Vacation in Canada Day 10

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.

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Demonstration at the Citadel Fort in Halifax.

#Canada150 #sharethechair

#sharethechair in Halifax.

#sharethechair #Canada150 Canada

More chairs!

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.

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$1.07 per liter!

Oh. Yikes.

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.

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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.

Grateful for a direct flight home, I was content.

Vacation in Canada Day 9

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.

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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.

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Stonehurst, the Jesse Stone movie location.

Misty rain contributed a mood to the photos of Stonehurst and Lunenburg.

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.

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Lunenburg wharf.

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Lunenburg Nova Scotia

We ate at the Savvy Sailor Cafe on the balcony overlooking the harbor. After walking along the dock to see the tall ships, we headed east to Peggy’s Cove.

PEGGY’S COVE

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Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia.

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Peggy’s Cove Nova Scotia, Canada.

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Lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove

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.

Wait. What? 

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?”

“Free.”

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.

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Found this in our upgraded room.

Well, well. Thank you, Marriott!

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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.

Vacation in Canada Day 8

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.

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Parker’s Cove near Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia at low tide.

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Parker’s Cove at low tide.

DIGBY PENISULA

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.

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Brier Island lighthouse, one of two.

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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.

BALANCING ROCK

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After a short hike, we reached the Balancing Rock.

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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!

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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.

Vacation in Canada Day 7

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.

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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.

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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

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Fort Anne at Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.

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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

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Red chairs at Fort Anne overlooking the harbor.

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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.

Vacation in Canada Day 5

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.

#Canada150 lighthousesFOODIE STOP

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!”

#Canada150 lunchI 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

#Canada150We 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.

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#Canada150 moose crossing sign CanadaAt 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.

Canada sign in Mikmaw

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.

Vacation in Canada Day 2

On day 2 of our see-all-of-Nova-Scotia-in-ten-days vacation we hit the ground running. Given a choice between touring Montreal Canada for eight hours or attempting to grab standby seats on an earlier flight to Halifax, Handsome, of course, opted for the standby seats. If we could catch an earlier flight, we could be back on schedule for the remainder of the trip.

We stood in the rebooking/ticketing line to beg for standby seats. One of the Air Canada representatives idling along the line answered questions and squashed rumors. Maury told her we had seats on the last flight to Halifax. He asked for the odds of getting standby seats on an earlier flight. The representative told him we’re in the wrong line. She directed us to the “drop bag” check-in lines to our left.

AIR CANADA’S MIZA

We left one long line to roll our luggage to another. After forty minutes, we reached the counter where the Air Canada Representative named Miza took our request. She informed us that we were in the wrong line to rebook and pointed to the line we came from. Handsome drew in a deep breath.

“We were in that line for thirty minutes. They sent us here. Don’t make me go back there.”

Miza took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. They shouldn’t have sent you here. Let me see what I can do.” She took our tickets and left the counter for about six minutes.

The muscles of Handsome’s jaw were clenching and unclenching. He sighed and shook his head. When under stress, Handsome’s fall-back tone was sarcasm. It never helps the situation, and I’ve told him so often over decades of marriage. I suppose it helps him vent. While others turn to shouting and violence, he turned to sarcasm. Having lived with a violent step-father, I knew the difference between a man who had self-control and one who didn’t. Sarcasm was preferable.

Miza returned with standby tickets on the 11 a.m. flight to Halifax. She checked in our luggage with special tags. If we board the earlier flight, so will our luggage, and our 6 p.m. seats would be resold. If the 11 a.m. flight is full, we will board the 6 p.m. flight and our bags will too. Win-win. We shed a layer of stress.

Maury thanked Miza and shook her hand. “I appreciate your help.”

We grabbed breakfast at the airport’s Archibald Micro Brasserie. This lodge-theme restaurant fed us amazing bread, crisp bacon, and hot caffeine. We headed to gate 49 to wait for our flight. At 45 minutes from departure time, most of the people around us disappeared. I thought they were getting snacks or taking one last break in a real bathroom before the flight. Handsome left to offload three cups of coffee. There was no Air Canada staffer at the counter by the gate. The sign above the gate had changed from the expected flight name and number to a generic Air Canada logo. Announcements blaring in English and French have not mentioned our flight.

In English and French, the overhead announcement declared that the 9 a.m. flight departed at 10:15.

Handsome returned from the men’s room angry. He checked our flight on the monitor in the corridor to verify it was on time. “They changed the gate!”

Off we dashed to gate 52. Perhaps everyone else was notified through the airport’s YUL app or through telepathy. We stood in a line to trade standby seats for real seats. At last, Handsome dropped into a chair with real tickets in hand and smiled.

Once aboard the flight to Halifax, Handsome spotted a ground crewman with batons.

We arrived in Halifax, grabbed our luggage and our reserved rental car. The rental car on our reservation wasn’t available. The clerk mentioned that we were a day late picking it up, which sounded too much like blaming the victim for me to let pass.

“The car I reserved two months ago isn’t available?” My rising tone drew Handsome into the conversation.

“So what do you have?” he asked.

We could wait until 6 p.m., or we could take an upgrade, at only twenty dollars more per day. It was the busy season, she informed us. I was about to ask if this was the first busy season they’ve had to plan for when Handsome accepted the deal. I bit my tongue. For an extra charge, we could both be listed as drivers. We regrettably decline that offer.

We loaded our stuff into a two-door, red Dodge Challenger. It had XM-radio and the odometer read 1770. Kilometers or miles? I don’t know. We had half of a day to drive to Truro, then to the Fundy Tidal Interpretive Center, then to Moncton, New Brunswick to stay on schedule.

BAY OF FUNDY TIDES

The Bay of Fundy lies between the island of Nova Scotia and the mainland area of New Brunswick with smaller coves and rivers extending from it. The Fundy Tidal Interpretive Center features an observation bridge over the Shubenacadie River off Highway 236. The tides change roughly every six hours. What makes the tides of Fundy Bay unique is how much they change.

Canada Fundy Tidal Interpretive Center on Shubenacadie River in Canada

The view of the Shubenacadie River at the Fundy Tidal Interpretive Center

If you time it right, you can see rafters ride the tide in from this bridge. You could ride one of the rafts if you enjoy water sports with helmets. Rafting didn’t fit in our schedule. The folks at the center gave us a tide chart for the month. We had more days planned along the Bay of Fundy during our trip.

We stopped in Truro for lunch. Frank & Gino’s Grill and Pasta House served pasta, pizza, salmon, ribs, chicken, and more. I had salmon and real mashed potatoes. Our waitress, Megan, wore a shirt marked Booth Keeper on the back. Other shirts read: Chief Cutlery Officer, Minister of Pasta, and so on. Great food, and friendly, efficient service.

#Canada150 giant windmills in CanadaHandsome drove through rolling hills, forest, and farms on our way to Moncton. At Amherst, giant white windmills stood along the road like leftovers from a Transformers movie. We’ve seen them on hilltops in Costa Rica, and out west, but they left us awestruck up close. I had considered stopping to take a video, but like photos of the Grand Canyon, images don’t properly convey the scope and size like seeing them in person.

#Canada150 money in Canada is see through

On the ride to New Brunswick, I noticed the cash Handsome had stuffed in the console. Canadian money is see through? Huh. Okay.

We arrived at the Hotel Moncton on Saturday, August 5th, a major holiday in New Brunswick. The clerk explained to a man ahead of us in line that there were no rooms available within a 4-hour drive. Handsome raised his eyebrows at me. I had made a reservation months ago. Okay, so the hotel didn’t have an elevator and we had to lug our suitcases to the second floor, but hey, we had a room. We were also back on my itinerary. Tomorrow, Hopewell Rocks and the drive to Prince Edward Island.