Where We’re Vacationing in September (You’ll See it Too)

Annapolis Royal Lighthouse

First, thank you so much for the huge response to my White eBook survey, I love my readers!! I’ll announce the winner of my SW Colour Boards in my next post.

Okay, so here’s what’s happening. . . . we’re going to explore Atlantic Canada, September 6 – 17th!

Terreeia was born in Nova Scotia but I’ve never been to the Atlantic Provinces so we’re going there in September to see historic sights and visit some of Terreeia’s family.

Given this is the oldest place in Canada and I’m from the west coast I admit I know very little about it so I’ve been brushing up on my history and geography. NOT.

Shopping in Montreal

Montreal, Quebec

My face turned beet red Friday night while I was having dinner with my friend Virginia. I told her we were going to fly to Montreal and spend a day for a little shopping first and then take the overnight train up to Halifax.

She said, “So you’re going to Nova Scotia first.”

Halifax. I said.

“Uh, that’s Nova Scotia.”

Oh.

Anyway, don’t tell anyone I said that ; )

Because to make matters worse, I was just telling Terreeia this story and she tried to make me feel better by saying, “It’s not like someone from Halifax would know where Sooke is!”

“Yes, but Nova Scotia is the capital of Halifax, so technically I should know that”, I replied.

She said “Reallly? Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia!”.

We burst out laughing, OMG I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time!

I seriously need to stop while I’m ahead.

Okay, back to the itinerary, which Terreeia wrote by the way, let’s just be clear, haha.

Orient Express

Hopefully it’s this glamorous!

The train ride is 24 hours and we have a sleeper with shower and meals included. I haven’t slept on a train and I’m looking forward to the adventure of seeing the oldest part of my country by train. And there is wifi in the dome car, hooray!

We don’t want to zig-zag so after we arrive in Halifax we will fly to St. John’s Newfoundland. Founded in 1583, St. John’s is the oldest city in Canada and most easterly city in North America and I’m looking forward to seeing Jelly Bean Row. I would post a photo but I want to take my own to share with you.

Anne Shirley

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” –Anne Shirley

Then we head back to Nova Scotia and rent a car. Our list includes touring Peggy’s Cove, Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Annapolis Royal, then we head to Prince Edward Island for coastal drives with a mandatory visit to Avonlea Village, Green Gables and maybe even fit in the Anne of Green Gables musical.

Peggy's Cove

Peggy’s Cove

That’s our list so far. It’s a 12-day whirlwind trip and we’ve decided to keep our options open once we get there to book B&B’s or hotels. If we like a place we will stay longer but figure 2-days in St. John’s, 2 days in PEI and the rest of the time in Nova Scotia.

Map of Atlantic Canada

Here’s the map just in case you need it as much as I do!

Do you think that’s a good or bad idea? To not be heavily planned and booked?

I would love any suggestions on ‘must-see’ or do. You’re the best with filling me in on everything I need to know!! I’ll be blogging so you’ll see it too, my lovelies! xo Maria

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  1. Lovely trip, but you have to have to have to see Old Quebec City and stay within its walls.
    Have to..it’s a must for any designer. The architecture, food, old world ambiance, cobblestones. Please add this to your trip if at all possible. Have a wonderful time. xo

  2. Ah, Nova Scotia! Such a beautiful place! We spent our honeymoon there 22 years ago and someday hope to return (living in So Cal now it’s quite pricey to do that, back when we were married we drove from my home in Massachusetts.

    We stayed here:
    http://www.whitmaninn.com/index.html
    for several days and loved it. They have a LOVELY garden and use a lot of for their dinners. What was great was it was centrally located so we would head out each day in a different direction and got to see a different portion of Nova Scotia each day.

    We then spent a few days up in Cape Breton, more stunning landscapes. Just so beautiful!!! And unspoiled by a lot of touristy stuff.

    I spent my summers growing up on Mt. Desert Island in ME, quite close to Canada, and a small part of it is so built up and touristy (mostly the area around Bar Harbor), so I’m very sensitive to ticky tacky plastic lobster sort of stuff, and this was not there in Nova Scotia!

    Now…PEI…that’s a different story. I am a HUGE fan of Anne of Green Gables, so we stayed a couple of days on PEI. Here I was much more affected by the amount of people and touristy, ticky tacky stuff, I really was disappointed…in fact, even though we’d booked a room in a lighthouse (I know, how cool, right???) we left a day early.

    Of course, this is only my opinion, but when I do find the funds for another trip to Atlantic Canada, I’ll skip PEI and spend more time in Nova Scotia, or head north and see what else is up there! Anyway, this is such a beautiful part of the country, and a perfect time of year to visit, I’m sure you’ll have a grand time!!!!!

  3. If you are in Annapolis Royal before October 11th, you must visit my creative friend Jane’s fabulous shop, Mrs. Nicholson Home. She is also an expert on everything about Annapolis Royal, and has restored many buildings there. Like her page on facebook for the web address and all the details. And please tell her I sent you!

  4. Looking forward to seeing where you travel. I live in northern NS very close to the where the ferry goes to PEI. Maybe I will see you in passing!

  5. I loved PEI!!! Yes it was very touristy, but once you get out on the road (we only had 2 days and saw tons) you get to see the real flavour! I was especially struck with the clean, pristine farms nearly everywhere – no junk left laying around, laawns cut beautiful landscaped yards! And not becuase they were for tourist eyes – just because that is the way PEI’ers live. It was stunning. I especially loved the colors of the houses – something you will notice I am sure Maria. And as for the musical Anne of Green Gables (who declares “ice cream, there is nothing so delicable as ice cream”) you will enjoy – truly Canadian. So continue to take time on your back patio, curl up with your history or info books on Atlantic Canada to learn about what is important in each city you visit and it will make your trip not only more enjoyable but even more anticipated! Can not wait to hear all about it.

  6. You will have a wonderful time. We had a condo in Montreal for ten years and used to go to Atlantic Canada every spring. Charlottetown is a favorite of mine. If you’d like some tips on things to see and do in Montreal (and where to stay) let me know.

  7. Hi Maria,

    I spent a week in PEI and absolutely LOVED it! I’ll send you an email with more details, as it would take up too much room here. Yes, you can get bogged down with touristy things, but there is also so much history and beauty to be seen there. I would go back in a heartbeat!

  8. Absolutely love the east coast, I’m from Ontario. It is like going back 10 years in time, they are not in a hurry. The Cabot Trail is beautiful and one of my favourite places to visit. The east coast, sea food is to die for being so fresh. You will be glad you went and may want to go again. I love the west also but the east is unique in its own way.

  9. I’ve never been to Canada but this makes me want to go ASAP! Beautiful scenery. Looking forward to hearing how your train ride and trip turns out. Have fun!

  10. Maria,
    We will vacation at the same time 🙂
    You will so enjoy this trip! Our family watched “Anne of Green Gables” a zillion times 🙂
    I am from Belgium (live in US now) and your pictures remind me so much of towns back home.
    Have a wonderful time visiting the sites and the family.
    Anne

  11. When in Nova Scotia, drive a little further past Peggy’s Cove and stop in at Mahone Bay, Chester and especially Lunenburg – it’s a UNESCO site and the architecture is stunning!!!
    When in PEI, go to a “church” lobster dinner – so fun. It’s not in a church, but a banquet hall but is run by church women who cook up an amazing lobster supper – truly an East Coast experience.

  12. The band “Great Big Sea” is from Newfoundland…add them to your “soundtrack” for your trip. I didn’t know Newfoundland was part of Canada until 5 minutes ago – hahaha – learn something new everyday!

  13. Don’t need the map, that’s my backyard you will be touring. No suggestions other to say that NB is very beautiful too. 🙂 I know you will find lots of inspiration along the way. Enjoy!

  14. We’re in St. John’s right now! Signal Hill, Cape Spear, a whale watching tour and Quidi Vidi Village are must dos…

  15. How exciting! When my husband & I take trips, we never book specific places to stay overnight.
    Thanks for showing the map. I’m embarrassed to admit I needed it.
    Have a wonderful time.

  16. Maria, Your trip sounds incredible!! I love to travel but have never been to that part of the country. I too will so look forward to all of the pictures and experiences that you two will acquire!! Can’t wait for your posts.

    Enjoy every minute.

  17. If you have an opportunity to go to an Epluchette de ble d’Inde festival, don’t miss it. It is a quebecois and acadienne “peeling of the corn” harvest tradition. Not sure if you can get lobster in season in September- its harvest is tightly regulated, but don’t miss it if available.

  18. How wonderful! I have always lived in the states, but my paternal grandmother’s roots are in the Atlantic Provinces. I have uncovered so much through internet research and would love to take this trip! (My bucket list: Cape Breton Island and P.E.I.) I know I will enjoy your vacation posts!

  19. Its unfortunate Marie that you are not taking the time to visit Newfoundland. Though I have never been there, neighbours of mine go every year who claim the drawing card is the people and the variation in the terrain thus it is definitely on my ‘bucket list’ as a place to visit. (They are world travellers and have no family ties there, but love it.)
    Re your 24 hour train trip, ensure you take some lozenges with you (due to recycled air) and drink plenty of bottled water. To avoid symptoms of ‘mal de débarquement’ (illusion of motion after disembarking) walk around as much as possible while on the train and when seated face the direction it is going. Upon arrival it is a bright sunny day, ensure you have your sunglasses on … and … no high heels please (winks!).
    As for things to see and though this may sound morbid; try to visit the odd old cemetery as it is amazing how they reveal an insight into Canada’s early history. -Brenda-

    • Duh me … I see that you are going to Newfoundland so hopefully you will enjoy it as much as my neighbours do. Have fun, fun, fun! -Brenda-
      P.S: Also re above it should have read: ….no high heels please (winks!) until you get your land-legs back.

  20. Some of our best trips are those B&B lodgings that we discover enroute. In prime areas, high season
    best to book ahead but also love the flexibility of not having to be at a particular place on a set day. We spent 3 weeks “wandering”countryside if France last year and via Internet just booked our lodging a couple of days in advance. Your trip is definitely on my bucket list. Ever since seeing the IMAX movie Rocky Mountain Express we have wanted to do the trans-Canada train.

    Atlantic Canada, Quebec high on my list. Can’t wait to read about your trip. Enjoy!

  21. I just cannot wait for the pictures – grandma was a western Newfoundlander (when it was British). Do you need someone to manage the suitcases? I would love to be on this trip too.

  22. That’s where MY ancestors are from!!! They were French Canadians. The French were driven out during some war ( don’t ask me which!) Most headed to New England (mine) and many of them headed for Louisiana.
    Hence the Arcadians, as they were called, combined their cooking methods with the Creole and it became known as Cajun food! And….I LOVE train travel!!!
    Wishing I could tag along 🙂 Have a blast Maria & Terreeia!

  23. I was introduced to The Anne of Green Gables books by my mom, who named her little sister Anne Shirley! Have always, always wanted to go to Nova Scotia/PEI/etc…but my husband is…a stick in the mud.
    I’ll never get there!
    Have a wonderful trip. With a ‘native,’ like T. you can’t go wrong,
    Sign me,
    A (Jealous) Texan

  24. I’m thinking Tee could find herself a job in a travel agency. Sounds like a great plan! Can’t wait to “travel” with you through your posts! In the two landscape photos, the skies are so ominous. I hope that’s not the natural state of weather in the provinces. I fell in love with “Anne of Green Gables” when I watched it with my(then young) daughter!

    P.S. As far as your geographic gaffes go, I’m sure I can safely say that most of us have made those mistakes, so cut yourself some slack.

  25. If you’re thinking of fine dining for a lobster feast, DON’T DO IT! Go to Hall’s Harbour and have your fresh lobster right on the dock sitting at a picnic table. They give you fresh rolls and lots of butter and you will never be the same. It’s also where you can experience the effect of the tides – so amazing you will not believe it that when you return later in the day, you can’t believe that you had been standing at the bottom of the ocean only hours earlier. No kidding.

  26. The good news Maria is you an go back as this is a whirlwind trip missing New Brunswick. I felt very sad that you do not know about our magnificent country with all the technology available including TV. What happened in the school you went to? At 70 years old I remember learning about Canada, the provinces and the capital cities. I could tell you about points of interest but your time is overflowing now. Wonderful you are learning and will see our country Canada. Enjoy!

  27. Your trip sounds wonderful! I read Anne of Green Gables as a child, and have always thought PEI sounded like paradise. As for traveling, I’m the type who does mega research, and books all the places to stay ahead of time. I find security in knowing where I’ll be staying each night. Not spontaneous, but feels safe to me.

  28. We cruised on Holland America from Montreal up the Seaway to the Ocean and ending in Boston. Each day you can go ashore and take the various tours to the same points you plan to see. I highly recommend it!

  29. From the looks of these comments, you are going to an incredible place. Please feel free to share several posts of what you see. I’ll probably never make it there, so I live vicariously!

  30. My daughter and I have wonderful memories from a train trip we took together when she was 10 years old. We had a sleeper with its own bath and free meals, room service and first call for the dining car. The views were fabulous – what a great way to travel!

  31. Maria! Please consider a *slight* change in your itinerary. You must see Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick. http://www.thehopewellrocks.ca/
    It is so beautiful especially witnessing the tides coming in and going out. We went out East 10 years ago and Hopewell Rocks is what I remember most fondly! xo

  32. Oh oh oh! I’ve always wanted to go to Prince Edward Island and Avonlea village. Have a wonderful time. I can’t wait to hear the stories you’ll tell.

  33. You will absolutely love the area! Having family that came from PEI and Halifax we wanted to explore the area. One place we stayed & enjoyed was the Red Rose Tea Mansion B & B. Don’t know if the owners are the same but we had a lovely stay there in St. John. We visited Avonlea as well as I too was an avid reader and watcher if Anne of Green Gables. I wish I could remember the lovely B & B we stayed at nearby. We also took the ferry to Visit President Roosevelt’s summer home, Campobello. We also went whale watching off the coast and camped at the Bay of Fundy. A beautiful part of the country!
    You will have a beautiful trip. I am sure the train trip will be amazing as well. Curious to hear reports of that as my husband wants to take the train across Canada as well , so keep us posted!

  34. Have a great time! My dad’s ancesters came from Scottland and settled in Prince Edward Island. My maiden name is MacFarlane and the name is so old on the island that it is on the map! We visited about 30 years ago and it is one of the prettiest places I have ever been. Take lot’s of pictures!

  35. Hi Maria, great that you are coming out East, but if you want to relax and get a feel for a place and its people, I would suggest slowing down and enjoying one province – PEI, NL, or NS.
    Of course, if Tereeia’s roots are in NS, it’s a no brainer! Sept. is a a perfect time to visit! I would be happy to elaborate on a possible itinerary. Feel free to email me with questions. Btw, I live in Mahone Bay, on the South Shore, one of the most picturesque little towns in the province. Come spend some time here!

  36. I have been to Canada four times now and being an Aussie totally relate to the beautiful open spaces and warm friendly people. I think if I wasn’t Australian I would want to be Canadian. Both coasts are spectacular each with its own attractions so I plan to get back there in the next couple of years. Everyone will tell you to see ‘this’ and see ‘that’ but really you won’t go wrong with whatever you put on your itinerary plus it gives you a reason to go back and see more next time.

  37. I spent my first 20 years in PEI, moved away for 20 years and moved back in 2008. I marvel each day, even in winter, how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place. I hope you enjoy visiting our little piece of heaven.

  38. Maria, when in St. John’s take in a night on George Street enjoying traditional food and music, and get “screeched in”. Stroll the harbour and visit the shops on Duckworth and Water Streets. A trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting Signal Hill and Cape Spear Lighthouse. Newfoundland is full of culture and friendly people. Enjoy my new home!

  39. “I have travelled around the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes, the Alps and the Highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty Cape Breton outrivals them all”.

    -Alexander Graham Bell

    As we say in Cape Breton Ciad Mile Failte- “a hundred thousand welcomes” ( the traditional Gaelic greeting extended to all who come to this island. The Gaelic language, while all but lost to many parts of the Celtic world, has remained vital in certain Cape Breton communities to this day).

    Maria have a wonderful time, September is a lovely month to visit here and there will be lots of choice in accommodations- many are on beachfronts. Great place to unwind..

  40. Maria, have a fantastic time and enjoy every minute. But if you wouldn’t mind my saying, take a word of advise about travelling by night train. If possible take a look at the cabins on the internet and book the most comfortable you can afford. On a sleeper from Paris to Rome, my daughter and I shared a three person compartment (bunks stacked 3 high)with a female traveller and I felt like a sardine and was unable to sit up during waking hours. Bring something comfortable to rest your head on, (the pillow became flat in 10 minutes) and plenty of wipes because access to running water is limited. If you have an option of fold down seating that allows bunks to swing over them, grab that compartment and reserve early to select the best bunk. Bon Chance!

  41. I wanted to share this link to customized tours for things like local fibre and folk arts and (and great food and scenery).
    http://rustyrovertours.com/tours/custom-tours/
    I really hope you enjoy your trip. PEI really is a lot more than a tacky tourist joint as was suggested by another poster… Enjoy, relax and be inspired! Safe journeys!!

  42. Absolutely love the east coast! Definitely recommend Lunenburg and Mahone Bay. For dining in Halifax, I highly recommend “The Bicycle Thief”, great food and ambience! Hope you are having lots of fun 🙂