Monday, September 14, 2009

Travel Log - Day 14

Bonavista, Newfoundland - Charlottetown, PEI ~ 800km

It did rain overnight. The wind is howling and the rain is pouring down, then it stops, then pours down again. First full rain I've seen in months. I welcome it.

Checking out of this Inn feels a little bitter sweet. I want to come back here one day and visit this province more in depth. Hearing about the fiords in Gros Morne Park has inspired me to want to come again and stay a while. Dennis and Judy went on a boat ride through that area on the west side and were amazed and thrilled by the spectacular views.

We have about a 6 hour drive west. We've decided to catch the night ferry at Port aux Basques back to Nova Scotia. Again the cabins were booked so we slept in chairs. This time the ferry was rocking and rolling. I found the motion to be pretty soothing, but the banging noises made my heart pound. It was noisy, this trip across, because the wind was so strong.

We arrived in Sydney about 7:30 am and drove to the next ferry ride that would take us to Prince Edward Island - the last province to visit.

The ferry trip took about 70 minutes and it was sunny again so the ride was smooth. We decided to stay in Charlottetown and do a total of three all-day excursions. One day see the central island, next the west side, lastly the east side. This gentle island as it's called, is just that.

We checked in to our hotel and relaxed for the late afternoon and evening. My stomach wasn't very pleased with all this 'get up and go'. The motion has been a bit too much. We stayed in, ordered some supper to the room, did some laundry then watched a movie. I felt like I was kind of wasting time, but really needed a rest at this point.

A quote that I read on the Newfoundland ferry:

As I walk on Mother Earth with love and respect, I will receive the healing I need in life's journey ~ Roy Henry Vickers ~

~ move clock back half an hour (atlantic time)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Travel Log - Day 13

St. John's, Newfoundland - Bonavista, Newfoundland - 300km

After we shook off some of the grumpy bugs, we picked up some Tims for breakfast (mmm how I love the tea here), cleaned out some of the garbage in the car, ate some food, drank some more tea, got some gas, put in oil and we're set.

We began on the east side of this province yesterday, today we're heading out to two different peninsulas, then over to the west side of the province. Once on the west side, we'll catch the ferry back to Nova Scotia, only this time it will take 6 hours instead of 14 hours. This is the first cloudy day since we started the trip. All along we've had beautiful sunny weather. It's actually supposed to rain during the night.

We stopped at many little villages along the two peninsulas. The villages have interesting names like: Heart's Content, Heart's Delight, Trinity Bay, Harbour Grace and there are many, little coves. There's even a place called Dildo.

Newfoundland has very interesting landscapes. It's very rocky throughout this drive up and down elevations, the vastness of land here is incredible. The small fishing villages are as I imagined them to be with cute colourful houses, old churches and quaint, but few, shops. We drove about 6 - 7 hours in total today. We're up at the top of the second penisula. Here we are staying at an Inn. First time I've stayed in one. There's a restaurant on the bottom of this heritage building and I think about 8 - 10 rooms, in all, on two floors above.

On this peninsula we thought we'd drive to Bonavista (which is the tip, where we're staying) as I was hoping to see the puffins. I would later discover that they're done with their nesting season and have gone to sea. There are icebergs that float by here and out to sea while melting during the summer; we missed that as well. That would have been amazing to watch and hear.

We stayed at this Inn which was most comfortable and relaxing. This place is exactly what I needed. The food at this restaurant was scrumptious. I had shrimp and scallop bubbly came with rice. It was ohhhh soooo good. For dessert partridgeberry and bake apple pie, which I ended up eating at another table when an older couple we had been chatting with a bit (during supper) suggested we join them and swap stories.

About the pie, I was thinking that the partridgeberries came in a baked apple pie. Wrong, bake apple is a berry too - cloudberry. Both are sour, but have an interesting aftertaste. Not my favourite kind of pie, but glad I tried it.

The folks we met tonight, Judy and Dennis say that the owner of the B&B where they're staying, knows of a 30 minute drive, that when driven at 5 in the morning, is a place to see moose. In fact, the last people he had sent out saw 22 of them! I so badly want to see one, but getting up at 5am would be hard to do after very little sleep the last couple of nights (according to the roadside sign....Fatigue Kills), I think I'll pass unless I spring up wide awake at 5am. Dennis and Judy also advised us on staying in B&B's(which is where they prefer to stay), all the places they have enjoyed while visiting Newfoundland and some places to see on Prince Edward Island where they live and where we're going in a day or two. Full of stories and information they were. An enjoyable day and evening.

I now know of a little place, a step back in time. A place with no metropolis as a main vein. No need, this place has a heartbeat all its own. It's peaceful, serene, full of nature, quaint yet rugged. It's a place that has touched my heart and overwhelms me with emotion. Had I been able to see the puffins and icebergs here, I think my heart would swell for sure and I just might call this my favourite place on earth.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Travel Log - Day 12

Arrived in St. John's at 2:30pm. Stayed a while in the old part of town. Saw lots of the colourful row houses and some of the main street downtown. Not at all what either of us expected. I should have read up on Newfoundland before arriving here. I thought St. John's was going to be a small, fishing village, but it's a city of 100,000 people! After getting lost plenty, we finally figured out how to get to the furthest eastern point in North America called Cape Spear - beautiful spot.

The sun had just gone down by the time we got to Cape Spear. After a walk around, we left to find a hotel. A few we stopped at were already sold out to some insurance company that was having a convention with 1500, out of town, people who were staying in the local area. I was shocked - 1500 insurance people at a convention here?

Finally we found the last room available which was in a very expensive Super 8 Motel. As it turned out some of those same insurance people were having a party across the hall from us until 1am; I promptly called and complained after the party woke me up. Then at 7am kids were running up and down the hallway upstairs, over my head. After I tactfully voiced my disappointment over the cost of this place, versus the extremely wonderful, yet less expensive stay, in Ottawa, I was given a $30 discount which pleased me much. Needless to say, this was our grumpy point of the trip. We were pretty exhausted after the long ferry ride, well more so, driving across the country then the long ferry ride and a couple nights of very little sleep, put simply = crankiness for Pam and her mommy!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Travel Log - Day 11

Halifax, Nova Scotia - North Sydney, Nova Scotia ~ 500km

After checking out of the hotel, we used the morning and afternoon to see Halifax. We checked out the funky part of downtown then went to the waterfront area. I decided to visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and I'm embarrassed to admit that I thought the Halifax Explosion was mine related. Oh, how very little I truly know about this country. I learned something new. I watched a documentary about the explosion, which was the largest man made catastrophe of its time, and looked at some of the boats, then browsed over some of the artifacts found in the Atlantic Ocean. The waterfront is a pleasant place to wander, get something to eat or learn some history.

We left Halifax around 4pm and drove to Sydney to catch the ferry to St. John's, Newfoundland which is on the eastern side of the province. It's a 14 hour ferry ride leaving at 11:30pm. All the cabins were booked, the sleeper dorms were not private so no sense paying to sleep there which left us sleeping in the reclining chairs that were free.

We didn't get to sleep until around 2 am because there was entertainment on this ferry. Some original Newfy music in the lounge. We were quite excited by this musical duo couple. He was very funny and he played four different instruments. I ended up buying a couple of CDs. They're not bad, but no where near as good as Great Big Sea or The Rankin Family (I adore them).

Love the accents of people from Newfoundland.

~ move clock ahead a half hour (Newfoundland time)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Travel Log - Day 10

We stayed in Halifax for the day and night. We took a drive out along the coast to Lunenburg and then came back, stopping in Mahone and Peggy's Cove. In Mahone, I ordered my lunch to go and ate it while sitting on a rock by the ocean. It was yummmy, pan fried scallops and prawns in a caesar salad followed by a delicious white chocolate mousse pie topped with wild blueberries. After a lovely visit in Mahone we drove out to Peggy's Cove and we arrived just in time to see the sunset.

Beautiful serene loveliness - every bit of it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Travel Log - Day 9

Quebec City, Quebec - Halifax, Nova Scotia ~ 1107.6km

Long drive. It took about 10.5 hours to get to Halifax. There was a lot of road construction as we were leaving Quebec. It was a beautiful, sunny day which lasted the entire drive. We chose the route of Fredericton to Moncton to Halifax instead of catching the ferry from Saint John, New Brunswick and then driving the southwestern coastline of Nova Scotia to Halifax. We didn't want to take the night ferry across to Digby, Nova Scotia, besides our timing was off anyway. Hopefully on the way home we'll drive down to Saint John and see the Bay of Fundy with its tidal changes unlike any other place. In my opinion, New Brunswick is the forgotten province of Canada; it's also very French which I didn't know. I've never heard much talk of it nor did I ever know of its beauty. Now I know. It's a province that I'd like to revisit sometime.

~ move clock ahead an hour (atlantic time)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Travel Log - Day 8

We stayed in Quebec City for the day and another night. I decided to walk from the hotel to the old city area. It didn't take me too long to realize that we weren't very lost last night, we were only about 5 minutes away, but we drove around for at least an hour!

The old city is made up of cobble stone streets, some of the streets are only for foot traffic. It's like a little bit of France plunked down in Canada. It's rich with history, color, texture and lots of tourists.

I left the old city in search of Tim Hortons which has been my beloved friend during this trip. I've stopped in at least one per province to have my tea and...whatever else I feel like at the moment. On my way out of the old city, I noticed another [new] favourite of mine - a Tourist Information Center. These are all over the place and in my opinion are the rest stops of Canada. We don't seem to have as many rest stops like there are in America along the I-5. These information places are along the Trans Canada Highway as well as in and around the individual provinces in the different towns/cities. They have clean bathrooms (not pit toilets like at our rest stops), plus they have grassy areas with benches or picnic tables. There's lots of room to stretch out, have a snack, use the bathroom or ask one of the travel counsellors about the local area (they all seem to be very well informed).

After my stop in at the information center, to ask where I could find the nearest Tims, I began walking in that direction. Along the way I met an elderly man sitting on a bench. As I approached, he started waving his arms around and gesturing towards the construction that was going on across the street and he was speaking in French which I, of course, couldn't understand at all. Why didn't I pay better attention in school. I know words, not sentences, well not any of the sentences he was putting out. I tried to explain that I didn't speak French which he understood and his English was equivalent to my French. Anyways, he understood that I was driving from the west to the east.

"Ahhhh, voyageur" said he, in his kindly French way.

"Yep", I thought, "I suppose I am".

As I got closer to Tims and was about to cross the street, I realize I really don't get how these traffic lights work. All of the signs on the posts, where the buttons are to push for the walking signal, are in French. Again, why didn't I pay more attention?! When I thought it was my turn to go and I went, a woman across the street shouted "Madame, Madame!".....and some more French sentences. I must have gotten it all wrong - I shouldn't have crossed , by her tone, I'm certain I shouldn't have.

Back in the old city, I was delighted to see and hear so much. I have a far greater respect and understanding of our country's bilingualism. Being in the west it's not as prevalent, but being here in the east, it's everywhere. I spent seven hours walking around today, I figure I probably walked a marathon.

Okay, I get the crosswalks now. When all of the traffic lights go red at the same time on every corner - that's when you walk. You get to walk across one way or the other or even diagonally. How 'bout that. I like it. I wonder if this is how it is in Manhattan too as people walked in every direction there as well. I was much younger when I was in Manhattan (22 years ago!) and probably never even considered stopping to observe how it all worked - elevation of thought comes later in life - part of the aging process I least it is for me.