Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Blue Diamond Tours designed their itinerary which included the ‘must see’ sights & ‘must do’ activities. Being young teenagers, the boys had a couple of ‘must-do’s’ of their own that we also included in the trip. Additionally, BDT booked the hotels, arranged for the meals and all the other elements needed for a successful tour.
Blue Diamond Tours can make your Nova Scotian holiday a success too! The family flew into Halifax on July 24th, and their odyssey began on the 25th with an orientation tour of historic Halifax, an hour long visit to the Citadel, and stops at the Titanic Cemetery and Peggy’s Cove (see travelogue for notes on artist Neil Depew). Lunch was at the Trellis Café whose haddock chowder is the very best! Afterwards it was on to Mahone Bay and Lunenburg where we saw some of the tall ships from the 2009 Tall Ship Halifax Festival docked in Lunenburg Harbour. The beautiful sailing vessels of yesterday definitely added colour to the old fishing port.
July 26 is Saint Ann’s Feast Day which turned out to be very apropos as when we toured the historic grounds of Grand Pré, the Acadians were in full swing celebrating this important Feast Day. Grand Pré was where the English deported the French Acadians in 1755. Lunch today was in Wolfville (which used to be called Mud Creek), home to Acadia University. Next, we toured Charles Prescott’s home at Starr’s Point and Jackie and the boys learned of his importance to agriculture in the Annapolis Valley and Nova Scotia. The Look-Off and Hall’s Harbour were also toured. Hall’s Harbour was once a Pirate’s Lair and is now home to a Fundy lobster & fishing fleet and lobster pound and restaurant. Lots of great agricultural land and scenery were passed during our day in the Annapolis Valley.
On July 27th, we toured along the Gold Coast. Sights today included the Auto-Port, a world-class winter surfing beach, Acadian Villages, tidal clamming flats, salt-water marshes and more. We visited Fisherman’s Life Museum where our guests learned about the harsh life endured by fishing families along these Gold Coast shores and how the Myers family raised 13 daughters in their very tiny home (see the photos on the travelogue). We ended our day at the Inverary Inn in Baddeck, our home for the next three nights.
July 28th consisted of a full day of touring the world-famous Cabot Trail. As we left Baddeck, we opted to use the ferry at Englishtown to help shorten the overall mileage and to give Sebastian & Jeremy a close up look at a ‘cable-ferry’. We went up and over Cape Smokey as I find this route best. Our rest stop was at Keltic Lodge where Sebastian and Jeremy, both avid golfers, admired the Highland Golf Course, rated number one in Canada for the past several years. Next, it was on to Neil’s Harbour, a good place to stop as it is a fishing village of renown and first settled by fishermen from nearby Newfoundland.
It was around then when the first chorus of “When do we eat?” was heard, so we stopped at Cabot Landing. This is the said to be the very place that John Cabot landed in New Scotland (Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland). It was sunny and warm with a bit of a breeze during lunch. One of the boys’ ‘must-do’ adventures was just ahead at Pleasant Bay. We went up and over North Mountain to the bay and a two hour whale watching adventure with Fiddling Captain Stan. Yes, according to the boys, “hundreds of whales” were observed....and they have the pictures to prove it! Guess I’ll have to take their word on that as I stayed on shore!
The local museum, The Whale Interpretation Center, was very interesting and frankly well worth the time and money to visit. The rest of the Cabot Trail was up and over and down MacKenzie and French Mountains (where we spotted an American Bald Eagle), and then a tour through Cheticamp and along the world-famous Margaree River before heading back to the Inverary Inn at Baddeck.
Following breakfast on July 29th, we drove to Fortress Louisbourg and were able have a lengthy visit to this famous fortress which included a private guided tour for Jackie and her sons. Road construction interfered slightly with our timing, but the boys were able to spend a solid 90 minutes plus at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum at Baddeck.
On July 30th, again following breakfast, we were back on the road to the Sydney area where we picked up Route 4. Our first stop was Gordon’s Bakery for some meat pies which disappeared very quickly considering the big breakfast we just had not too long before. Teenage boys seem to have hollow legs. Rita MacNeil was not ‘in residence’ at her tearoom, but we stopped anyway. Route 4 is very scenic (more so than Route 5 if you ask me) with lots of views of the Bras d’Or Lakes. There is the Look-Off, Saint Peter’s Canal, and Chapel Island among other historic sites to be seen. You should be warned, however, that there is currently a lot of road construction going on in this area, and as welcomed as it will be once it has been completed, it will hinder your progress along this route and add time to your day. We stopped briefly in Pictou (known as The Highland Heart of New Scotland) before taking the ferry at Caribou to Prince Edward Island, known as “The Gentle Island“. We did experience a bit of rain on our drive into Charlottetown and to our new home for two nights, The Brackley Beach North Winds Resort. Later on, we drove (rain free) to North Rustico and the Lobster Dinner at the restaurant with the 120 foot salad bar (60 feet long on each side).
After breakfast on July 31st, we toured Charlottetown, visited Founders Hall and Province House, and headed out to New Glasgow and the home base of Prince Edward Island Preserves. Next, it was on to Anne of Green Gables National Historic Site for a visit. The highlight of the day for the boys was their two hour visit to the Sandspit Amusement Park. Dinner this evening was at a waterfront restaurant in Charlottetown, after which the family went to see DiscoCirque - A Musical Review at Confederation Center.
On August 1st, we headed out to Gateway Village which is the stopping spot at Confederation Bridge. We also made a stop at another spot to take pictures of the bridge and have a brief rest before crossing the bridge into New Brunswick. Minutes later, we were on Nova Scotia’s Sunrise Trail.
Approximately seven Tall Ships were visiting the Port of Pugwash, which is world-famous for salt and The Cyrus Eaton Peace Center. We spent some time visiting this great community on the Northumberland Strait which was celebrating their summer festivale at the time. All three of the Lees seemed to enjoy their time at the Salt Museum at Malagash. This great museum is very well worth the time and effort to visit and tells of an important mineral and time period in Nova Scotian history and culture.
Next, we drove around the Jost Winery parking lot, saw the fields of vines and headed back into Wallace and the road turn-off to Masstown. We had a rest and food stop at Masstown (near Truro) before heading back on the road to Halifax and the hotel where this great adventure ended.
We had mostly sunny and warm to very warm temperatures. There were numerous stops for road construction, as our PEI guide Florence said, “We have two seasons in PEI; winter and road construction.”
This outing was custom-designed specifically for the Lees. They had numerous requests which were incorporated into the trip to ensure their vacation experience was exactly what they wanted. You too can have a tailor-made vacation; just tell us what you want to do / see / where you’d like to go / how many days, etc., and we’ll be happy to customize a tour to meet all your specific requirements. And remember, no group is too small or too large, we can do it all!
Until next time, Bob
Friday, August 14, 2009
In the early evening of August 7th at Cleveland Beach, we had a picnic on the sand in mind, but the ominous looking dark clouds looming overhead told us that might not be a very good (or dry) idea. Not to be deterred, we opted to use the car instead of the sand in an effort to make the most of the situation. As we feared, moments after reaching the car the rain started falling. Our reward for waiting out the rain showers from the comfort of our car was a beautiful rainbow to view while we dined. (view the photos here)
If you choose Excursion D or a modification of this outing, we’ll pass Cleveland Beach & Park, one of approximately 10 great Atlantic Ocean beaches situated around the Atlantic’s great inlet, St. Margaret’s Bay, and the handy the community of Hubbards.
Saturday, August 8th was sunny with temperatures reaching the warmer side of mild. Today we headed out to The Uniacke Estate Museum Park, a place we seldom seem to have time to visit and could be part of our Excursion G package - The Land of Evangeline tour. While a bit off the beaten track, it is part of what was once the expansive country estate of Attorney General Richard John Uniacke (1753-1830). Built between 1813 and 1815, the grand country house is one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in Canada. The estate offers visitors a vivid glimpse of life in the early 1800s amongst Nova Scotia's gentry.
In choosing Excursion G, you might keep a visit to Uniacke House in mind for a trip back 194 years in time.
The long driveway to the house from Route 1 is part of the original military road route between Fort Edward at Windsor (which protected the back door) to Halifax circa 1755. Every time we visit this area, it reminds me to mention Uniacke House as a worthwhile destination.
Until next time.