you water without purchasing it on the flight but the seats were comfortable and the flight attendants were friendly.

Rome Airport – there was no declaration to fill out. You just line up to go through a passport check and your done. They don’t even ask you any questions – just look at your passport and hand it back to you. That was upon arrival. Departing was another story. Getting through security in Rome is a nightmare I’ve never experienced anywhere else in the world.

There was a HUGE mob of 800 or more people pushing from all directions to get to the security check-in. There was no order and if you were too polite, you wound up moving backward instead of forward. I was in the chaos for over an hour and when I got to the gate one Canadian couple told me they were 2-1/2 hours getting through security because whole groups of people kept pushing in front of them.

Airport officials tried to bring some semblance of order to the chaos by setting up poles and ribbons to get people to line up but they were just taking down the barriers and pushing by 20s and 30s in front of the people in line ahead of them. My love of Italy quickly faded as I stood in the midst of that mob hoping I would make my flight. I would never take a group through there. People at the gate were saying that the airports in Florence, Milan or Venice are no better. Maybe the best way to leave Italy is by train!

Very Italian Events – M and C my hosts were wonderful. They are warm and welcoming and have connections all over Italy. M used to manage a large hotel in Rome and together they ran a B&B for several years. They have been operating tours around Italy for 16 years. M guides many of the groups himself but they also have certified guides they use everywhere in Italy. C takes care of all the administration and lines up the itineraries.

They are both extremely knowledgeable and both speak excellent English. Anything our clients could ask for in Italy, M & C will figure out a way to provide it. They are especially good at showing guests the real Italy rather than the tourist stuff. If people want to shop, M takes them to vendors who have quality products rather than junk. He does not get a commission from those vendors but uses them because his reputation is on the line. Depending on the interests of the guests, he can show people places that are not well known by the tourists and don’t have bus loads of people all lining up at the same time.

Spello, Umbria – I left my heart in Spello. It is a small medieval town where M & C own an apartment. They rent the apartment to tourists. It is a 2 bedroom/2bathroom apartment overlooking the valley. It has everything you need. It is a 4th floor walk-up, though, so guests have to be able to carry their bags up the stairs. I stayed there 2 nights. The bed was firm but very comfortable. It is easy to walk around this picturesque town center and the people are very friendly. It is much quieter than Assisi with few tourists.

These medieval towns and cities have festivals all summer long but I was fortunate to view Le Infiorate – a flower festival that takes place in Spello 40 days after Easter. Tourists come to see it but it isn’t put on for the tourists. It is an Italian festival. I got to walk around the city the night before the actual festival and watch families, school groups, and friends, prepare and lay the flower petals.

It was a true Italian experience to watch the grandparents showing the small children their first experience of how to lay the petals. M takes his guests to many true Italian experiences that tourists normally miss. Spello has a train station and is only 1 hour from the center of Rome. From there it is easy to get to all points in Italy. Many attractions in Umbria & Tuscany are only 40 minutes away by car.

Foligno, Umbria – This is where St. Francis came from. It is the town square in Foligno where he stripped naked and told his father he was no longer his son, thus giving up his inheritance, when he returned from the Crusades. Twice a year they host a horse riding competition that is similar to jousting. While I was there they were holding a medieval dinner to fundraise for costumes.

Foligno has won this competition for many years now and the whole town is very proud of the young people who take part. Because M & C know the people personally, they took me upstairs to see the costumes and armor they use during the competition. It was great to see a group of about 20 teenagers all volunteering their time to wait on tables to raise money for their sport.

Assisi, Umbria – There is no denying that the Basilica is spectacular! The frescos covering all the walls of the church depict the life of St. Francis and are stunning. He is buried under the altar. But the place is overrun with tourists. It is hard to move around because everywhere you turn your path is blocked by a large group listening to their tour guide. M took me on up the hill overlooking the townsite to a grotto where St. Francis used to retire to meditate and pray. It is in the woods and very peaceful.

There were only 4 other people there. The Basilica was erected after the death of St. Francis but this grotto was a spot that he loved and went to often. The townsite is full of souvenir shops and restaurants for the tourists.

Castello di Petrata – This is a castle hotel that overlooks the valley and the St. Frances Basilica. It is part of a group of hotels called Silence Hotels. They are located in rural setting with grounds that guarantee relaxation and peace. The original stonework of the castle is evident in all the rooms yet the modern facilities blend in well. They have a swimming pool that overlooks the valley, a tennis court, a working farm where they grow the produce, lamb and chickens used in the restaurant.

There are lots of walking paths on the grounds and a wellness spa. No two rooms are the same. They have both rooms and suites. The family suites have a loft, a separate bedroom, and a small kitchenette. Their average stay is 3 nights.

Malvarina – This is an Agri-Tourism property near Assisi. They have rooms and suites that are basic, furnished with country style antiques, but comfortable and homey. They grow most of the produce and meat used in their dining room. They grow their own olives and process their own olive oil, jams, and deli meats. Staff and guests eat together in a big country style dining room with an open fireplace.

There are lots of walking trails and a swimming pool. Guests can take part in caring for the animals and tending the gardens if they wish. I took a cooking school class here one evening. The first thing I noticed when I walked into the kitchen was a huge basket overflowing with the fresh produce we were going to be using in our preparations. We made soup, appetizers, two different kinds of homemade pasta, and a chicken dish plus dessert.

Then we joined the staff and guests of the resort in the dining room for a 7 course dinner. The owners here are wonderful!

Cortona, Tuscany – We drove out to the villa owned by Frances Mayes of Under the Tuscan Sun fame for a photo. She still owns it and rents it out to tourists but it is very pricey – EUR 10,000 per week! Cortona is also overrun with tourists. I think it is M’s favorite place. He is friends with the mayor and can get anything clients might ask for here. He does a lot of photography workshops in the fortress, which is closed to the public.

The city sits on the top of the mountain and overlooks the most breath-taking scenery. The rolling hills are spectacular! We had dinner at the La Logetta. All the chefs, waiters, and owners of this place came out to greet us with much joking and laughter. They insisted we try some new dishes they were experimenting with and all of it was delicious.

The restaurant is housed in a 13th century palace and they have kept as much of the original ambiance as possible. They have a large terrace that overlooks the valley but it was raining so we didn’t get to sit out there.

Villa Marsili – This hotel is rated 4-Star and is housed in a historical building. C referred to it as, “The hotel that hugs you!” and that is a perfect description of it. It was originally a church, a hospital, and a school. It is now a lovely hotel. The staff are very gracious – like the butlers you see in movies. They attend to your every need but unobtrusively.

No two of the bedrooms are the same. They have standard and deluxe rooms as well as suites. They are all furnished with antiques and yet have modern facilities and some fireplaces. Even the standard rooms have a sitting area. Off the lobby there are two sitting rooms where they serve tea or drinks in the evening.

I saw a price sheet for the different teas and drinks but the tea and the aperitif are included in the price of the room if booked with Very Italian Events. The hotel looks out over the valley and Trasimeno Lake. The breakfast is amazing with a huge selection – the best I have had anywhere I have traveled.

Montepulciano – This city’s claim to fame is that parts of the series Twilight were filmed in its town square. It is the largest hill town in southern Tuscany with a very impressive central square. It is an ancient Etruscan city and would be of interest to those who like art and architecture. It is located in the heart of the classic Chianti wine region.

San Gimignano – All the medieval cities are set up the same way – the streets come out onto a large square with a church and the city hall. San Gimignano is set up that way too. Because it is close to Florence and Siena it is better known than some of the other walled cities.

The World Champion Gelato maker is located here. They serve the creamiest gelato I’ve ever put in my mouth.

Pienza – This is another walled city in the province of Siena, in the Val d”Orcia. This area is protected by UNESCO as an artistic, natural and cultural park. You can walk on the top of the wall and they have benches up there for people to sit and watch the sunset over the valley. It is a popular place for lovers. M provides a picnic for couples here.

Pienza is best known for its pecorino cheese. There are cheese shops all over town.

Cordella Winery in Montalcino – The owner of this vineyard is a personal friend of M’s. She was in China when I visited but she asked her father and aunt to open the winery so M could give me a tour and tasting. They harvest both grapes and olives. I got to taste both the wine and olive oil which are excellent.

When you do a wine tasting in Italy, they provide a dinner plate loaded with meats, cheeses, breads, and olive oil. There is a specific, small area in Umbria where the Sangiovese Grosso grapes are grown and harvested for Brunello wine. They must grow and process the wines in a specific method to get the DOCG certification. It is entirely organic and all the work is done by hand.

Lake Trasimeno – This lake is in Umbria and is equally as beautiful as the lakes in the Lake Como area but is not as well known by tourists. In Tuoro you can camp, rent boats and swim while Passignano is a pretty little village like the waterfront in White Rock, British Columbia.

There is an island not far from shore with great places to walk and picnic. It is a 15 minute ferry ride to get there.

Norcia –This is another medieval city in the southeast corner of Umbria. It is not visited by tourists as much as the other cities. When I walked down the streets I saw a hardware store, a toy shop, sporting goods store, florist, produce store, and clothing stores. I only saw one souvenir shop in town. The merchants definitely catered to the local residents rather than the tourists.

It is a very pretty city and is the birth place of St. Benedict and his twin sister Ste. Scholastica who started the Benedictine Order. There is a church dedicated to St. Benedict erected on the site where they were born. There is another church in the square dedicated to his sister. They sit on each side of the town hall.

Castelluccio di Norcia – this is a small village in Umbria that sits above the mouth of a dormant volcano. The mouth is a flat valley that took us a half hour to drive across. It is completely covered in blooms of red, yellow, white, blue, and purple for 2 weeks every June. The mountains that rise all around the mouth are Italy’s adventure wonderland.

Clients who like to trek, hike, mountain climb, parasail, horseback ride, etc. will find this a paradise! The winds in the valley have great updrafts so as soon as they push off while parasailing, the winds lift them right up to the top of the mountain. There are hostels all along the roads so people who want to trek can walk from village to village.

The town of Castelluccio is very rustic so for day trippers, they would probably prefer to return to Norcia for accommodation.

Spoleto – This medieval city does not allow cars into the center of the city at all. They have an escalator that takes you from the parking lot up to the city center. It is 6 escalators that have been covered with a wooden structure that looks old to make the modern blend in with the ancient. The old wall is intact and completely surrounds the old city.

There is also a very large, modern city outside the city walls. It is a popular city for photography groups, bike tours and trekking tours.

Eremo delle Grazie – This is another castle hotel that M took me to inspect. It sits high up in the hills overlooking Spoleto. The woman who owns it is very wealthy and operates this hotel as a hobby. She is warm and welcoming.

It is a true castle and furnished with wonderful antiques, maybe a little too much furniture and a little dark, but It does have a wonderful terrace and dining room overlooking the valley.

Narni Underground – In the village of Narni they have an amazing underground attraction. It features a church complete with frescoes, a Roman cistern, a prison cell, and an Inquisition chamber from the 13th & 15th centuries. It was discovered in the 1960s by 5 teenage boys looking for adventure and treasure.

For anyone interested in history or archeology, it is a must see.

Castello di Sismano – I was fortunate to spend my last night at Sismano Castle that has been turned into a B&B near Todi. It is owned by the Marchesa Ginevra Sanminiatelli Bruti Liberati. She lives in the castle full time and invited me for drinks before we went down to dinner.

She has used her money to completely restore the castle and provide work for the people of Sismano. There was a festival taking place the night I was there and all the townspeople came to the castle dining hall to have a barbecue style dinner together.

The Marchesa is very gracious and regales her guests with stories of her wealthy family down through the centuries. Her family owned a sailing merchant ship they had built in France called the Fleur de May. When they didn’t need it any longer and tried to sell it in England, no one would buy a ship with a French name. By law, they could not change the name of the ship but they could translate it into English – The Mayflower. As soon as they did so, it was bought and fitted for the voyage that brought the pilgrims to America.

That is just one of her many stories. The rooms maintain the old stonework of the castle but are thoroughly modern inside. The bathrooms are very luxurious and the beds super comfy. They have 600 hectares dedicated to hunting plus there are 1000 hectares to walk or bike and picnic.

If you are interested in visiting this area or for more information please contact
Lindy at lindy@a-ztours.com

Lindy cooking classInfiorata Lindy


British Columbia has an amazing geographical diversity with a variety of places to see and things to do. Mountains to climb, beaches to bask on, exciting cities to explore, rainforests to hike, warm-water lakes, rivers to ride and much more. All of this arranged into regions featuring their own differences and attributes.

The Pacific Ocean, mountain streams filled with Salmon and Trout, White Water Rivers to raft, and whales frolicking off the coast. Come to canoe, kayak or simply walk along the beach. In British Columbia’s back country you’ll be rewarded with some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

British Columbia is a land of colorful characters and adventurers. From the proud heritage of Aboriginal peoples to the early explorers who waged against fear and famine, and the brave souls who opened the west with the cross Canada railway. Refined Victorians of the British Empire, swaggering lumberjacks, wild west cowboys and silk-swathed people from the Far East all settled here. Today, past and present mingle with the sights, sounds, tastes and traditions from virtually every country and culture in the world.

In Vancouver the city lights up at night offering a dazzling array of entertainment. The latest Broadway shows share the stage with smaller theater groups. Five-star restaurants and neighborhood bistros are around every corner. In the summer symphonies are performed in the park along with the Shakespeare in the Park theatrical production. There is a wide assortment of shops, art galleries, spas and museums only minutes away from the wilderness trails, Stanley Park, Grose Mountain and Caplilano suspension bridge are all must see places in and around Vancouver.

Whistler offers year round activities including a zip line and is world renowned for its winter skiing on Whistler Mountain. The interior of British Columbia has a wide variety of activities. During the summer months there is an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables direct from the fields at Farmers markets and stalls at every turn in the road.

Sharing the rocky mountains with Alberta, the ride through the mountains by train or car can only be described as magnificent and majestic.

Vancouver Island is unique with the city of Victoria and its old world charm. Afternoon tea Victorian style is not to be missed at the grand Empress Hotel right on the waterfront. Spectacular Buttchart Gardens, a Butterfly farm, whale watching and much more await you on the island.

The British Columbia climate is varied throughout the Province with the Vancouver area having the mildest weather in the whole of Canada. The weather in greater Vancouver and Vancouver Island greatly resembles that of England, with 4 distinct seasons.

The Interior regions experience drier weather and greater temperature extremes. Farther north, you’ll notice the long summer days (or the short winter ones, depending on the season). The mountains often experience heavy snow (great for skiers). The snow rarely settles for long in either Vancouver or Victoria.

For more information on tours to British Columbia check out
http://www.tourbritishcolumbia.com or email or call us at
or 604-278-8286 or 1-888-682-6449

CIMG0999Butchart Gardens6

Many French settlers suffered great losses as a result of the closing of the Port Royal Habitation in Annapolis Royal. In spite of this some of the settlers remained in the area for many years to come. One of those settlers, Charles de Saint-Etienne de La Tour started a trading base at Cape Sable.

The next colonists to settle in the region were the Scots. James I, King of England granted a charter to Sir William Alexander, a Scottish nobleman in 1621, to set up a Scottish colony in North America. This Charter covered what are now known as the Canadian Maritime Provinces and Gasp Peninsula. The proposed colony was named Nova Scotia under the Charter. Nova Scotia is the Latin name for New Scotland.

In 1629 after 8 years of trying to create interest and financial backing for the proposed settlement colonists arrived to set up a colony. Around 70 Scottish colonists, arrived at the site where the Fort Anne National Historic Site now stands, led by Alexander’s son, Sir William Alexander the Younger. The site was just a few kilometres upriver from the previous Port Royal Habitation.

One settler related in his diary that the site was fortified by the sea and land, rising above one of the main rivers, having on a small river to the east, a ruined water mill built by the French, and protected on both sides of the river by hills. The area was abundant with seafood and game. The Fort was christened Fort Charles in honour of King Charles I. The settlement was named after Port Royal.

The conflict between France and England for control of the region continued. After only 3 years King Charles ordered Sir William Alexander in 1632 to remove his settlers from the settlement. The colony returned to France in the same year under the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Even though they only lasted 3 years the Scottish settlers left an enduring legacy with the name of the Province, Nova Scotia, the flag and the coat of arms all derived from this settlement.

After the Treaty French colonists replaced the Scots. Their leader, Charles de Menou d’Aulnay and his wife, Jeanne Motin committed to building a thriving colony. The settlers spread out along the shores of the Rivire Dauphin (now the Annapolis River). They built dykes and engineering sluices, or aboiteaux, along the tidal flats, to prevent the marshes from being flooded by sea water. This form of agriculture is still in use today. After 2 or 3 years the rain washed away the salt from the marsh dyked areas turning these areas into productive farmland. This group of French settlers became known as the Acadians.

In the 1630’s Port Royal was the name given to the village encompassing the area from the basin to several kilometres upriver past the present day Annapolis Royal. Approximately 600 Acadians were living in the village by the early 1700s. Other Acadians from Port Royal set up other settlements on the upper Bay of Fundy.

D’Aulnay, expanded the Fort. He built the first of 4 French forts, maybe incorporating parts of the Scots’ fort. 2 temporary Forts followed. In 1702, Pierre-Paul de Labat, a French officer, designed and supervised the construction of a Fort at the junction of the Annapolis and Allain rivers. He created a star-shaped Fort of 4 bastions connected by curtain walls, with a ravelin and seaward battery facing the Annapolis River. Today the ruins of this Vauban-styled Fort are known as Fort Anne National Historic Site of Canada.

The colony of Acadia was governed from this location until 1710 and was home to the French Governor, his officials and garrison. Carpenters, tradesman and several other families also lived at the fort.

In the fall of 1710 Port Royal now the French capital of Acadia fell to the British after a week long siege. Francis Nicholson, a British officer led a fleet of 35 ships and 2000 British and New England troops and outnumbered the French forces. On October 16, the Governor Daniel D’Auger de Subercase handed over the Fort and a 5 kilometres area around the village. The village was renamed Annapolis Royal, and Acadia once again became Nova Scotia.

British sovereignty over Acadia was confirmed under The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, and Annapolis Royal became the capital of Nova Scotia. The war was not over, and the boundaries of Acadia were never defined. Under the Treaty France retained its colonies of Canada (an area along the St. Lawrence River), Ile Royale (Cape Breton Island) and Ile Saint Jean (Prince Edward Island). The French remained determined to regain control of Annapolis Royal and to re-establish Acadia.

Although there was much uncertainty the Acadian population grew and expanded up the Bay of Fundy over the next 30 years. The region changed between the French and British numerous times from 1713, leading the Acadians to believe the French might gain control again. The Acadians remained neutral, not committing to either the French or British. The Acadian communities elected deputies, who acted on behalf of their villages to communicate with British officials. The British pressured the deputies to commit to the British, but the Acadians continued to resist.

In 1729-30 Governor Richard Philipps and the Acadians agreed to a modified oath that was accompanied by a verbal promise stating that the Acadians would not be obligated to bear arms against the French or the Mi’kmaq. British officials in London and later in Halifax would not accept this oath. The loyalty issue became a worry to both sides.

The Mi’kmaq, who had previously occupied the entire region, were unhappy with the increased British presence. They were generally friendly with the French, especially as some of them shared a common religion and family ties. In the 1720’s violence broke out between the Mi’kmaq and the British. The Mi’kmaq captured trading and fishing vessels and there was a battle near Annapolis. In 1726 a peace treaty made in Boston was ratified in Annapolis with the Mi’kmaq and other First Nations chiefs from the north east.

The role of the Fort at Annapolis Royal diminished with Halifax as the new capital and military stronghold. It served as an outpost defending Annapolis during the American Revolution and the 1812 War. The last combat at the Fort was in 1781 when it was attacked by American privateers. In the 1790’s the British built Field Officers’ Quarters and in the early 1800s, the Fort became known as Fort Anne. In 1854, the British withdrew from Annapolis Royal and the Fort and its grounds gradually deteriorated.

The village of Annapolis Royal prospered from the growth of the shipping and ship-building industry in the 1800’s. Victorians in the late 19th century revered the Fort for its long and heroic past. When the blockhouse was demolished without notice, a group of citizens petitioned the Government of Canada to have the site preserved and maintained for future generations. In 1917 work took place to improve the site and Fort Anne became Canada’s first administered national historic site.

Avril Betts CHA – I am an owner of A-Z Tours and Action Travel. We are travel and tour specialists and have been in the travel business for many years. We are experts on Atlantic Canada.

Leisure travel should be just that!…Leisure! The last thing you need is the stress of having to take care of all the important details! Tell us exactly what you want and we’ll do the rest. And, do it from the comfort of your home.

When it comes to vacation planning, escorted and customized tours we are second to none!…and you’ll love our staff because they treat you like family! Just give us a call and you’ll see!

Call us: 1-888-682-6449/1-303-670-5640 or 1-800-457-3363/1-604-278-8286


Many European settlers settled originally on a seasonal basis along the coast of Nova Scotia and surrounding coastal areas to fish the abundant fishing grounds off the Grand Banks. The fleets of Ships came from England, France and Spain to fish. The settlements were used to dry and salt their fish to use as staple in their own diets and eventually to trade. The communities grew and led to a thriving industry along these coastal towns.

The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic celebrates this rich history of fishing the Canada’s North Atlantic. The Museum is located on the waterfront in the historic town of Lunenburg on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. The town itself has been awarded a prestigious UNESCO world heritage designation.

Initially the Museum started in 1967 aboard the 1938 schooner Theresa E. Connor, Canada’s oldest saltbank schooner. The ship remains the flagship of the museum docked alongside the current museum and is open to public viewing.

The Museum moved into a large complex of historic buildings along the waterfront. The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic is a former fish plant, and the complex has grown over the years to offer a variety of exhibits on 3 floors along with retired fishing vessels, star attractions, floating alongside the museum including the side trawler Cape Sable and the Theresa E. Connor. Museum staff demonstrate traditional methods of cod fishing and life aboard these historic vessels.

The Museum includes an aquarium, the Ice House Theater with films all day and numerous fishing exhibits. In addition there is a Dory Shop where visitors can watch craftsmen demonstrating how a Dory is built, a maritime gift shop, and the Old Fish Factory, a seafood restaurant offering fresh local fish.

The Lunenburg waterfront is breathtakingly beautiful and the museum stands out with its brightly painted red buildings. Enjoy the fresh and saltwater aquariums filled with native fish. At the viewing tank gently touch starfish and other marine creatures, a definite favorite with the kids. Other exhibits include the Banks Fisheries Gallery, the Hall of Inshore Fisheries, the Dory Shop, the Whales & Whaling and August Gales exhibits and the Fishermen’s Memorial Room.

There are additional exhibits on shipbuilding, rum-running, life in the fishing communities and old marine engines. Among other things the exhibits offer old prints, photographs and illustrations of fishing methods and equipment. On the 2nd floor the Fishermen’s Memorial room offers a tribute to those men lost at sea from the port of Lunenburg.

During the season experience daily demonstrations on fish filleting, lobster traps & traditional crafts. There are various interactive exhibits including the launching of a schooner model and watching it “slide down the ways”. Watch or participate in hooking a mat or quilting in the Life in Fishing Communities exhibit. This museum has something for everyone.

One exhibit contains the world’s largest collection of artifacts from Canada’s famous schooner, the historic Bluenose. Bluenose 2 often docked alongside the wharf and offered trips and viewings. Currently the schooner is under restoration in Lunenburg.

The Museum has extensive resources for educational and historical purposes and is dedicated to the preservation of Atlantic Canada’s Seafaring Heritage. The South Shore Genealogical Society is also located in the Museum.

This Museum is a must see for any trip to the South Shore of Nova Scotia.

Avril Betts CHA – I am an owner of A-Z Tours and Action Travel . We are travel and tour specialists and have been in the travel business for many years.

When it comes to vacation planning, escorted and customized tours we are second to none!…and you’ll love our staff, they treat you like family! Give us a call. We specialize in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada

Call us: 1-888-682-6449/1-303-670-5640 or 1-800-457-3363/1-604-278-8286





Easter Island also known as “Rapa Nui” or “Isla de Pascua” is a mysterious open air museum with massive stone statutes (Moai) dotting the coastline around the island. Officially the Island is a territory of Chile and one of the worlds most isolated places, situated on a triangle of volcanic rock in the South Pacific over 2,000 miles from the nearest population centers of Tahiti and Chile.

The island is known as one of the world’s most sacred sites, famous for its giant stone busts, built centuries ago, they reflect the history of the dramatic rise and fall of an isolated Polynesian culture.

Early settlers called the island “Te Pito O Te Henua” (Navel of The World). It was named Easter Island by a European, Admiral Roggeveen who arrived on the island on Easter Sunday 1722. Locally today it is known as Rapa Nui.

There has been much confusion and controversy as to the origin of the Easter Islanders. Some think Peruvians built the statues, some feel the Island is a piece of a lost continent. DNA has proven that Polynesians were the first settlers arriving around 400 AD from the west in large boats. This is seen as remarkable given that Easter Island is such a great distance from other land. Legend has it they were looking for other land as their own island was being swallowed by the sea.

The island was a paradise and the islanders prospered — archaeological evidence shows that the island was covered with a variety of numerous trees, including the largest palm tree species in the world. The natives used the bark and wood for cloth, rope, and canoes. Birds were plentiful and provided food. The climate was mild and the water provided an abundance of fish and oysters.

Their religion developed with its centerpiece the giant moai, or heads, that are the island’s most distinctive feature today. The moai, are scattered around the island and supposedly depicted their ancestors. This was likely considered a blessing or a watchful eye over each small village. The ruins of the Rano Raraku crater, the stone quarry where hundreds of moai sit today, show how these figures were important. The birdman culture (as seen in the petroglyphs) was obviously the islanders’ fascination with their ability to travel to distant lands.

In addition to the statues, petroglyphs (rock carvings), traditional wood carvings, tapa (barkcloth), crafts, tattooing, string figures, dance and music, the islanders possessed the Rongorongo script, the only written language in Oceania. As time went on confidence in their religion was lost as disagreements broke out. This is reflected in the ruins of the moai statues which were deliberately toppled by human hands.

At its peak the island had more than 10,000 population, straining the capability of it’s ecosystem. As a result lush palm forests were destroyed for agriculture and the massive statues, and resources became scarce. The once thriving advanced social society descended into a bloody civil war, and apparently cannibalism as they ran out of food sources. The islanders tore down the statues, that today have been re erected by archaeological efforts.

Through contact with western civilization, slavery and disease the island population by around 1800 had dropped to approximately 110. Around 1888 following the annexation of Chile the population rose to more than 2,000. Despite the Chilean presence there is still a strong Polynesian identity.

The Rapanui people are extremely friendly and the landscape is amazing with its volcanic craters, lava formations, beaches, brilliant blue water, and archaeological sites.

Access is from Chile and Tahiti, tourism on the island is run by the Rapanui themselves. There are many package tours and various hotels and guesthouses on the Island. There are opportunities to stay in a private home, a great way to experience the island and local culture. In late January to early February the islanders celebrate Tapati, a festival honoring the Polynesian cultural heritage of the island

There are a series of ongoing excavations, conservation and preservation projects.All but one of the 22 standing statues in Rano Raraku Quarry interior have been previously exposed through unscientific and undocumented digging.

The Easter Island Statue Project (EISP) has a 20 year history of an archaeological survey, the objective of which is the creation of a complete, full, island-wide monolithic and portable statue inventory and the compilation of an historical image record for each.

In 1982 the EISP team started a 5 year Easter Island Statue Project, mapping the interior of Rano Raraku, the volcanic quarry from which 95 percent of the statues were created. Over one thousand statues were documented throughout the entire island and created the world’s largest archaeological archive

Rano Raraku, a volcanic crater on the island’s eastern plain, was the source of the sideromelane (basaltic) from which 95% of the statues were carved. This source is irrefutable as there are 397 in situ statues, of which 141 in various stages of completion have recently been mapped by EISP in the interior quarries. Much rarer statue lithologies are basalt (hawaiite lavas) from three named regions.

There are only 20 statues which were carved of basalt. Of these, 7 are in museum collections. The British Museum holds two basalt statues.

The Island is extremely small, so it is possible to get around fairly easily. There are rental cars, usually jeeps, as well as dirt bikes. With a car, you can see most of the sites on the island in a few hours.

The biggest tourist attractions are, of course, the Moai. All of the sites, are free and are mostly found along the coastline of the island. Two exceptions are the volcanic craters of Rano Kau and Rano Raraku. “Rano Raraku” is where the moai carvings were created by hundreds of laborers out of the volcanic rock. A visitor can see various stages of the carving and partially finished statues in this 300 foot remnant of a volcano. Rano Kau, the remains of a volcanic cinder cone, has a spectacular mottled unearthly appearance. Both craters are filled with fresh rainwater. There is a combined entry fee currently at $60 US. Make sure to keep your ticket.

Easter Island features two white sand beaches. Anakena, on the north side of the island, has an excellent bodysurfing location. The second is Ovahe, along the southern shore of the island near Ahu Vaihu, this beautiful beach is much larger than Anakena and is surrounded by breathtaking cliffs. Scuba diving and snorkeling is popular near the islets Motu Nui and Motu Iti (well known for “The bird man culture”).

There is an extensive cave system with a couple of “official” caves and numerous unofficial caves on the island. Many of the openings to the caves are small but open up into large, deep and extensive cave systems. These are not to be explored on your own and can be damp, slippery and dangerous.

   Most of the commerce on the island occurs in the port town of Hanga Roa. There are a number of small shops, as well as an open market and approximately 25 restaurants with limited menus, although there is a wide range of fish.

All in all Easter Island is a remote spectacular destination offering a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

For Tours to Easter Island or for more information check out
http://www.a-ztours.com or contact

1 – 888 – 682 – 6449
1 – 303 – 670 – 5640

easter island



In the early 1900s two factors brought about the creation of the International Fisherman’s Trophy. Years of rivalry between Canadian and US fishing schooners and the opinions the schooner men had about the America’s Cup.


The yachts that participated in the race for the America’s Cup were always being towed for repairs or adjustments and then in 1919 the New York Yacht Club canceled a race due to a high wind of 23 knots. The schooner men had had enough and so in 1920 “The Halifax Herald” started a formal racing series. The races would be between genuine, working, sailing schooners.


That same year the US and Canada held elimination races and the schooner Esperanto from Gloucester, New England took the trophy in the final against the Delewena of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.


Disappointed by the loss Nova Scotians hired Halifax designer William J. Roué to design a new ship to take on future challenges for the Trophy. Smith and Rhuland built and launched the schooner Bluenose in Lunenburg on March 26, 1921.


The Bluenose spent the season fishing on the Grand Banks and then in October 1921 competed for the Trophy defeating the Elsie for Gloucester, New England. The American Schooners Henry Ford, Columbia, and Gertrude L Thebaud as well as several Canadian schooners built to compete with the Bluenose could not compete with the remarkable sailing abilities of the Bluenose. During its racing career the Bluenose was never beaten and held the Trophy for 18 consecutive years.


At 17 years of age in 1938 the Bluenose defeated the Thebaud one last time. The now famous Bluenose was a tribute to the shipwrights and sailors who built her and many other fishing and cargo schooners..


The era of the great fishing schooners ended with World War 2. Modern steel trawlers replaced the sailing schooners and these grand schooners no longer sailed the North Atlantic to harvest cod for the world markets.


In 1942 the Bluenose was sold to carry freight to the West Indies despite the efforts of her Master, Capt. Angus J. Walters of Lunenburg, and others to keep the ship in Nova Scotia.


Storms on the treacherous Sand Bars of Sable Island (known as the graveyard of the Atlantic) 90 miles east of Nova Scotia claimed the Esperanto and Columbia. The Gulf of St Lawrence claimed the Henry Ford and the Elsie. The Gertrude L Thebaud foundered on a Haitian reef, and the Bluenose the Queen of the North Atlantic suffered the same fate on January 28th 1946.


For their achievements in the Fisherman’s Trophy races both the Bluenose and her Captain J. Angus Walters were inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1955.


In 1963 the Bluenose II a replica of the original Bluenose was launched from the same shipyard where the first Bluenose had been built. It was built by many of the same men who had worked on the famous Bluenose.


The Bluenose II is operated by the Lunenburg Marine Museum Society on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia. Their dedicated service to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic which they also operate, and Bluenose II is well-matched with their knowledge of vessel maintenance, engineering, fabrication, retail and accounting. Many members have long-standing family roots in various aspects of Nova Scotia’s maritime heritage.


Each summer, Bluenose II – now Nova Scotia’s Sailing Ambassador has given public cruises and has traveled to special events near and far. Stories of Lunenburg’s original Bluenose and Captain Angus Walters have enthralled generations of Atlantic Canadians. As the undefeated Queen of the North Atlantic, she was the world’s most famous Nova Scotian fishing schooner and is commemorated on the back of the Canadian dime.


The Bluenose II is now being completely restored at the Lunenburg Shipyard you can visit their website to see a live web cam of the work in progress or visit the shipyard and witness first-hand Nova Scotia Boat Building at its best. The husband of one of my agents in Nova Scotia is one of the craftsmen working on the restoration.

For more information on tours to Nova Scotia, check http://www.novascotiatravel.ca  or contact us directly at

1 – 888 – 682 – 6449
1 – 303 – 670 – 5640




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