2017 Travel: Cape Breton

Baddeck lighthouse on the Bras D’or lake, Cape Breton

I’ve been blogging about our big trip to British Columbia and Hawaii in November, but there’s another shorter trip that we’ve been looking forward to, as well. We have a house guest visiting form the U.K. in mid September and we’re planning another “Three Amigos” tour, this time to Cape Breton Island (The last Three Amigos tour was to Northumberland in the UK, read about that here)  Cape Breton, an island off the east end of Nova Scotia, has often been voted one of the best islands to visit, not just in Nova Scotia but in the world. The magazine Travel + Leisure had it ranked number one  and number 3 in two different years in the past few and it’s also been mentioned by other travel magazines.

It’s not your usual beach and resort type island. There are beaches, yes but the real beauty is in the scenery and the history. Hiking, fishing, golfing for those that want active things to do. The mountains of Cape Breton and the winding Cabot Trail around the tip of the island, with lots of little coastal towns and villages along the way will take you a full day of driving with stops for the local craft shops and tea rooms and cafes. Fortress Louisbourg brings you 300+ years of history. The small city of Sydney has arts and culture and a nice waterfront area. Discover Alexander Graham Bell in Baddeck where he had a summer home. You can go whale watching and spot the seals and birds and other nature from the boats. There’s even a whiskey distillery in Glenora near the Margaree Valley.

Louisbourg gates

Gates at Louisbourg

We won’t get to do all of that, but we do hope to go whale watching somewhere off the Cabot Trail and we will definitely go to Louisbourg. (My photos here) It’s an easy day trip from Sydney where we’ll land after a day or two driving around the Cabot Trail exploring. I also fancy seeing the Highland Village Museum  and we’ll likely stop in at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. It’s really very interesting. . We have a couple of motels and a hotel already booked. All we need is a picnic lunch, some flasks for coffee and tea and a full tank of gas to get us on the road! The great thing is that this year, to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, all of the national parks and historic sites are free to enter!

Nova Scotia’s Bluenose II

We have a few more of those on our list besides the ones in Cape Breton. We are thinking of other day trips to go on to take our friend around more of this beautiful province. A big bonus, the schooner Bluenose II has been refurbished and will be taking public sailing out of Lunenburg, another World Heritage Site, while our friend is here so we’re going to make plans to drive down the south shore and do that. I’ve never been out on the water in the Bluenose. It just never worked out, timing wise.  Lunenburg is a beautiful town as is nearby Blue Rocks,  Mahone Bay and Chester, also very nice places to stop.

There are museums and the Citadel fortress here in Halifax that he’ll enjoy. Maybe we’ll get into the Annapolis Valley. He might like the Grand Pre National Historic Site commemorating the French Acadian settlers who were the first non-Indigenous settlers in Nova Scotia (which was called Acadie back in the 17th century, thus…Acadians).

September is usually a month of pretty good weather so we’re hoping for as much sun as we can get.

Blue Rocks, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia

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Travel Theme: Flavour

One of the great things about travel is trying out local food, local beer and wine, going to restaurants, scouring the markets, sampling street food. I’ll never forget the ambrosia on my tongue from the creamy liqueur I found on the Isle of Iona in Scotland, called Columba Cream. Heaven! Chocolate from Belgium melts in the mouth. I tried Guinness in a hotel after-hours residents’ bar in Dublin, the city where it’s made, and I became a believer.  Scottish haggis, anyone? Pancakes in Amsterdam make a filling meal.

I haven’t been anywhere really exotic (yet) but I have perused some interesting spice markets in the Chinatown neighbourhoods of Vancouver and Toronto. There’s usually food kiosks from a lot of different countries at Farmers’ and Christmas markets anywhere you go. That gives you a little taste of travel without leaving home.

Here’s a few photos of tastes and flavours from places I’ve been:

Testing the grape

Domaine de Grand Pre winery, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

Bruges chocolate shop

Chocolate in Bruges

Camden Lock food vendor

Camden Lock, London

Fudge!

Fudge in the Manchester Christmas Markets

 

More flavours from Where’s My Backpack

Don’t Blame Canada

Halifax skyline

There was a song released some years ago based on the South Park tv show, called Blame Canada. Fun little send up of us Canadians but on the eve of the country of Canada’s 150th birthday, I’d like to state that I’m really proud of being a Canadian. I feel very lucky to live here in one of the best countries in the world. Without getting political, can I just say that my country, the second largest in the world (physically) contains extraordinary scenery and the loveliest people from the west coast to the east coast and all points from the southern borders to the chilly Arctic ocean in the north.

Blue Rocks, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia

Travel to Canada, you guys. There’s something here for everyone, no matter what your interests are. Just remember, we don’t have snow in the summer, we do say “Eh?”, Timmys (aka Tim Hortons) is a popular coffee chain where you can always get a drink, a light meal and where there’s usually always a toilet if you get caught by chance! We apologize a lot, we talk about the weather because it changes frequently. In one day. Or an hour. We don’t know your cousin who lives in Vancouver or Toronto. You can’t do a day trip from Halifax to Montreal unless you fly.(it takes you the best part of a day to drive there!) In fact, it takes 5 or 6 days to drive from one side of the country to the other. There are whales. There are icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. There is theatre. There are wineries. Golf? We have golf. Lots of it. Recreated historic fortresses and Open Air historic villages.

If you visit, and I strongly urge you to, take one area, one province or one small region and explore it. There’s too much of Canada to do in one trip. Because I’m not objective, I think you should start on the east with the Atlantic provinces of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

Happy Birthday, Canada!

Nova Scotia Tourism
New Brunswick Tourism
Prince Edward Island Tourism
Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

Here is an album of a small sample of some of the photos I’ve taken in this part of the country over the years.

Dalhousie University campus, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Come for the fresh seafood chowder!

Find rustic corners to explore

Nova Scotia’s Bluenose II

Rural Prince Edward Island

Yes, it does snow in the winter sometimes!

A Photo a Week Challenge – Boats and Ships

Nancy Merrill Photography’s weekly challenge is all about craft that floats in water, boats, ships, tankers,etc.

Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast

Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast, London

Sagres (Brazil)

Tall Ship, Sagres from Brazil. Halifax harbour

 

Maid of the Mist

Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls

Science Museum model ships

Boston Science museum, model ships

Venice, detail on a gondola

Gondola details, Venice

DP Challenge – Focus

WordPress’s photo challenge this week is Focus.

Temporary exhibition hall

Exhibition hall in Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Daisy view

Indian Harbour, Nova Scotia

 

Notre Dame Blues

Basilica Notre Dame, Montreal

November rain

Somewhere in Salford. November rain.

Who's out there?

Who’s out there!?

Stalking

Is there anything more focussed than a cat stalking it’s victim?

 

Destination: Aveido, Portugal

Aveiro canal and the boats

This morning I stumbled on a travel blog called “Cabinet of Chic Curiosities” by “MessyNessy” about a Portuguese city called Aveiro and I was entranced. The article was written by someone who visited there on their trip to Portugal in 2015. The post is titled “The Candy Colored Venice of Portugal” and is so-called because of the brightly coloured buildings and absolutely wonderfully striped beach houses in the nearby area of Costa Nova. Portugal is a place I’ve long had on my list of countries to visit. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there but you never know!

Aveiro Cathedral

The north of Portugal, around Porto and the Duoro Valley is supposed to be really beautiful. Most people visit Lisbon and the beaches on the south coast but I think perhaps the north might even be nicer. Aveiro is about an hour south of Porto and that’s an easy day trip by train or even bus if you haven’t rented a car. While the tourist information all calls Aveiro the “Venice” of Portugal, it isn’t really. There is a small canal system, with little humped bridges over them, and the boats look a little similar to the vaporetto though are painted in a distinctly Portuguese fashion. The architecture is gorgeous and for us cathedral lovers, they have one of those, too. A few museums, some shops and markets and beaches nearby. It’s got a university and fully one quarter of the population is students.

Striped Beach Houses at Costa Nova, Aveiro in Portugal

Ah yes, the beaches. This is the thing that really caught my eye. The Costa Nova beaches are a little outside of Aveiro and you can get there via public transportation. There’s a lighthouse and long, white, sandy beaches. And along the water front are these small beach houses all painted in bright stripes! I really want to gush and say “how cute is that!?” I’ll settle for saying how different and how very attractive it is. Those bright colours really do suit a sunny beach, don’t you think?

Aveiro canal. You can rent that yellow house through bookings.com. It’s called Caso do Mercado

Aveiro will have some good restaurants, too, where fresh seafood will be featured. For souvenirs, there is the ubiquitous Portuguese ceramics. Also, nearby this area, are salt flats and you can get salt from there. That’ll be a bit different than the usual tea towel or postcard! There’s also a local baked sweet specialty called ovos moles. They look like little oblong pastries, with a crunchy shell, looking almost egg-like in some photos and in others, they are shaped like fish and inside is a golden orangy yellow filling made from sweetened egg yolks. Here’s a recipe.

Check out MessyNessy’s blog about Aveiro. It sounds wonderful! At the bottom, there are links to the rest of their Portugal journey, equally interesting with beautiful photos.

Very good guide here
A WikiTravel about Aveiro
A travel guide from PortoPortugal.com

A Photo A Week – Moving Waters

From Nancy Merrill Photography, a photo challenge about moving water. Rather than go for the usual waterfall type thing, I give you…

Roiling water

Roiling water in the Niagara River below the falls.

Rainy evening in Manchester

Raining evening in Manchester UK

 

Coins in the fountain

Coins in a fountain

Montmorency rainbow

Heavy mist and a rainbow over the Montmorency Falls, Quebec

 

DP Challenge – Order

The Daily Post weekly challenge is ‘Order’. I thought about what I wanted to post. I thought about finding photos of items in a row or matched by colour but then as I was looking through the archive, I saw something else I think would meet the challenge.

June

Armed Forces Day services in Halifax

Halifax is a military city, with a large Navy presence as well as some air force and army. It’s also a historic city with a Citadel/Fort on a hill in the centre of the city where there are reenactment regiments. The military wouldn’t exist without order within the ranks and their prime objective is to help keep order or return things to order.

The British are coming

Re-enactment dating to the War of 1812.

Drill Team

78th Highlander Drill Team, Halifax Citadel

Tower red guard

On Her Majesty’s Service, Tower of London

And a couple of standing guards from my travels, at the Tower of London and Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen.

Amalienborg Guards

Changing of the guard, Amalienborg Royal Palace, Copenhagen

West Coast and Hawaii Itinerary building

Vancouver skyline (April 2000) from North Vancouver

As previously blogged, we have Hawaii booked and I am glad to say we now have the hotel in Vancouver booked as well. It’s a suite hotel called Rosedale on Robson and is not far from Chinatown and the Vancouver central library, a short walk from the old historic Gastown which is the original part of the city. I’m glad to have that sorted out. Now we get to figure out what we’ll do and where we’ll go.

Vancouver has lots of attractions and as we always do, we’ll make a list and end up doing some of it and finding things that aren’t on it at all. For transportation around Vancouver, they have a smart card called Compass. A lot of the larger cities have that these days and they’re really convenient. It can be used on the busses, seabus and the skytrain. You can pre-load it with day, month passes and with cash. Tap in, maybe tap out (don’t need to do that on busses). Simple. We’ve used the Oyster card many times in London. Love it.

We like to take a hop on hop off bus or trolley tour in a new city. You get the lay of the land and you get a decent historical background as well. We’ll probably do that. They aren’t usually particularly cheap and a lot of people think they’re a tourist rip off but we enjoy them. I’ve been to Vancouver before but not seen all the sights and I don’t expect to “do” all of them but the views from the busses will give me a perspective on a lot of areas I’ve only touched on, Stanley Park and the Lion’s Gate bridge with the view over to the city in particular. The view from the seabus to North Vancouver is great, too! It’ll be interesting to compare my  14 and 17 year old photos with the new ones. I really like the city. It’s modern, it’s on the sea coast yet you can walk and turn a corner and see a majestic mountain!

Me at Lynn Canyon, circa April 2000

Museums, art galleries, Haida art, maybe the view from the Lookout tower. I’d like to go up in the mountains, maybe to Squamish or Whistler. Perhaps we can do that with my cousins. I remember that we drove part way up a mountain the very first time I visited in 2000. I then tried to stand on the edge of a snowbank and sunk into it up to my hip! Unfortunately, I was wearing light coloured trousers and had dirty, muddy stains all the rest of the day! The snow in early May was softer than I realized. Oops! Also that day we went to the suspension bridge in Lynn Canyon and had lunch in a pretty town called Deep Cove on the inlet. It really is a picturesque area.

Hawaii:

We have most of four days on Oahu. My husband has a long time internet friend that we will be meeting up with. He and his family live outside of Honolulu. I’d like to take in a museum or two or a gallery and have seen a few, including the Iolani Palace and Shangri-La. The Bishop Museum also looks interesting but we don’t want to spend all our time in museums. There’s an International market and a night market. We will definitely be taking in Pearl Harbour and the historic sights there and really want to drive around the island. I yearn to see the surfers on the North Shore. I’ve been fascinated watching the surfers on television since  I was young.

Maybe we’ll get a chance to attend a hula. There are a few around the city that the big hotels put on. Rest assured that I will definitely enjoy having a feast of pineapple in the place where it’s grown! We aren’t really beach types, but I’m going to dip my toes in the Pacific and walk the beach. We may also look into whale watching or try a submarine tour. It’ll be a busy few days!

DP Challenge – Heritage

I love history and a lot of my travel adventures and explorations will relate to some historical aspect. It might be a museum in a city or it might be an old stone circle in a field. I enjoy visiting castles and cathedrals for the architecture and historical connections.

Where I live carries on historical traditions, too. There’s the 78th Highlander regiment at the Citadel. There’s the Freedom of the City ceremony giving the freedom of said city to said regiment. Halifax also hosts the majestic Tall Ships, echoing back to the golden age of sail with an accompanying waterfront festival. One year they celebrated the Acadian (French) heritage in the province. This summer, with the return of the ships, I think the First Nations are holding Mawio’mi throughout the weekend, with sunrise ceremonies, demonstrations, storytelling and more. (below is a photo I took at a Mawio’mi on the Halifax Commons a few years ago) There will be heritage programming put on at the Citadel and a few Pirate themed things going on for kids as well. Pirates, or, rather, Privateers ;) were common in the port of Halifax!

Schedule of events for the Tall Ships, July 29 – August 1, updated with more info closer to the dates.  (They will also be in a few other ports around the Maritimes through July and into August). All of my Tall Ships photos here. (includes waterfront events, people, etc)

Young Spirit drummers

Spirit Drummers, Mawio’mi, Halifax

Untitled

Mawio’mi performance competition. Halifax

Untitled

78th Highlanders. Freedom of the City. Halifax

Pipe & Drum Drill

78th Highlander pipe and drum drill. Halifax Citadel

Sagres (Portugal) and Unicorn (Holland)

Tall Ships Sagres (Portugal) and Unicorn (Holland), Halifax harbour

Waterfront at dusk

Halifax waterfront at dusk, Tall ships docked

Masts of the Cuauhtémoc

Masts of the Cuauhtémoc

WordPress’s Daily Post challenge.