1 week to visit Canada... Help!

Old May 15th, 2006, 01:27 PM
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1 week to visit Canada... Help!

I'm planning a surprise trip for my husbands 40th birthday and we love to travel. Only have 1 week this time and we'll be leaving from Fl. Want to travel to Quebec City & Nova Scotia. Can anyone please tell me the best itinerary.. including getting to Nova Scotia from either Canada or Maine.. and what not to miss.
Thank You!
Any hotel suggestions would also be greatly appreciated in either of these routes!
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Old May 15th, 2006, 01:33 PM
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Ooops.. and on the above message.. going to Quebec City & Nova Scotia.. it will be July 29th - Aug 5th... since I know the time of year is important for planning!
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Old May 15th, 2006, 02:59 PM
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I would look into Nova Scotia in full detail and consider dropping QC from the itinerary, as it is so far away.

I think I would fly to Maine... perhaps Portland (maybe Bangor, if reasonable)... and then rent a car there...

On the way in, cross at Calais and drive through St. John... then continue just past Sussex, NB where you cut to the southeast on hwy 114 to cross through Fundy National Park... then on to "Hopewell Cape" (enjoyed most at extreme LOW tide, but best seen at both low and high tides 6 hours apart).

Then up via Moncton, Sackville, Amherst, Springhill, (take the long route) via Parrsboro, Truro.

At Truro you'll either go east toward Sydney and a loop of the Cabot Trail, or south to Halifax, covering both before your time there is finished.

There are many other short trips around NS that have been reviewed endlessly on this board.

As Halifax to Quebec City is a healthy 625 miles, I just don't know that you will want to fly to Maine, get to and explore NS, and then backtrack all the way to QC and back to Maine to fly home in a week.

I'd see Nova Scotia first, and perhaps save QC for another northern trek you could tie together with New York or Montreal.

If you want more details on NS, click on my screen name and scan through my old posts.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 07:30 AM
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there is so much to see in nova scotia/cape breton, i'd plan on either a week there or a week in quebec city and montreal. i spent 3 1/2 weeks in nova scotia last year and could have used another week.
i would either fly directly to halifax and rent a car or, you can take the CAT ferry from portland or bar harbor, maine.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 10:14 AM
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Thank you both for your replies. I just spoke w/ a cousin of mine that went to NS in 1969. He also felt that one place or the other was plenty to do in just one week. Now my quesion would be... Is Nova Scotia a better choice over Quebec City? We love the outdoors and scenic beauty... so I'm torn!
THANK YOU for all your help!
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Old May 16th, 2006, 04:02 PM
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Nova Scotia wld be better for you. And,as Northwestmale has suggested, click on his screenname for reviews of his trips to NS.
Which Florida city do you fly out of? You may want to consider flying into Sydney, Nova Scotia to begin your scenic tour. You can rent a car for a week @ the Sydney airport. From Sydney, head for the Cabot Trail. You may also want to get a copy of NS Dept of Tourism "Doers' & Dreamers' Guide" to help you plan your trip to NS. Go to www.novascotia.com to order your free travel guide. Have fun planning! July 29 to Aug 5 is a perfect time to visit NS!
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Old May 17th, 2006, 07:10 AM
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nova scotia hands down over quebec if you like the outdoors. spend your time between halifax (do a day or overnight trip to peggy's cove, lunenburg, mahone bay area) and then 3-4 nights in cape breton).
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Old May 17th, 2006, 07:33 AM
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I want to thank everyone who has replied! It's made my trip so much easier to plan! We'd be leaving from Jacksonville, FL...and flying into Sydney seems like a great idea... even though I'm still pondering flying into Maine to see a little New England as well, and taking the ferry across. I'm going to get the travel guide because this is one area I'm totally blind about. I normally have many travel tips from friends.. but it seems like none of my acqaintences have ever visited NS. Again... thanks to all who replied!!!
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Old May 18th, 2006, 05:02 AM
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If you drive on the Fundy Coastal Route in New Brunswick to get to NS (St-Andrews, St-Stephens, etc.), you will get a pretty good idea of what New England is like... Plus, there is the bonus of seeing Fundy National Park, Cap Enragé, and of course, Hopewell Rocks. Here is a map : http://www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca/NR...map_fun_en.pdf
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Old May 20th, 2006, 10:06 PM
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There will be more than enough to see in Nova Scotia! Why not save Maine for another trip? Have fun!
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Old May 21st, 2006, 07:26 AM
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One thought...don't judge all of Nova Scotia by your first impression of Sydney. The city is not nearly as nasty as it once was, but is still not exactly the prettiest city in Nova Scotia.

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Old May 22nd, 2006, 08:01 AM
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Well.. everyone has been so helpful and given such great advice that we have decided to spend our time directly in NS. I already checked on flights into Maine.. and we can do as well, or better flying directly in Halifax, NS.
I think that's what we've decided to do. Matter of fact, I spoiled the surprise and don't my husband about the trip. I wanted to make sure number 1 that he wanted to go to NS since it is really a trip for him, and number 2, I was getting overwhelmed trying to plan this trip without much knowledge about NS. He doesn't know much either.. but he looked at flights and some can be as long as 12hrs from Jax to ME and only 5-6 hrs to fly directly to Halifax. Now.. I'm left with... since we arrive and leave from Halifax.. does anyone have a good itinerary for 6 days in NS??? Which direction should we head first.. and what cities by night so I can plan on booking hotels? I loved Northwest Males' suggestion about Hopewell Cape and see if mentioned in many of his forums.. so feel this is a must do. How would we accomplish seeing that if we're not driving from Me? I also want to do the Cabot Trail... (dumb question... is this something that can be driven.. if so, how long?) and the whale watching adventure while in that area. Any suggestions on which boat tour is best?Peggy's Cove also looks interesting and want to take the suggestion of lunch at the place by the lighthouse...
Lots of questions... so hope you all have lots of answers!!! Thanks in advance!!!!
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 08:04 AM
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I should have previewed the above message before posting it.. please excuse many of the grammatical/spelling errors!
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Old May 24th, 2006, 07:13 PM
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Hi, I'm back... (how long have I been missing?)

Anyway, I'm glad that you have a better sense of your parameters, just so that anyone advising you here has a starting point and an ending point.

Hopewell Cape IS perhaps the single best spot in the area to get the full effect of the roaring tides there. This is NOT your bathtub, so forget all of the boredom that tide-watching has ever implied.

Here is a link for the tide tables in the area:


As early as right now you can easily go there and make a printout of the tide highs and lows during the WINDOW of time when you'll be in the area. (even IF you only know "last week of July, first week of August" you can print perhaps 10-15 days worth of tables to have the info nearby)

For Hopewell cape, ideally you would be able to go there at both extreme HIGH and extreme LOW tides. But it is challenging to know how to spend 6 hours in between. If you can only go once, be sure to go near LOW TIDE. You can easily SEE what you're getting into online by typing "Hopewell Cape" or "Flower Pot Rocks" into Google IMAGES.

Nothing drives it home like seeing the sign there that says: "WARNING: you MUST be off of this beach by __ __ O'clock to avoid being trapped by the incoming tide!"

But not to worry, the tides are totally predictable unlike hurricanes and the like.

As for GETTING to Hopewell Cape... it requires a pain-in-the-bum awkward drive from Halifax... but you just resign yourself to doing it, and make it a long day trip.

You might try to couple it with seeing the "Tidal Bore" at Moncton, New Brunswick... you sit on bleachers next to a river and, at a fully predicted time, you hear a whirr of water in the distance, and this "tide" rolls up stream and simply reverses the course of the river. It is really obvious too, it isn't something you can't detect very well.

I did this both at 11pm with a full moon shining and at mid day. I think the tidal bore happens about 3 hours before high tide, so that offers something you could do between trips to Hopewell Cape.

This is the only area (the Bay of Fundy, on either side, I mean) around in which you could try "white water river rafting" UPSTREAM... so if you're an outdoorsy person, look into that.

One tidbit for thought is that, with the FOG that can limit NS sightseeing it isn't a bad idea to have a whole DAY to spare, in case you have to delay your path around the area.

Nowthen, if I hit the ground in Halifax, and had 6 days... I think I'd stay in Halifax for the rest of whatever day it was that I landed... if it is morning or mid-day when you land, consider driving out to Peggy's Cove for dinner next to the lighthouse.

Otherwise, if it is toward evening already as you land, then dine in Halifax, which is big enough to be exciting, and small enough to be refreshing. With 5 universities and a number of casinos the night life has to be suitable for a range of different people.

Halifax isn't overrun by many of society's ills, because it simply isn't on the way to anywhere... (I think that helps)

A cutesy thing I like is the passenger-only ferry across the water to Dartmouth. I dunno what happens if you get off on the other side (meaning I don't know what is there exactly)... but the round-trip is fairly brief and gives you nice views. It is mostly a commuter ferry so the fee is small.

Day #2 I think I'd plan to drive north to Cape Breton and if there is a particularly enchanting romantic spot way up there that entices you, book two nights there, and do your tour of the Cabot Trail on the day in between.

I would take the main road (Truro-Antigonish-Port Hawkesbury) on the way up and save the sightseeing and experimenting for the return path.

Worst case is that if FOG hits on the day in between then you do something else (tour Sydney or Louisbourg) on that day and then embark upon the Cabot Trail on the next day.

Assuming no fog... and that Day 4 finds you awakening at some little spot not far from Bras D'or Lake or something... you can get an early start and then have the day for a slow return to the south of NS.

Antigonish and Pictou are places where you could entertain yourselves for a while...

The east coast of NS, from Canso to Halifax, makes for a very SLOW drive back down south... so be warned and aware of that if you venture. The area doesn't allow for many alternate paths once you're committed.

At Isaacs Harbor there is even a once-an-hour FERRY BOAT that takes you across a pond-sized harbor, CAR and all, and it is a pain in the rear to retreat if for example you just missed the ferry and would have to sit there for 50 minutes watching that same ferry in full view the whole time.

(I'm just stopping in mid-thought to mention how GREAT this no-longer-a-surprise TRIP will seem for his 40th birthday!!! -- this is a spot that people don't accidentally get to (save for some Sept. 11th fliers and some who didn't survive the Titanic) It will always seem so SPECIAL when you see it on the map in the years to come.)

Nowthen, where are we... it is day #4, we've started back toward the south... and if we recall the interest in Hopewell Cape, we had better get over that way, toward New Brunswick:

So maybe don't worry about the Atlantic Coast after all... instead visit Pictou for sure and Antigonish if there is time...

I can't recall the scenery on the drive from Pictou toward, say, "Pugwash" on that coastal road, and I need help from others on where to stay on nights 4 and 5.

I don't think I'd stay in Moncton, unless I were having to ad-lib because of earlier FOG delays.

Maybe someone else knows of a romantic spot in the Truro-Springhill-Amherst-Moncton path where you could book 2 nights and then pursue Hopewell Cape on the day in between.

It seems to be just 75 miles from Springhill, NS to "Hillsborough, NB" (near to Hopewell Cape) so perhaps my instincts about a 2-night stay somewhere in that general vicinity would suit.

I myself love the north shore of "Cobequid Bay" between Truro and Parrsboro, and I would drive it at some point if I were you.

So... night 4 and night 5 are scheduled SOMEwhere in the Springhill-Amherst area... allowing for a day trip to Hopewell Cape... first landing at LOW tide (the tides are NEVER on an ideal schedule when YOU are there... just because) and then, barring better ideas, a return trip at high tide. (maybe "Fundy National Park" is suitable for a visit between tide extremes at Hopewell Cape)

So you cover "day 5" with that side trip to Hopewell Cape, and are back in the general Springhill area on "night 5"

Using your calendar and helping to straighten my mind out here

Day 1 = Sat. July 29
Day 2 = Sun. July 30
Day 3 = Mon. July 31
Day 4 = Tue. Aug. 1
Day 5 = Wed. Aug. 2
Day 6 = Thur Aug. 3
Day 7 = Fri. Aug. 4

So "night #5" is Weds. night and is the 2nd consecutive night at some spot to be determined, but in the general Springhill area (though probably near water vs. IN Springhill).

That puts you on Day #6 upon awakening... and on this day, if you've not yet done so, begin by driving to Parrsboro and then due east toward Truro.

If you're up for a real nature hike... of 2 1/2 hours each way... the hike to "Cape Split" is really worth it.

You drive to "Wolfville"... then to "Scots Bay"... and at some point you go as far as you can by car, and then park in the lot, and hike to the very end of Cape Split (out in the middle of the Bay of Fundy)

When you get there you're out on a bluff, looking across toward the Parrsboro area across the water... and it is amazing to think that as much water flows through that smallish area in a given day as flows through ALL of the rivers on earth put together during that same day.

I brought the recommended "change of socks" and just a single bottled beverage, but then it was March, and not August, when I went. Didn't need the socks until returning to my car... but man they felt good then.

(for the record, I am NOT an experienced hiker)

So day 6 would wind down with you driving back toward Halifax... where you would spend night #6... and night #7 if there is one. (I can't tell by your dates and your words... but maybe you didn't count your first travel day as "Day #1" as I did).

Halifax is just the right sized city to explore for the rest of your trip... and if you hadn't yet made it to Peggy's Cove... it would be an easy one-hour jaunt there for lunch or dinner.

True there would be a lot of Nova Scotia left unseen, but I wanted to consider couple stuff when arranging sets of TWO-night stays along the path.

It is such a pleasant area and hopefully everything will be looking splendid there in mid-summer.

I'm sure I've left out things that even I will wish I'd remembered, but perhaps it is best that you just stop and ask, rather than me babbling on any further.

I really hope this helps.


Sat night - Halifax

Sun night
Mon night - Bras D'or Lake area

Tues night
Weds night - Somewhere near the water within a 50-mile radius of Springhill

Thurs night
and Fri night - Halifax

Saturday = fly home???

This was just my idea upon learning of your specifics... just wanted to offer something of a vibe and surely you can tweak or re-arrange it and then some...

good luck!

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