Nova Scotia – The Road Trip

Hello again everyone, this one’s a big one… Nova Scotia the road trip! First of all epic thanks to Viv, for being the only one of my friends mad enough to actually book a ticket to Canada and come and join me for an adventure, and now onwards with the round up!

Day 1 – Halifax

Yes, I had already done the noon gun, but Viv hadn’t and we went right up to see the cannon, meeting randomly on a hill through the mist, it was excellent. Then we posed with some soldiers and the cannon, because why not. After that we went to the Apothecary bakery, which is excellent and had butter tart (tart made of butter and sugar), Alexander Keith’s Brewery tour (a bit like live historical reenactment, the most tasters I’ve ever had on a tour, excellent study off the bar), went to a wine bar, drank Nova Scotian sparkles and then went and ate steak at The Berrington Steakhouse, which I cannot recommend enough. It was quite a start.

Day 2 – Peggy’s Cove 

Peggy’s Cove has been on my bucket list for years. The lighthouse is iconic and the village the inspiration for Selkie Bay. Unfortunately our road trip began in thick fog and Peggy’s Cove was… well foggy. In a way I loved it, the atmosphere was really pretty spectacular and the waves! I have never seen waves that high or violent in my life. Afterwards we headed to the best air bnb ever. Seriously if anyone ever needs to stay in the area shout at me and I’ll send you this place. Jen, her cat George and her house are all wonderful.

Day 3 – LaHave and Lunenburg 

LaHave has a bakery. Literally everyone told us to go to this bakery. It was not a disappointment. It also has a bookshop in the basement with water views, a skate park upstairs and a ceramic dragon overlooking the till: my kind of place. Then we took the ferry to Lunenburg. I loved Lunenburg, colourful, small, but with 3 bookshops. Anyone see the theme developing on day 3? All the touristy things were closed (the fishery museum, the bluenose, a lot of the restaurants) so probably our first real experience of touring Nova Scotia “off season” (soon to become the catch phrase of the trip). We went for our first hike around the town (only got lost once), found a tall ship, visited a brewery and had the most amazing dinner complete with a fish shaped platter of beer. Took the ferry home as the sunset, so all in all a great day. 

Day 4 – Wolfville

The British weather hit with a vengeance. Short drive to Wolfville (small and cute, but nothing on Lunenburg) where we checked into a hotel with corridors far too reminiscent of The Shining and then went and ate crepes in town. Part of the point of coming to Wolfville was its location on the Bay of Fundy which has officially the highest tides in the world, changing 15 metres between high and low. Unfortunately my photos, due to the rain, don’t really do it justice. Despite the weather we decided to try a hike, which turned out to be more of a ramble around a man made reservoir. By the end we were soaked and cold. Went back to the hotel to drink tea and so I could have a bath! Seriously I’ve missed baths, hostel do not have baths. Dinner was at Joe’s, where the food is Canadian, Italian, Lebanese… we ate wings. 

Day 5 – The Drive to Mabou

Started the day with the best French toast before a long drive. First stop was Burncoat Park, supposedly named because someone once burnt their coat there… even the information signs admitted this probably wasn’t true. Here the tidal cliffs were quite spectacular although we didn’t get up early enough for low tide so we didn’t quite get to walk on the ocean floor, still, very pretty. Through New Glasgow and then Antigonish, both of which have very little going for them, but we had Taco Bell for lunch so I was pretty happy. After crossing the causeway we carried on through beautiful scenery, road signs started being written in Gaelic as well as English until arriving in Mabou. This is where Off Season really came into its own. People had recommend The Red Shoes Pub, famous for its fiddle music, but it was closed. The Glenora Distillery (where we’d wanted to stay) was closed, the place we did stay their restaurant wasn’t open and the only place for dinner in town closed at 7… so a quick dash across town to make sure we got some dinner before crashing into bed. 

Day 6 – Cape Breton to Ingonish

Amazing breakfast at the hotel in Mabou, homemade oat and molasses bread was spectacular and lovely conversation from the staff before we set off. We entered Cape Breton national park and suddenly I became very happy. Wood clad houses with coastal views. Rolling hills turning to rocky cliffs and descending into rocky beaches strewn with driftwood awash in a blue sea. Mountains covered with pine trees disappearing into the mist. I can see why people live here. We hiked the skyline trail under overcast skies, battered by a chill wind (my favourite kind of weather) to reach some truly spectacular views. Then back in the road, this is where things got interesting. 40 minutes waiting in the must at some roadworks and then town, after villager, after village where everything was close. At thus point we hadn’t eaten properly since breakfast. We finally found a convenience store and gorged on crisp. The take away pizza we finally found at the roadside is truly the best pizza I have ever eaten and not just because I was so hungry. Andrew’s Pizzeria, we thank you. We finally arrived into The Sleepy Moose for a night in a beautiful light camping cabin and the most beautiful moon rise of all time. 

Day 6 – Liscombe

The Dancing Moose Cafe’s breakfast involved Panekoeken, which I will be making when I get home, then it was back on the road and leaving Cape Breton for Liscombe. We stopped for Timbits at Tim Hortons (apparently quintessential road trip food) which were actually very tasty. We briefly drove through Sherbrooke too see the old village, which was closed “Off season!” but we drove through anyway. We arrived at Liscombe Lodge, admired our river view balcony and went hiking. Firstly the hiking trail was underwater, then the second we tried had bear warnings, wasn’t really a trail and finally was also underwater. Finally we found a shorter trail and decided this one we would complete and so armed with walking sticks to cross the bogs, singing loudly to scare away the bears and with loud cries of “Off Season!” every time the trail disappeared we finally completed a trail. We stumbled home for okay steak and delicious red wine before collapsing on trail (or at times literal rock climbing) exhausted muscles. 

Day 7 – Home to Halifax 

The only early start unfortunately meant I couldn’t take full advantage of the breakfast buffet and only managed one helping. Then we sped back to Halifax past a few last lively views. Once back in the city an afternoon was spent wondering, drinking cocktails at 2 Doors Down (highly recommended) and finally getting a taste of Gleonra Distillery’s whiskey at The Press Gang before saying goodbye to Viv. 

It was an epic week. We saw a vulture (so huge, definitely a secret dinosaur), a coyote and a moose (also huge, what is it with thus country?). Met some lovely people and saw some wonderful scenery. I also got to sit back and relax as someone else took control, which was awesome. Now it’s onwards to a few more places before I begin the epic trek back across the country. The next few weeks are going to be hectic, expect many posts. For now off season is over and it’s onwards for this traveller. 

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