Caravan Sonnet: 2017

10/23/17

St. John's City Market // Canada

Happy Monday friends! Today I am so excited to continue to share more about my recent trip through New England, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia! As I mentioned in my post from yesterday, we left St. Andrews By the Sea early in the morning on Monday, October 1st and headed out for Prince Edward Island. It is about a 4 and 1/2 hour drive from St. Andrews By the Sea to Prince Edward Island, so I had researched ahead of time a couple of stops along the way to break the drive up. One of the first stops was in St. John, about an hour north of St. Andrews By the Sea.
After visiting the beautiful St. John's "stone" church, we made our way to the St. John's City Market. The St. John City Market is a wonderful tourist place to see and visit. There are lots of different shops throughout the market that offer food, gift items, artwork, and many other treats and delights.
St. John's City Market is open year round on Monday's through Saturdays and it is a thriving farmers market located in the middle of the city. We arrived early in the morning and it was the perfect place to pick up a few warm drinks, some snacks, and some breakfast items before continuing on in our trip. 
The City Market was first opened in 1876 and has endured the test of time as it has only grown. It survived The Great Fire of 1877 and also has endured throughout the 20th century urban renewal project that built a brand new St. John City. 
The market is a full city block long and it runs downhill - a full 10 feet as you walk down it. At both entrances there are the same historical gates that have been used to open and close the market since 1880. The doors are a tribute to the long standing history of the times and also the local blacksmith who created them.
The City Market remains the oldest and longest thriving market in Canada. 
I was so excited to take a few moments to stop as it is steeped in history and is truly a place to visit if you are in St. John. Each and every person that we encountered was so friendly and kind in the market and it was fun to "live like a local" for a meal and pick up supplies for the day! 

If you are interested in reading more from my recent trip through New England, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. You can read all of the posts from the trip by clicking on the links below:

Happy Monday Friends! I hope you have a wonderful day to start your week! 

10/22/17

St. John's "Stone" Church // Canada

After leaving St. Andrews By the Sea early in the morning on Monday, October 1st we headed out for Prince Edward Island. It is about a 4 and 1/2 hour drive from St. Andrews By the Sea to Prince Edward Island, so I had researched ahead of time a couple of stops along the way to break the drive up. One of the first stops was in St. John, about an hour north of St. Andrews By the Sea.
I had been in St. John a couple of years ago for a few hours (you can read about it HERE) and after we got stamps in our passports for visiting the city I realized it had been two years to the date since my last trip. It is amazing to think about how much has changed in the last two years... how much healing has taken place and all that God has done. It left me speechless to think about as I drove throughout the day. 
We stopped in St. John so I could show Ali the famous city market (a blog post on that will be coming tomorrow!) and we arrived a few moments before it opened. I drove up the street to show her the beautiful stone church that is famous in St. John and to show her a bit of the city.
A bit of history about St. John. It is the largest city within the New Brunswick province and is the only city on the Bay of Fundy. St. John was discovered by the Europeans in the very early 1600s and the strategic location of the St. John River and the Bay of Fundy made this a very popular location for settlement. Due to this, St. John became a place of fighting and and sieges during the early years of its existence and throughout the 1600s. Eventually after the Naval Battle of St. John (between the French and English), England gained control of St. John.
In 1777, American forces gained brief control of St. John. Due to this a British major who was famous in the American Revolution (John Small) personally led soldiers in driving out the Americans. St. John remained a loyalist dominated city and eventually in 1785 was declared under royal charter to become the City of St. John. St. John is known as the first incorporated city in British North America (present-day Canada).
Historically, many of the people who fled to St. John during the American Revolution were Loyalist and were so strict with their beliefs that they would not let anyone who was not a Loyalist or a descendant of Loyalists practice any type of trade, sell goods, vote, or even fish in the harbor. This remained in effect until 1870. 
What is particularly fascinating is that St. John became known as the "Loyalist City" and that historical influence remained in St. John even to this day as the streets, many buildings, many restaurants, and many historical sites play homage to the monarchy and to the British crown through their names. 
Y'all know how much I love history and particularly old churches so I was so excited to go see this church again. St. John's Anglican Church (also known as the "stone church") was constructed in 1824 and was completed in 1826.
For those who are interested in architecture this Anglican church is one of the earliest examples of the Gothic Revival style in Canada which is known as the Romantic Gothic Revival style.
It was such a beautiful morning to see this beautiful old church. If you haven't made a stop to it in St. John's I definitely recommend it! You won't regret it! 

If you are interested in reading more from my recent trip through New England, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. You can read all of the posts from the trip by clicking on the links below:
Happy Sunday friends! I hope that you are having a wonderful weekend! 

10/21/17

The Algonquin Resort St. Andrews By the Sea Review // Canada

When I first decided to accept and pursue a writing trip through New England, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia one of the first things that I did was pick the places to stay (that were not a part of the itinerary). Safety and affordability are extremely important and I also factor in realistic concerns for those readers in this community, who like myself, are struggling with health issues. After quite a bit of research for St. Andrews By the Sea I decided to splurge a bit for the stay at this property mainly because of the reputation I had heard of, the history of the resort, and the fact that it is part of the Autograph Collection of Hotels. 
As a travel blogger and writer, I always want to give this community helpful and interesting suggestions, beautiful places and experiences, and the knowledge to make the best decisions if you are planning a similar trip in the future.
I also have promised to always be honest on this site about my experiences which can be hard sometimes. The reality is that I am a pretty easy-going traveler who loves to relish the experience and adventure. But unfortunately there sometimes are situations that don't always work out the way that I hoped and I feel it is important to share the good and the bad of an experience. In saying that I hope that you will find this review helpful if you are planning a stay at The Algonquin Resort in the future.
The Algonquin Resort St. Andrews By the Sea is a luxury hotel that dates back to 1889. It is part of the Autograph Collection of Hotels  by Marriott which are a collection of handpicked unique boutique hotels. On the website it states that; "each one is chosen for its founder's passion, the thoughtfulness of its design, its inherent craft, and its connection with the locale. Our aim is to showcase some of the most beautifully orchestrated hotel experiences the world has to offer". There are only two Autograph Collection Hotels in Canada and he Algonquin Resort St. Andrews By the Sea is the only located in New Brunswick.
After doing lots and lots of research I decided to go ahead and book our stay here and felt that it would add a restful, unique, and once-in-a-lifetime experience to our trip. 
Honestly, from the moment we drove up were were in complete awe of the surrounding and the property. I felt that we had stepped into a European boutique hotel that beautifully matched the surroundings of St. Andrews By the Sea.
The decor and the architectural structure were stunning. 
The location in regards to each of our activities during our stay at St. Andrews By the Sea (touring the Kingsbrae GardenDriving on the Ocean Floor and walking through this quiet and restful seaside town) was perfect. It was literally less than a five minute drive to each of these things and to the downtown area of St. Andrews By the Sea. 
Our stay in St. Andrews By the Sea was purposefully designed to give us a night of rest and rejuvenation and the property was stunning and our room was very quiet. I was also impressed with the fact that when we didn't answer our wake up call right away a staff member took the time to come and knock on our room door to make sure that we were up.
I walked into this experience really excited about this stay and it makes me incredibly sad to say that I unfortunately can't recommend this property. I hate saying that because I love Marriott, loved the architecture, loved the gorgeous surroundings, and really wanted to love our stay, but unfortunately I was extremely disappointed by five different situations. These five situations range in "importance", with the first three issues being more serious, especially for those looking for a disability friendly property, to the last two just being more of a little irritation.
First, when I made the reservation I called to confirm that the room would be in an area that would be easily accessible as I have a disability tag. I knew that after all of the traveling I needed each of the stays to be "disability friendly". I was assured that this would be taken care of with no issues. When we arrived we were given an "upgrade" and I again asked if it was easily accessible which I was told it was. Unfortunately it was not even remotely disability friendly. 

First, it was located in the annex part of the hotel, and it was at the very end of this building that was approximately a 1/8 of a mile of a walk each way to the elevator. There were no luggage carts available and there was not an offer to help with our bags when asked about the luggage carts. This required two trips for us and we were both very exhausted from our travels. All I could think about was the people who didn't have a friend helping and the fact that this was anything but "disability friendly".
I was honestly very confused about why we were given a room so far away when the property looked only about 1/3 full of its capacity. I understand and appreciated the upgrade offer, but I didn't understand why we weren't given a room in the main building (that did have luggage carts for that part of the property)? 

Second, just a heads up that handicap parking is extremely limited and is not very close to either of the buildings. There was also never an offer to park our car for us, that typically happens at lots of other properties.
Third, was the dining situation. Before (and after) booking our stay I had called ahead of time and had been assured that there would be gluten free options available for both the dining rooms and room service. Living in this knowledge, we came back from all of our adventures, explored the property a little more and didn't head back to our room until later in the evening. Imagine my disappointment when we went to order the room service to find out that there was not options available and the chef was unwilling to work to create a meal that would fit within my diet needs. 

I tried to explain several times that we had been assured that this would not be a problem, I asked if the sandwiches could just be put on lettuce instead of bread, I tried asking about just getting a salad, etc. It took 4 different phone calls and each time I kept being told that the chef said "no". When I finally chose something that seemed okay, I received a call back to our room saying that the chef had changed his mind and was not willing to do it. Finally, after more than 25 minutes of talking I was given a salad that was spinach, chicken, and a few berries (without the dressing I was told was the "only" one definitely gluten free and was given a different one). Ali ordered fish and chips. We waited approximately 30 minutes for these two meals and when they arrived our meal cost was over $70 (CAD) with tip. The fish and chips dinner was not that good and looked like an appetizer, and the spinach was wilted and brown. It was the WORST dinner in our entire trip and the price was absolutely ridiculous. Considering this was an Autograph Collection Hotel truly also was disappointing on a different level.

I completely understand that not every hotel can cater to different allergy issues. I also understand that some of my allergies are a bit strange. For example I am allergic to chicken, but when asked if the chicken could be left off the salad and substituted for black beans - that were available on the menu, I was told that would be impossible. I didn't understand, but that is fine. I got the salad and took the chicken off. But to be assured that there would be gluten free options available and to run into the situations that we did in my mind was unacceptable. Allergies are a serious issue, especially for those traveling while fighting serious health issues. Had we known ahead of time that this would not be a possibility or be an issue we would have made other arrangements. 
Fourth, I had pre-paid for the room ahead of time as we were leaving very early at 5am and needed to get on the road very quickly. When I checked in I was assured that everything would be good to go and in the morning I did receive a bill under the door. Unfortunately the bill was wrong- I had been charge $264 (CAD) which meant an extra trek down to the front lobby to straighten the billing situation out. Due to our time schedule and also the assurances ahead of time this was unfortunately just another wrinkle in our stay that kept adding up to frustration with this property.

Fifth and finally, we had the strangest encounters and experiences with the staff. Some of the staff was extremely nice, but two strange incidents did occur during our stay. First, I called down to ask if I could borrow a pair of scissors for about 20 minutes, which was kindly brought up to us, but when they were brought up the staff member basically accused me of wanting to steal them (I had said I would bring them back down) and said that they were the "ONLY" pair of scissors in the whole entire resort. He didn't want me to close the door as he kept insisting that he couldn't leave them. As an Autograph Collection Hotel that boasts to provide anything that someone has forgotten I didn't think that borrowing scissors for a few minutes would cause such a problem. I ended up giving back the scissors without using them. It was just odd. Second, we asked another staff member if he liked working at the hotel. We were just making casual conversation, but he went on to answer us for about ten minutes that it was "boring and there was no party life" and that he was excited to be leaving shortly. I get it - we all don't always love our jobs, but to be obviously so unhappy to share with guests that you don't like working at the property seemed a bit off in such a resort location.
Honestly, it is always hard to share a negative review. I have never had these type of situations happen at a Marriott property before and hoping that what we ran into was just an "off day" for a lot of people. I truly hope that these are the exceptions and not the routine at this property, but feel like in the spirit of being honest on the blog these things are important to share. I was impressed with the way that the Autograph Collection handled refunding the cost of the dinner and sent an apology for the concerns and situations that we faced. I was also extremely impressed with how they took my concerns over the disability friendly situation seriously. 

I hope that y'all found this review of The Algonquin Resort helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding this resort. I would be happy to answer them. 

If you are interested in reading more from my recent trip through New England, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. You can read all of the posts from the trip by clicking on the links below:


Happy Saturday friends!