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PEI and Nova Scotia - 10 or so days! Input Requested....

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Hello all,

I'm planning a trip to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia for my girlfriend and myself (in the next couple weeks)...we're coming from Michigan...going to stop by at Niagara Falls (Canada), then stop in Montreal, then drive out to PEI to spend a few days before spending more days in NS. I have taken the time to research and read related postings. I now wanted to go ahead and post what I'm thinking and obtain feedback from you all. Please know that I appreciate your time and any input you can provide. Nothing is fixed, I'm very flexible. I just want to really make it as perfect as possible.

Background:

I don't think I can get the Doers and Dreamers guide in time for my trip...which is a bit of a bummer, and so I'm learning from everyone else's postings...and Wikipedia :) I love Wikipedia.

We want to avoid crazy-touristy areas.

We are very active and love the outdoors, hikes, adventure, etc.

We've love to find "hidden gems" that tourists miss but that locals adore.

I actually don't care too much to see Halifax but if you all think it is a must for some reason, I am open to persuasion. Same with any other place I may not have considered. For example, another poster raved about Saw Drum in Halifax.

Is geocaching actually fun? I thought I'd pick up a GPS unit to maybe do some since we just like getting out there and EXPLORING...but I'd like to hear if it's actually fun or kind of lame sometimes.

Any idea how the weather is going to be?

Do we really need to plan out tide levels for catching the Bay of Fundy doing its remarkable things at the proper times? I don't mind doing this if need be.

I am familiar with Scottish ceilidhs, and love them. I don't know anything about Nova Scotia ceilidhs, but I'd love to participate in some with my girlfriend if they are like Scottish ceilidhs and we can dance ourselves into a sweaty mess. Wow that is what I call a good time :) It may, however, be just something you watch and not participate in.

I'd love to hear recommended places to eat. We do love seafood.

We want to see sea and land wildlife. We're not birders, though. Is it possible to see Moose?

My girlfriend is all about lighthouses. I want to stay at the West Point Lighthouse in O'Leary, PEI because my girlfriend would absolutely love the experience. But if there is a better one at which we can stay the night (or two nights), let me know.

I mention Tranquility Cove Adventures because it seems that would be an amazing, real-life, hands-on experience of lobstering. I don't want to just go out on a boat and watch others do it. Know what I mean?

I want to go digging for clams. I'm not sure if this is something anyone can do, anywhere, or if we need to do it with the proper personnel.

I will only want to see one or two (at the most) small quaint fishing villages.

I want to stay at the Milford House near Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia because my friends went on their honeymoon there and highly recommended it.

I don't really know where to stay along the Cabot Trail or on Cape Breton Island.

I don't really know where to stay at or near the Bay of Fundy.

Am I being optimal with my driving plans all over Nova Scotia?

We will have a tent and sleeping bags in my car, just in case we are not close to lodging one night, and want to camp out somewhere. I don't even know if that's possible/legal, but it may be.

Schedule:

24-May: Michigan - drive to Niagara Falls for one night - 6.5 hours
25-May: Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, Butterfly Pavilion, explore Niagara Falls, drive to Montreal (6.5 hours)
26-May: Explore Montreal
27-May: Explore Montreal
28-May: Drive to O'Leary, Prince Edward Island (12.5 hours)
29-May: Explore PEI
30-May: PEI, Georgetown Lobstering - Tranquility Cove Adventures?
31-May: PEI, exploring
1-Jun: Drive to Milford House (6 hrs)
2-Jun: Milford House, Day of Kayaking
3-Jun: Cabot Trail, Skyline Trail, Cape Breton Island, Maybe Stay in Baddeck (Lynwood Inn?)
4-Jun: Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, Fortress Louisbourg, Burntcoat Had
5-Jun: Bay of Fundy (Saint John or Moncton, NS), the Ovens (kayaking into sea caves)
6-Jun: Bay of Fundy (Saint John or Moncton, NS), Hopewell Cave (check tide tables), Fundy National Park, Cape Enrage?
7-Jun: Lunenburg, Seal Cove, Peggy's Cove, Long Island (Balancing Rock), Lunch at Seaside Shanty in Chester Basin
8-Jun: Tiverton? Oceans Explorations Zodiak Whale Watching Tour? Brier Island for Whale Watching?
9-Jun: Drive to Maine, Spend the night in Maine (any recommendations?)

Again, thank you so much. I'll really take any thoughts/pointers/input. And if you disagree with my thinking on anything - I would want to hear that too. I will probably post a followup or two after I learn from others. Feel free to email me as well. I am so excited about this trip and want to make it extraordinarily memorable!

Papsicle (papsicle at gmail dot com)

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    I love your excitement! Lucky girl to be travelling w/ you!!
    If you go to www.novascotia.com you can order your Doers' & Dreamers' Travel Guide right now online & you will probably have it by the end of the week.
    My sister has done geocaching in NS & loved it, so give it a try.
    It is going to be pretty chilly in NS & PEI during the time frame you are considering so while camping is legal, I don't know if the campsites will be open yet for the season. Also, it will be cold @ night. Cape Breton Highlands National Park has a huge campsite. Usually people make reservations in advance but b/c you will be there "off season" you shd be ok (.... if they are open!)
    I would allow more than 2 days for Cape Breton. The Cabot Trail should be enjoyed @ a leisurely pace not break neck speed. You also have to allow for fog/rain days. There's no point in going around The Cabot Trail in the fog!!! Check out www.kelticlodge.ca.( NOT com) It opens May 22 for the season. It is located in Ingonish. Do a search here & you will find some other good recs from people who have stayed in Ingonish.
    On PEI take a look @ www.shawshotel.ca. I think it opens June 1st( you wld have to revise your itinerary for this.)
    I don't know when lobster season is in NS & PEI but you can figure that out when you get there or maybe Google. (I think it may be lobster season in Cape Breton right now.)

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    Having done the drive from Montreal to Niagara Falls, I can tell you that your plan to do all the activities in Niagara Falls and then drive on to Montreal in one day is extreme. That drive is VERY long and is a day trip in and of itself. I would consider spending the night in Niagara Falls on the 25th and then driving to Montreal on the morning of the 26th. You'll only have one full day in Montreal, but you won't wipe yourself out at the begining of your trip.

    You need to get yourself a good map of Nova Scotia. Several of your days have activities that are on opposite sides of the province. For example, The Ovens are on the eastern shore and the Bay of Fundy is on the western shore; Balancing Rock is on the Digby Neck on the eastern side and Lunenburg and Peggy's Cove are on the western side.

    If you stay on Brier Island (at the end of the Digby Neck), you can do the Zodiak whale watching (definitely do this over any other whale watching - the ride on the Zodiak itself is worth the cost), Seal Cove, and Balancing Rock.

    On the eastern side, if you stay in Lunenburg, you can do The Ovens and visit Chester.

    Just thinking about the order, I'm inclined to suggest Moncton first, then PEI, then Cape Breton.

    Then I would say one night in Halifax (there is a lot of history there and it makes a good stop after the long drive down from Cape Breton)
    then stop at Peggy's Cove the next morning and Chester for lunch on the way to Lunenburg
    night in Lunenburg
    next day at The Ovens
    night in Lunenburg
    drive to Brier Island and stop at Balancing Rock on the way
    night in Brier Island
    seal cove and Zodiak whale watching
    then head to Maine

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    If you want to be out doors and your weather is nice, I say skip Halifax. It is a nice city but Cape Breton is incredible and has many beautiful hiking trails, waterfalls and unbeleivable ocean views. Last fall we spent the night in Cheticamp on Cape Breton and induldged in the French Canadian culture-eating Toutierre(meat pie),French fiddle music at the local bar and had a lovely morning watching eagles while eating breakfast and overlooking a farm across the cove.
    We are flying into Halifax and plan on hitting the Halifax Farmer's Market breifly and then heading out.
    You should consider coming back oneday and seeing Newfoundland. It leaves me breathless thinking about it. That's where we are heading this time.
    We were going to go to PEI but decided we wanted to put our feet on Newfoundland and it sucked us right in.
    You will have a great time in NS, PEI or where ever. You never really have enough time.
    I do beleive it is lobster season now because it wasnt when we were there last fall.
    Love that whole area. I cant wait to get back!
    The local tourist centers are wonderful and were agreat deal of help.

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    A few thoughts to maybe complement all the information-suggestions you've already received. I like small interesting towns, nature, scenery and wildlife so my favourites are biased towards these. The Cabot Trail through Cape Breton National Park is spectacular. It is very possible to see moose there, especially near dusk in the "highlands" part of the park - be careful driving! I've also seen them on various trails. In Cape Breton, you could stay in Cheticamp - an Acadian Fishing Village which doubles as a main tourist jumping off point to the "Highlands" section of the park, in the Ingonish area - a string of seaside hamlets along a picturesque stretch of coastline, or in Baddeck, an attractive small town with yacht harbour and tourist-oriented shops and services. Watch for Bald Eagles in the Park and around the Bras D'Or Lakes.
    I don't usually like cities, but I do enjoy Halifax - a not-too-large city with a very lively and enjoyable Harbor area - boardwalk, pubs, shops, etc. Also - You can do daytrips from Halifax to a number of your planned destinations e.g. Lunenburg, Peggy's Cove (which is tiny, you won't spend too long there), maybe Mahone Bay and some points further down this "Lighthouse Route" for lighthouses and fishing villages.
    As mentioned, visiting Niagara and driving to Montreal the same day sounds exhausting. Remember you have to drive through Toronto, its suburbs and satellites - rush hours traffic (and even outside of rush hour) can be a mess and could add significantly to your 6.5 hour estimate. Montreal rush hours are also bad.
    If you're only in Bay of Fundy briefly - do Hopewell Rocks at low tide. Seeing the difference between the tides would be more dramatic, but as you noted, takes some planning and probably an overnight in the area. Places to stay include Moncton, a small city with several major hotels, Alma a fishing village servicing the adjacent Fundy National Park (and another good spot to observe the tides), St. Andrews - probably too far and maybe too touristy, although it is a pleasant little town.
    Or - Digby and the Digby Neck Peninsula out to Brier island - the latter is scenic, feels off-the-beaten path and offers some great whale-watching tours into the Bay of Fundy - in the right season (which I'm not sure is now - you'd have to check). Some people like the Zodiacs as mentioned above - they are faster to get to the right spots. Personally I prefer bigger boats when I'm going that far offshore..... and there are a number of options. (An alternative also with a very quaint, off-the-beaten path feel is Grand Manan Island off the New Brunswick coast which is famous for both excellent Whale-watching and bird tours - although I realize the latter is of less interest to you). Again though - check for seasonality of these activites. You are going in the "shoulder" season which does mean you probably don't have to worry quite so much about "tourist-crazy" areas as you would in mid summer.

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    very adventurous itinerary time wise. i would seriously look at a map and distances you are trying to travel. note that on pei and nova scotia...if it says it is 60 miles between destinations, plan on about 90 minutes. some roads are very slow.
    i camped at oven's park and did a zodiac tour of the caves. i think kayaking there would be great.
    niagara falls was a let down for me as well as many people i know that go there. it's nice to see...maid of the mist boat ride is fun but the city/town (whatever it is) is very expensive and very cheesy. they've taken a beautiful spot and turned it into a low class "coney island" looking thing. if you are figuring out travelling time, maybe consider spending about 6 hours there and then head off towards montreal and stay at a hotel somewhere in between.
    i think you have way too much on your itinerary. i spent
    2 1/2 weeks in nova scotia and could have used another week. you are going to spend a lot of time in your car rather then outside enjoying a great province.
    skyline on cabot trail is a nice, easy walk. when you enter, you can take two paths. take the one to the right which will lead you through more forest. saw a moose there. at the end, there is a nice place to relax and have a picnic. then, you could take the other path back if you want which is faster but less "rustic". i'd allow at least 3 hrs to enjoy.

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    You're going to PEI and NS before school is even out - I don't think you should be fearful or even mindful of "Crazy touristy areas". Neither of those places are on the way to anywhere (save for Newfoundland, and that is a long swim).


    {sigh} And what is so stressful about "planning out tide levels" for the Bay of Fundy?

    In brief, the highest tides on earth are there, and the awe in them comes from the vast difference between high and low tide. Take five minutes of your life, (right now perhaps) and go to the following website and print a sheet of paper with ALL of the tide info for Hopewell Cape, maybe Burntcoad Head, and one more spot of your choosing, during the entire window of your visit to the area. (for clarity, the tides come in so rapidly that humans have been known to occasionally lose their lives for not knowing when to expect those tides) Like tides everywhere, Fundy tides are extremely predictable and happen right on a schedule. Why wouldn't you want to have that schedule with you?

    http://www.lau.chs-shc.gc.ca/cgi-bin/tide-shc.cgi?queryType=showZone&language=english&region=5&zone=30

    Put the schedule in your vehicle, in the glove box, and you'll have it when needed.

    As for seafood restaurants... you'll be in an area where even McDonalds serves lobster sandwiches, so I think you can probably stumble around and find plenty that will suit you.

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    I have to disagree on Ltt's suggestion to spend just 6 hours in Niagara Falls and then leave. There's no way you can even begin to understand the lure of the Falls in just 6 hours. Yes, Clifton Hill is tacky, but that doesn't make it a bad thing. It's like a carnival - you don't go to a carnival for intellectual thoughts, but that doesn't mean it's not worth going. Enjoy it for what it is. Niagara Falls gives you the experience of a carnival and a magnificent natural wonder in a juxtaposition of man vs. nature. If you don't want to see Niagara Falls as it really is, then don't bother going at all.

    I agree with NorthwestMale regarding the tides. This is another of those places where you have to put aside pre-disposed ideas and let it show you what it is in reality. There is no great swoosh of water that suddenly pours in from afar. The tide is quite slow in coming. Last August, I hiked out to Seal Cove on Brier Island. I arrived before the tide went out. As I watched the seals playing in the water, the hours went by and the tide went out. It took a while to realize that the water had receded so much that the seals could sunbathe where they had been swimming when I arrived. It's a very subtle experience.

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    Hello all,

    First off, I'm really grateful for the comments. Planning a trip like this is a beast. But I feel that with your input, things are really shaping up. I have revised my itinerary in keeping with your thoughts. Please let me know what you think.

    I hear that some of you are saying that I'm planning a ton into a small amount of time. I respect that. I don't really know what to do except for just to try to fit things tightly together but still be flexible in case we want to stay an extra day/night here or there.

    Oh, and I will definitely print out the tide timings. No problem. I didn't mean for it to sound like a big chore. It makes sense, if I'm doing all this planning, to plan my time to see the low and high tides of the Bay of Fundy.

    I think my main question at this point is - is there an ideal way to approach Cabot Trail and Cape Breton Island? Like, an ideal way to see the sights up there? I could just drive to Baddeck and find a hotel and talk to locals...or drive to Ingonish and do the same...or Cheticamp...but I'd like to be more strategic about it. I only know about the 6 hour scenic drive (the Trail)...I've read a bit about it on Wikipedia, and the four counties therein. Maybe I just need to start driving and I'll see what I see. But I don't want to drive past places where I should have stopped and explored....so, yeah, any feedback on this would be awesome. I know that in ArtsBabe's concurrent post (http://www.fodors.com/community/canada/nova-scotia-trip-advice.cfm) - you guys have mentioned maybe using Baddeck as a base-camp for a few days, and venturing out and about from there each day. Is that the best thing to do?

    There are Scottish folks on Cape Breton Island and so I am hopeful that I'll be able to find a Scottish ceilidh. If you have stumbled across them at local pubs, let me know.

    24-May Michigan - drive to Niagara Falls (Canada) for two nights - 6.5 hours
    25-May Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, Butterfly Pavilion, explore Niagara Falls
    26-May drive to Montreal (6.5 hours), spend night in Montreal
    27-May Explore Montreal, BioDome, spend night in Montreal
    28-May Drive to Moncton, NB (Bay of Fundy) (10 hours), spend night there
    29-May See Bay of Fundy, Hopewell Cape (check tide tables), whatever else I should do there
    30-May Bay of Fundy, Fundy National Park, Cape Enrage
    31-May Drive to West Point Lighthouse, O'Leary, PEI for one night, get settled, go exploring
    1-Jun Georgetown Lobstering - Tranquility Cove Adventures, spend night in Georgetown
    2-Jun Drive to Baddeck, Cape Breton Island. (6 hrs)
    3-Jun Cabot Trail, Skyline Trail, Cape Breton Island
    4-Jun Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, Fortress Louisbourg, Burntcoat Head
    5-Jun Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, Fortress Louisbourg, Burntcoat Head
    6-Jun Drive to Halifax (6 hrs), walk around, go dancing!, spend the night
    7-Jun Drive to Peggy's Cove, walk around, see Lighthouse, Lunch at Seashide Shanty in Chester Basin, Drive to Lunenberg, get settled, go exploring
    8-Jun Spend the day at The Ovens (sea cave kayaking), spend night in Lunenburg
    9-Jun Drive to Brier Island (4.5 hrs) (stay there), see Balancing Rock on the way, hang out in Tiverton
    10-Jun Seal Cove, Big Bald Rock Cove, and Zodiak Whale Watching, drive to Milford House in Annapolis Royal (3hrs), get in late
    11-Jun Day of Kayaking at Milford House, Annapolis Royal, spend night there
    12-Jun Drive to Maine (full-day)


    Okay, that's it for now! Thank you so much. I really believe all of this planning and input-seeking will be worth it. Things are coming together!

    Papsicle (papsicle at gmail dot com)

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    We also have just finished planning a 16 day trip to N.S and P.E.I. in July and we just had to go with the idea that we will not be able to see everything we want, so it came down to picking and choosing. We have however found a couple of places that may be of interest to you. After spending a couple of days on P.E.I we are returning to Cape Breton for 5 days. The first night we are spending in Mabou, primarly so we can go to the Red Shoe Pub which sounds like a fun time, from there we go up to the top of Cape Breton staying at Neils Harbour at Seymour Harbour View B&B for 2 days using this as a base to do hiking in and around the Cabot Trail and then 2 nights in Sydney staying at A Paradise Found B&B which will allow us to see that part of the island before heading back to Halifax for our flight home. We also decided to see The Bay of Fundy from the Nova Scotia side rather then travel to N.B. and will be staying at Cape D'or in the lightkeepers house which I think may be the find of the trip. Hope some of this helps, enjoy your travels.

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    In Cape Breton - much of what you will see and do is on the Cabot Trail, or just off it (e.g. the spur road at the top to Meat Cove) with the exception of Louisbourg - if historic sites interest you - which is a little farther off the Trail. You could tour the Cabot Trail using, as a base, any of Cheticamp, the Ingonish area, or Baddeck (and even Louisbourg could be done as a daytrip from these especially from Baddeck). For the National Park section of the trail, go to the website http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ns/cbreton/index_E.aspand click on Activities for details on hiking trails and other stuff.
    The Ceilidh Trail is the section of Cape Breton southwest of the Cabot Trail. I was going to suggest you might check out the Red Shoe Pub in Mabou - owned by a couple of members of a famous Canadian Celtic Music Band - but when I just looked at their website, I see it is closed for the season until June 5. Still, you might check out http://cape-breton.com/ for some additional exploring ideas. This is a relatively underpopulated area (relative to much of the U.S. and the Canadian Industrialized regions of southern Ontario and southern Quebec, etc.) - so in Cape Breton and elsewhere in NS outside of Halifax, we're talking about "hamelts", "villages" and very small towns for the most part.
    Cheticamp has some Acadian (the original 'Cajuns') culture and shops in the area specialize in a type of folk art that you might find bizarre and comical (cartoonishly carved multicoloured cows, birds and fish, for example) - but I love stopping in a couple of these shops for a look and usually a purchase when I'm in the area. From Dingwall to Ingonish there is some gorgeous coastal scenery and several picturesque beaches. Alexander Graham Bell historic site in Baddeck.

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    Not a lot of time...too busy tidying up my desk after my return from NS. We have a home Lunenburg so that is one part I know well. The weather is already great...I was in the garden in a T-shirt 3 out of the 5 days we had there.

    That day at The Ovens should be fun. You might also want to visit Hirtle Beach.

    In Lunenburg itself, try a trip to The Knot Pub. Do order the chowder at The Sea Shanty. While in Lunenburg, go 10 miles up and check out Mahone Bay...if you plan to do The Ovens, you will need a picnic and you can either pick up great sandwiches at The Biscuit Eater or get your own bread (at LeHavres) and fixings (at the IGA-look esp. for local Fox Hill cheese).

    The Fishermens Museum and Bluenose Tours in Lunenburg are also fascinating...

    Have fun...and try to get a Doers and Dreamers Guide en route someplace...so helpful!

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    deemarie
    We are planning a trip in September/October to NS PEI NB and then on to Quebec City etc

    Where did you stay at Cheticamp?Can't decide betwen the Pilot Whale B&B or the Cheticamp Outfitters.Do you know them? Did you go on a whale trip in the area? Any info about the area would be apreciated.

    Thanks in advance

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    Hello all,

    I am back from my road trip! I wanted to update you all a bit. So, I'm just going to write...

    We enjoyed Niagara Falls in Ontario. Maid of the Mist was awesome and we went early in the morning and lines weren't too long. I don't know how you can spend multiple days in Niagara - we were pretty much done within a few hours. But it was definitely worth the stop. We stayed at the Sterling, which is a new Days Inn property - and it was super nice, with a fireplace and complimentary breakfast in bed.

    Montreal was really cool as well. I liked seeing Old Montreal, St. Joseph's Oratory, the Biodome, and walking around the downtown area where there is great shopping. There are a lot of dance clubs as well, if you're into that sort of thing.

    Our time in Saint John and Moncton (New Brunswick) was also pretty cool. We just wanted to see the Bay of Fundy tides, and Cape Enrage was really neat. It was closed so you couldn't drive down the path towards the building by the lighthouse, so we just parked outside the gate and walked down all the way to the lighthouse. We saw what were either loons or dolphins in the water...which was exciting...and we also went down another pathway all the way to the shoreline where we laughed and skipped rocks (shale?) on the water, feeling like there was nobody else in the world. Then after following the coastline North towards Moncton, we saw Hopewell Cape and the Flowerpot Rocks. It was also after hours and closed, so we just parked and hiked down there anyway. It was fantastic with no one else around - and the tide was high (definitely take the time, as everyone has suggested, to map out the time tables...I believe there are 6 hours and 14 minutes between low and high tides). So we took a ton of pictures, and then marked the tide level with rocks - and then spent the night in Moncton before driving back to Hopewell Cape the next day to see what things looked like at low tide. It's pretty crazy, with an average of 30 feet of difference in where the waterline was at high tide. Very, very cool. We took a ton of pictures, and it was fun learning about how the tides and topography contribute to the phenomenon.

    Then we drove to PEI, and spent the night in the Lighthouse Room at the West Point Lighthouse (which is kind of near O'Leary). It was a bit hard to find, and we had to ask people because our GPS was clueless. My gf loves lighthouse, and so this was a major highlight - to be able to stay in one. I had a great dinner and breakfast there as well. I'd highly recommend it to others, especially if you love lighthouses.

    By the way, people should know that you have to pay a toll of like $44 or something when you leave PEI. I was like, what the heck. How do people afford to leave the island and then come back - if they work in New Brunswick? This kind of forces residents to stay on the island, I guess, and support businesses there. I'd love it if someone would explain this to me.

    We then drove through Green Gables, and then checked out the lighthouse in Charlottetown, and then drove to Georgetown, where we had a wonderful night's stay at the Georgetown Historic Inn. We met Perry Gotell (owner of Tranquility Cove Adventures) at the wharf in the evening, and he said that the weather was looking horrible the next day - and we were scheduled to go lobstering with him the next morning. I was like, we can probably handle it, and so let's just pray and see what it looks like in the morning. At 4am, we were at the docks, and it was raining, and windy, but we told Perry we wanted to go out with him since he was going out. And so we did. It was absolutely mad and absolutely wonderful.

    Perry and Jerry (his shipmate) said it was the worst weather day of the season, and it was crazy that we were out there. It eventually started to pour, and the wind and seas knocked us around a bit - but my gf and I had so much fun learning about lobstering and participating in the hands-on activities of those who do this for a living. I only got pinched once! It was painful but I'm glad for the story :) We didn't get seasick as we took some Gravol - I recommend others do that as well. We caught hundreds of pounds of lobster and crab, and I just want to say that I love experiential trips like this - and yes they are exhausting and difficult but sooooo worth it in my opinion. Perry was fabulous, I recommend him and his trip to everyone who might be considering it.

    We then drove to Lunenburg and stayed at Greybeard's - our hosts Bob and Rosanna were warm and very helpful, and made the most delicious exotic breakfasts. From this spot, we checked out Blue Rocks, Peggy's Cove (which I think was the most beautiful place I visited on this trip - I loved the gigantic smooth boulders around the lighthouse, on which you could run and jump and explore), Mahone Bay, the chowder at Seaside Shanty in Chester Basin, and the Ovens. I will say that I didn't love the Ovens...it was somewhat cool, but not spectacular. Plus, it's private land and you have to pay a nominal fee, like 7 dollars a person. The cost isn't a big deal, it's just that I expected more from the sights. The Ovens was probably my least favorite thing on this trip, but I don't regret going, because people talk about it as something you should see if you're in the area.

    Then we traveled to Balancing Rock in the Digby/Tiverton area. It's kind of crazy finding this place. You just drive from Digby on one road, and then another road, for a really long time, and eventually find around a corner that there is this small port, with a ship that takes you across the bay (it's like a 5 minute boat ride that costs 5 dollars), and you drive onto the boat, it takes you across, and then you drive off the boat. And then you make a left, and drive in that direction for maybe five minutes, and then you see a tiny sign for Balancing Rock on the left. And you park, and walk for about 20 minutes in the woods along a pathway (which includes steps) and then you find it. I thought it was pretty sweet. It was definitely worth going to.

    Then we spent a couple of days at Milford House in South Milford, which is kind of close to Annapolis Royal. I loved having a lakeside cabin here, it was so tranquil, and we could buy groceries and store them in the fridge, and make our own dinners with their stove/range/oven/microwave...and we went canoeing at midnight under a spectacular starry sky...and we slept well. When we needed the Internet, we just drove over to the main lodge and hung out there for an hour, and then went back to our cabin. Eventually, they should install wireless routers across the premises, but it's no big deal because usually you shouldn't be working if you're at a lakeside cabin in the middle of beautiful Nova Scotia :)

    After this, we drove north to Mabou and stayed at Clayton's Farm and B&B. Isaac, the owner, was kind and nice and really cool. We ran around with his 30 or so cows in his picturesque cow fields, and hung out with the bulls in his barn, and had a grand old time. We hit up the Red Shoe Pub for a ceilidh (which, by the way for those of you who are familiar with Scottish ceilidhs - does NOT mean dancing, but only Celtic music). The dinner there was delicious, and the music was fun. The next day, we hiked Fair Alistair's Mountain Trail near the Mabou Mines and the Wharf - it was about 4 miles round trip), and then went to a raucous square dance that evening at the West Mabou Inn. If you are in this area on a Saturday night, go to this dance - we had such a great time, and were complete sweaty messes when it was over. Our faces hurt from smiling so much while throwing each other around. I loved (LOVED) it.

    We didn't do the Cabot Trail drive because frankly, throughout the course of this trip, I had seen my share of seaside villages and shorelines and mountains and hills and water. I didn't want to start valuing it less by seeing too many. I would have probably seen a moose on that drive - which is the only thing that didn't happen on my trip that I wanted to happen - but, I was okay with that. I will see a moose at some point in my life :) I will check out Newfoundland at some point too. That said, I think we made the absolute most out of this adventure! It was pretty perfect. I don't think it could have gone any better, in all honesty. Thank you SOOOOO MUCH to everyone who advised me accordingly. I took all of your input to heart, and that's what made the trip such a success. We really feel blessed and grateful. Thanks again.

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    I'm glad that your reports are so positive, and that you didn't throw your back out when printing out the preparatory tide tables. (at least you now have an appreciation for why they are so important) (did you photograph the sign @ Hopewell Cape that warns you to be "OFF OF THIS BEACH by _____ to avoid being trapped by the incoming tide" ??)

    It is ominous, to say the least.

    Nowthen, as for PEI and the Confederation Bridge... it is a fairly NEW bridge, and in order to pay for the darn thing they make everybody foot the bill. You can imagine that the population in the area isn't exactly that of New York City or Los Angeles, so with fewer people coughing up, the fee is, in this case, staggering. I think it was $37.50 when I went over it many years ago.

    And paying only one way reduces the overhead expense, and as it is an island, with ferries or planes the only other way off, they're destined to get everybody sooner or later.

    Anyway, I'm very glad that you had fun, and I'm sure your evening at Hopewell Cape helped to underscore why it was ideal to have the tide data with you. (I've not been able to solve the riddle of what one should do for 6 hours while waiting for the tidal extremes)

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    I'm glad you enjoyed the trip. Nova Scotia is really is a pretty place and worth seeing.

    As for the question as to how to spend multiple days in Niagara Falls, it all depends on what you enjoy doing and how active you tend to be. I generally don't plan more than 2 activities per day. For your activities, I would have spread it out over 2 days and spent the rest of the time wandering along the Parkway, watching the falls, taking photos, etc. Another day and I would have added a walking tour of Goat Island and Spanish Aero Car. Another day would have added Journey Behind the Falls and White Water Walk. And so on.

    It's just a matter of how much you want to fit into your time and how much you want to leave open.

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    Oops, missed the part about Niagara Falls, I guess...I get so swept up when anybody praises the Maritimes!

    It may seem corny but if you go to NF, you really should go on The Maid of the Mist...we are always pleased to accompany relatives and friends who want to visit and they are always excited by this boat trip.

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    Generally, people don't live on PEI and work off island. Until the bridge opened in 1997, the only way on or off the island was by ferry (there was a ferry from Borden, PEI to Cape Tormentine, NB, as well as the other one), which was about the same cost, and involved additional time, lining up, waiting for the boat etc. In summertime when it was busy with tourists, sometimes you had to line up several hours (and sailings) ahead. When I was a kid and we used to drive to PEI to visit the grandparents, the ferry was always part of the adventure and I kind of miss it. It had been hoped that the bridge would increase tourism, but I think the opposite has happened - overnight visits have dropped off and now people visit PEI as a day trip, and think they've "seen it all".

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    I would recommend staying in Charlottetown for the duration of your PEI adventures. Charlottetown is a great place to set up your "HQ" so to speak...everything of interest is just a short drive away.

    I reccomend two places: Heritage Harbour House Inn...or "The Sonata Inn. The problem is...I don't think Sonata Inn operates during September...and Heritage Harbour House Inn is really popular, so acquiring a booking may be difficult.

    Websites:
    http://www.hhhouse.net
    http://www.sonatainn.com

    Good luck with your trip!

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    Make sure you take Route 1 along the French Shore from Yarmouth to Digby! Chez Christophe in Grosse Cocques for the best/most reasonable dining. Reservations a must for dinner. Entertainment on Thursday 6-8....don't expect to get a table in the kitchen, where the music action is!! Visit the Gilberts Cove Lighthouse, the folks there are the most hospitable anywhere. What a wonderful break for tea!! Scotia Bay Motel in Brighton units are clean and reasonable. Unbelievable tide movement at the end of Digby Neck. Worth the drive just to watch the ferry maneuver. Gaspereau Winery in Gaspereau, short drive from Wolfville. Also nice 30 minute tour of the Bear Valley Winery in Bear River, scenic drive from 101. If you have the time, take Route 1 instead of 101, unless you like trees! Kingston Diner for homemade Coconut cream pie....

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    Greetings from Tennessee! I have been unemployed since October of 2008 but, still have plenty of Delta Sky Miles, Intercontinental Hotel points and remain optimistic in high spirits. My bride (of 26 years) loves Lobster so I thought eating our weight in it would be a nice break from the doldrums of unemployment. When last we did this in Maine it was wonderful visiting all of the roadside Lobster shacks for inexpensive but wonderful meals. A friend suggested PEI so I'm seeking advice on the best places to go for a 3 to 5 day trip. We enjoy off the path places with quaint (known to the locals) restaurants and little or no tourists type attractions.
    After reading all of these wonderful reviews and suggestions I realize that we're cutting it short on time however, until employed again a quick trip will must suffice to wet our whistle for a return adventure.
    We're 57 & 60, plan to travel in late September, in good enough shape for a 3 mile hike and enjoy everything outdoors. A good local pub with music is a plus and affordable lodging is a must.
    Thank you all for your thoughts.
    Yours in Lobster we remain.

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