Venturing North: An Unconventional Odyssey through Canada's Untamed Coastlines
In stark contrast to the cataclysmic journey to Spain just a couple of weeks prior, this time, the voyage to the airport unfolded without any major mishaps. My peripheral vision brushed over the dramatic headlines in local newspapers, detailing the recurring IT system collapse of British Airways, culminating in the cancellation of numerous flights. Dodging the airport chaos at the onset of the school holidays, I sought sanctuary in the familiar yet strangely deserted Centurion AmEx lounge. At 5 AM, I was tucked away, battling the encroaching wave of sleep like a tsunami, fortified by a cup of robust coffee.
My trajectory today takes me to Boston, which, unfortunately, may merely serve as a transit point. My initial plan for this week entailed spending time in Boston with short excursions from New York to Philadelphia and Washington to Niagara Falls. Despite having reserved and prepared everything for the journey, I felt a certain disinterest in this route—perhaps it was too predictable and urban for my taste.
Therefore, when I stumbled upon the fact that the ship, which I once sailed around South America and Antarctica, the "Zaandam" from "Holland America," was departing northwards from Boston on this day, I heaved a sigh of relief and decided to radically revise my plans in favour of a more appealing itinerary.
I cleverly wove this new adventure between my arrival and departure dates, packing it as tightly as an overstuffed suitcase stowed in the plane's overhead compartment. The revised route takes me northward from Boston to Canada, circumventing the desolate expanses of several Canadian provinces before finally reaching Quebec. This includes both the province and the city bearing the same name, whose existence I had seemingly overlooked in the pages of the "atlas."
Following the river for a couple of days—this deep wrinkle in the face of the Earth that pierces Quebec to the heart of Montreal—I planned to fly back from there to Boston. Thus, I could securely lock the brimming "suitcase" of my itinerary.
Ideally, of course, I would venture even further north, severing ties with the Canadian coast like an iceberg calving from a glacier, charting a course towards the icy expanse of Greenland. For now, though, such plans remain tucked away like a long-desired candy in a box, its wrapper frustratingly hard to unravel with my occupied hands.
Nevertheless, I hold a warm impression of the ship on which I voyaged to Antarctica
. The anticipation of a new rendezvous unfurls a subtle smile of delight within me. This vessel, it seemed, diverged from the larger and more ostentatious ships that frequently ply the Caribbean or the Mediterranean, emitting an old-school charm. Complete with a comfortably furnished library and a kind of navigational hall with maps and plotted routes, this ship differed due to its smaller size. This allowed for less conventional routes, helping it reach more remote corners of the world and thereby attracting a slightly different type of passenger—those who can momentarily break away from the bustle of bourgeois life and the material world, dreamily gaze towards the receding sun beyond the unexplored horizon, preferring the silent solitude of the rhythmically lapping sea to the cacophonous restaurant or an alluring yet forgettable show.
Usually, explorers choose to journey to this region north of Boston and further through Bar Harbor to the rocky shores veiled by deciduous forests in the fall, attracted by the enormous array of colours that autumn bestows upon these lands. But one can't pick everything at once, and this time, I hope to compensate for the lack of autumn colours with the hues of late spring in these northern latitudes at the end of May.
The flight to Boston travelled north first, making its initial 'contact' with the North American mainland somewhere along the Canadian coasts, before commencing its 'descent' south along the coastline. This offered me an aerial perspective of the vast expanses I planned to explore on this trip. Down below, the signs of civilization were less apparent, and the jagged forested coasts, with their peculiar contours and sunlit reflections, resembled spilt mercury, taking on a whimsical form and glistening on the surface, enveloping countless lakes. But not only did someone spill mercury in these parts, but they also appeared to be rather careless with a box of islands. These islands, like generously scattered cookies of various shapes, haphazardly and plentifully covered all nearby waters with numerous, and presumably mostly uninhabited, islands. In addition to this picture, as if trying to somehow pack this spilt gift, a few highway roads stretched from horizon to horizon, sparse but conspicuous from above, like wrapping ribbons on a box.
The coastline itself was so intricately carved it seemed as though someone, who had been methodically tracing all the continental coasts on Earth, had finished the procedure in this region. Yet, with a sizeable ball of string still left, they casually dropped it here on the shores of the North Atlantic, forming an intricate web of twists and turns.
Further along, the way, as we drew closer to Boston, the scene began to change; there were more and more buildings of various kinds. It strangely reminded me of the landscapes I had seen on the other side of the continent, in the area of Alaska. Similarly, on the Canadian side of the border, there remained vast, untouched human forests approaching the American border, while the spirit of entrepreneurship and business activity created an abundance of attractive but nonetheless disruptive quiet landscapes.
In the Boston area, it seemed like someone had scattered a bunch of white styrofoam fragments on the water, at least that's how it looked from the plane. Every bay was simply impressed with a vast amount of snow-white yachts and boats hiding from the sea surf in quiet coves.
Nevertheless, the plane finally arrived in Boston, and my voyage begins the next day. I'm headed for Bar Harbor, a town or rather a village on an islet in Maine, somewhere north of Boston.