This was our last day in Canada. We ate at the Delta Hotels Halifax, a Marriott. We had enough time to hike through the nearby Citadel Fort before driving to the airport. I can’t believe how much of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island we have seen in ten days. Handsome said he had a great time. The stress of work had intruded a few times. He took a few calls and texts from work.
THE CITADEL FORT
At the Citadel Fort, I spotted more red chairs. Hehehe.
Demonstration at the Citadel Fort in Halifax.
#sharethechair in Halifax.
GOODBYE RENTAL CAR
Handsome filled up the tank on the rental car on the way to the airport. I mentioned that $1.07 seemed cheap for gas.
“That’s per liter,” he said.
$1.07 per liter!
Before we left for Canada, we had added the international calling plan to Handsome’s phone for an extra $5 per day over his regular charge. It was worth it. We used Google Maps GPS to plot our routes. The phone charger adapter worked in the rental car, which did not have a GPS. The roundabouts apparently confused the GPS.
The GPS apparently loves the roundabout.
I was somewhat eager to return to work on the third book in my Compass Crimes Series. Though my idea of a vacation was reading on the beach or relaxing on a cruise, this whirlwind tour of Nova Scotia impressed me. The Canadians have shown tremendous patience and hospitality. Many volunteered to take our photo at scenic places. Handsome saw all the places he had chosen to see, so he was happy.
At the airport, the news blared the usual strife and mayhem. I tuned it out in favor of a good book.
Our last full day in Nova Scotia Canada began at breakfast. The good people of the Queen Anne Inn B&B served freshly baked cinnamon rolls, a berry smoothie, and then offered either a crepe with berries or a ham and Swiss cheese crepe. I ordered the ham and cheese crepe. Handsome ordered the berry crepe. The owners, Laszlo and Kate Tanczos, pampered us. The local Town Crier arrived in period costume to announce the weekend events in Annapolis Royal.
The Town Crier announced weekend events.
Handsome drove to Lunenburg, then through Lunenburg to Stonehurst. Enticed by photos of this quaint village, and reports that it was the setting for the Jesse Stone movies, we ventured the road to Stonehurst and where the road divided, we took the Southside Road. We chose well.
Stonehurst, the Jesse Stone movie location.
Misty rain contributed a mood to the photos of Stonehurst and Lunenburg.
By the grace of God, we arrived at Lunenburg when the tall ships from many other places were in port. The ships were touring the island and we had missed them at each location up until today. Lunenburg has a few tall ships available for two-hour tours. Alas, we had not reserved a ride in advance. Parking was a chore. There were no parking lots near the wharf, so we parallel-parked six blocks uphill near a church and hiked to the wharf past blocks of shops and pubs.
Poor Handsome endured many stops for photos along roads with minimal area to pull over. We hiked to the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove where birds wheeled and dove for fish.
I LOVE MARRIOTT
By dusk, we arrived in Halifax at one of two Marriotts along the docks—Delta Hotels Halifax. I trudged wearily to the front desk to check in with our luggage. Because I had read that this was peak tourist season, I had reserved a King room with a harbor view, prepaid in full. The lady behind the counter said that our room had been upgraded to the Neptune Room, also known as the Presidential Suite.
Handsome arrived from parking the car and wondered why I was smiling. I handed him a small cup of jelly beans from the refreshment counter near the check-in desk.
“We have a room upgrade.”
“How much will that be?”
Handsome’s eyebrows rose.
Marriott Hotels have treated us like royalty at the beginning and the end of our vacation.
We reached the Neptune room and wandered through it with open-mouth wonder. The Presidential Suite was larger and better equipped than our first apartment. And our second. It had two bedrooms, a wet bar, three televisions, two bathrooms, and a living area with a six-seat dining table. Then Handsome found a placard.
Found this in our upgraded room.
Well, well. Thank you, Marriott!
The Baton Rouge Restaurant in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
We ate dinner nearby at the Baton Rouge Restaurant. Ample portions of steak, seafood, salad, and more. We were too full for dessert.
Our only goal for the next day was to take our direct flight back to Orlando on Westjet. If time allowed, we could tour the Halifax Fort.
Handsome and I launched into the eighth day of our see-all-of-Nova-Scotia vacation from the Queen Anne Inn B&B. As Canada celebrates its 150th year, we celebrated as well with hikes. The good folks at the Queen Anne Inn fed us the best breakfast of our trip. It began with a serving of freshly-baked blueberry scones with homemade blueberry jam followed by a parfait of yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola. The choices after that were Eggs Benedict or a Belgian waffle. We both chose the waffle. Presented with a topping of fruit, a dollop of whipped butter, and real Maple syrup, dusted with confectioner’s sugar, it was delicious and beautiful.
Fortified with amazing food and caffeine, we mentioned to the owner Laszlo Tanczos that we were considering a drive back to Hall’s Harbor to photograph the boats resting on the bare floor of the docks. He told us we could see the same thing nearby at Parker’s Cove. It was a ten-minute drive from the Inn. Ta da! He saved us from driving an hour round-trip in the opposite direction of the rest of our day’s planned tour.
Parker’s Cove near Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia at low tide.
Parker’s Cove at low tide.
We then drove to Digby and on to the end of the peninsula, Brier Island, via two ferry rides. Since we didn’t have an advance reservation, we did not get to book a boat ride to watch whales. Sigh. We saw them in Alaska and Maui.
Brier Island lighthouse, one of two.
Wherever there were rocks on a shoreline, we found these.
Brier Island has not one, but two lighthouses. One at Lighthouse Cove and the other at North Point were charming.
After a short hike, we reached the Balancing Rock.
After Brier Island, we took a ferry back to Long Island. There we hiked one kilometer to see Balancing Rock. The trail included over 200 steps down to the shoreline. Yep, the rock was unusual. Looked like it got smacked sideways off its center.
BEST SCALLOPS EVER
After Long Island came the ferry to the main part of Nova Scotia and Digby. We ate dinner at The Wheelhouse with a second-floor balcony view of the wharf. Freshest scallops ever!
Digby wharf was lovely.
Back at the Queen Anne Inn, we planned the next day’s route to Lunenburg and Peggy’s Cove. We considered staying up to see the Perseids Meteor shower but lacked the energy. Lots of driving tomorrow. Poor Handsome was getting a tad worn out from the driving.
The longest drive of our vacation in Canada was on the seventh day. On Thursday, August 10th, dear Handsome drove from Baddeck, Cape Breton, to Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia with one scheduled stop. Five hours total. From Truro to Windsor, along we took the scenic Glooscap Trail on the way to Hall’s Harbor.
Hall’s Harbor, Nova Scotia
We arrived at high tide to take photos and eat lunch. Fish and chips. The boats were afloat and not sitting on the ground. We debated whether or not to return the next day to see them at low tide. It would be an hour trip from our B&B.
The Cobequid Bay and Minas Basin looked like mud holes. They smelled like the South Carolina pluff mud.
Historic Queen Anne Inn in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.
We drove to Annapolis Royal, arriving at the Queen Anne Inn B&B. Our room sat on the third floor. There was no elevator in this historic home built in 1865. The Innkeeper hauled our luggage up the stairs to room number 5.
Fort Anne at Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.
At Fort Anne.
After unpacking for our two-night stay, we walked to the wharf boardwalk lined with restaurants and shops. On our way back, we toured Fort Anne.
RED ADIRONDACK CHAIRS
On the walkway to the water, I spied a pair of red Adirondack chairs. Maury groaned but followed me out to them. A couple from Ontario took our photo. I have photos from many vacations that showed us one at a time. On a few vacations, I was behind the camera and thus, invisible. Photo op! #sharethechair
Red chairs at Fort Anne overlooking the harbor.
At last, both of us in the red Adirondack chairs at Fort Anne.
We then ate dinner at the Ye Olde Town Pub. I had a Caesar salad with shrimp. Handsome, tired of seafood, enjoyed a Reuben.
Back at the room, we laughed at the complete lack of counter space near the sink. The sink had separate faucets and handles for hot and cold water. Rather than boil my face, I froze it using the cold water only. It was numb when I went to bed. Historic plumbing made me appreciate modern plumbing.
The next day’s plan involved driving to the end of Digby Penisula for a few hikes and possibly a whale-watching boat ride. Without an advance reservation, we held little hope of availability of the boat ride.
On Wednesday, August 9th, the sixth day of our vacation in Canada, we embarked on the Cabot Trail, a 297-kilometer/185-mile loop around Cape Breton Island. Friends Jack and Desiree Foard had recommended driving counter-clockwise for closer views along the road, so we did just that.
MIDDLE HEAD TRAIL
Our first stop was at Middle Head Trail, considered a moderate-level hike. The views made the hike worthwhile. The eastern coastline included bays and cliffs.
Middle Head Trail
Our second stop was at Ingonish for a trail map, antacids, and what Handsome described as a “$20 Egg McMuffin” at the Bean Barn Café. We had run out of Canadian cash. We had to use U.S. currency at par. The smaller villages along the Cabot Trail didn’t have banks, or decent internet, or apparently, cash registers that calculated an exchange rate.
Sign in English and Gaelic.
The eastern coastal area of Cape Breton had road signs marked in English and Gaelic. We passed a Gaelic college. The area had been settled by immigrants from Scotland. We then drove through three construction areas and waited for flagmen to wave us through. The northern section of the drive featured uninhabited mountains to the north of the road and forested area south of the
Sign in Mi’kmaw language.
road. We also found signs in Mi’kmaw, the language of the First Nation.
Along the Cabot Trail we pulled over to take photos and met these folks. They were preparing to wheel down the winding road as part of a television show. They wore GoPro helmet mounts and a few professional cameramen were stationed on the road.
THE SKYLINE TRAIL
At last, we reached the Skyline Trail on the western coast. Touted in brochures as “Where the mountains truly meet the sea.” The Skyline Trail is a 9 km/5.7 mile loop. Most tourists take the left side of the loop to the boardwalk overlook and then retrace their path back to the parking area. This route is 7.5 km/4.7 miles. To hike the full loop takes a three-hour commitment.
We decided to take the full loop. Our friends Terri and Jim Johnson would have been proud of us. We once braved the long, hot hike through the dunes on Lake Michigan and lived to tell. They, too, had recommended the Skyline Trail.
We should have brought along bottled water. The trail led through forest and marsh. Others had spotted moose earlier in the day. We missed the moose. The remainder of the trail edged a cliff line. At two-thirds of the full loop, we found the boardwalk. It descended from platform to platform along the bare ridgeline with no handrails and steep drop-offs on either side. When I wasn’t watching where I stepped, the coastal views were spectacular.
Fifteen-foot fencing separated moose from newly-planted trees along the path. We met a parks worker who explained that the moose ate the last batch of trees planted, hence the fence. We dutifully closed the gates behind us.
We then drove through yet another road construction area to Cheticamp. The L’eglise St. Pierre Church would have made a lovelier photographic subject, but there was no way to photograph the entire thing without the power lines marring the image.
We then ate lobster at Le Gabriel Restaurant. It looked like a lighthouse. Our waitress Brenda Lee took our order from her wheelchair. Fitted with a tray in front, her motorized chair allowed her to work as efficiently as any other waitress. We ate with the zeal of starving field hands. The plastic bib rescued me from wearing butter.
RED ADIRONDACK CHAIRS
Found the red chairs at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.
For the remainder of the drive, we traveled through the forest with occasional views of the shore, all the way to Baddeck. After ice cream, we took photos in the red chairs at the Alexander Graham Bell museum. Since we were the only souls in the parking lot after museum hours, we couldn’t beg a stranger to take our photo together. I’ve tried the hand-held selfie photos, but my arms are too short. My past attempts at selfies remind me of Cyrano de Bergerac.
I had been hunting these red Adirondack chairs all along so we could participate in the social media campaign #sharethechair. Perhaps we could get a photo together in the chairs this week. The hunt continued.
Fun rental car!
Tomorrow Handsome would truly regret that I was not added as a driver on the rental car. We were scheduled to drive five hours from Baddeck, Cape Breton, to Annapolis Royal on the far side of Nova Scotia.
The middle day of our see-all-of-Nova-Scotia Canada vacation we spent on the road. It was Tuesday, August 8. We drove from Dalvay-by-the-Sea on Prince Edward Island to Wood Islands to board the 9:30 a.m. ferry to Nova Scotia. The ferry station had a rudimentary restaurant for sweet rolls, coffee, and snacks. The purple and pink roses outside the station smelled fabulous! It rained most of the 75-minute ferry crossing through the Northumberland Strait. Nonetheless, we took photos.
On Nova Scotia, we stopped at Antigonish for lunch at Gabrieau’s Bistro. Our best lunch of the entire vacation!
“Winner of Taste of Nova Scotia ~ Restaurant of the Year for Chef Inspired Fine Dining. Recommended by Where to Eat in Canada ~ Star Rating 14 consecutive years and winners of the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine from 2008-2013. Gabrieau’s is the perfect marriage of wine and food!”
I enjoyed an herb-encrusted biscuit and a divine carrot and squash bisque soup. Next, I devoured a seafood croissant filled with bits of lobster, scallops, sweet shrimp, sliced cucumber, and lettuce. How good was the seafood croissant you ask? My eyes rolled back and I moaned.
Handsome laughed. “That good, huh?”
Chewing, I nodded. Fortunately, he didn’t ask for a bite. I probably would have refused to share.
Attention Foodies, mark this bistro marked as a must-see destination. Trip Advisor reviews raved about it. Gabrieau’s Bistro earned my vote for the 2017 Taste of Nova Scotia Award. May they win!
ROADSIGNS IN CANADA
We continued on the road in the light rain, through forest and farmland to the only bridge from the main island to Cape Breton Island. Along the way, we saw warning signs for deer, moose, fire trucks, people, and snowmobiles.
At the Canso Causeway to Cape Breton, we waited fifteen minutes to cross. Perhaps the bridge was raised for a boat to clear the lock. We crossed and couldn’t see a boat in either direction from the bridge. We were growing tired of being on the road. At first, I thought my tired eyes were misreading the street signs. Later, I learned that road signs on Cape Breton were written in English and Gaelic, others in English and Mi’kmaq depending on the location on the island. The First Nation or indigenous tribes in this area were called the Mi’kmaq and the Mi’kmaw. Perhaps their language didn’t translate well into English, or there could have been different tribes. I didn’t discover more about them because we were cramming so much into our 10-day visit.
Sign in Mi’kmaw language.
We checked into Auberge Gisele’s Inn at Baddeck. Our building did not have an elevator, so we lugged our suitcases to the second floor. Note to self: pack lighter! The room was large enough to cartwheel in without striking furniture. I did not, I’m just describing the roominess. The shower was stronger than the WIFI. Both the sauna and the indoor hot tub were closed for repairs.
Perhaps the pool was open. Even though Canadians swim in Florida in the winter, we declined to swim in Canada in the summer. Canadians, apparently, get in the water as soon as it turns liquid. Hypothermia wasn’t on our schedule.
We strolled in a light rain through main street Baddeck. Handsome and I regretted that we had not brought waterproof raingear. Even the packable plastic ponchos, the kind the theme parks sell for ten dollars, would have kept us dry. Alas. Hindsight is 20/20.
I washed two loads of laundry and read half of a book on my iPad. Meanwhile, Handsome hunted down a gas station to fill up our Dodge Challenger for the next day’s 187-mile Cabot Trail tour of Cape Breton.
This was the day Handsome said he regretted that I was not listed as a driver on the rental car. The longest day of driving was yet to come later in the week. I didn’t have the heart to tell him.