Roadtrip Episode 3: Small town Nova Scotia

Day Nine:

Today was a gorgeous, no holding back, sun claiming the blue sky, breeze whispering away the dandelion clouds, type of day. A stunningly gorgeous summer day.

We started the morning in Halifax with a delicious local and organic breakfast with the lovely Maggie Knight from Leadnow. Next, our last stop before heading out of town was the Fairview Cemetery.

Random shpeal about being pulled over again by a cop for those of you who care, but really this entire paragraph can be skipped if you’re not related to me… I’ll put it in brackets to emphasize that point.  (On our drive there we were pulled over by a police officer doing a routine check for up to date vehicle inspections. Since our van is registered in Alberta, where inspections aren’t required, the Ho family hasn’t had one in years, and has been driving with a harmless, albeit very large, crack along the bottom of the windshield. The cop wasn’t too impressed and gave us a hard time about the lack of inspection and the crack for quite a while. Finally, we were sure she would give us a ticket when she was finally informed by a colleague that inspections aren’t required in Alberta. Suddenly her frown turned upside down and she bid us a much more friendly goodbye and good luck. Two narrow misses with this whole getting pulled over business! Also apparently we attract cops, we hit another routine inspection along our drive later in the day as well. But anyway… On to much more interesting topics….)

The Fairview Cemetery is home to a few dozen graves from those lost in the Titanic disaster, including one belonging to J. Dawson, the real person on whom DiCaprio’s role in the film was based on. Another grave marks the body of ‘The Unknown Child’ who I mentioned in my previous blog post.

After this it was time to hit the road to the many little villages and towns along the South Shore. First stop, Prospect, a quaint little town that seems to be skimmed over by most tourists. The colors of the houses light up the scene and contrast the rocky formations jutting out into the deep blue sea. It’s impossible not to be enchanted.

Prospect, Nova Scotia

Prospect, Nova Scotia

Our next stop was Peggy’s Cove, home of the quintessential East Coast lighthouse. We were so delighted again today to be doing this trip before peak tourism season hits. The guidebooks warned us that this spot might be flooded with tourists that make it nearly impossible to even get a shot of the lighthouse without swarms of people in it, but luckily May is still early enough to avoid the crowds and tour busses. The scene was perfect; like something from a painting the red and white lighthouse rests on lazy sun-tanned rocks which wade into the frothy blue ocean that cradles the town’s fishing boats in its gently rocking arms.

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia

Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia

Once we had our fill of the lighthouse itself we set to exploring the rest of this small village, home to only about fifty residents. Words cannot describe this magical place. Small fishing boats and seafood traps are piled high, nestled together on the wharves or by the small wooden homes. An inlet creeps in on the town, tasting the black sand shore with its soft lolling tongue. Splashes of sunflower, violet and rose hues decorate the clapboards and shingles of the houses. It’s a microcosmic world of nothing-else-matters.

Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

From Peggy’s Cove we drove through the equally colourful but slightly less quaint and picturesque town of Chester. Along the way we found a lovely white sand beach to frolick on like nobody was watching, because all that matters is why you do it and how it makes you feel.

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Then on to Mahone Bay, another sweet nest of buildings along the waterfront. The beginning of Main Street is marked by three churches of different denominations all standing in a row, saluting the heavens and shouting praises for the calm serenity of this place. We stumbled on a local pewter factory and shop and were treated to a demonstration of how pewter jewellry and ornaments are made.

Finally, as evening was beginning to encroach, we made our way to our final destination of the day, Lunenburg, and we fell in love. Because campgrounds are not yet open in this neck of the woods and there are no hostels in town we stayed at a local inn, The Brigantine. Although, to be fair the inn only cost slightly more than the nearest hostel would have anyway. We had a little room in this gorgeous, robins egg building that looked over the wharves.

After a full day of sightseeing we decided to stay close to home and ate in the adjoined restaurant. We shared a delicious Cajun seafood stew and plate of forty fresh, and oh so tasty, mussels (the latter which cost a mere $10!). Spent the evening in the room doing some much needed catch up on various work, emails and uploading of photos (we already have well over a thousand). Then headed back downstairs for another flight of seven local beers to try, because boy do we love our microbrews. Winner: the Farmhouse Ale from North Brewing in Halifax.

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Day Ten:

We started the day with a lovely breakfast overlooking the harbour. It had warmed up enough for us to be able to sit out on the balcony. Charissa and I have been sharing all of our meals so that we get to taste as many new flavours and eats as possible, which has been a lot of fun. This morning we enjoyed salted cod cakes on molasses baked beans with a rhubarb relish, and Atlantic salmon on a potato rosti with arugula and poached eggs. All kinds of yum.

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

The rest of the morning was spent wandering the lovely streets of the friendly town of Lunenburg. We had a stranger notice one of the back fenders on our van was hanging somewhat askew (due to the incident of the previous day in which I backed into a curb while trying to escape a rather tight Tim Horton’s parking lot – sorry Charissa’s parents!). He promptly ran into his home to grab a wrench and screwdriver and then sprawled on the sidewalk to fix it for us. Every single encounter we had was like this. People were so generous and so genuinely excited to share even a moment of our journey with us.

Luckily, before we left town, we stumbled upon the Ironworks Distillery, which makes amazingly delicious brandy, rum, vodka, and liqueurs from locally sourced fruit. As per our consistently fabulous timing we arrived right at the beginning of the only tour of the day. It was super cool to see the process for making these amazing fruity blends. The owner took a liking to us and after everyone else had left took us for an extra peak into the back rooms to check out the cranberry processing. They had so much more than their products to share with us. The Ironworks Distillery is packed with history as it was the building in which the iron for both the Bluenose and the Bounty, along with many other historic ships, was constructed. The owners are also just overflowing with kindness and joy. It took a lot for us to pull ourselves away and hit the road to North Sydney.

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Six hours of driving later and not a lot else to share. We had a really tasty dinner in the ferry-side town of North Sydney, which is really just made up of one unfortunately somewhat sadder looking main street. Three hours before the ferry left we got our fancy personalized ferry tickets, barcode and all, and got in line. The ferry wasn’t to leave until just before midnight but they start loading a couple of hours in advance in order to fit everyone on. We were loaded onto a sea level cargo deck, and then once inside the ship, went down a ramp into an even lower level in the hull of the boat. Do you remember playing that little plastic games with the cars you move around, Rush Hour? That’s what this ferry was like. We had to do a multi-point turn to get into the spot they had picked out for us.

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The ferry takes about six hours, and given the early loading we had about eight to kill by trying to catch as many z’s as possible. It’s basically like an airplane on the water. You can book a cabin for over a hundred dollars extra a night, but we just opted for a seat. Luckily it wasn’t too busy and we were able to stretch out somewhat, and half way through the night I moved to sleeping on the floor. But let’s just say we weren’t particularly well rested.

Day Eleven:

NEWFOUNDLAND!  We are here. We are here. We are here!!!

Off the ferry by 7:30 in the morning. First stop: Tim Horton’s for a much needed caffeine boost and opportunity to change out of our matching UVic sweat pants and into something slightly more presentable. Then we hauled across the province for nine hours to Brigus, in Mi’kmaq territory. Driving through Newfoundland is a lot more like driving through BC. Being surrounded by forests again was really nice, interrupted every so often by a lake, river or brook. It’s a pretty gorgeous landscape. We did get to see one moose off the side of the highway, albeit only very briefly. I named him Ambrose. In case you were wondering.

Driving through Newfoundland

Driving through Newfoundland

We got to Brigus early in the evening and checked into the most adorable little bed and breakfast right on the water in the main part of the small town. Lori, the manager, got us all settled in, welcoming us with her warm accent, adorable jokes, and overly friendly manners. She was seriously such a lovely woman, and such a hoot. We immediately felt right at home. And as it turns out, since it’s still the off season, we lucked out again. We got the whole B&B to ourselves for the night, including three bedrooms, a kitchen and a gorgeous back yard – all for a whopping $80 total for the two of us, including a full breakfast in the morning and fresh baked scones waiting for us this evening.

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The Brittoner B&B, Brigus

We ventured to the nearby towns of Cupids and Bay Roberts to try and find some food, but what with it being already 6:30pm (horrifically late I know) nothing was open. We opted to grab some frozen pizza at the super market and bring it back to the oven where we were staying. Our first meal in Newfoundland – frozen pizza. Can you say ‘class acts’?

Spent the rest of the evening enjoying the fact that we have the entire house to ourselves. Looking forward to exploring the little town tomorrow morning and heading to St. John’s.

Love and peace!

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