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Trip Report New England, NB, PEI, NS, Quebec City, Niagara Falls and a MOOSE!

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Many thanks to the various Fodorites who gave comprehensive and generous advice throughout our planning for this month long road trip.

We are two Aussies who have visited western Canada previously and have had a wander through New England but decided this time to spend some more time in Maine (Mount Desert Island particularly) and then travel up through the Maritimes.
We were committed to a medical conference in Quebec City for four days and therefore planned accordingly.

We are very keen photographers, more into country than city and VERY keen to spot a moose as Fodorites who have answered my previous threads will know!

We aren't really foodies but have made a few comments here and there re restaurants if they stood out.
I apologise in advance if there are any particularly 'Australian' comments - this report is being modified from my blog which was largely intended for family and friends at home and may occasionally exclaim over differences between OZ and North America. (The toilets/washrooms being one!) The differences that of course make travelling the adventure that it is.

I also apologise in advance for being unable to tell a short story but will split it up as I go!
I have received so much help from reading other reports and I hope that others planning to visit this beautiful part of the world will find something of interest.

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    Mid Air Somewhere Between Australia And LAX

    Who would have thought that travel plans originating in Adelaide, South Australia could be so drastically impacted by a Chilean volcano and the subsequent ash travelling around the world?

    Airport closures in Melbourne and subsequently Adelaide in the last few days prior to our scheduled departure resulted in a very nerve-wracking time and led to us ultimately deciding to fly out of Adelaide a day early, given that our connection time in Melbourne was a bare 1 hour and 45 mins.

    A good and bad decision.

    We departed Adelaide on time at 1940 and had a very bumpy flight to Melbourne resulting in everyone in business being served dinner except DH when the captain ordered crew to be seated- very nice lamb shanks they were too.
    After experiencing a late aborted landing due to a busy runway, we disembarked and hurried along to collect our brand new suitcases, fondly nicknamed 'Champagne' and 'Aubergine' as their respective colours suggest.
    Aubergine brightly flowed along the luggage carousel but alas, no sign of Champagne. A trip to lost luggage left us dealing with two very uninterested ground staff who filled out paperwork and sent us off with nary a toothbrush!
    Holiday excitement slightly dimmed, we checked into the Airport Parkroyal and tried to sleep.

    Morning saw us back at the Domestic Lost Luggage counter and speaking with a very helpful young lady, Fiona. Unfortunately Champagne was still missing - as my daughter (via phone) helpfully pointed out "possibly alone and cold somewhere" but Fiona was confident he would be on the first flight arriving from Adelaide, due any minute.
    So, armed with a coffee (courtesy of a voucher from the lovely Fiona) we sat down to wait. Luggage came and went but Champagne remained MIA.
    Fiona now conceded defeat and began new paperwork which would “definitely see the luggage follow us to the States TODAY” and also to start filling out the emergency funds docket - $400.
    However, just as the signature was about to be applied, DHs phone rang...... What? Champagne had decided to go straight to the International Terminal and was awaiting us at Qantas First Class check in!
    Mmmm, First Class Check In hey? (We were booked in business.)
    Off we go, wheeling Aubergine along and there was Champagne in all his beige glory.
    "Now, we have you in First Class today so here are your boarding passes, have a lovely flight."

    OMG!! First on the A380! So glad I had checked out the first class menu episode on Masterchef last week!

    So, onto the plane.... As I write this I am seated in DHs 'suite' as we are dining together and I will return to my seat/bed for a nap afterwards, having changed into my (first class) pajamas first.
    We will be having the tasting menu ( a mere 8 courses) including yellow fin tuna, WA lobster, lamb, cheesecake, cheese and hand made chocolates.

    So glad we skipped breakfast.
    The tv screen is so far from my seat I need my glasses to read the print (and it's about a 20 inch screen I think.)
    Beautiful toiletries (Payot) and Tattinger champagne complete the picture.

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    We passed the 5 hour layover in LAX (horrible airport) in the lounge and eventually boarded our American Airlines flight to Boston.

    It was an uneventful flight from LA to Boston until we landed and the captain asked us all to remain seated whilst the family of a deceased serviceman disembarked first.
    A couple from further back in the plane (not looking particularly distressed) left and then we followed. At the end of the airbridge there was a large guard of honor consisting of police, emergency services etc.

    Later at the luggage carousel, I overheard the lady saying that a relative of hers missing since 1942 and his remains had just been recovered from New Guinea! Amazing story.

    Anyway, enough for now- a couple of sleeping tabs are in order and a sleep in a real bed before the real adventure begins..... tomorrow, driving out of Boston!

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    The Hilton provided quite a nice breakfast ($25 each) and we then proceeded to wait for the Thrifty shuttlebus kindly summoned by the concierge.
    Gerald arrived shortly after and drove us and another gentleman to the Thrifty car lot- about a 20 minute drive in fairly light traffic at 0830.

    A very helpful tip from a fellow Fodorite had pointed me in the direction of looking at UK rental car sites for cars in North America as they include all of the insurance that we non-Americans require as inclusions in the rental – CDW etc.
    I hadn’t realised that American’s car insurance covers them for rental cars as well and therefore always seem very cost effective to Aussies until you read the small print!

    I usually use driveaway.com.au (if not leasing in Europe) but found that Thrifty UK were about $800 cheaper over the month for our rental so had booked relatively easily with them online. However, after congratulating myself about the great deal I had gotten many months ago with Thrifty UK, I was mortified to read a pile of terrible reviews about Thrifty at Logan only a week before we left so it was with some trepidation that we climbed out of the shuttle....

    Despite trying to charge us for the GPS (included in my price, which he readily agreed with when I pointed it out) all seemed to be ok. We did take out the premium insurance which included additional cover if we hit a pedestrian - not sure if we needed that or not, time will tell I guess!
    We were given the keys to a Ford Escape and looked out of the window to see the one in lot 12, coloured ... You guessed it - Champagne!'
    All seemed in order, we took copious photos of every scratch and dent, (were not given any graphic showing existing damage - apparently they 'don't do that anymore') and then spent some time reacquainting ourselves with motoring from the opposite side to normal.

    GPS christened - Sharlene, we decided to head north on the local roads (1A) rather than tackling the highway and Boston tunnels, luckily Sharlene agreed.
    DH did a sterling job and we were on I95 within a half an hour or so, motoring along legally at 65mph whilst virtually everyone else sped past including a motorcyclist without a helmet who must have been clocking 80mph.

    Having plenty of time today, we decided to detour along the coast and arrived at Hampton Beach as they were in full preparation for the annual sandcastle building contest which starts tomorrow.
    Skies were stormy but the sprinkling of rain didn't deter many beach goers whose numbers grew as we drank our freshly squeezed lemonade on the boardwalk.
    Leaving via the coastal route saw us passing beautiful (and clearly affluent) communities of enormous dwellings surrounded by pristine lawns and the ocean in the backyard.
    At around about 1pm we were reminded by growls from our stomachs that we had eaten breakfast at 6.30 so decided to look for somewhere to stop for lunch.

    This turned out to be a stunning spot called Perkins Cove, just south of Ogunquit. A tiny community situated around a small fishing cove, parking was expensive and limited - $10.
    Lunch came in the form of a lobster roll (accompanied by chips, I mean crisps for any Aussies reading this, not fries and the ubiquitous pickles) from Barnacle Billy’s. Very tasty.
    We wandered around this small village taking lots of photos and of course contributing a little to the local tourist shops as we (I) went.

    By three pm, I was starting to hit a wall jetlag wise but DH was holding up well so we pushed on to the small town of Freeport, home of L.L.Bean and where we had stayed previously at a great Inn in 2004. We were devastated to see a no vacancy sign hanging out front and eventually booked in to the White Cedar Inn across the road where 'Rock' told us that the other Inn had suffered major water damage when frozen water burst their upstairs pipes during winter. It is still only partially habitable.

    So, it is now 6.15, I am feeling very weary and must go outside in the fresh air and thence to dinner before falling asleep onto my iPad.
    Goodnight for now

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    Ozgirl what a delight to read your report! I love your writing. What luck to end up in First Class and all because of Champagne.

    I hope Sharlene continues to behave. Have a good trip. I'll look forward to reading more. As you get near Niagara Falls,you will be passing through my city.

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    Hi kodi, this is all retrospective, we are actually home (loved Niagara Falls!) but I am cutting and pasting this from my blog written along the way.
    Hope you continue to enjoy.
    Thanks
    ozgirl

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    Saturday morning saw us up at 0500 again (wonder how many days that will last..) and breakfasting (much later) on blueberry pancakes and Canadian bacon. Mmmm.

    We spent the morning wandering around the Freeport outlet stores and the L.L.Bean flagship store (took a photo of the stuffed moose in case it was the only one we saw) and contributing to the local economy.

    Eventually got on the road about lunchtime to find that although we didn't have a great distance to go it was fairly slow going and quite heavy traffic, meaning we pulled into Ellsworth (last decent town for grocery shopping before we crossed on to Mt.Desert Island (MDI) at about 4.45pm.
    We stocked up with the basics eg. wine and Roquefort cheese, (lol) plus the other staples whilst marveling at the differences in the language/culture of two English speaking colonies:
    Cookies/biscuits, no spray on female deodorant because of damage to the Ozone layer (which apparently the men's doesn't do???), prime steak for about $11/kg and many other little anomalies. DH is a keen cook and we love checking out foreign supermarkets!

    We had visited Bar Harbor back in 2004 on a fleeting stopover as part of a foliage tour and regretted not having had longer to explore MDI, hence our return this year. We decided that staying on the ‘Quiet Side’ might best suit our purposes this trip and hence had booked Seal Ledges Cottage http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p263991

    It was absolutely gorgeous, perfect for a week-long stay to recover from jet lag, explore MDI and bake scones to have in front of the open fire. Highly recommend this lovely spot and its owner, Helen, was a delight to work with. (Only disadvantage for us Aussies was the payment method, she doesn’t take credit cards or have paypal so we had to an international bank draft which cost a few $.)
    Armed with enough to move in, we continued on toward our cottage near Seal Cove, MDI arriving about 6pm.

    We ran around in the failing light to check out the shoreline (tide way out) and then back to wearily unpack, very glad to have picked up the rotisseried chook for a quick dinner.

    Fell in to bed about 9, the latest we've lasted so far!

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    yes, dunrunnin chook = chicken lol

    Sunday saw us awake at 0500 and by 0830 on the road to Bar Harbor (about 30 mins drive away) en route to the weekly farmers market.

    It was very interesting as we drove in to Bar Harbor to find that each of us had remembered different landmarks from our short visit here in 2004. Whilst familiar, it was much more of a commercial hub than we remembered – partly a seasonal factor as when we were here last it was 'fall' and stores were closing or indeed closed for the winter, now they are all powering up for a busy summer.

    We parked the car and asked for directions to the market as it wasn't immediately obvious. I should mention that skies were blue, quite breezy but about 19C I should think.
    Eventually we found the farmers market , allegedly the largest on the island - if so we won't be bothering with the rest. Never mind, the shops had begun to open by now and there was plenty to keep me busy.

    Me and three cruise ships worth of tourists as it soon became obvious! Wow, the sidewalks were almost impassable as the town was invaded by large numbers of resort -wear wearing tourists wielding an assortment of heavy duty cameras (and plastic I suspect.)
    Obviously the town relies almost exclusively on tourism but we kind of wished we hadn't come in on cruise day! Anyway, picked up a couple of knickknacks, including the obligatory picnic set and thermos for the remainder of the trip and booked a puffin and whale watching trip for the next morning before heading back toward home.

    We decided to check out Southwest Harbor for lunch and had a fairly forgettable meal consisting of a shrimp basket and scallop basket on the dock. Location great but tiny little shrimp (that we would only use in a cocktail or fried rice) were battered and therefore mostly batter. Probably not on our list for a return visit.

    Checked out the shops that were open in SW Harbor, noted a couple of restaurants on the recommended list in the cottage and stored them away for future reference.
    We looked through the window of a specialty wine store that had a large display of rosé in the window (a favourite of ours and not particularly evident in our travels up to this point) but it was unfortunately closed. Saved that one for a return visit!

    Basically just lounged around for the rest of the day, reading, went for a stroll along the shore and took a few photos before coming back for a barbie on the deck.

    This cottage shares 8 acres of woods/lawned area with two other properties but so far neither occupied so blissfully quiet. I am glad I allowed us a week here as it means we have downtime between 'activities' - something that doesn't always happen on holidays.... lol.

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    Murphy's law - of course because we had to be in BH at 0800, I was actually still sleeping when the alarm went off at 0630!
    Had breakfast, dressed warmly as instructed, downed a prophylactic Dramamine and off we went. Beautiful morning, less wind and estimated max 23C.

    By 0835 we were loaded on to the Friendship V - the 'newest, fastest and most luxurious active catamaran whale watcher in the US.' Designed and built in Australia in 1996, she is a twin hulled, jet propelled vessel 112 feet long and 31 feet wide that travels at speeds of up to 40mph. Interestingly, she is one of only a few vessels approved by the US Coast Guard to be able to go more than 20 miles past a harbor of 'safe refuge' with passengers aboard and indeed we were headed for a spot 30 miles offshore today.

    First though, we visited Petit Manan Island to view the comical looking puffin birds. With a naturalist aboard giving a running commentary, we learnt that puffins are only found in the northern hemisphere and that penguins (their 'equivalent') which we are much more familiar with, are only found in the Southern hemisphere.

    Anyway, despite renting binoculars onboard, the puffins ( of which there were many) were a little too far away for me to see them really well, waiting to see what DHs photos are like but a postcard of these cute and comical looking characters may have to suffice!
    Next, we opened the throttle and headed out to hunt (figuratively speaking of course) whales. This was where the 'dress warmly' bit came in - sitting outside (in an effort to minimize the risk of sea sickness) and doing 40mph, it was FREEZING!

    It was, however, worth it. Saw a total of six whales, mostly fin backs - about 50 feet long it was estimated - lots of seals and apparently a couple of porpoises who chose to grace the other side of the boat with their presence.
    I hadn't heard of the fin back whale which sticks more to the northern hemisphere and is apparently the only animal in the world with asymmetrical colouring, one side of its jaw being light/white coloured and the other dark/mottled. Due to its 'submarine' shaped body it doesn't use its tail in the same way as other whales and therefore when it dives you don't see the big 'tail out of water' that is common in the Southern Right for example.
    Managed to get some reasonable shots (we were actually quite close to the action) and eventually turned for the (cold) trip home. Well worth it we decided.

    Dropped in to SW Harbor for a visit to the wine shop (d'Arrys Laughing Magpie $33 and Coppermine Road $65 both from just down the road from our home in Oz!) and grabbed a bottle of French rosé before lunching at the Dry Dock Inn. Had a nice chicken and cranberry 'salad' served on a sweet type of croissant and accompanied by the ubiquitous crisps on the side. DH went for the crab roll (minus the mayo) which was also nice.
    Headed home where we both seemed to 'hit the wall' fatigue wise and succumbed to a Nanna nap, maybe due to the Dramamine and the 'fresh sea air' we decided???

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    A slow start the next morning- that's what holidays are for, but lunchtime saw us on the road in search of the famous Thurstons Lobster Pound. For you southerners, lobster (crayfish, almost) is everywhere (I may have mentioned that before I think) and indeed I think is one of Maine's state emblems. A pound is a place on the coast where they have literally come off the boat, had their pincers taped and await your selection, yumm!

    They do not look the same as our crayfish, smaller overall but have HUGE main pincers much bigger than the ones we see. At Thurstons you can order lobster rolls, salads, mussels, clams, etc etc.
    We both ordered lobster salad which turned out to be an entreé sized serve of lobster meat, some greens, crisps and lemon wedges. Very nice but not enough so DH extended with a serve of clams (basically large cockles) and I went for raspberry pie which was delicious.

    We then wandered around taking photos before driving on to North East Harbor for some retail therapy - a huge awesome shop called Kimballs which sold everything and then some.

    Moving on to the actual harbor, we booked our passage for Thursday night- we are catching the ferry out to Little Cranberry Island for dinner out there on Islesford Dock We headed home via Thurstons again where we purchased two lobsters and waited whilst they were steamed. I should point out here that we calculated that the lobster was about the equivalent of $AUD34/kg – at home at Christmas time (when we have our crayfish), they usually top $100/kg, so we were in lobster heaven!

    The next day, another blue sky punctuated by wispy white feather clouds greeted us.
    A change is forecast for tomorrow so decided to visit Acadia National Park today.
    First stop, the visitors centre for a $20 pass which is good for seven days. We asked about where to see beavers (because we have never seen one) and were shown a couple of spots on the map but advised dusk would be the most favorable time.
    We started out along the (one way) park loop that is dotted with scenic stops along the way.

    Acadia National Park was established in 1916 and was the first national park in the US to have its land donated entirely by private citizens. It encompasses more than 47,000 acres and one of its highlights are the many miles of paved 'carriage roads', an initiative of John D. Rockefeller which comprise paved 'broken stone' roads developed for carriages so that the park would not become overrun by automobiles in 1913! These are now exclusively for hikers, cyclists and horse drawn carriages which operate tourist rides.
    We had done a quick trip to the park back in 2004 but hadn't had much time so wanted a more leisurely look this time. Our first stop was Sand Beach - the only beach on the Island that actually has sand (coarse though it is) and today it was packed with beachgoers. Very beautiful but not worth braving the 9C water temperature!!!

    We meandered along the coastline and eventually reached Jordan Pond, a very scenic spot which is also the location of the Jordan Pond House, an eating institution since the late 1800s. This establishment is famous for it's 'popovers' - a kind of cross between Yorkshire pudding and profiteroles I think?
    They are made by mixing flour, water and eggs, leaving the batter overnight and then baking on a very high heat. The result is an enormous softish crust with nothing inside. They are served with jam and cream, ice-cream and choc sauce and virtually anything else.

    We were starving (having missed lunch) and it was now 4.30 and luckily lunch was still being served.
    Crab cakes to start (which were divine,) followed by baked scallops and the popover with ice-cream and choc sauce for dessert.
    We rolled out of there just as they started the dinner menu.

    Just after leaving the park we were very excited when a large grey wolf crossed the road in front of us. Neither of us had seen a wolf before so it was a blogworthy event! (we were later told that wolves probably don’t exist anymore on MDI but it was huge and we are sticking to our story – it was the most ‘wolflike’ looking thing we’ve ever seen anyway!)

    As we passed Eagle Lake on the way back to the cottage I spied a couple of people sitting overlooking the beaver dam .
    We pulled into the parking lot and crept quietly out to the spot. The couple that were there motioned us to be quiet (we already were, duh!) and then pointed out to a spot some 30 metres away where we could see a beaver rapidly swimming into the distance. VERY excited we were, well I was anyway. Hung around here for quite a while hoping for a better ( more camera worthy) appearance but apart from a very brief viewing we eventually called it quits. Returned to the cottage where we lit the fire, ran a bath and decided to forego dinner for wine, cheese and bread..... It’s a hard life.

    The next night was the night we were supposed to go out to Little Cranberry Island but apparently the boat is out 'for maintenance,' whatever that means, so we were cancelled.
    Plan B was the Burning Tree, supposedly the best food on the island over in Otter Creek according the owner of our cottage.
    Well, we have to agree - I had a sensational strawberry salad for starter followed by grilled swordfish and DH had scallop/prawn/crab cakes followed by rabbit. Rustic setting but superior food.

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    MOVING ON TO NEW BRUNSWICK


    Prior to leaving in the morning we had a surprise visit from our landlady who had just arrived into the 'big house' for her holidays. We had a chat about the history of the property and she told us that back in the 70's our cottage was twice it's current size and half had been moved down the road to another spot to make the 20 acre property more saleable by having two residences!
    Dismantling and moving houses even now is not uncommon in this part of the world as they are mostly timber. We have seen a couple being prepared for moving.

    She also said that local legend has it that the guy who adapted the novel ET from the screenplay, lived in our house! I knew there was a reason I felt those literary juices flowing whilst we were there.

    we woke to heavy grey skies and fog and decided if it was going to rain, the traveling day would be best. And rain it did, from Seal Cove to Saint John a slow trip due to weather (very foggy) and roadworks as soon as we crossed the border at Calais to enter New Brunswick (NB.)

    NB is the only officially bilingual province in Canada and almost all signs were written in English and French. The gentleman on the border was very interested in our plans and when told about the conference asked if were getting any financial compensation to attend - we said if only! He seemed happy with us and after about ten minutes we were through.

    The weather conditions made the decision about the fastest versus most scenic route an easy one and we took the most direct National Route 1 until the turn off to Alma.

    Arrived at our destination, Alma, at around 5pm and checked in to Cliffside Suites which offers three self-contained suites - we are in Mathews Head suite and it is very well appointed. Beautiful views over the village and bay below (shrouded in fog at present), lovely bathroom, kitchen etc. We would highly recommend Alma and Cliffside Suites http://cliffsidesuites.com/ for a stopover or longer.

    So, about Alma's claim to fame.....
    Alma is situated in the Bay of Fundy which experiences the highest tides in the world. Spring tides are in the order of a 50 foot variation between low and high tide and currently it's about 39 foot. That means that when the tide is out even large fishing boats are sitting on the mud well below the jetty (wharf) and when the tide comes in, it comes at a rate of about 18 inches per 15 minutes.

    We plan to spend tomorrow checking out this coastline and nearby national park where we are hoping to see the elusive moose!

    Once the storm settled tonight we headed down to the Tides Restaurant and had some gorgeous scallops wrapped in crispy bacon and then DH had chicken stuffed with lobster and I had breaded (crumbed) prawns. Even worse than the other night, the only Australian wine was Yellowtail!
    So sad to think that North Americans may think this is the best we can offer.

    Next day the relentless moose search begins in earnest.

    Last time in Canada we saw plenty of 'moose crossing' signs but never the real thing, prompting DH to deduce that they are actually mythical beasts used as a publicity stunt to attract tourists!

    We started out late (again) but really we were waiting to see what the weather decided-it was extremely foggy when we first looked out so decided that perhaps coastal touring may be wasted and settled on the Fundy National Park.

    On the way through town however, we took the obligatory stroll along the shore at (almost) low tide before heading to the visitor centre. We picked up some maps, asked where moose had been seen (many locations!) and off we went.
    To be fair, they are mostly seen at dawn and dusk so we figured we would spend as much time in the park as possible, hopefully lasting until dusk.

    We visited many attractions- Point Wolfe (old logging station), Dixon Falls, Caribou Plain, Bennett Lake and Wolfe Lake - Canadian geese, squirrels, hares and millions of very annoying BUGS! (Despite the DEET.) Beautiful scenery, great opportunities for hiking and photography, well worth the visit.
    We drove of some on the 'moose sighting' roads twice, very slowly....
    No moose :(
    That's OK, we have other possible locations up our sleeve to come, on Nova Scotia .....

    A little weary, we headed home to a bath, a home cooked meal of pasta and a very nice bottle of Californian merlot .... Three Blind Moose.

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    NB to PEI

    Monday morning saw us setting off in very foggy conditions and probably hoping this wasn't the day we would see a moose.
    Forecast was for the sky to clear later in the day (which it had yesterday) so we decided to go via the coastal route and take our chances. First stop was Cape Enrage which allegedly has a great lighthouse - well, we could hear the foghorn but visibility was down to a few meters so we moved on.

    By the time we arrived at Hopewell the sky was grey but fog largely gone so we decided to visit the National Park containing the Flowerpot Rocks.
    These are huge rock stacks with vegetation remaining on top which are surrounded by sea at high tide and where you can 'walk on the ocean floor' at low tide.
    It was a few hours before low tide when we arrived but due to the huge variance in tides, we were able to walk around them along with a couple of bus loads of tourists. (The trouble with being a tourist is that you have to deal with other tourists :)

    It was quite a unique sight, kind of like the twelve apostles on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria except greener and browner! After the trek back up (many stairs) we decided to have an early lunch here and then pushed on toward Prince Edward Island (PEI.)

    The weather gradually improved as we moved northwards and was quite pleasant by the time we arrived at Confederation Bridge (Pont de Confederation) which links New Brunswick with PEI. It is 12.9 km long and is quite spectacular. It was completed in 1997 and is the longest bridge over ice in winter.
    Once on the Island it was about 45 mins to Charlottetown, the capital, and our accommodation in Elmwood Inn. http://www.elmwoodinn.pe.ca/

    We had reserved the Peake Suite which turned out to be a lovely self-contained suite at the top of the house. Getting Aubergine and Champagne up the narrow winding stairs was a challenge but one that DH was up to!
    After checking in and having the tour of the house and it's various artifacts from Jay, our host, we decided to stroll downtown for a look around.

    It's about a twenty minute walk to the main commercial centre and then a picturesque wharf area. By then it was around 6.30, the sun was shining and we decided to make the most of this opportunity and eat outside at Peakes with a lovely view of the yachts sailing around the harbour.

    I ordered the chicken ribs (?) which turned out to be a small piece of chicken breast accompanied by spare ribs and doused in a smoky bacon sauce - went down a treat!

    Afterward, we walked to the local Cows outlet. Cows is an ice-cream brand that originated in 1983 on PEI and has turned into an empire. The ice cream itself was delicious but the merchandise also very amusing - my favorite was a T Shirt with 'Justin Beefer' complete with haircut, there was also Cows in the City and Moo Tube - great fun.

    Tuesday morning we were awoken by SUN streaming in the window! Beautiful blue sky and sunshine promised a great day for coastal exploring.
    First though, breakfast...

    Downstairs the breakfast room was set with the most beautiful crockery, silverware and napery complimented by fresh flowers and an open fire.
    We ate our way through a fruit bowl and then orange French toast accompanied by thick cut bacon with a grand marnier sauce, maple syrup or both! Luckily it was all low cal(!!)
    Over breakfast we chatted with our fellow guests, a newly married couple from Toronto and a newly married couple from Michigan. Interesting conversation about the education system of both countries mainly as three out of four of them were teachers.

    Eventually, about 11.00 I think, we headed off with a few recommendations from Carol, our hostess, and hit the road. We drove up to Red Head Harbour where they were unloading the last load of lobsters (see pics) but oysters and mussels are also harvested here and are one of the biggest industries in PEI.
    Many photo stops later we visited the national park at Greenwich where a fragile dune system is being preserved and they have quite an interesting interpretive centre. We then walked over the boardwalk to the beach which was quite pretty and a slow trickle of day trippers were heading in with their chairs and umbrellas as returned to our car.

    We were slightly underwhelmed by the beach but decided it is all relative to what you have at home - we can't get enough of the waterways and greenery here; for the two young couples at breakfast from basically land locked areas, they thought the beach fantastic.

    That evening we had reservations at Dunes Restaurant for that evening so after a shower and powdering the nose we caught a taxi out to Brackley Beach and this highly regarded restaurant.

    We had a very chatty (born and bred Islander) cabbie who told us that the whole Island only has a population of about 150,000, the smallest province in Canada. It is however, a very significant province because it was here in 1864 that the Canadian 'founding fathers' met and from which confederation eventuated.

    Dunes Restaurant is a combined restaurant /gallery/ garden which we had time to wander through prior to dinner. The owner spends 6 months of the year in Bali and the garden was dotted with Balinese artifacts as was part of the extensive gallery. No doubt quite a novelty for people in this part if the world but we were more interested in the local pottery and jewellery.

    Dinner turned out to be the highlight of the day though as we ordered cold lobster rolls and roast chicken stuffed with cranberry couscous (me) and steamed mussels and lobster pad Thai (DH) It was probably the best meal we've had so far and we managed to shovel in a shared serve of berry bread pudding to finish.
    The accompanying wine was a French Sauvignon blanc/Viognier which was delightful and we were glad of the taxi waiting to take us home!



    Next day saw us tucking in to a mixed fruit plate followed by eggs Benedict and apple cake ( for breakfast?? It would have been rude not to eat it..) at a very civilized 9 am.
    Our hostess advised that if we needed any washing done just to leave it on the bed, so we did. I could get used to this way of life.

    We also found a Rogers store and eventually managed to get ourselves signed up for the pre-paid iPad option so we now have 3G, very handy when on the road. For any Aussies reading this, the key is to have a pre-paid Canadian VISA card to activate the account. We just used the address and phone number of the Rogers store - $35 for the month.

    We wandered up to Cavendish beach and paid the national Park entrance fee to visit this lovely long sandy beach.
    By now it was 4.45 and we really had no hope of seeing Ann's house (had really been a bit ambivalent about it anyway) and we started thinking about our stomachs again.

    I don't want to give the impression that all we have done is eat - the problem is that we have such a big breakfast that we skip lunch and are then peckish at 5!
    Fortunately, we were not far from The Pearl, voted PEIs best restaurant last year so we rang and secured the last table for 6pm.

    After traversing a fairly ugly little strip that has grown up around the Green Gables attraction (including Ripleys Believe It Or Not, themed adventure parks etc.) we drove in to a very unassuming cottage type building with a wooden moose 'sculpture' out the front. "Mo" we were told was his name (by the gardener) and 'he was the only moose we would ever see on the Island.' Too right! (There aren't any here.)
    Anyway, the hunt was worth it- DH had what was apparently the best steak of his life (positively orgasmic was how he described it) and mine was also very enjoyable.

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    ON TO NOVA SCOTIA

    Our last morning at Elmwood Inn. A berry compote followed by pancakes and apple sausages .... Mmm. Lively chat with a couple who work in a coal mine in BC about how she came face to face with a brown bear at work!
    And I thought I had issues at work!

    Managed to get away about 10.00 and had been told the ferry was about 35 mins drive away - had to be there 30mins before and it left at 11.15, sweet.

    Except for the roadworks and the fact that you are supposed to be there 45 mins before! Pulled in to the queue at 10.45 on the dot (OK as we had booked online) and were directed to line 10. The journey takes about 75 minutes and today the weather was quite warm, humid even with very calm seas.
    We took the obligatory photos, had a hot chocolate, passed on a Cows ice cream and before we knew it we were being directed to return to our vehicles and prepare to disembark.

    It was quite a long drive once we landed on Nova Scotia (at Caribou) up to our cottage in the Margaree Valley and we arrived here at about 5pm after collecting some supplies in New Glasgow en route.
    From what we saw on the way, the countryside is very green and forested and civilization is few and far between.
    This area marks the beginning of the Cabot Trail which winds around the top end of Cape Breton Island in a similar fashion to our Great Ocean Road with various lookouts and trails branching off.
    Looking forward to that in the coming days, the Skyline trail boasts wildlife such as MOOSE so will be checking that out.
    Fog is quite common here so apparently if the weather is clear you make a beeline for the trail.


    Tomorrow of course is Canada Day so there may be various celebrations happening for the day.
    The cottage is rustic but well equipped and owned by a couple of artists (a potter and a photographer) who have a gallery here on the same property.
    http://www.homeaway.com.au/holiday-rental/p236071

    The next morning the weather was overcast again with fog on the mountains so decided not to try the Cabot Trail this morning but instead headed for Baddeck (pronounced Beddeck) which is the nearest sizable town near us, about 30 mins away.

    On arrival into Baddeck, a nice little village lakeside in the Bras d'Or Lake region, celebrations for Canada Day were evident. People were beginning to line the streets ready for the Parade and many people were sporting the red and white, as well as their dogs.
    We had a look through the stores where the stand out was our hostess, Cape Breton Clay, and then parked ourselves in a cafe with a good view of the street.
    They take Parades very seriously here and it was great fun, everyone involved from the local fire truck to the local recycling truck!
    Following the parade we wandered around the shore front where bean bag throwing, lucky dip, slip and sides and sausage sizzles were the order of the day.

    By now the sun was shining and it was quite warm.
    Sunny enough we decided to head for the Cabot Trail further north.
    Following the scenic coast through Margaree Harbor and eventually Cheticamp (lobster all the way) alas, the fog descended....
    We were not far from the entrance to the National Park and hence the 'real' scenery so decided to call in there and check out weather forecast for the next couple of days and pick up maps and things. It looked like Sunday was going indeed going to be Sun day but the helpful lady said weather was very changeable here. She also told us entry to the park was free on Canada Day and a permit from today was good until 4pm tomorrow.
    Lo and behold when we walked outside the sun was shining again! Given that we didn't have to pay entry we decided to push on into the park and see what the weather up the road was like - our aim had been to hike the Skyline Trail which reputedly has a good chance of moose sightings and ends in a spectacular cliff top lookout of the coast.

    Sun shining, blue sky above we stopped at a couple of beautiful scenic lookouts for photos and then the road climbed abruptly toward the head of the Skyline Trail. Alas, by the time we had put hiking boots on and packed the backpack in the carpark, in came the fog/cloud.
    We decided that if it came in that quickly it may blow on that quickly and headed off.

    About 50 meters into the main trail I spotted something dark moving in the very dense forest about 30 meters in front of me ...... My first though was black bear (also seen here) but no, it was a MOOSE!!! At last! A female we think (couldn't see any antlers) and she wasn't hanging around, moving through the trees quite purposefully and not very obligingly for our cameras.
    Nevertheless, we had seen one and can cross that off the bucket list!

    Thanks Tanya, Erick_L, rhawkes,mat54 and others for great moose tips many months ago!!!

    The rest of the walk was foggy, with visibility down to about 100 metres in places and although we pushed on to the end where we could hear the sea, the spectacular view would have to wait for another day.

    Walking back, the atmosphere was quite eerie really, thick fog, forest either side punctuated by more open meadow type scenes and no more moose. We were nearly at the end when suddenly we saw a large dark shape ahead and through the fog came two enormous bikers(clad in leathers and apparently "Fuelled by Christ") who were up from New Jersey on a moose hunt!
    We told them of our experiences and they went off cameras in hand.

    Back on the road,the fog cleared again as we descended allowing a few more photo stops before we decided to break the one and a half trip home by having dinner in Cheticamp. (It was now 7.45pm)

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    The next morning we were just about to step out the door when we notice movement and noise on the road out the front and along comes another Canada Day Parade! As we are in the middle of nowhere, we have no idea where it would have started or finished?

    Our little audience of three (including the girl minding the pottery shop next door) were rewarded with lollies and bubble gum thrown from the floats by the kids - isn't it supposed to be the other way around??? Good fun had by everyone. The whole parade phenomena is much bigger in North America than in Australia and we really enjoyed being part of the celebrations.

    Setting off later than expected we headed toward Louisbourg.
    Louisbourg is about 2 hours away and situated on the far north east coast of Cape Breton Island.
    It was settled by the French in the early 1700s after territorial losses to the English in Newfoundland and Acadia. Due to a thriving fishing industry and therefore trade, it became the most important French stronghold and seaport in Atlantic Canada.
    The fortress endured two sieges by the English but eventually fell into English hands by 1760 and it's fortifications were destroyed.
    Today, it has been completely rebuilt and is managed by costumed staff who rather than just standing around are actually performing daily tasks as they would have in the 18th century. We ate lunch in the tavern and it was served with just a spoon which we were told was the only utensil we would get, a huge white napkin to tie around our neck and chipped crockery and metal plates. It was really authentic and we spent 3 hours wandering around here witnessing firearms demonstrations, looking into various houses/displays etc. and which culminated in the dramatic cannon firing. Well worth the drive and the $36.50 entrance fee.

    On the way home we witnessed the dramatic rolling in of the fog over water, despite blue skies above - a very unAustralian phenomena! Couldn't resist lots of photos again and happened to be on the shore when a mink came ashore and posed for us very cheekily.
    Just as we were discussing what to for dinner we came across the Lobster Gallery Restaurant situated at the eastern entrance to the Cabot Trail perfectly positioned right on the water where the fog was hovering atmospherically.
    Lobster cocktail (well I hadn't tried it that way yet!) and chicken club sandwich for me and cheese bread and Digby scallops for DH. Quite nice but overshadowed by the perfect view.

    Walking back to the car we saw an eagle flying over and scrambled to get cameras out as he landed in a nearby tree. He sat very nicely for us for ages but then wouldn't move for the action shot!
    We gave up eventually and continued on home, hopefully to get an early night and an early start tomorrow for another attempt on the Cabot Trail.

    The next day clear skies convinced us that this was the day to tackle the famous Cabot Trail.
    This trail largely follows the coastline around Cape Breton Island and most of it traverses National Park. There are limited facilities and it is truly a wilderness preserved. It has been voted one of the top ten cycling trails in the world and THE top motorcycling road as voted by the Harley group. (We can attest to this popularity, numerous Harley riders and cyclists as well.)

    The aforementioned fog can make or break the trip but today the weather was perfect, reaching about 26c we think at the warmest part if the day.

    The first highlight was Joe's scarecrows, a scarecrow village just off the Trail before Cheticamp.

    "In the 1980s, Joe Delaney tried to plant a garden in Cap le Moine, Cape Breton, just down the road from Chéticamp in Nova Scotia. As the story goes, Joe planted his garden and hoped for the best, but crows pillaged his vegetables time and time again. Joe's neighbors didn't believe he could grow anything in the rocky, salty soil of his seaside backyard, or fight the scavenging crows, so they joked he should grow scarecrows instead.

    Inspired by his interest in traditional Mi-Careme, the francophone mid-Lent celebration where revelers eat, drink, dance, and dress in grotesque, elaborate costumes, Joe placed two gaudy scarecrows in his garden. He was surprised the next day when some travelers stopped to admire his creations."

    The rest - including 50 or more new scarecrows made by Joe and his son - is legend and indeed DH had seen it on TV back in Oz.
    We thought this great fun and took lots of pics, met Joe and left a donation before pushing on to more natural attractions!

    Entering the National Park ( we had to pay this time) we basically drove through all stopovers that we had covered Friday but did take a picture of the Skyline Trail that we had hiked in the fog just to show where we had been! Didn't think we would tackle the 7.9 km again today, there were too many tourists around for us to see another moose!

    Many photo stops later we arrived at the small coastal community of Pleasant Bay where we had a 'pleasant' lunch at the Rusty Anchor Restaurant. Entertainment was provided by the gentleman sitting behind us sporadically muttering to himself and anyone else who caught his eye and playing his chanter ( the musical 'recorder' part of bagpipes.)

    We had now completed the western part of the trail and the road took us across the top of the island and over to the east coast through dense green forests. Winding our way down to the little fishing village of Dingwell we dropped in to the bakery and purchased rhubarb pie and cinnamon scrolls. They were a delightful accompaniment to our cup of tea at a lovely (waterside) picnic spot a bit further on at Neil's Brook.

    The eastern coastline proved to be every bit as photogenic as the west and it was about 3.30 by the time we reached Ingonish which is the eastern entrance to the park and quite spectacular. We set out to hike Middle Head, a 4km walk which traverses beautiful forest punctuated by dramatic shoreline views and culminates in a very windy (today anyway) point from which Cape Smoky lies to the south and Ingonish Island to the north.

    After completing this, we thought we had earned an ice-cream and the maple and walnut on offer down at Ingonish Beach hit the spot!
    According to the map, a small detour to the Englishtown ferry (seen yesterday from the other side in heavy fog) should be the shortest route back to national highway 105 and thence Baddeck and home. Mmmm, shortest perhaps but not necessarily quickest - as we drove out along the narrow spit of land we were greeted by the sight of a queue of about 20 cars in front of us!

    But hey, we're on holidays - the ferry itself only traverses a very small distance taking just 6 minutes so after waiting for a couple of crossings, maybe 20 mins?, we were on our way again.

    The Normaway Inn in the Margaree Valley (5 minutes from our cottage) is very well known for both culinary and musical reasons and after being unable to get a reservation last night, we rang ahead and booked in for dinner.
    Arriving home with 15 mins to shower and change, we did just that and somewhat wearily headed out to dinner!

    Dinner was nice, not spectacular, and afterwards we moved up to the living room (the Inn also offers accommodation) to hear a local father and daughter play traditional Cape Breton music for an hour or so. They were very good, the young girl played the fiddle and also gave us a demonstration of step dancing. Unfortunately, there were only two other couples so it never became 'rollicking entertainment' - the Saturday night that we missed is a much larger concern held down in the Barn and attended by large numbers from the community. Still, it was a taste of this very popular (even amongst the Cape Breton youth) and enduring local culture which we enjoyed as well.

    4th of July - big celebrations in the US today, a recuperative one for us Aussies in Canada!

    We put the washing machine into action before we left for Baddeck and decision making about the pottery crafted by our hostess Bell Fraser.
    We explained the dilemma re shipping costs and she very kindly packaged up our 'wish list' and took it up to the post office for an estimate. Happily it was much less than anticipated so we signed on the dotted line and now await it's (hopefully intact) arrival in OZ!
    We came back to the cottage to attend to the washer and dryer and sorted out packing and car, ready for our departure tomorrow.
    Having not had any real lunch we decided to try the Duck Cove Inn at Margaree Harbour for an early dinner.
    The very family friendly dining room (whose decor was unchanged since establishment in the 60s I suspect), was surprisingly the setting for a very nice pan fried haddock which we both enjoyed immensely.
    Skipping dessert, we headed home to finish packing and tidying up for the long drive (400 + kms) to Seabright tomorrow.

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    Due to the fact that neither of us slept well, we were up early and on the road at 0748, unheard of for us!

    Leaving in the thick fog which was soon accompanied by rain, we decided we had used up our weather luck on Cape Breton Island.
    Morning tea saw us finding a small civic park in Antigonish and after swapping drivers, heading on toward Halifax. Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia and boasts a population of around 400,000 including it's urban areas.
    We arrived about lunchtime, found a pub (The Loose Cannon) and a couple of lovely chicken salads before strolling down to the wharf area. Once again we had struck a cruise ship day and it was quite busy and also quite warm, maybe 25c again.

    We got back on the road for the last 30 odd miles to our cottage at Seabright on beautiful St. Margaret’s Bay, at around 3.45 and eventually arrived (via the long way, my fault) at about 4.30 pm.
    We were met by Ray, the caretaker who showed us the ins and outs and then left us to marvel at this GREAT find. Absolutely perfect location, right on the ocean, beautifully appointed, I want to live here!!!
    http://www.vrbo.com/252951 highly recommended.

    We decided it was far too nice to go out for dinner so went to the local supermarket for supplies to eat in.
    Anyway, have just finished dinner watching the sunset and a couple of cheeky squirrels from our deck - life is good - or was until the mossies arrived. Maybe we'll light the chiminea tomorrow.

    We were a bit sluggish the next day after the long day yesterday but had slept very well.
    Spent sometime deliberating on where to go today, it was already too late to see (and photograph) Peggy's Cove as the tour buses would have already invaded laden with day trippers. With this in mind we decided to head further down south to the very popular and photogenic towns of Mahone Bay and Lunenburg.

    On the way there were frequent photo stops, especially at the best beach in the area, ironically called Queensland! This was extremely popular even though it was blowing a gale and I reckon the temp on the beach was about 22C. In more sheltered coves and inlets it was quite warm, more like 26c I guess?

    A brief stop in Mahone Bay revealed lots of enticing shops and the famous three churches but we decided to drive the further 11kms to Lunenburg for lunch.

    Lunenburg is steeped in history, it was the first British settlement in Nova Scotia outside of Halifax, in 1753. A vibrant and stable economy was built on farming, fishing, ship building and ocean-based commerce, particularly in the West Indies trade.
    Today it is picturesque community that still relies on the ocean (and tourism) and is well worth the visit. Lunch was fairly forgettable unfortunately but afterwards we had a 40 min horse and carriage tour of Lunenburg which was delightful. Alice, the young driver and Frank the horse were both very entertaining. Frank was very noisy, he neighed quite often and when we stopped at the top of the hill for him to have a drink, I thought he was not the type I would like to be drinking in a bar with – very slurpy!
    Alice said he could do the tour himself but was not very good at stopping at the (many) stop signs and I suspect his commentary may have been somewhat lacking. (Although when I mentioned this to Alice, he neighed indignantly right on cue!)

    After this little diversion, DH and I parted company for awhile, him to take photos and me to hit the shops.
    We then drove on to Blue Rocks, a tiny fishing village, recommended by photographers (thanks emyou!) as very scenic. It was quite nice, (we did see a deer bound across the road here) took a few pics and then headed back via the quicker Highway 103 route.

    On the way home we decided to eat in again and enjoy our view so stopped at the local Sobeys for some supplies - I am going to try and recreate my famous seafood sauce.
    Also grabbed a couple of bottles of wine including a nice Spanish Tempranillo Rosé from Rioja Sam.
    Mmmm, lucky we took our sunset photos last night, fog rolling in from the sea as I type ..... very romantic.....

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    MORE ST. MARGARET'S BAY AREA

    At this point I have to apologise to Northwest Male who gave such great advice on my previous posts - we HAD intended to go back to Halifax for a day but we were absolutely entranced by the coastal scenery and photo ops (you may have guessed) so just never made it back - maybe next trip. I did feel guilty though ... lol

    The plan today was an early start to beat the tourist buses that arrive in Peggy's Cove full of day trippers from Halifax and the cruise ships.
    It mostly worked. I woke with a splitting headache (it may have been the Tempranillo Rosé??) and our start time was slightly delayed.

    Nevertheless we left Seabright in beautiful sunshine at about 8.15 and drove for 20 minutes to find Peggy's Cove empty but shrouded in fog.
    We didn't mind this at all as it created very atmospherical shots and we happily snapped away.
    This lighthouse and nearby tiny fishing wharf are iconic in Maritime Canada, a bit like Sydney Harbour Bridge in terms of landmarks, the lighthouse is THE most photographed in all of Canada.
    Anyway, got some nice foggy shots and then wandered down to the wharf for same. Local people were already setting up stalls for the day trippers but there was one very nice quality shop where we found something to remind us of the spot.

    We headed back to the lighthouse where the Sou'wester Restaurant apparently does a good breakfast. At this stage we fully realized why we had dragged ourselves out of bed early, it was SWARMING with people, crawling like ants over the rocks, at least half a dozen huge buses in the car park and more pulling in as we ate breakfast.
    Worst of all, an old lady in a garish orange skirt and a ridiculous hat was sitting at the base of the lighthouse playing a piano accordion with her suitcase open for donations and another woman (at least back on the path a bit) playing the bagpipes! I was speechless. So glad we had come early.

    On the way home we stopped at the Swissair Flight 111 memorial. For fellow Australians, you may remember that this flight went down in 1998 killing all 229 on board whilst en route from New York to Geneva, Switzerland. It crashed about 6 kms off shore from here as it was trying to land in nearby Halifax with a fire in the cabin. The local community was integral to the recovery effort.
    It too was crawling with people but as we got closer we realized they were all young people (high school?) in very smart uniforms, accompanied by some parents. There was also a cameraman and someone interviewing various students for Canada TV.

    I asked a gentleman what it was all about and he said that they were a band from Geneva who were here to perform in a local Tattoo later today but were visiting their countrymen's memorial.
    It was a very poignant spot, particularly with fog swirling around.

    Next stop was another little fishing village called Indian Harbour. We were strolling around taking photos ( no tour buses here) when a gentleman came out of his place and started chatting. He knew someone who lived in Adelaide and his daughter was in NZ.
    He invited us down to his place (which we had been photographing ) and told us it's very interesting history - it was once a 'fish factory' as many of these picturesque structures overhanging the water were/are.
    He was very informative and also directed us to his you tube video of when Hurricane Bill hit this area in 2009 and a neighboring structure was destroyed and floated past his house! It's great viewing - check out "Peter Dodge, hurricane" if you're interested. Thanks very much Peter, it made our day!

    Arriving back home (bright sunshine back here) we spent a couple of hours checking out our photographic handiwork and planning tomorrow.
    Late afternoon we headed back down the coast for the (hopefully) fog free, sunset shots of Peggy's Cove and surrounds.
    We spent ages (and I mean ages) trying to get a shot without people in it- it was 8pm and people were still swarming around and worse, sitting to watch the sunset! (LOL)
    Anyway, eventually we were happy with what we had and drove home for pasta on the deck.
    I lit the chiminea (which kept the mossies away) and we sat and watched the moon on the water and listened to the seabirds on the island settling down to roost for the night......

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    A different start to the next day.... we woke to no power and whilst DH was having his shower the water stopped as well, obviously linked somehow.
    A trip to the very dark basement didn't reveal anything obvious so we eventually rang the people that caretake the cottage.

    Tris came over and had spoken to the power crew who were working nearby, they weren't aware of a fault (which only seemed to involve a few houses) and didn't know how long it would be off.
    Tris very kindly offered to unlock the owners actual personal cottage a few doors down for me to have a shower and said she would return in an hour to lock it up.

    Only because my hair was due for a wash and stank of smoke from last night, we piled in and drove a few doors down.
    However, Tris was obviously unaware that whilst they are not in residence they must turn the hot water off (!) so several boiled kettles later and an assortment of plastic bowls saw me ready for action. What a great husband I have, he can now add hairdresser to his skill set!

    We eventually headed off, north toward the Gasperau Valley and the wineries we had decided to tour today.
    The set up at cellar doors was different for the three we visited - at the first, Sainte Famille, you were shown the wine list and could choose only 4 to taste, after that you were charged per taste.
    At the second, Luckett (who had a red phone box in the middle of the about to be planted vineyard), it was $7 for a tasting of four wines and at the third, Gasperau, it was like Australia where you could taste anything for nothing.

    Very interesting, the first two places there were no tasting notes and the person serving clearly was reading off a script with no real personal opinion.
    At Gasperau we had a lovely young lady (Melissa) who was a delight and very knowledgeable.

    Apparently wine is a burgeoning industry in NS and they have 15 wineries as of last week. The varieties I particularly liked were the Seyval and L'Acadie and we bought a couple of bottles as well as some Icewine.
    At Gasperau, you could try the icewine (for $7) and it was served in a dark chocolate cup - very tasty idea!

    We had reserved lunch at the restaurant of Grand Pré Winery, probably one of the most well known and respected in the region. It was absolutely delicious, served outside under a vine covered pergola with a lovely Rosé for me and a light red for DH to go with our duck.

    We then continued on toward Digby, a fishing town further west. Didn't really realize how far west actually and arrived there at about 5pm where we had a coffee and the best lemon meringue pie. Took some photos of this picturesque Harbour and bought a couple of lobsters for our last night in NS dinner.
    I had thought we would cut some time off return trip by coming home a more direct route but according to Charlene and the iPad, the way we had come was quickest and still 3 hours! Whoops!
    We arrived home at 9 and tucked into those lobsters and the L'Acadie white, mmm.

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    SEABRIGHT TO GRAND FALLS

    Leaving the cottage this morning was made a little easier due to persistent rain which only got worse as we headed northwest.
    It probably rained for the first 4 hours and only started to improve after lunchtime when the highway skirted around Fredericton, New Brunswick's capital.
    The road traverses forest after forest, fairly easy but monotonous driving and we decided to stop for a break in Hartland.

    Hartland's claim to fame is that it is home to the worlds longest covered bridge.
    It is actually very impressive and has an interesting history, it was completed in 1901 and 'covered' in 1922. When we saw covered bridges in New England the information posted about them indicated that the reasons for the cover were unclear, possibly to stop the bridge becoming icy and therefore dangerous to horse and carriages.
    The info on this bridge however, said it was to prevent the wooden trusses used on long spans from rotting.

    Apparently when the discussion about covering it began, there were sermons about the dangers to the morals of young people (which were heard but unheeded) and indeed it was said that young men trained their horses to stop half way so that couples could exchange a few kisses before continuing on. Never let it be said that we would ignore a local tradition!

    In 1982 a car struck a steel strain rod, causing the bridge to drop and break the main beam on the western most span.
    The car received an estimated $400.00 damage, while the bill for repairing the bridge was $140,000.00. The bridge finally reopened for traffic, on February 10, 1983.

    Eventually we continued on to our destination for this 'overnighter' - Grand Falls. Grand Falls is notable for quite a spectacular waterfall where the St. John River falls some 23 metres over a rocky ledge in the middle of town.

    A good nights sleep and a pleasant continental breakfast from the Grand Falls Best Western saw us on the road early enough to take some more nice shots of the falls, with the sun in the right place!
    Then it was back to highway 2 for the last 400 odd kms to Quebec City.

    When we reached Rivière du Loup the Gulf of St.Lawrence opened up in front of us and we decided to take the scenic route that follows the coast for awhile.
    We found a lovely little cafe in St.Andre housed in an old school house and refreshed ourselves with coffee and rhubarb muffins before continuing on for the last leg.

    At this stage we headed back to the faster Highway 20 and plugged our eventual destination into Charlene, anticipating a need for her help to get through Quebec. We hoped that it wouldn't be too busy being a Sunday.

    I was driving and DH map and GPS watching when we eventually hit the suburbs and it seemed that she had us heading for a ferry to cross the river- oh well we thought, that will be another adventure....
    First of all it was an adventure reaching the terminal. There were major detours in place for roadworks and Charlene was beside herself .. "recalculating, recalculating" but eventually a huge ferry loomed up ahead and whilst I parked illegally, DH raced off to get us a ticket. $7 later and I was driving through the unusual side entrance and parking on deck with dozens of other cars, many more pushbikes and lots of pedestrians.

    The 1km crossing only takes 10 mins but affords an excellent view of Quebec from the water, especially the beautiful Château Frontenac where will be attending the conference dinner on Tuesday night.
    But, the fun had only just begun.... disembarking on the other side Charlene indicated we were only 5 minutes from our destination (great, we thought)and off I drove.

    Sunday in old Quebec City when the Quebec Summer Festival is on ..... people absolutely everywhere and worst of all, our street closed to traffic!!!
    There were signs that looked like they could POSSIBLY have said 'local traffic only' (everything here in French) so I bravely pushed thru, scattering unsuspecting tourists left and right.
    We reached the next intersection and there was definitely no going any further with a car so we went down a little sidestreet (hoping it was 'one way' the way we were going) and eventually stopped (in another no parking zone) to catch our breath. We were pretty confident that we very close to our building ( located in rue St. Jean, the closed street) but DH went off on foot to check street numbers and I decided to ring the lady who would be meeting us.

    In heavily accented English, always harder to comprehend over the phone, she explained that we had actually passed the parking lot for our apartment, (it was down that little side street) and that yes, we should plough through those pedestrians again and collect the key from the parking lot man.

    Taking a deep breath, off I went - through the pedestrians again around the corner, down the one way and into a little parking lot. The toothless old parking attendant spoke no English but when we mentioned Madame's name, happily handed over the keys.

    Ok, breathing a big sigh of relief, we start the arduous task of dragging our assorted accumulated luggage from the car to the apartment. Supposedly the large key opened the door into the building and then another the actual apartment on the second floor. No luck.
    Neither (similar sized) key looked like opening the door, perhaps I had misunderstood her instructions and we were supposed to be at the front of the building? Trudged around there (rue St.Jean, where the party was in full swing), no luck.

    Admitting defeat, we rang Madame again and she now thinks we may not have the right keys! She will be over in 10 mins. Sitting on the doorstep we were almost knocked over by someone coming out so we grabbed the opportunity and went in. The key we did have opened our apartment door and we were in! And it was worth the effort of getting here, a lovely loft apartment beautifully outfitted and excellent location ( now that we were here!)http://www.imcha.com/rental/page-1
    Great company to work with, prompt replies to email and immaculate, well appointed apartment.

    As we were exploring, Madame arrived apologizing profusely that we had been left the wrong set of keys.
    She gave us a brief run down of the appliances etc. and left us to settle in.
    Heading out for a quick bite we had time for a quick shower before the conference started at 5.30.

    Yes, the conference - the real reason for this trip!?

    The conference centre is not far way but up a short steep hill so, gasping for breath (me anyway), we found the registration desk and collected our paperwork before heading in to the opening plenary.
    Afterwards at the welcome drinks we caught up with quite a few Australian colleagues before heading off on our own for some dinner.

    The street was still buzzing with music happening on the stage, impromptu street performers and also some sort of small noisy protest as well. Our French wasn't good enough to work out what they were on about.

    The festival runs for 10 days and there are lots of events happening all over the city at various stages - the one near us has the free entertainment, every night whilst we are here- but other sites will host bigger acts such as Metallica and last night Elton John (100,000 people apparently.) We hope to catch Cirque du Soleil one night.

    We were too tired to search far for restaurants so had a fairly ordinary pizza (during a great thunderstorm that produced a downpour requiring a change of table) and headed home to bed.

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    MORE ON QUEBEC CITY

    The next evening, after the conference, we were intending to go down to the lower old (port) part of Quebec but the heavens opened on the way so we decided to stop at the nearest restaurant to eat and shelter. It was quite a nice Italian restaurant (prices here in the city more like Australian prices) and we took our time, waiting for the thunderstorm to move on.

    It did eventually and we strolled up to Le Château where we caught the funicular down the escarpment for $2 each.
    Lots of lovely eateries and boutiques down there and we managed to kill an hour or so strolling around before heading back for an earlyish night.

    On the last day of the conference we managed to slip out of the afternoon session for a bit of sunshine and sightseeing.
    Fodorites had recommended the Paillard Bakery and we discovered it was literally down the road from our apartment so stopped there for lunch- duck salad (delicious) and gelato.

    Continued down to lower old Quebec and found another Fodorites restaurant suggestion, Le Lapin Sauté which we booked for dinner.
    Back to the conference for the final session and then home to start tidying up for departure tomorrow. We could have left Quebec this afternoon but had stayed around for the free performance of Cirque de Soleil which runs from Wed to Sat whilst the festival is on. Sooo glad we did - more later!

    Dinner fulfilled all expectations, lovely setting outside on the terrace and a great waitress who was very knowledgeable about wine, had spent a year in Australia and wants to marry my son!
    We ordered a Rosé from France and had the duck and rabbit platter for two, spectacular - rabbit sausage, duck foie grois, rabbit rillettes, smoked duck, caramelized carrots (different but nice) and much more!

    We then walked back via our apartment and then another 10 minutes down the hill to the venue for Cirque de Soleil. The venue for this show is actually under a major highway in the city - really clever.

    As it is free, it's basically first in best situated- it is standing only as the show is an hour long. We got great positions very close to the stage although there were performances happening in a number of separate locations around us from time to time.

    It was, quite simply, stunning. Music, choreography, lighting, back drops and of course the performers were absolutely brilliant and we were so glad we stayed in town for this. I took pics and some video, neither of which do it justice but are better than nothing I guess.

    Afterward, we trudged up many stairs along with many people, tired but elated.
    Tomorrow, on the road to Kingston, Ontario ......

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    ON TO KINGSTON

    A long reasonably uneventful drive saw us reaching our overnight destination of Kingston at about 4.45 and checked into the lake (river) side Marriott Hotel.

    Thanks kodi, mat54, Utour and BAK for the suggestion of Kingston!

    Located midway between Toronto and Montreal, Kingston was named the first capital of the Province of Canada on February 15, 1841. While its time as a political centre was short, Kingston remained an important military installation and remains home to Fort Henry both an historic fort and a Canadian Forces Base.

    Kingston is in the midst of it's own festival (of Buskers!) and there was quite a party atmosphere down at the water front. We took a few photos, looked through an old bookstore and then stumbled on to Chez Piggy for dinner.

    Chez Piggy turned out to be a real find - we had a lovely 3 course meal and half a pitcher of sangria for $100 pre tip.

    ON TO NIAGARA FALLS

    Leaving Kingston just before 9 am the next day saw us tackling the outskirts of Toronto around midday. Toronto and environs seemed to go on for ever but Sharlene was up to the task and we eventually made the very colourful Niagara-on-the-Lake in time for a late lunch.
    This very pretty little tourist village is virtually on the lake about a half an hours drive from Niagara Falls. We had lunch at the Prince of Wales (lobster poutine, not the best choice) and then a brief horse and carriage ride around the leafy green streets lined by spectacular houses and immaculate gardens.

    We (I) limited ourselves to having a relatively quick look at the shops but did still contribute a little to the local economy. Between NOTL and the actual Falls there is an extensive wine trail but unfortunately we didn't have time to explore on this trip.

    Getting to our hotel (Embassy Suites, pricey but couldn't argue with the location) proved to be relatively painless and our first view of the falls (from room 3803) took our breath away. Well worth the detour on our way back to Boston. From our room we could see both the Canadian (Horseshoe) Falls as well as the slightly less spectacular American Falls.

    Took a few pics and then made our way down to the 'must do' Maid of the Mist boat tour.
    For $16.50 each we boarded the boat for the 20 min ride along to the base of the falls, clothed in the very fashionable blue plastic ponchos. This was definitely an experience not to be missed- you really did get to experience the awesome power of the falls (and get drenched!)

    By the time we returned to the room ( about 8.30) the restaurant on site (Kegs) had a 45-60 minute wait for dinner and we had a date with the Firework display at 10pm. So, with some trepidation we went to the TGIF fast food place - not a chain we were familiar with.
    DH decided to finally try the great north American tradition of spare ribs and I had the chicken and strawberry salad. Chez Piggy it was not but my salad was enjoyable and DH's meal could have fed 5 people!

    Back to the room and it was all lights out (so there wasn't any reflection) and tripod up, ready for the fireworks. They started at 10pm and went for 10-15 minutes and were well worth watching, especially from our 'box seat!'
    Exhausted from a long day, we fell into bed with the window open and the ever present roar of the falls to send us off to sleep.

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    NIAGARA FALLS TO STOCKBRIDGE MASS.

    We chose Stockbridge for our destination because we had actually stayed the first night of our road trip in 2004 there and thought it would be kind of nostalgic to stay the last night there this time. It was also recommended by BAK before I actually realised we had been there previously!

    Stockbridge is about a 6 hour drive and would leave us about 3 hours on Sunday prior to our 4.25pm flight.

    We made good time and arrived about 4pm to find that the Inn that we stayed at last time was for sale and not in business. The iconic Red Lion Inn in town ( in business as an Inn for about 300 years continuously) had two suites left - their priciest I think, so we declined and left to try other options.
    Unfortunately, Stockbridge is a very popular 'weekend away' destination and this being Saturday night we didn't have much luck. Eventually we headed back to Red Lion and decided that the fact that it was a ground floor cottage with it's own kitchen and plenty of room for us to sort out suitcases (and accumulated luggage from nearly 5 weeks) was worth the price and we checked in to the Porch Suite at around 5.

    A quick trip through town and then booked in to the Red Lion Terrace for dinner which was actually really good - roasted wild turkey.
    Went back to our cottage and surveyed the mess spread about the room and decided to leave it until tomorrow morning....

    STOCKBRIDGE TO BOSTON AND HOME

    Our last day dawned bright and sunny and we began the mammoth task of sorting out our luggage, food, picnic set, purchases, travel info, maps and other collected detritus ready to travel home.

    We had two bottles of wine left from Nova Scotia that I donated to a very surprised gentleman in the car park and then we headed off to Lee, 10 minutes down the road and home to the Lee Premium Outlet Stores.
    We were there waiting for the doors to open, looking for, you guessed it, another bag!

    On first inspection there were no actual luggage stores but whilst I was off in one direction DH had found the Tommy Hilfiger store and purchased a suitcase the same size as Champagne and Aubergine!
    What was a girl to do but find a couple of pairs of shoes to help fill Tommy up??? One can't go by Nine West sandals for $19.99?

    On the road, it was a straight run on the I90 into Boston and Sharlene successfully directed us through the tunnel and fairly simply to the Thrifty parking lot.
    With no problem checking in our combined 72kg of luggage (thank god for Platinum allowances!!!) we wandered up to the lounge to wait for our flight to LA.
    Left on time, flight uneventful (except I ate too much Ben and Jerry's ice-cream) and we landed in LA to wait out the 4+ hours before our Melbourne flight left. A shower revived us nicely but the lounge was not quite the same standard of Australian lounges and, worst of all, the wifi wasn't working!

    On to our Qantas flight (no upgrade this time :( ) at 11.30 pm (2.30am Boston time so we were fading badly) and we were on our way.


    If anyone has stayed with me (sorry it's SO long!) thanks again to all Fodorites whose help with the planning made it a great trip.

    THE END

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    Thanks for your entertaining and informative report. We have been trying to decide what to do in the time we have blocked out for our fall vacation (late September/early October). Brussels is the most likely destination but we have also talked about going to Canada and this has given me some ideas. A summer intern at our office is from St. John and I had thought it might be worth spending some time in New Brunswick, so your report is helpful.

    On the other hand, our brief trip to Quebec City in May made us think we need to go back there soon. The apartment you stayed in in Quebec City looks great.

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    I meant to add I am glad you saw your moose--and at a safe distance. They really are dangerous on the roads. We last saw one in late May in NE Vermont on our way to Quebec City

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    I enjoyed reading your report. We live in New England, and have travelled to all the places you went to except for PEI. So it's always fun to read about other travellers impressions and to read about what they saw & did.
    Thanks!

    Just curious, we've never been away for a month, but we hope to do so when we retire. Do you get homesick? As much as I love to travel & see new places, I do find myself getting homesick, too.

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    Vttraveler and kwoo, thanks for staying with me!!
    Vttraveler, you would love Canada, probably cheaper than Brussels too!

    Kwoo, usually about a month - 5 weeks is my limit but this was such a relaxing trip I think I could have stayed another month. Having the iPad and being able to keep in touch with family for nothing is also very helpful

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    Hello,

    I loved reading your report! We're leaving in a few weeks for Maine, PEI, and NS. We're staying in Lunenburg for 4 nights, and so I'm wondering where you had your "forgettable" lunch. Just want to make sure I avoid the place!

    Loved hearing about your travels. I made a few notes, and I appreciate the fact that you shared your experience with others.

    Thanks.

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    ozgirl--we decided on Brussels instead of Canada for our fall trip but I will keep your trip report in mind when we next head north.
    We have friends from Oregon visiting here in VT and I am trying to convince them we should all spend some time in Quebec City and Montreal next year.

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    Modeen, can't even remember the name, it was opposiet the main car park. We chose it for the view and the meal was OK but not 'stand out' that's all. (It had a long balcony and we looked down on where the horse and carriages left.)

    Vttraveler, have a great time! Have been to Bruges (passed through Brussels on the train!) and it was fantastic.

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