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9 Trips
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From the Shire to Middle Earth and back
The island of birth for 'Le petit caporal' and the roots of Bernard Nobili
Two Thumbs up for the Canucks
Venice of the North - St Petersburg
Hungary anyone?
Go west, then go west some more.
Go West then go East
Paying our respects
Argentat de nouveau

Shorthand link:


The End

Dartmouth, Canada

Well all good things come to an end and we were coming to the end of our sojourn. Our last day started early again at 6am before a lovely breakfast to set us up for the day. We were joined at the table by a pleasant couple (and ultimately their 14 year old son); wife born locally, husband originally British they were currently living in Toronto and on a househunting trip looking to live in NS. They may have some problems as their son didn't share their dream of a less cosmopolitan lifestyle.

We had some time before our flight so took a leisurely drive along the coast to Dartmouth. We wanted to visit the Quaker house - a fine example of how people lived in early Dartmouth. And we thought we may be able to pick up some last minute souvenirs. The Quaker house was staffed by 'interpreters' in period dress and a tour of the house was given by an interpreter who explained the history of the place as we travelled through its rooms. Once again, you couldn't help but admire the stoicism of those early folk though it struck me again that we look at their conditions through modern eyes and we are generally much more pampered and less tough than they were, so trying to understand and look at their world is rather like looking through the wrong end of a telescope. The whaler's wives would frequently wave goodbye to their husband and if they came back it would not be less than 3 month's later and was often 3 years. Whale oil was the wonder fuel of the age, very valuable but dangerous to harvest, as any reader of Moby Dick will understand.

Leaving the Quaker House, we trawled a few streets to see if we could find where the shops were. There didn't appear to be much at all in the way of a commercial centre such as we know it and we came to the conclusion that anyone who wanted to shop took the ferry to Halifax.

We discovered Dartmouth's secret on the way out - a huge new shopping centre built at Dartmouth crossing. I am sure locals have no problem negotiating the intracacies of the motorways intersecting here but it seemed to me a bit like a Telford town centre constructed between and around Gravelly Hill superimposed on the M5/M6 link at Jn 8. Thank goodness for TomTom. The shopping centre was a disappointment for us, being intended for serious shopping with boutique stores, clothes and shoe shops and all the other appurtenences of a town centre apart from a souvenir shop. But we did find a nice place for lunch so it wasn't a total waste of time.

And so to the airport. Car checked in and accepted, luggage checked in and accepted, then the queue for security clearance. Just for once, I happened to have the passports and boarding passes with Sue immediately in front of me. There was a female guard directing traffic to the desks processing x-ray & metal detectors etc. To say that this creature had had a charisma bypass would be rather like saying that Ghenghis Khan was a bit grumpy. Her communication skills had been honed to a point as sharp as the front of a London Transport double decker. She successfully seperated us by directing Sue to 'step on the mat' in front of her while her highly trained sensors located an appropriate place to send her. She mumbled to Sue 'go down there' and pointed somewhere vauguely in the direction of several desks. Despite not hearing because of her hearing loss, Sue gathered what was required and pointed out that she needed her boarding pass and I had it. The exasperated harridan muttered something that neither of us could catch; I thought she now wanted me to step onto the mat and moved forward to be told - 'NO', so I moved back obediently. (Never tangle with a Border Guard). She had successfully managed to confuse both Sue and me, which may well mark completion of page 5 of the border guards operation manual. 'Both of you go down there' she finally clarified at raised volume and slowed speech so that we imbeciles might finally grasp what was required of us. Still somewhat confused we got to a desk where we were duly welcomed.

After a good flight, we approached Toronto over the islands. On landing we collected our bags and started the whole process all over again but compared with Halifax, it was a doddle. We just had time to grab a snack of nachos with beef and jalapenos with a pint before the cafe closed then settled down with our kindles for a couple of hours before our flight to Manchester.

We managed to grab some fitful sleep on the flight then stayed up 'till about 10 before going to bed. Jet lag was quite bearable this time so perhaps the plan worked!

permalink written by  rickandsuejohnson on August 17, 2012 from Dartmouth, Canada
from the travel blog: Go West then go East
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Stepping Back in Time

Musquodoboit Harbour, Canada

Up and off for a great breakfast of French Toast and Sausages with Maple Syrup and coffee in the café on the opposite side of the river bank from the B&B, a stones throw away from Sherbrooke Village Museum. Yes, part of the village is now a museum. For those who know Shropshire, think Blists Hill Museum only several of the houses here are still privately owned and two still permanently occupied! Apparently when it was decided to preserve all these old buildings the government decided to turn it into a living museum and employ people to carry on ancient crafts such as smithing, printing and wood turning. Villagers in this part of town were permitted to remain in their houses, which would be maintained by the government until they either died or moved away. At this point the building and the land would no longer belong to them or their heirs. There are twenty five houses and shops which are furnished as they would have been around the 1860s.

We spent a good chunk of time from our three hours on the site in the Blacksmiths watching him make intricate hooks. He makes and repairs all the metal fixtures and fittings within the village, supplies items to sell in the gift shop and runs workshops for school children to get 'hands on' experience of this craft.

We worked our way around the Post Office, Print Shop, General Store, Wood Turners, Telephone Exchange and School Room. As we knew we needed to leave around lunch time and that the villages en route were few and far between, we headed for the Tea Rooms. Oops – big sign outside saying 'Sorry Folks, we're full. A large pre-booked coach party has booked from noon. Please come back at 1.00pm.' Oh well, there's bound to be something on our way to Jeddore Oyster Pound. An hour and a half later we arrived at Sheet Harbour. Hurray, a Pub/Restaurant!!!

So lunch was late. Not too far from Jeddore now. We pulled in to the Fisherman's Museum – sign said 'closed'. Not according to the advert in the 2012 tourist guide. Well at least it was on our route and we hadn't driven for miles to get there! Closed seemed a bit of a pattern on the East shore from Guysborough. We had passed several restaurants/cafés which were no longer open and becoming derelict. Houses too with many up for sale. About 40kms from Halifax there were suddenly other cars on the roads and shops and filling stations.

Our B&B is lovely, right on the waterfront with its own little beach and deck jutting into the harbour. However, rearranging our luggage to meet weight restrictions for our flight was top on the agenda.

According to our hosts at 'The Elephant's Nest' in Musquodobit Harbour, the pub/restaurant where we stopped is the nearest east of here. There are a few local eateries not more than a few kilometres west, or the next best place would be in Dartmouth. As we plan to go there tomorrow we went to a nice little 'pub' a few kms west.

Rick had scallops and chip and I had clams and chips. I thought I should give them a try. They reminded me of experiences eating snails- rubbery texture just salty! We had tasted them in our Chowder at Halifax obviously the other fish ingredients pepped the clams up..

permalink written by  rickandsuejohnson on August 15, 2012 from Musquodoboit Harbour, Canada
from the travel blog: Go West then go East
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Bouncing along the east coast

Sherbrooke, Canada

Up at 6 and quietly finished the blog and read until 7. Down to breakfast at 8 with a lovely couple who emigrated from Germany 6 years ago to get a better quality of life. They are thoroughly settled and enjoying the move; Martine spoke some English before they left with a sister and cousin settled in England but Carl has had to learn from scratch. It seemed he had done a pretty good job; I'm not sure that I could have done that. Also at the table were a mother from Seattle and daughter from LA.

We first drove down to the quay to see the harbour and fortress in the distance across the harbour, then down to the site of the oldest lighthouse in N America, now replaced with a modern beast. It gives an idea of how difficult it is to approach from the sea. The other side of that is it was easy to blockade by the British Navy with control of the seas. Wolfe landed further down the coast and cut off the garrison so they surrendered after 7 weeks.

After some debate as to the best route to take to Sherbrooke, we decided to go up to Sydney then along the Bras d'Or lakes to St Peter's canal then cross over the Canso causeway back into NS proper before heading south to Guysborough and along the South Coast itself.

The trip along the huge expanse of the Bras d'Or lakes gave us many photo opportunities with some lovely lakeside communities and properties with stunning views. There were a number of stop offs from which to get a good perspective of the scene but no camera can capture adequately the majesty of the outlook.

Our first stop at St Peter's canal was very rewarding. The 800 metre long canal was dug to provide a sea access at both ends of the Bras d'Or lakes. There is a swing bridge at the northern end and a lock at the Southern end. The lock is unusual in that it has double facing lock gates so that it can cope with operating in 2 directions, whichever direction has the higher water level. Apparently, the tidal range here is not too high at around a few feet. We saw a few boats go through and a yacht which meant the swing bridge had to be operated. There is no charge for the boats during normal operating hours so Parks Canada obviously picks up the bill for operation and maintenance. One of the boats was a fishing boat with long booms for his nets, presumably off for the cod and haddock.

After a quick lunch in St Peter's we were off and across the causeway to mainland NS. The trip along the south coast here was not only scenic but it is relatively untravelled and the roads are not as well maintained as others. Just after Guysborough, TomTom suggested we take a right turn down a gravel track but having fallen for that before we drove on – somewhat uncertainly – in the hope that the relatively poor map we had would take us in the direction we wanted. We were right and ultimately TomTom relented and gave us the route we wanted but not before an extended period of self-doubt. It was worth the effort; the views of the area uncluttered by the paraphernalia of tourism were wonderful. At one pull off, we discovered a monument to Prince Henry of Orkney who may have discovered America at this point in Chedabucto Bay in 1398, some 100 years before Cabot. As we went past the driveway of a house, I had to do a double take – it couldn't be – but it was – a bald eagle getting stuck in to a meal. An about turn and some minutes later we were sitting in the car not 15 feet from this huge bird who was totally unconcerned as long as we left him alone with his meal. We watched for a few minutes and videoed him/her I wouldn't know how to start sexing a bald eagle, even if it would be a good idea to try.

After about an hour and a half or so of being tossed about on the road in a manner worthy of a rodeo rider on a bronco, we got to calmer surfaces on our approach to Sherbrooke. On arrival, a rather stern matron enquired – 'Name?'. As this was about 6 and we must have been the last of the guests she was expecting tonight this seemed a bit odd but she seemed satisfied with my answer. 'Fill in this card with your name and address' – well she had those details when we booked but I didn't think she would appreciate me mentioning that. 'I think you have booked the chalet' – well I thought so too, so we were on a roll now. 'The chalet is over there, you can park by it' pointing to a small house about 50 metres back down the road. We were dismissed – Sue asked about breakfast; 'Oh, the chalet is self-catering – if you want breakfast, you can get it in the cafe in town, over the bridge.' All the charisma of a porcupine on steroids; thank goodness we weren't staying in the house on a B&B basis. We got directions to a local inn for an evening meal only 5 minutes walk away and it was very pleasant and unpretentious with good service from a friendly waitress.

When we got back, the porcupine was mowing her lawn with her tractor. I switched on the laptop and tried to connect to the internet – only 2 in range and neither of them worked with the code that had been given on a card by the TV. I noticed she was emptying her grassbox near the chalet so tentatively went over and said 'excuse me' no response – again, louder. She looked up and removed an earplug, though it may have just been earwax. 'Which of Mabel or Sherbrooke 2 is the wifi to connect to?' I asked. Puzzled or slightly irritated or possibly both, she said 'neither – it is 'days ago'' – then helpfully offered 'the signal may be a bit weak in the chalet – by all means use the sun porch in the house.' Weak, WEAK it was non-existent and never would be anything else if it is based on a house 50 metres away; I don't think anyone should be allowed to advertise wifi unless there is 60% signal strength at the location stated!

The chalet itself is very nicely finished with the bedroom upstairs on a gallery. I don't think we shall have much problem waking early tomorrow as the window in the upper wall opposite the gallery looking towards the river has no curtain.

permalink written by  rickandsuejohnson on August 14, 2012 from Sherbrooke, Canada
from the travel blog: Go West then go East
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Up Hills and down Dales

Baddeck, Canada

We had three other couples around the table for breakfast this morning. All in 50's or older; a woman from Toronto – a lot have been, so it must be empty – a couple from Saskatoon, a couple from Niagara on the lake (presumably escaping tourists) and a bloke from Denmark who was in some way that we were unable to grasp, attached to the woman from Toronto. A pretty affable lot who came up with the original idea that we were escaping the congestion caused by the olympics. No one has yet worked out that in the 3 weeks we have been here, some one else may have suggested that before but we tried to answer it as though it was the first time!

A grey, dank start to the day but still quite warm, we settled up with Gill who had moved here from California with her two donkeys, after falling in love with it while on holiday. On the road back to Mabou and then North towards the start of the Cabot Trail at Chéticamp. It soon started raining, not heavily just a steady drizzle which limited the visibility somewhat. We reached the coast at Inverness and then ran just inland until we reached the coast again at Chimney Corner. There were glimpses of a lovely coastline and a road stretching out ahead largely deserted thankfully, probably due to the weather. The rain had by now largely disappeared and the sun was making a watery appearance but just didn't manage to quite burn off the mist.

Just before Chéticamp, we stopped at Flora's gift shop – a real Aladdin's cave of a place where Sue watched someone hooking a mat. She must have enjoyed the work – she said they took her about 4 hours each and we noted that they sold for $10. Chéticamp itself is an interesting mix of new tourism based building and old fishing based building. Apparently, still a bastion of Acadian culture which is not surprising, given that there was no road link until 1949.

Back on the road again we stopped briefly at the information centre waiting interminably behind an indecisive couple booking accommodation with a park ranger before baling out on discovery that we could buy our park permits from a roadside booth just up the road.

From Chéticamp, the road dives inland briefly to cross the river before hugging the coast giving some spectacular sights. We had had some conflicting advice about whether to drive the route clockwise or anti-clockwise. Most of the pull-offs (and they are plentiful) are on the seaward side of the road, so in busy times it could be a problem accessing them but today this was not a problem with our clockwise transit.

Much of the route is carved through pine forest, sometimes broken with interesting rock formations. On the higher parts you can see over an unbroken wilderness of trees and on the parts running along the coast itself, you get to see bays and inlets, coves and beaches hills and cliffs in an undulating and continuous procession of pristine wilderness. The road misses out the apex of the island and runs pretty well straight across to the opposite coast. Here we met a low cloud base at times on the undulating route through the forests, limiting visibility at to 10's of yards. From this point on we had drizzle for the rest of the route. On hitting the east side of the island, we turned north and drove up a gravel track to a fishing village neatly tucked away in a natural harbour with a tiny entrance from the sea. I would not like to try taking a boat through that when there is a heavy swell!
About half-way back down the track, we stopped off at a place where Cabot is purported to have made his first landfall and established Britain's claim to the Americas. There is a monument to him and his son Sebastian, apparently born in Bristol.

The weather didn't allow much viewing of the scenery on the eastern coast, although we did get some marvellous sights. At one of these a young ranger was braving the elements in her weatherproofs and explaining to passers by about the creatures to be seen near there. Couldn't help but think that Parks Canada might have come up with a gazebo or something as a little shelter for her. We had a nice chat with her about natural history as well as discovering that she would like to visit UK to see lots of castles.

Finally in to Baddeck at around 5 feeling ravenous not having stopped for lunch. We found a nice looking restaurant by the waterfront. The table we were first directed to had an air conditioning fan blasting away at foot level, so we moved further away from the window. For the first time since leaving the UK we felt cold so put on our fleeces and I tucked in to a nice French onion soup, followed by chicken in cajun sauce; Sue had garlic bread followed by chicken in a mango sauce. They were nice meals and just what the doctor ordered. I washed mine down with a nice Rickards Red while Sue thanked Dave for introducing her to Corona.

Our stop for the night was at the Auld Farm Inn, run by a Scottish husband and wife team who bought it in 2009. A lovely place but our room a bit on the small side.

permalink written by  rickandsuejohnson on August 13, 2012 from Baddeck, Canada
from the travel blog: Go West then go East
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Happy Birthday

Louisbourg, Canada

Rick has a cunning plan. We go to bed at 10pm and make sure we are awake at 6am for the next few days. This way he is wondering if we will feel less jet lagged when we get home on Friday.

I eventually staggered into consciousness about 6.15 am. Rick started writing the blog and I studied the map- so many different ways to go round the Bras D'Or Lakes to get to Louisbourg on the North East coast just south of Sydney.

We heard quite a racket on the deck just below our room and Rick reported several Blue Jays in dispute. It was impossible to move around the room without all the floor boards creaking (yes, they were ten times worse than at home) so I took his word for it.

As we prepared to leave 'The Auld Farm' a large number of hummingbirds swooped down to the nectar feeders just outside the lounge windows. It was fascinating to watch them. We were so close we could even see their tongues lapping up the syrup as they hovered, their little wings beating so fast and their tail feathers pulled in acting as brakes. They weren't as colourful as the ones we had seen at Kris and Dave's in Ontario but amazing to see.

More rain this morning and forecast to be on and off all day, so we decided to spend some time at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum run by Parks Canada before taking the most direct route to Louisbourg.. We could have spent more than two hours here. What an amazing man. So much more achieved than the invention of the telephone. Many of the theories of his inventions were tried, tested and developed at Baddeck, where he and his family had a summer home near the lake's edge. Quite where the house is we couldn't work out for the centre and grounds are modern.

An hour and a half on the road brought us to Louisbourg and the entrance to the reconstructed fortress which is about two miles from the town. You are transported from the entrance with its small museum by bus. They run every fifteen minutes (you're not permitted to walk the mile long road to the fortress). We had three hours to explore this amazing reconstruction of this former stronghold before closing time but could have spent more. The whole area has been rebuilt as it would have been in 1744 before we dastardly Brits got fed up with repeatedly deporting the inhabitants who kept insisting on coming back and razed it to the ground in 1768! The rooms in the houses that are completely finished are furnished and arranged as they would have been at that time and there are costumed actors to tell you about their life there. At 5pm, having watched the ceremonial firing of the cannon from the ramparts out to sea, we were bussed back to the park entrance.

A short drive back to the town and we checked in to the Stacey House B&B before heading for the nearby 'Grubstake' restaurant. Unfortunately we arrived just after the world and his wife so it was a long wait for service, much apologised for by our waitress. It was well worth it though.

I raised my glass to the birthday boy who was tucking in to crab cakes with cajun mayonnaise, followed by sirloin steak. I had smoked salmon on brochetta with cream cheese and fillet steak. Replete and tired we headed back to our lovely B&B for day two of the experiment to counter jet lag.

permalink written by  rickandsuejohnson on August 13, 2012 from Louisbourg, Canada
from the travel blog: Go West then go East
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Wine and Whisky

Mabou, Canada

Well it's true to say that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. I'd noticed that there was a plaque from the Nova Scotian tourist board in the hall when we arrived for culinary services to the island and when we looked through the room folder we found that they operated a restaurant, though it wasn't clear whether this was just for guests. We were tired and thought we would give it a whirl. Our hostess, who wasn't around when we registered, asked us if we had booked. As we hadn't, she wondered if we would be ok without the four course menu and did we eat pork? She could prepare more vegetables and do us a stir fry in 45 minutes time. This was fine by us as even two courses can be challenging with the generous portions that are offered over here. The dining room was immaculate with white linen table cloths and pretty tea lights flickering on each table. Would we like to pop out to the local off licence or,if we had brought some wine with us we were welcome to use it. Rick hopped upstairs to collect the blackberry wine we had bought in Lunenburg. It was surprisingly a great accompaniment to the amazing food. We were brought a large serving platter with a bowl of rice flanked with tender pork, stir fry vegetables and king prawns in a light but flavoursome sauce. Would we like a dessert. There was Tiramasu or Pavlova – again wonderful.

What would breakfast bring? A huge platter of eggs, bacon, toast, fruit, muffins and fruit bread washed down with as much tea or coffee as we could drink. An interesting chat with our host and hostess a lovely couple. He was Nova Scotian by birth. They had met in Toronto while she was studying and had gone to Australia to join several members of her Chinese family who had already settled there. They were in Brisbane for some time returning eight years ago to be with his side of the family once her mum and dad were no longer alive.

On the road to Jost winery a short drive away. Purchase made and another brief drive to Tatamagouche Farmers Market, recommended by our hosts last night. By the time we got back to the car it was beginning to rain. As we drove on the Trans Canada Highway past Pictou along the coast towards Canso Causeway the rain steadily increased. We stopped off at the Tourist Office to pick up a detailed map having crossed to Cape Breton and headed on for another half hour to the Celtic Interpretive Centre at Judique, which we had been told was the first eatery on our route. Well heaven help them if they ever have a full house as they found it difficult to cope with ten of us in there. A half an hour after arrival we were presented with our snack. The first place this holiday where the waitress only got a 10% tip! The rain had stopped and the mists disappeared and we began to fully appreciate the beauty of this place.

We reached the Distillery at Glenora at 3.55pm just in time for the last tour of the day! The 1st single malt distillery in N America and only one in Canada. In operation from 1990 the location was specially chosen, using the sweet, clear and untainted waters of the stream which flows through its heart. A walk through the fermenting and processing rooms ended with 2 samples for Rick (yours truly being the driver). Not much of a hardship as I'm not a whisky fan. If it had been cognac we might have had to toss for it!

A short drive to the Inn at Glendyer. A note pinned on the door – 'come on in. I've gone for supper at the Red Shoe Pub. You're in room 1. Make yourselves at home.

Well what more of a recommendation could you have. We had passed the pub on our way to the distillery and had, in fact, been recommended it by our host at Murray Harbour on PEI. Great place. Good food and, according to Rick, a good beer too! The music, to be performed by one of the Rankin family (the sisters own the pub), wasn't due to start until 10pm. With a long drive on the Cabot trail in the morning we decided to call it a day and sample the Rankins on Google. The CD might be waiting for us when we get home courtesy of Amazon!

permalink written by  rickandsuejohnson on August 11, 2012 from Mabou, Canada
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Canadian Tyre at last

Wallace, Canada

Last few hours on PEI. Specifically Charlottetown with a compact, historic centre that has been largely well cared for and unspoiled with modern shopping centres in the suburbs. Strangely, there appeared to be no conflict unlike Summerside. A small city currently of about 60,000 – similar to Shrewsbury. I have no idea what the population was in 1864 but my favourite story about the Charlottetown Conference is that the circus was in town that week and as the Canadian delegates had invited themselves, there was insufficient lodging in town because the Maritime delegates and the circus had already booked it all so they had to stay each night on the ship that brought them. It seems that play was just as important as work because after each days hot air, there was a banquet & dancing to the small hours! Politicians seem to have changed little.

One of the major concerns I had for the wellbeing of the Maritimes community was the absence of a Canadian Tyre – how can any society flourish without one in reasonable proximity? I had not seen one on arrival in Halifax or since. I am delighted to report that there is one in Charlottetown, at least.

We paid a visit to the Lieutenant Governor's residence, a pleasant house in a nice spot overlooking the bay. It is still lived in but free guided tours were available by waiting outside for the next tour on the hour and half hour and the young lass who showed us around spent rather more than the allocated 30 minutes so had a large group waiting after us. Apparently Prince William & Catherine stayed there last year; a slight difference to our B&B and I expect a slightly different price. Speaking of which, we met our fellow guests for breakfast, a girl from Quebec Province who had cycled from there and was planning to cross on the ferry from Wood Island before cycling round the Cabot trail in Nova Scotia. I asked what colour her helmet was so we could look out for it (it's white & purple); we'll hoot as we pass her. There was a lovely family from Toronto with a 14 year old son with his arm in plaster following a soccer accident – it is a vicious game. Apparently they love the BBC output and are particularly fond of Top Gear.

With Charlottetown having about half the island's population, it is perhaps not surprising that the main attractions of PEI can be summed up as Historic Charlottetown, fictional Anne of Green Gables, wonderful scenery and spectacular and apparently very warm beaches. If you are not into beach holidays and there is probably a limit to how much lovely scenery you may want to take in; it is not an island in which to spend a lot of time. Although outdoorsy types looking for a new place to play will undoubtedly enjoy spending time here.

Before leaving the island we went into Victoria and had lunch at the Landmark Café; apparently it is famous according to our guidebook and difficult to get in. This is understandable, an unassuming place serving wonderful food; we had a most excellent tuna salad washed down with pink lemonade. And it was not too pricey!

Back to the Confederation Bridge and the rather hefty $44.25 toll, albeit for both trips; I suppose an 8 mile bridge costs a lot to build & maintain.

And so to our overnight stay in Wallace at the Jubilee Inn. A large house overlooking Wallace Bay conveniently close to Jost vineyard that we hope to visit tomorrow. Our room is quite a pleasant one with an en-suite, rather quirkily having a spa bath in the bedroom itself. Let's just say that the décor suggests that there have been no recent trips to Canadian Tyre!

permalink written by  rickandsuejohnson on August 10, 2012 from Wallace, Canada
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Lighthouses and a Lobster Supper

Charlottetown, Canada

From Murray Harbour we took the coast road to Cape Bear to see the lighthouse and take in the view towards Cape Breton Island. Apparently this lighthouse was the first to pick up the distress signal from Titanic. A little further south on the coast road which meanders along the shore with pretty views of harbours and inlets to the Wood Island Ferry Terminal. A service operates between here and Pictou on the Northumberland shore of Nova Scotia and we arrived just as a ferry was loading. We parked at the bottom of the lighthouse and watched her sail before heading for Point Prim and PEI's oldest lighthouse. A stroll along the beach with its brick red sand before a short 20 minute drive along another section of Trans Canada H/W 1 to Charlottetown. We parked at the Confederation Landing Park by the harbour ($1.75 per hour – up to $9) on the waterfront and looked for somewhere to have a drink and a bite to eat. We settled on the Gahan House, the only micro brewery in PEI, and shared a plate of Nachos with pulled pork and dips washed down with a sample tasting of their range of beers. These were served in cute little tankards – a great idea and more than welcome in the searing heat of the afternoon.

Next stop Province House where, to quote the guide, 'in September 1864, 23 leaders from the British Colonies of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Canada (now Ontario and Quebec) began the discussions that led in 1867 to the creation of the Dominion of Canada'. We were shown a short film about this in relation to the characters and the progress of the discussions before wandering through the rooms on the first floor, including the Legislative Chamber.

A quick look at the shops on our way to the Aloha Tourist Home just a stone throws away from historic Great George Street. The houses on Sydney Street are all older properties too with plenty of on street parking. After a short rest and change we walked back to the harbour and ended our day with a wonderful lobster supper on a deck overlooking the water.

permalink written by  rickandsuejohnson on August 9, 2012 from Charlottetown, Canada
from the travel blog: Go West then go East
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Green Gables

Murray Harbour, Canada

A quick call to wish Neil a Happy Birthday but he was working, so we left a message. Then down to a lovely breakfast of scone followed by sautéed diced potato with omelette made with lardons and mushrooms which set us up well for the day.

First call of the day was to New Park Corner to visit the house of Lucy Maud Montgomery's aunt Annie Campbell. Sue has been reading a biography about Maud and the first few Anne books lately so wanted to see a few of the places she had read about. Maud spent much of her childhood with her cousins here and was married in the house in 1911. You can see the lake which inspired 'the Lake of Shining Waters' of Green Gables and the rooms are full of memorabilia associated with the author's life. A quick look at LM's place of birth in New London and then on to the Green Gables Heritage Place. You can walk in the grounds where the Macneill homestead (now demolished) was sited go through the 'Haunted Wood' and up to a reconstruction of the 'House of Green Gables' as described in the first novel. In between the two locations is the cemetery where Lucy Maud is buried. Sue enjoyed seeing the places that she had read about but said that the Green Gables reconstruction wasn't very much like she had imagined it to be.

We had thought of driving along the coast road from Cavendish through North Rustico and the front at Covehead Bay but this is now National Parkland and a park entry fee is charged from June to September. As we weren't planning to stop, we decided to take the more inland route along highway 6, to Mount Stewart and across to Georgetown. A small town with some tasteful suburban commercial development.

The centre appears to be still a working fishing port, although still apparently small scale. There doesn't appear to be much commerce in the centre itself, containing many pretty clapper-board houses painted in many differing colours but all contributing to a lovely scene. Obviously the local area hasn't escaped the general economic situation and there were a number of houses that could do with a bit of tlc, which is a bit sad. After an unlikely approach, we came upon a former railway station that had been moved to a position by the harbour and spruced up a bit. With a deck set out with tables by the harbour edge it was a fabulous position to site a restaurant called the Clam Diggers. We couldn't resist and went in and chose a table on the outside deck – nearly choked when we saw the price list but ordered the pasta of the day; linguini with mussels, haddock, lobster, and clams in a tomato and cream sauce. It was absolutely superb and in a lovely setting.

By this time we were due at our B&B so we made for Murray River. A lovely evening was spent chatting with Glenn & Joan at the Country Charm Inn.

permalink written by  rickandsuejohnson on August 8, 2012 from Murray Harbour, Canada
from the travel blog: Go West then go East
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Round the Rocks and Over the Bridge

Kensington, Canada

We were back at Hopewell Rocks just after 9am and headed for the beach access just short of the shore area where we saw the Sandpipers the previous evening. Only a few people around at this point and we wandered along what had been the ocean floor a few hours before in amongst the wonderous rock formations. It reminded us of our visit to Flower Pot Island on the Bruce Peninsula with our Canadian family four years ago. These structures were sandstone though and flanked by large expanses of mud as the tide continued to recede. As we headed back to the cliff view points a couple of hours later it was just past low tide and more and more people were arriving. A good idea that we had come so early!

Just before Prince Edward Island we stopped off at the information point before the bridge on the New Brunswick side. This had been on the advice of Elaine at Innisfree. Apparently the views of the bridge are more spectacular. We stopped for a sandwich and watched the hummingbirds swoop to the syrup feeders then climbed the viewing tower to look across the Northumberland Strait to PEI and marvel at this 7 mile bridge connecting it to New Brunswick.. It was difficult to see much as we crossed the bridge due to the metre high concrete barriers on either side.

First stop Summerside on our way to Kensington for our over night stay. A bit of a disappointment. To my mind the outskirts of the town were typical anodyne but characterless outer town shopping centres without even a nod to its history. Apparently very few of the old properties remain after a devastating fire in, I think the tourist office said, 1906. I suggested walking it, thinking that the streets would be narrow. They were the exact opposite with very little shade apart from in a small but pretty park. The houses that are left fall into two categories – well looked after or not looked after at all. I say a disappointment as I was expecting something a bit prettier. By now it was nearing 3.30pm and very hot so we headed for The Home Place Inn. After a shower to cool off we went down to the bar to order supper. We shared Oysters Benedict and then both chose Maple glazed Pork. We finished with coconut pie (again shared) and Rick had and Irish coffee while I had Blueberry Tea (Tea with Amaretto and Grand Marnier). The Tea was amazing!

permalink written by  rickandsuejohnson on August 7, 2012 from Kensington, Canada
from the travel blog: Go West then go East
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