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The Maritimes Trip Report - Sept 2nd to 8th

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The Maritimes Trip Report - Sept 2nd to 8th

It was a memorable wet week in Halifax when our plane landed on Monday afternoon from Newark, NJ. Nonetheless, there was something new that we never experienced on our first day from the airport straight to Peggy's Cove. Our hosts brought us to lobster fishermen wholesalers who were selling their catch and cook it there, no fancy frills restaurant nor exorbitant fees yet it really satisfied our appetite because we have not eaten a huge lobster straight from the shell. They also ordered mussels and oysters with the presence of mind in bringing cooked rice, lemon and soy sauce. It was heaven! This was the best lunch we ever had from NY, NJ to Halifax. Peggy's Cove was nearby which is a lighthouse settled on granite rocks that hit the towering waves from a restless sea on that afternoon. The view was gorgeous although it was a windy afternoon that has warning all over the place of dangers from turbulent waves. Then, it started to rain, so we decided to trekked to the City and strolled along the boardwalk, take a peep of Citadel Hill and a glimpse of Halifax landscape in a twilight rainy of September.

Our 2nd day was ushered or shall we say blessed by more rains with stronger winds. We got our rental car @ Budget which I paid in advance online, applied the discount codes and avoid haggling or surprises. Online, it says Chevy Impala but when we got to the rental place only Hyndai (Sonata) is available. No time to be choosy because we were soaking wet just to get out of their parking lot. We headed for Lunenberg as planned, equipped ourselves with GPS, Google direction and maps. The highways were good, well maintained suitable for 110 Kms speed limit, though we exerted a little caution due to heavy rains and winds. I noticed the exits are far apart and not all have gas/restaurants nearby, so you really have to plan in advance your gas tank and your bladder. lol! After an hour of travel we arrived at Lunenberg, home of Blue Nose II, we did not see the famous boat and I heard at the museum that it was under repair. The buildings in Lunenberg were colorful that blends with the picturesque seaside. Our lunch meal was pricey for fish and chips and every shop catered for tourists only. We visited the Fisheries Museum which was practically about the story of Blue Nose achievements, a tiny aquarium, fishing equipments and story of the place. During our visit, we were fortunate to encounter Gaelic singers composed of school aged children with their folksy in a melodious tone. They were also in uniform so my wife recorded the event with her Flip video as they sung in front of a woman who was weaving cotton threads. By 3pm, we decided to go back to Halifax, we passed by Mahone Bay took pictures of the churches and beautiful homes in front of the bay. There was more rains on the road and hailstorm too, I guess that's our Halifax experience so our movements to make the most of it was limited to the few site. We decided to passed the time at Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. This is much nicer museum than the one in Lunenberg, very informative about the Titanic incidents which our our hosts brought us to the nearby cemetery where a great number of Titanic victims were laid to rest a hundred years ago. They recently provided names to an unknown child victim who is a young male child. If you are into sailing, this museum is a paradise. It gives you the history of Halifax seafaring life and all the perils in the sea plus huge replica of priced sail boats. For those who are visiting the museum on a Tuesday, after 6:00 pm, the admission is free up to 8 pm, however in our case we paid for Seniors rate with triple A card discount because we would like to retire early for a long driving to Cape Breton for our 3rd and 4th day. We bought some of our supplies at Super Atlantic Mega Supermarket which I think would interest tourists than going for pricey items in the tourist zone. We were booked at Best Western Plus near Chocolate Lake, nice accommodations, great breakfast and free parking. If you do not have cars, you are better off to choose downtown hotels near the boardwalk where the action in Halifax. We missed the public garden and the Seaport Farmer's Market.

(To be continued on 2nd Series of The Maritimes Trip Report - Cape Breton)

Edited: 20 September 2013, 20:43
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1. Re: The Maritimes Trip Report - Sept 2nd to 8th

Before making the Cape Breton trip report, I would like to thank MaryAnn and Lulu, others for their contribution to this forum. Their guidance and insight gave us ease in drawing an itinerary.

On our 3rd day, the weather is still not cooperative and left the hotel raining, lot of traffic before getting to Trans Canada Highway 2, some are road construction and the usual prime time in morning commute. However, once we got out of Halifax, traffic was light and everything was smooth sailing. (Wish it is like this in our Southern California travels) Our GPS was super efficient on the highway but not really preferable when we get out of the freeway, it goes in circles driving to narrow and isolated places that provides nearest distance. We stopped in Antigonish after two hours of driving, people are friendly at a MacDonald store, an elderly immediately approached us after seeing us perusing the map. He politely offered help on how to get our destination to Fortress of Louisbourg via 4 on the direction to St. Peters. He cautioned to drive slow after crossing the bridge in Canso Causeway and stay on the right because it is a fork road to different places. Because of the weather condition, try to go with speed limit because roads are narrower, two-way and some are under construction, however he estimated you will get there within 3 hours. Indeed, it was a great advice because we arrived the town by 2:30 pm. The drive was scenic with homes along the way, we saw a lot of small boats on the garage but did not see a marina at Lake Bra d'Orr. Because of the intermittent rains, we did not stop that much except for wash room and short coffee breaks, we were more concerned in getting to the Fortress before closing time at 5:00pm. Once we got to Sydney Forks, it gave us direction to 22 on the way to Louisbourg. Once we got to the town, the houses are nice painted with nice color combinations similar to European homes, it adds more character, creativity and originality than those homes we have seen in Halifax and other towns. The Fortress Information is quite a distance from Fortress itself. A shuttle bus will pick up passengers and bring them to the Fortress every 30 minutes. As soon as we got to the Fortress, the rainy weather followed us here, it started rain hard and one umbrella was not enough, we managed to get thru and get to the small village where the English tour starts. I recommend to future travelers to take the tour which gives the historical perspective of the place, how people lived in Louisbourg in 17th century, then came the Brits back to French Canadians now the tourists. It is supposed to be a moving tour from one place to another however nobody wants to get wet so just stayed long in the hall and the barn where barrels of wine, food were stored in the olden times. Coming from USA, it reminded us of our trip to Williamsburg and visit Colonial Jamestown. Every staff were wearing the attire of that century, continuously acting and and reenacting for the benefit of visitors. If you would talk to them, they are very informative on what they were trying to portray. After few hours, we were back on the road on the way to Cabot Trail, it is still one and half hour drive. Our motel is on the Cabot Trail road in Baddeck, however it is not easy to find it because we were coming from the Northern side of the island. It was raining, foggy and we saw the road sign of Baddeck, so went to the town and was looking for Baddeck Inn.....none, we called the hotel receptionist and Mr.McCreary who is the owner could not give us a clear landmark what to look for, just kept telling us that they are along the highway. After several tries, we finally found the place and it is half mile after Baddeck and along the highway at the back of Tim Horton and gas station. I think it is very important to provide landmarks when directing travelers who are not familiar with the topography of the place. Mr. Dan MacRae is a quintessential Cape Bretoner who was born in Cape Breton with Scottish origin acquired Baddeck Inn as the 5th owner from the time it was established. I suspect he is an octogenarian but still active in conversing with travelers. He was telling us that we were lucky to get some rooms because normally they're fully booked last summer and by end of Sept when autumn foliage starts to appear. This is a small motel with fantastic view of the lake at a very strategic location in Baddeck. Rooms are constructed with wood paneling, I suspect with less insulation because we could hear conversations and the shower flow in other rooms. Breakfast was healthy mostly continental style but it is clean and the people at the Inn are very personable in describing Cape Breton and Lake Bra d'Orr, a french name or Arms of Gold, it's English name. We learned from him that there are so many rules laid out by Nova Scotia before you can go sailing or fishing on the lake, they are more attuned in preserving nature than letting its inhabitants extract its marine resources of the place. The lake is scenic but looks very serene in a desolate landscape, not witnessing much activities like sailing, water skiing, beach goers like what we saw in other places. Of course, it could also be because the rainy weather.

On our 4th day, we went around Cape Breton started our trek at St. Anne. We could have stopped at the Gaelic College but they have an afternoon schedule so we have to skip the event. However, my wife enjoyed the mirror effect of the water inlet along the St. Ann's river. It is like fjord that goes on inner forest but also serene like the big lake. You can surmise that there are few population in Canada, a place like this in the States like in Sedona, AZ, you would see a lot of campers, picnickers along the water route. Here we traveled hours and would only find fellow motorists. There are few homes and B&B place along the way until we get North River bridge, those who took the ferry from Sydney or from 105 East joins the Cabot Trail Rd. We saw several shops along the way which are specialized shops one dealing on leathercraft, copper stuffs, native canadian handicrafts etc. They encouraged you stopped by and buy their goods. Once we get to North Shore, we are now traversing the Cabot trail ocean view, my wife enjoyed the scenery and start clicking the camera but I was more concentrated on the winding road. Everyone should all stop upon reaching the gate of the Highland National Park. It charges for nominal fee for park upkeep and the ranger provided us maps, pointed the areas where we can stop and enjoy the view. Soon to come on our way was Ingonish Beach, a rocky place and no beach goers at sight but the view was great, took more picture and also at nearby Keltic Lodge. We were anticipating to see Gaelic singers at the lodge but there was none schedule for that day. It is a restaurant and lodging place at heart of Cape Breton but a little bit expensive for budget conscious travelers. It is also a nice stop to take pictures of Cape's layout and also the golf course, Highland Links. Being a golfer, I have a hat souvenir in this course plus lots of pictures for the starting greens. While we continued traveling north, we saw the other par 3's with ocean view, can't resist not taking the gorgeous view. Our next point was Neils Harbor, it was already lunch time, there was a delay at the entrance due to road construction, there were small forklift clearing the debris on the road. We waited and waited for the traffic to move but we were stuck there, so we decided to miss entire diversion to lighthouse, White Point and Smelt Brook because of the road construction. Too bad, that was the last sight of the ocean. We also did not proceed to inland at Dinghall or North Harborgoing all the way to Meat Cove. I heard that it requires about an hour round trip if we visit the top of Cape Breton plus the fact, the road leading to Meat Cove are unpaved and could be muddy due to the rains. It scarred my wife that we will get stuck in Cape Breton, we're hungry and would want to get back to Baddeck early afternoon too, so we decided to miss Meat Cove. I believe these are the areas featured the Cape Breton. To do justice you really have to stay in Cape Breton at least 3 days, go with walking trail and get there during autumn foliage or else it will just be a driving extravaganza going from one forest to another once you get to Cape North. Well, sometimes it rains hard in an isolated place, we want to get to Peasant Bay and stop at Rusty Anchor so there is no really time to stop and wander around. Finally, we arrived at the much promoted restaurant, a pit stop for travelers with their pride dish of lobster rolls. Bon apetit, more picture of the place and the northern landscape of Cape Breton. It is also in the area to hike at skyline trail but it is not the right time to do it with strong rains, winds and we're just in a hurry to get out of the place. We got to Cheticamp, took coffee break at famous pastry store. Homes are mostly painted in white and French flag everywhere signifying we are on the French Canadian territory. We again have to stop for 30 minutes due to road construction, there are no alternative route. As predicted, we will be doing a lot of driving no more time to stop at Margaree Harbor, continued driving to get to Baddeck on time. Lucky for us, the sun came out and we reached Graham Bell Museum at 4pm. We stroll at the gift shop and got free entrance of the place. It was an interesting museum of Alexander and Mabel Bell. He is a great inventor who chose Cape Breton as his home with several inventions from voice transmission over wires plus several projects in collaboration with other inventors like Watson. In the evening, we tried an asian restaurant in Baddeck, we noticed the difference from the way they cooked fried rice which filled with soy sauce. It was tasty to fulfill a very busy day. By the time we got to our motel, we are ready for packing for our next destination to PEI and end up in Moncton.

Sorry for a long and bore you all with details. We just want to report what we experienced and also a guide for future travelers. We will continue the report on the Moncton Forum.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: The Maritimes Trip Report - Sept 2nd to 8th

Not boring at all, ebuc. Thank you very much for all the detail, since we are at the beginning stages of planning a trip to Cape Breton for autumn of next year. That trip may also include parts of New Brunswick as well; so, I am looking forward to reading the next part of your TR. (Just a suggestion - before you post about the New Brunswick portion of your trip, you might want to go over your text and break it down into paragraphs. It's just a tad challenging for some of us to work our way through multi-multi-line reports.) Thanks again for the work that went into your TR.

Toronto, Canada
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3. Re: The Maritimes Trip Report - Sept 2nd to 8th

Thanks for the wonderfully detailed trip report..................you had me at freshly caught lobster for lunch...........I can't even imagine how sweet/succulent that must have been!.............

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4. Re: The Maritimes Trip Report - Sept 2nd to 8th

Thanks so much for your wonderful trip report. Sounds like you went to Ryers Lobster pound its a gem great seafood with excellent prices. Glad suggestions were helpful.

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5. Re: The Maritimes Trip Report - Sept 2nd to 8th

Itchyfeet090, I'll take your suggestion. I want to be honest with you being a Western Canadian and to other travelers that in my humble perspective, Nova Scotia is just a nice place to visit but not a paradise as it was described the first time I logged in into this site. From our own experience from the road, it could not equal the natural wonders we have seen in the Canadian Rockies. The seaside experience of Cabot trail maybe amazing where you witness the North Atlantic seas it brings back memories of the Titanic or during the age of discoveries of John Cabot. Perhaps, it is the place to be when changing colors in the Highlands occur during Fall, but again seaside experience is not that spectacular compared to Greek Isles, Cinque Terre of Northern Italy or the Norweigian fjords. Every country with a beach have a seaside spectacular to boast. From my own point of view, lobster treat at a affordable price was our best gastronomic experience and watching the miracle tides of Bay of Fundy create its own show 2x daily I consider a world wonder that only happens in the Maritimes. Green Gables in PEI was also worth of a visit, The simple PEI dwelling captures the youthful imagination in the eyes of Anne in Green Gables. Actually, Anne is the story of the author's youthful experience when Maud was growing up with her grandparents. Her literary creativity inspired readers to visit Prince Edwards Islands and take a glimpse of the lovers lane and the lake of shinning waters. .

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6. Re: The Maritimes Trip Report - Sept 2nd to 8th

Ebuc, nice to read your take on Nova Scotia - the worlds largest tides in Nova Scotia's Bay of Fundy don't receive nearly the attention they should - any place else on this earth this would be the attraction above all others. As you mention, there are spectacular places to see many places around the world, but those Fundy tides and what they do to the environment are a true natural wonder on this earth!

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7. Re: The Maritimes Trip Report - Sept 2nd to 8th

Thank you for the advice, Ebuc. Yes, the coastal scenery out here in BC is pretty spectacular, particularly on the west coast of Vancouver Island. However, visiting Cape Breton next year is really multi-purpose for us - attending some of the celtic music performances that are part of the Celtic Colours Festival, seeing the autumn change of colour (which we don't get in quite the same way out here on the west coast) and, of course, travelling around the Cabot Trail. We are gradually working our way through the Atlantic Provinces, having visited Newfoundland in 2009 and PEI in 2011. (And, yes, we did see Green Gables on PEI - a must for everyone who enjoyed reading Anne of Green Gables while they were growing up.) I must say, however, that your style of travel leaves me rather breathless. You are obviously very well-organized to cover as much as you do each day!

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8. Re: The Maritimes Trip Report - Sept 2nd to 8th

Yes, itchyfeet, I hope you can take more time to appreciate the scenery.

Halifax
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9. Re: The Maritimes Trip Report - Sept 2nd to 8th

Ebuc it's unfortunate you didn't have the time to explore Nova Scotia in particular Cape Breton. Time and speed appeared to be your paramount concern which would not give you much opportunity to appreciate the culture and natural beauty, albeit in obviously bad weather.

The Bras D'or Lakes are a very popular sailing destination many of your compatriots leave their boats there over the winter. This year was particularly busy with the International Race the Cape.

http://www.racethecape.ca/

Although the rain and wind on your trip was inopportune your comments do remind me of Waldo Emerson's quote " that it is the journey not the destination" .unfortunately you appeared to be rushing to your next stop. Here in Atlantic Canada we do "stop to smell the roses" which to many visitors is part of it's charm.

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10. Re: The Maritimes Trip Report - Sept 2nd to 8th

A ton of info, it gives a great account of how much you can fit Into a week in the Halifax and area...