Two blogs in two days, have fun reading!
Well, if Peru wasn’t enough of a graduation trip, about a week after I came back, Chris and I went on a road trip out east. 8 days, and about 5,000 km! We decided to go a little old fashion and only navigate using only road maps. The first part of the road trip was easy, east on the 401 until we hit Quebec. Once we crossed the Quebec border we had to pull out our first map! I was driving and Chris was navigating (better than me navigating haha).
Day 1: Toronto →Quebec City
Driving through Quebec was wild. We had just miss the intense rain they got, but we did see the consequences of those storms. Fields were flooded, roads were covered and houses were damaged from the flooding! We drove past Montreal and headed toward Quebec City, which was our first overnight stop! The road map of Quebec, unfortunately did not have a very detailed inset map (larger map of a small area) of Quebec City. All we knew was the name of our hotel, the street name and that it was located within the walls of the Old City. We got off the highway, followed the many vehicles who were headed toward the old city, Chris was ready to pull out Google Maps, but I assured him we would be fine and that we should >i>try to find it, even if it meant driving around for a while! He really likes to know exactly where he’s going, so it was a good thing I was driving haha, (plus I’m a terrible navigator)! Lucky for us, we drove though the old fort wall, down the main street and BAM! the street and our hotel was right there!
After settling into our hotel room we decided to take advantage of our afternoon because we had to leave bright and early to drive to Halifax in the morning. Quebec City reminds me of an old European city, cobblestone roads, buildings no taller than 4 stories. It was a windy place, chilly too. We walked to the famous Chateau Frontenac and up the hill to get a better view. It was gorgeous! We wanted to walk inside and check it out, but of course, it was $6 for HALF AN HOUR! Ridiculous! Basically, we decided we would check it out when we could afford to stay there! We went for some coffee, did some people walking and avoided the hoards of grade 7s and 8s that were there on a school trip! We obviously had to get French Onion Soup and Poutine for dinner, I can tell you that the waiter was hardly impressed by us. (Walked in, said bonjour! and he knew right away we did not speak french, could almost hear him mocking us, as we ordered our soup and poutine! “Typically tourists!”), we didn’t care and for the record, the poutine was pretty darn good! We walked around a bit more before ending the night with a crepe (obviously can’t go to Quebec without getting a crepe).
Day 2: Quebec City →Halifax
Day 2 was a long day of driving, we drove from Quebec City, through New Brunswick and all the way into Halifax. Once again, we only used road maps, the maps were huge and took up almost the whole front seat! We took the transcanada highway for the majority of our journey through New Brunswick and passed many stretches were Moose frequent. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we didn’t see any Moose during our drive. Our inset map of Halifax was not very detailed either but luckily the street our Airbnb was on was it. We got off the highway and merged into the city, we eventually found our place without the help of Google Maps and we were quite proud of ourselves! It was a long day so we decided to cook some noodles (classic dish for Chris and I) and head to bed.
Day 3/4: Halifax (feat. Peggy’s Cove & Lunenburg)
It was the first of our 2 days in the Halifax area, we decided to get up early, grab a coffee from a local coffee shop and head along the coastal road to Peggy’s Cove. It is one of the most photographed lighthouses in Canada and all the pictures show that there is always an abundance of tourists. Lucky for us, we are old people and we got there just before 9am, only cars in the parking lot, employees. No one was there when we arrived and we got to take some cool pictures! There were tons of warning signs not to go on the black rocks, even though it was a calm day, you could definitely tell that it could get dangerous quickly. The signs didn’t stop Chris from his obsession with water and he had to go touch the ocean, (obviously, I just snapped him doing it because, as you’ll read later I’m a huge wuss).
After we took some necessary pictures, we continued along the coastal road toward Lunenburg (one of the oldest fishing towns and a world heritage UNESCO site). Along the way we passed a sign that said “lobster traps for sale”, we pulled a quick u-turn and into this driveway and honked the horn. We met this man who had a bunch of used lobster traps in his garage, and new ones that he made… well $40 later and we now have a lobster trap! On the way to Lunenburg, we passed by so many cute little towns along the water, the homes there were beautiful and we dreamed about what it would be like to have a summer home out there! We arrived in Lunenburg and headed over to the whale watching lady who told us that if 8 people showed up we could go. Unfortunately, only another couple and us were willing to go whale watching. We settled for the next best thing (because the town literally wasn’t ready for tourists yet), we went on a horse and carriage ride around the UNESCO site and were told stories and jokes about the old town. A town as old as this one, you can imagine was full of history, some family businesses still remained in the family and others just a memory. Cute little homes all different colours, which we found out was because each fisherman painted their home the same colour as their boats! Lunenburg is also the home of Bluenose (the original, the one on the dime) and Bluenose II, the original’s successor when it didn’t make it home from a journey.
Once we made it back to Halifax we got ready to check out downtown. We went for a drink before meeting up with our friend Ollie for sushi.. (for those of you who don’t really know Chris and I, we have this thing where every time we travel we some how find ourselves going for asian food, whether it be sushi or noodles…we just can’t help ourselves. But really, I’m so lucky I have a boyfriend who will eat noodles as much as me and not get tired of it, literally soulmate). We met Ollie’s gf and got to catch up with our friend, later we went to another bar downtown Halifax for another drink. Everyone got a drink, but I was more into dessert, boozy donut holes, sounds questionable, but actually delicious! We called it a night after that, like I said, we were literally old people on this trip. Pretty sure we went to bed before midnight!
The next day was suppose to be the nicest day on our trip, it was sunny but still slightly chilly. Warm enough though, that we could be in a light sweater and walk along the boardwalk on Halifax’s waterfront! We started out at one end of the waterfront trail, stumbled upon the Maritime Museum and decided to check it out. The exhibits that really caught our attention were the Halifax explosion (which I honestly do not remember learning about) and the Titanic exhibit. You’re probably wondering why there’s an exhibit in Halifax, but in fact, many fisherman from Halifax pulled frozen bodies from the ocean and brought them back to Halifax to be buried. Tragic. We went to the farmer’s market and then to Garrison’s brewery where we had an early lunch that consisted of a flight of beer, then we actually had food at a place called Salty’s! We sat on the patio because it was such a nice day, but let me tell you.. the wind was not so nice! That night we met up with Ollie, his sister and their significant others and went to the infamous Lower Deck for some live maritime music in our Hawaiian T’s! My friend Dan from undergrad lives in Halifax now so he met up with us too! It was the one night we actually drank and stayed out passed midnight (not much past, we had a 6am wake up call)! The music was unbelievable, the vibe in the east coast so far was indescribable, everyone was nice and everything was just so gorgeous!
Day 5: Halifax →Cape Breton
We got up at 6am, both heads pretty fuzzy, we contemplated sleeping for another hour but figured we should get moving because day 2 in Cape Breton didn’t look like a good hiking day. We used the road maps to direct us to Cape Breton and once we entered the national park we checked out the locations of the hikes we wanted to do. We ended up doing 3 hikes that day, slightly hung and all. The first hike we did was Franey (#22), it was a 7.4km loop, level difficult but boy, was the view worth it! Along the way we spotted many, many Moose droppings and we wanted to see a Moose so badly. The signs also indicated that the trail was coyote territory, which was slightly concerning, but being the old couple that we are, we had our walking sticks ready and a game plan if a coyote approached (Chris would walk it in the head and I would poke it in the butt)! On the way down, after we had made it to the top, we saw bear poop, now THAT was definitely concerning. It would have been sooooo cool to see one but we cheaped out and didn’t buy $60 bear spray so it would not have been in our best interest to encounter one or two of those furry creatures! At the top of Franey, we found a little container, we a notebook and a pen. People had written a note about where they are from and what they were doing, it looked like we were the first people to have found it in 2017, which I think is pretty neat!
Next, we decided to walk the coastal trail, but before we did that we noticed that there was a little swim icon on the park map, yes, swim… you didn’t read that incorrectly. We stopped to take a little dip in the Atlantic Ocean in May when it was about 2 degrees Celsius.. remember earlier when I said I was a wuss…We set up the go pro, held hands and painfully walked on the rocky beach toward the freezing cold ocean. I got to about my knees before i turned around, peeled back to safety and watched Chris run further and further out until he dove under, screaming but feeling accomplished he swam in the Atlantic Ocean. A true man! After that we strolled along the coastal trail, which was absolutely stunning! The waves crashing up against the rocks and the rock walls that just drop straight down were incredible. It was already getting late at this point and we didn’t want to take up too much time, because we still had to make it all the way around to trail #7, Skyline, for the sunset.
The Skyline trail was an 8.7km loop, wasn’t as hard as the Franey but still wasn’t easy. We started walking it pretty late, it’s the most popular hike in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, it’s on top of a mountain and there’s a really cool boardwalk where you can watch the sunset and see the ocean. We did the loop and made it to the boardwalk as the sun was setting, the wind picked up and it was getting cold. We walked along the boardwalk, all the way to the end and sat there as the sun was setting. The ocean was fairly calm, considering it was the ocean..with random little waves and things breaking the surface. After watching the water for a while, we were convinced that it wasn’t just waves, and that we were in fact watching whale breach the surface of the ocean. This was likely, as the portion of the ocean that you could see from the trail was full of wildlife (according to a bulletin board along the trail). We ended up leaving before the sun was completely set because we still had about a 45 min walk back to the car, and this trail was also coyote habitat…As it got darker, we walked a little bit faster and grew slightly weary that we might run into some unwanted company. Lucky for us, we made it back to the car and headed toward Cheticamp, where our Airbnb was waiting for us! After a 6am wake up call, 5 hours of driving to reach Cape Breton and 20km of hiking, plus driving along the Cabot Trail, it was safe to say we were so happy to make it to our place and chill out.
Day 6: Cape Breton (Cheticamp, NS)
The next day was meant to be rainy so we thought we were in for a relaxing day, to catch up on some sleep and rest a little. The weather, minus the crazy winds on our side of the mountain (140km/h) had changed and it ended up being a beautiful day. We did get to sleep in, and we did get to hike 15km on day 2 of being in Cape Breton! We did Corney Brook, which ended in a beautiful waterfall and Salmon Pools, which was slightly disappointing, it was a large trail where bikes could go down, mostly gravel and along the Cheticamp River, but kind of a boring walk. We also went to one of the beaches and walked around, and saw where a river (fresh water) entered the Atlantic Ocean, it was super cool.
We took the rest of the day to relax because our next drive was going to be long, back through Nova Scotia, through New Brunswick and into Maine, our last and final stop before heading home was Portland, Maine.
Day 7: Cheticamp (Cape Breton) → Portland, Maine.
A long drive along the Trans Canada Highway and into Maine, where we took a single land highway until we reached the Interstate and headed straight for the city. We bought an actual city map this time, because again we didn’t want to use Google Maps. This time our Airbnb was on a road that had more than three different variations. Deering…Rd, Ave, St, Place… shall I continue? We ended up going to the wrong place at first realized we were on Avenue instead of Road or something silly, eventually we found it and we actually made it there way earlier than we expected. (Plus, a little bonus, crossing the border meant we gained an hour because we weren’t in the Maritimes anymore). We got to Portland in time to go out for dinner, after meeting our Airbnb host, who gave us so many recommendations we walked to dinner and then explored some of the lively neighbourhoods for a bit before calling it a night. We did drive 12 hours that day!
Day 8: Portland, Maine
The next day we got up to enjoy the beautiful day, it was actually the warmest day on our trip and super sunny! Since we didn’t get to go whale watching in Lunenburg, we hadn’t been out in the ocean (minus Chris’ polar bear dip), we walked around Portland’s old port and found a lighthouse lovers cruise, no it wasn’t a romantic cruise, it was literally a cruise for people that love lighthouses! It got us out on the ocean and we got to see the famous Portland Headlight from a different angle (one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world). It was chilly and windy but so nice to have the ocean breeze on our faces and the sun on our backs. The houses along the ocean are in an area called Cape Elizabeth, someone asked how much they were and when the tour guide told us everyone was shocked at how expensive these houses were. For all those living in Toronto, trying to buy a house in the GTA or even renting, brace yourselves… Considering the average home price in Toronto is $1.3 million, these beautiful homes on the ocean front were between $1.5 and $2 million, yes US dollars but still imagine these houses in Ontario? It’s not even prettttttty here, help!
The lighthouses we saw varied is size, age and style! Portland Headlight is incredible and the house attached to it is where the lighthouse keeper lived! Talk about luxury! Wasn’t the same case for the poor little lighthouse across the way, though. The lighthouse keeper had to row our there and live inside the lighthouse, with the tiny windows and the outhouse by the ocean, the waves got so crazy during storms they would crash over top of the lighthouse, and the longest a keeper had ever stayed out there was 6 weeks!
The rest of the tour was great, we saw the islands surround the Portland Harbour, the old forts that were barely used and a cool pipeline that was used for transporting oil from Portland to Montreal during the war!
After our tour we decided to go to Portland Lobster Co. which apparently has famous lobster rolls, so we had to try one! After lunch we walked around some more, and then went back to get ready for happy hour and dinner! Our trip was coming to an end. Happy hour was filled with oysters for me, how could I pass on $1 oysters (I got 18) and then after walking around for a while, trying to find a place for dinner, we were contemplating sushi or noodles… both were not what we thought we’d be eating in Portland, but sushi it was!
Day 9: Portland, Maine →Home
We got up bright and early, even though it was time to go home we stopped along the way. First stop was 7am, the Portland Headlight, even though we saw it the day before from the boat we wanted to see it up close and personal. It was beautiful, and the day was even more beautiful.
After this visit, we headed out of Portland, through Maine, our route led us through New Hampshire, Vermont and then into Quebec before we were back on the familiar, all too boring 401. In New Hampshire, we drove through a park that was incredible! We stopped at these cascades and wow, I’m so glad we took the time to enjoy the wonderful things on our way home!
What an incredible trip. I hope you all loved reading about it and I hope you got to experience, or feel like you’ve experienced a little part of our travels with us! If you haven’t been out east, GO! It is so worth the trip. We drove about 5,000 in 8 days (I guess we got home on the 9th day) but still, we moved around, did a lot of traveling and had an amazing time!
Usually I say until next time, but might be a while until my next travel adventure. For me, graduation and finding a full-time job is my next adventure! I’ll write again when I have something exciting to write about!