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It was a lovely week in Nova Scotia and PEI

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Jul 19th, 2007, 09:13 AM
  #1
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It was a lovely week in Nova Scotia and PEI

1. Who we are: three friends of long standing and the granddaughter of one, age 11.
2. We flew on different flights to Halifax. Just a quick observation that Delta managed to make all of us late.
3. Day One: Inn on the Lake near the Halifax airport. I have posted a review on TA of this and the other properties we visited. It was a great choice although the bar was closed (so was the liquor store in the airport) when we arrived and the badly needed drink could not be found. The convenience was great, the room was super and we had a very comfortable night. It was especially convenient as our flights had all been delayed and we did not arrive together. The hotel's shuttle service and proximity made it the best choice for us. An added bonus was a very good breakfast featuring fresh strawberries!
Day Two: After the berry fest we headed to Pictou. We walked around this very charming little town for about an hour. We had what was probably the worst meal of the trip in the Salt Water Grille next to the Hector. Not recommended, despite the fact that it was staffed with delightful servers.
We drove over to Caribou and caught the ferry. We immediately made our way to the third deck where the COWS shop was and began our effort to try all the flavors. We fell a bit short because one of our number insisted on having Messie Bessie everyday. I am not naming names, but cmcfong will be dieting for a while. The ferry ride was about an hour and a quarter long and quite pleasant. We all ooo'd and ahh'd as we watched the beautiful PEI on the approach. We drove straight to Dalvay by the Sea. The ride was longer and slower than we had expected, but the views were beautiful. To my mind the central fact of PEI is the strong color everywhere. The red soil, the incredibly green grass and trees and the blue skies punctuated by the glorious wildflowers (pink,white, blue) and the roses/peonies are just simply breathtaking. It is a calm beauty not one of stark or dramatic sights. The Gentle Island is a fitting nickname for PEI.
I handled all the bookings so my friends were not prepared for Dalvay by the Sea and they were thrilled with the surprise. It is beyond wonderful. We had a three bedroom/2 bath cottage on the lake. All of our meals were included in the rate. Beach towels, croquet equipment, kayaks, etc were also included in the rate. Bike rentals are separate. The cottages are new and quite attractive. The beds are very good, firm and with high quality linens. As mentioned the review is posted on TA. We went straight to dinner on arrival. The food was very, very good. Although the menu didn't change from day to day, there were specials and a wide variety from which to choose. Every single meal I had was excellent. I love fresh halibut and salmon and the chef has mastered both! The scallop appetizer with celery puree and sweet potato chips was wonderful. And, omigosh, the lobster salad! Whew, and to top it all off they had an incredible tea (what was I saying about my diet??????). After dinner we enjoyed a leisurely walk down the beach. Miles and miles of it and we were the lone strollers. Paradise pure and simple.
Day Three: My friends and the granddaughter headed to Anne's Land. The granddaughter is 11, has waist length red hair and the fair coloring of the Scot/Irish....plus a fascination with Anne of Green Gables. Apparently the first person they saw there took one look at her and said "Welcome home, Anne!" She enjoyed the double takes and outright stares, particularly from many of the Japanese visitors. I did not go as I have previoiusly visited there and wanted to go biking instead. I rented a bike from the hotel. It was well maintained and in very good shape. The man in charge of rentals was quite careful about adjusting it for my comfort. I also got a helmet and an ice cold water bottle. The ride was wonderful, I did around 28 miles. No coasting, the way is flat. I had hoped to take the Confederation Trail but it is substantially farther from teh hotel than I had thought and the bike was just not going to fit in the trunk. As it happens it was not an issue. I had a great ride. I loved that I rode without seeing litter or roadkill, both of which can significantly detract from road rides, and surrounded by beauty. I had a view of the ocean almost the entire time. Although I am not a birder, I was able to see many different shorebirds and a few birds of prey during my ride. Great way to spend the day. When my friends returned we had time for another long walk down the beach before dinner. What a treat.
Day Four:
A tremendous fog greeted us. Later the rains started. Although it continued to rain off and on throughout the day, we were ready to do a little sightseeing so we went to Charlottetown. A brief aside, one of my friends has been a heavy smoker for almost forty five years. She was prescribed a new medicine which seems to be working but which made her sick as a dog. She spent most of the day in the car as we toured Charlottetown. This is a lovely town with a very attractive waterfront. We browsed the shops and just walked around. We returned to Dalvay for another beach stroll to finish the day.
Day Five: After breakfast we checked out and headed to Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia via the Confederation Bridge. This was a much longer day in the car than we had anticipated. We stopped in the New Brunswick visitor center not long after getting on the highway. It is very well done and worth a stop if you need maps, info or a bathroom break. We took the Glooscap Trail down towards Grand Pre, where we stopped for an outstanding lunch at the Grand Pre winery. We had our lunch on the patio/ Perogola. Highly recommended. The Glooscap Trail is in relatively poor condition, lots of bumps, potholes, etc. and traffic is very slow. While the views are pretty, it can make for a long day. I recommend getting on the faster roads for this leg.
We hooked on to the Evangaline Trail and arrived in late afternoon at the Hillsdale House. We had rented the adjoining rooms of the Carriage House and were very pleased with the accomodation. The hosts, Val and Paul (and the resident Bernese Mountain Dog, Hannah) made us feel very welcome. They gave us some ideas for walks and sites and recommended the Garrison House for dinner. Garrison House is excellent. What a terrific meal...fresh Digby scallops with sundried tomatoes, feta and fresh onions followed by more fresh berries... WOW! Annapolis Royal is a very charming and quite walkable town.

Part II- Whales and more......
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Jul 19th, 2007, 10:36 AM
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I am really enjoying your report! My family of 6 is heading east the end of August - can't wait for the rest of your travels.
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Jul 19th, 2007, 10:59 AM
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Great report so far! We leave for PEI and Cape Breton on Saturday, so now I'm getting even more excited! Your descriptions of the Island are dead on - my DH and I lived in PEI for 2 1/2 years and we found the same as well.

Can't wait to read more!
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Jul 19th, 2007, 03:28 PM
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Great report, cmcf! I'm definitely going to look into Dalvay for the next time we're there. Those beautiful tall pink, blue, white and purple wildflowers are lupines. Aren't they gorgeous? I went to the nursery last weekend and bought two plants for my garden. I don't have much room for them but given my gardening skills, they'll probably not live anyway. If they do, though, they'll increase in number. Keep your fingers crossed.
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Jul 19th, 2007, 03:31 PM
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Thank you both. It takes only the slightest encouragement to get me to write more. I love telling about the trip because it lets me relive the pleasure of it.
So, Day Six: After Val gave us her amazing waffles with fresh strawberries and more of her wonderful coffee, we were ready to head to Digby Neck to do our whale watch. But first, Val and Paul tell us we must take in the Farmer's Market. It was a funky combination of food, produce, candy, crafts and whatevers. A fun little detour before we took to the road. We drove to Digby Neck and from there we took the first ferry to Tiverton, Long Island. A giant Winnebago like vehicle had managed to get completely stuck in the center of the roadway which brought out quite a crowd of spectators. I had the feeling it would be the stuff of conversation for days to come. The mishap gave us a few minutes to run up to the trailer/diner near the ferry. OK, I know what you are thinking....only bad food comes from trailer/diners. Well, you are wrong. Incredibly good scallop rolls come from trailer/diners. My only regret was not getting two. The ferry took roughly five minutes and we got straight off and arrived at the office of Ocean Exploration Zodiac Whale Adventure. We suited up (people had encouraged me to put on a fleece and a jacket under the suits provided by the company...not necessary. It is cold on the water (take a knit cap) but the suit is very warm ). We were off right on time. WOW, WOW, WOW. We saw minke whales, fin whales and humpbacks! It was amazing. At one point one of the fin whales surfaced about ten feet from our boat. What a treat. Great fun and a bit of science, too.
When I got off the ferry to drive to Digby for dinner, I noticed the gas gauge hovering over E. Bad thing, finding a gas station out there was no easy thing. Get it before you head down the neck.
We had dinner at the Digby Shoreline Restaurant. My scallops were quite good, plain grilled with a baked potato. We strolled around Digby and headed back to Annapolis Royal in time to enjoy a short walk around town. Annapolis Royal is a lovely town just made for strolling. Lots of history and natural charm.
Interesting facts learned in Annapolis Royal.
An artificer was the keeper of small arms in the fort at Annapolis Royal.
Moose Muffle soup is made from the nose and lips of a moose (don't ask).
Day Seven: We headed to Lunenburg to do a portion of the Lighthouse Trail. this area is spectacularly pretty and it would be easy to spend an entire week here, but our schedule was limiting us to just a few hours. We arrived in Lunenburg just in time for lunch. We had intended to have lunch at Fleur de Sel, a very highly rated restaurant. However their menu was brunch and no one wanted it after the fabulous French toast Val had served us earlier. So we wandered down the street and settled on the Historic Grounds Coffee House. We chose it because
a. it smelled good
b. it had a patio with water view
c. there was no line
d. I saw a dessert case which looked intriguing.
We were right on the money. Two of us had fish cakes with mango salsa, one had lobster roll and a fantastic salad. The fourth had a divine flourless chocolate cake (granddaughter) which was simply the best version of that dessert I have ever tried. Inspired by the fabulousness of the meal we decided not to risk our next day food by letting Delta choose it for us. We all bought croissants for the ride home. I ate mine before we got to the car. Amazing. I highly recommend the food here.
We then stopped in a couple of shops, two of which were really excellent. Lagoon, childrens' clothing, and Jenny Jib, which featured very unusual felted accessories and interesting gift items. Frankly I am a shopper and found very little in Nova Scotia or PEI to interest me, but these two stores were really nice. I would have happily spent the rest of the day in Lunenburg, it is very pretty and easily enjoyed on foot. But the others were ready to move on. We did stop at the Lunenburg Craft Festival being held in the local hockey rink. There were several quite skilled artisans exhibiting there, but the majority of the items were pretty standard stuff.
We got to Mahone Bay and decided enough was enough, we needed to get on the fast road and check out the Tall Ships in Halifax harbor. There were massive crowds having a great time eating poutine and heaven only knows what else, music, and the ships. It was fun but we tired of the large crowds quickly and headed to our last night hotel, Inn on the Lake. We had excellent dinners, more fresh strawberries and took our drinks out on the balcony to watch the sunset and enjoy the evening.

It was a great trip. The people are what makes it so. Everyone was so friendly and pleasant, just delighted to help anyway they could. It is expensive and the wonderful exchange rate of years past is gone. We got 1 for 1 dollar exchange. No bargains for US visitors.
If anyone has any questions, fire away. I will be glad to help if I can. I must say the people on this forum jumped in to help me design this trip and were unfailingly gracious. I also got very good assistance in the Nova Scotia forum on trip advisor.
Thank you all who helped! If you are headed to North Carolina, please let me return the favor.
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Jul 19th, 2007, 03:32 PM
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Ah, hdm, you slipped in there while I was typing. Yes, the lupines were spectacular. I wish they would stand our summer weather, it would be a lovely reminder of that beautiful island. Enjoy them for us both!
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Jul 19th, 2007, 03:51 PM
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It's nice to read a report from you cmcfong as I know you often read mine. I've enjoyed both of my two trips I've taken to the Maritimes (both to Nova Scotia) and your times in PEI, Annapolis Royal/Digby and Pictou sounded terrific and like something I may want to do. Thanks for sharing.

DAN
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Jul 19th, 2007, 04:56 PM
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Oh, what a wonderful Anne kind of experience. I'm going to print this out as I can read it as it should be read. But, I have to tell you how VERY proud I am of you making COWS your very first stop. So proud. As Anne would say, we are "kindred spirits" and I must share a milkshake experience with you in NC. Thanks for writing such a nicely detailed trip report.
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Jul 19th, 2007, 05:31 PM
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Thank you, Daniel. I love your reports.

Starrs, name the date and the milkshake is on me (probably literally).
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Jul 19th, 2007, 06:47 PM
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HOw wonderful to read your report! I'm glad you had such a good trip... I have not been to the Maritimes ( except for Newfoundland) and it sure makes me want to go! I know I will get there some day, hopefully sooner, not later.
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Jul 19th, 2007, 07:06 PM
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cmcf
We spent two lovely weeks in August in the Lunenburg/Mahone Bay area. And I love the craft show in the hockey arena -- how Canadian, eh?

We've traveled to NC many many times, every second year for about the past 25 years to the Outerbanks. If we ever find our way down there again, maybe we can have a little GTG!
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Jul 19th, 2007, 07:45 PM
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hi, cmcfong! thx for a great reort. so happy to hear that you enjoyed NS/PEI!!
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Jul 20th, 2007, 02:58 AM
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Oh hdm, you will have to come a bit farther west in NC! Our mountains are gorgeous. Since we share an interest in crafts, I would recommend you check out the Southern Highland Craft Shows in the Asheville area.
Thanks for reading the report, I had such a wonderful time on the trip I want to tell everyone about it.
Hi kodi and wow!
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Jul 20th, 2007, 04:06 AM
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cmcfong,
I went to the Craft Guild and Museum just outside Asheville in May and loved it. What a beautiful part of NC.

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Jul 20th, 2007, 04:10 AM
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Isn't it beautiful in the mountains? There is a fantastic craft school at Penland not far from Asheville. You should visit it the next time you are in the area.
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Jul 20th, 2007, 04:55 PM
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Sounds like you had a great time in some of my favorite places on earth!
Thanks for reporting
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Jul 20th, 2007, 05:38 PM
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Thanks for reading. I had a wonderful time!
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Jul 20th, 2007, 06:19 PM
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cmcfong, I'd love to visit the area again. We really loved it.
I'll have to visit the craft school at Penland.
I was so amazed at the crafts I saw a the Craft Guild.

But I'm highjakcing this thread....sorry..

Again, I loved reading your review of the Maritimes. I know how lovely it is...I just have to make time to get there. Maybe I'm saving these places in my own country til I'm old!
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Jul 21st, 2007, 05:15 AM
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Not a problem hijacking the thread, Kodi. Please!
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Jul 21st, 2007, 05:59 AM
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ps, kodi, when do you head for Argentina?
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