Detours and Delays…

Due to our guests’ flight having an unexpected overnight detour and delay in Bangor, Maine, our sightseeing didn’t begin until a day later than expected.  We were however, still able to collect them from the airport and let the exploring begin!

Following pick-up from the airport, hotel check-in and settling in, we decided to tour Halifax with a visit to the Citadel where we witnessed the noon gun salute and had an interesting time exploring the Trench War Display.

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A full day of touring took us to the coast to visit Peggy’s Cove, a Nova Scotia must-do for all visitors.  From there, we meandered along the Lighthouse Route and popped into the quaint community of Mahone Bay, known for its artisans, shopping and fabulous restaurants.  We ended the day with a visit to Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stunning architecture and beautiful views of the coastline.

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Visiting the dramatic tidal changes in the Bay of Fundy is a must-do.  After experiencing low tide in Hall’s Harbour, we made our way down the mountain offering superb views of the fertile fields in full swing with their produce.  At the bottom of the mountain is a rather gorgeous little museum, just off the beaten track, Prescott House.  The Georgian House with manicured gardens is definitely a place worth visiting…before heading back to Hall’s Harbour to witness high-tide.

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A quick trip into Wolfville was a must-do for me, as I had a beautiful care package my wife had prepared for my granddaughter, who works in the Wolfville VIC – Tourism is evidently in our genes!  Quite a handy place to pop into, not just for me but also my guests.

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The following day, Dave, one of our other driver/guides, took these guests under his capable wings, as they headed north to tour the Cabot Trail.

We were thankful to hear their return flight home was without incident or delay.

From Sea to Sky

Based in Halifax, we usually collect our visitors from the airport, cruise ship or hotel, so it was a wonderful treat to collect visitors in Yarmouth.  They chose to travel to Nova Scotia on the The CAT ferry which sails from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth, on the South-west tip of the Province.

The Cat

This is the first summer in six years the ferry has been running and although a wonderful, quick passage between two countries, it has been experiencing low ridership.  Our visitors certainly seemed to have enjoyed the 5.5hr crossing.

From Yarmouth, we drove along the South Shore of Nova Scotia, stopping in Lunenburg before heading into Halifax, which is where our visitors would be based for the next few days.

Our first full day took us to the Annapolis Valley so we could explore the Bay of Fundy. Beginning in Hall’s Harbour, we saw quite a dramatic seascape as the tide was out and the ocean floor exposed.  We meandered our way down the mountain, through Port Williams and Wolfville to Grand Pre.  Here we learned about the sad history of the Acadian deportation and also visited the Deportation Cross, a memorial to the Acadians deported from here.

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We then headed to Evangeline Beach which offers breath taking views of Blomidon and the Bay of Fundy… quite a contrast to the city and indeed, other shorelines in the Province.

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Our visitors had the chance to explore Halifax under the city lights by night and with BDT during the day.  Following a tour of the town, we meandered our way to Peggy’s Cove and, upon discovering it was one of the visitors birthdays, we had a delightful celebratory lunch at Rhubarb in Indian Cove.

I’m sure it was an early night for all, as I collected them at 4am the following morning to take them to the airport.

Off the Beaten Path

As a tour operator in Nova Scotia, I take many visitors along the shoreline to Peggy’s Cove and often onto Lunenburg, sometimes stopping at the Swiss Air Memorial or the lovely fishing village of West Dover.  On this particular trip, I decided to wander a little further off the “beaten track” and visit two small communities just outside Lunenburg; Blue Rocks and Stonehurst.

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Still working fishing villages, as can be evidenced by the fishing boats and lobster traps, the communities also boast a large artisan population.  This is not new.  Beginning in the 1900’s, this area attracted many artists, including Wallace MacKaskill, Joseph Purcell, William E. deGarthe and Jack L. Gray.  And who could blame them?  With gorgeous inlets surrounded by blue slate rocks, it truly is a beautiful, captivating area.

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It is reported that Blue Rocks is “Lunenburg’s answer to Peggy’s Cove” and the fish shack, sitting in the water, is the most photographed building in the county!  Whatever may be, I think it is a perfect place for a picnic on the rocks.

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Cityscapes and Seascapes

It’s always challenging to show the highlights of Nova Scotia when there is little time to do it.  Customized tours can turn short visits into whirlwind adventures, allowing you to see what you want to see, thus making the best of your time.   This particular tour took us from the cityscape to three distinctly different seascapes…with history, heritage and wine thrown in for good luck!

Beginning in the Port City, we enjoyed a peaceful stroll around Halifax Public Gardens, which truly is a splendid sight at this time of year, full of colour and scents.  A short drive took us to Citadel Hill allowing for stunning views of the city and where we could witness the noon-gun salute.  Our guests also enjoyed some great meals in the downtown area and even managed to find copies of their immigration papers at Pier 21!

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We had absolutely gorgeous weather to explore the Eastern Shore!  Beginning with a stroll on the Dartmouth Waterfront we then cruised along the shoreline to visit the Fisherman’s Life Museum and took a step back in time at Memory Lane Village.

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An early morning departure from the city took us to Peggy’s Cove, where we enjoyed breakfast on the rocks before meandering along the coastline to the quaint fishing village of Lunenburg.   Then to a very different fishing village on the other side of the Province, Hall’s Harbour.  Here, we could witness the glory of the Bay of Fundy and the dramatic difference in the high and low tides.

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While waiting for the tide to change, what better place to relax in than a vineyard?  Spectacular views, superb wines and a joyful atmosphere.  Life is good in Nova Scotia.

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Two Contrasting Coastlines

From the sights and sounds of Halifax and Peggy’s Cove Coastline then over to the Bay of Fundy to explore vines and tides – a packed but relaxing two-day tour.

As we drove through Halifax, we passed the Cathedral Church of All Saints and couldn’t resist popping in for a quick look – Beautiful!  The weather was gorgeous so a stroll around the Halifax Public Gardens was definitely in order prior to visiting the Citadel for the noon gun salute….and to hear the pipe band.

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We headed to the shoreline for the afternoon to explore the quaint fishing village of West Dover, the Swiss Air Memorial and finally Peggy’s Cove.

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The second day of our adventure took us to the Annapolis Valley.  Beginning at Hall’s Harbour, we walked on the empty harbour floor, knowing in a few hours, this would be completely filled by the Bay (the days tidal range was 39.6ft).

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Leaving the harbour, we visited Grand Pre to learn the sad story of the Acadian Expulsion then headed to the Gaspereau Valley to visit Lucketts Vineyards.  Not only did we enjoy the fine food and spectacular scenery, Pete Luckett was on hand to answer questions and tell us his story.

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We returned to Hall’s Harbour to find the tides had come in and dramatically changed the scenery.  The phenomenal Bay of Fundy never ceases to amaze my visitors or me.

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Popular tours this year

Due to our specialty  of customized tours, we seldom do the same tour twice.  However, already this summer, we have seen some repeat tours, not quite exactly the same but very close none-the-less.

The Bay of Fundy and its extreme tidal range has been very popular, especially from Hall’s Harbour…that may also have something to do with the scenic drive, temptation of lobster and so much to do and experience in between tides.  From stepping back in time and experiencing Grand Pre, taking in spectacular vistas to sampling superb wines at Planters Ridge Winery and munching on cheese at Fox Hill Cheese House.

It was an absolute delight to have a 3yr old on one of our trips – reminded me of why I am so happy to be a Grandfather!  So much energy and so much fun but they go home with the parents at the end of the day;)  Truthfully, the wee fella made my day – what fun he was.  Our trip was apparently the high-light for him:

“Obviously you made our day balanced. He is a super busy boy all the time. Max cried on Sunday on our way home, that he doesn’t want to leave Halifax. Tim said that this Sat trip was the highlight of the entire 3 day visit.”  Words we love to hear!

So to our Ontario friends, thank you for visiting and I do hope we see you again!

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History, Harbours and Bagpipes!

When visiting Halifax, the Citadel is always an obvious choice for a tour and this particular tour was a memorable one.  We arrived in time for the noon gun ceremony which our young, visually impaired client thoroughly enjoyed – especially when the pipes began to play. Being a piper himself, he spent about an hour with the 78th Highlanders!  What an experience for him.

We visited the Titanic cemetery and toured historic Halifax before heading out to the coast to Peggy’s Cove.  Although shrouded in fog, it was still a postcard picture!

Lunenburg was beautiful in all its summer glory so we enjoyed a cruise around the harbour…and had the opportunity to watch a Canadian Customs Inspection of a sailboat – not your average visit.

From one harbour to another on the other side of the Province – Hall’s harbour.  Here we watched the tidal ranges and toured the lobster pound.  Our young client thoroughly enjoyed “playing with” a huge 10lb lobster a Hall’s Harbour Lobster Pound– what a Nova Scotian treat!

To top off our three-day trip, we visited the Annapolis Cider Company in Wolfville and the Barrelling Tide Distillery in Port Williams – a tasty end to a wonderful vacation.

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Whirlwind Maritime Tour

Leaving from Halifax, the first stop on our five-day tour was in Truro at the Millbrook Cultural and Heritage Centre.  Here, we learned about the Mi’kmaq people and enjoyed the superb multimedia presentation and exhibits.

Following a scenic drive to Cape Breton, we stopped for lunch and a view at the Cove Motel, prior to exploring the Ceilidh Trail.  A quick stop in Inverness to visit the Cabot Links resort and “pro-shop” which is, as they say, “Built by Dreamers for Dreamers”.

We toured the Cabot Trail, during which, the Cabot Trail Relay was underway.  This is a gruelling 185 mile/276.33 km, 17 stage relay race through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.  This year, there were over 70 teams competing so runners where everywhere!  I think I’d prefer to drive it than run it.IMG_0510

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We stopped in Neils Harbour at the Chowder House – reviews tell us it just might be the best Chowder in eastern Canada!  With super views of the Ocean and delicious chowder, I may just have to agree with the reviews!

Despite the mountains being shrouded in heavy mist and clouds, our Cabot Trail journey did allow us to see a Mother Moose nursing her calf on MacKenzie Mountain – What a treat!  We stayed in Baddeck so had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to Alexander Graham Bell and his wife, Mabel.

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Leaving Nova Scotia by ferry, we headed to Prince Edward Island – the Gentle Island!  No trip here would be complete without a New Glasgow Lobster dinner.  Wonderful.
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We visited Charlottetown (the Birthplace of Confederation), Anne of Green Gables in Cavendish and strolled along the beautiful beach and sidewalks of Prince Edward Island National Park.  We spent some time in the Brackley Beach area visiting the Great Canadian Soap Company (specializes in goats milk products) and at the Dunes Gallery and Café.

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We left PEI by way of the Confederation Bridge, briefly stopping in Shediac to see the “giant lobster” then spent the remainder of the afternoon at Hopewell Cape.  We enjoyed a private guided tour of the famous “Flower Pots” of the Bay of Fundy before heading to Chateau Moncton for the night.

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A fantastic trip with many unique sights.

 

Who knew?

I recently had the pleasure of touring a wonderful family around our great Province.  During our chats, I discovered they were Jewish so shared a ‘little known’ story with them.  I want to share it with you also.  The following was written by Michael Steinitz in 1998 about a tiny community in Cape Breton called Dingwall…Enjoy!

I was doing what my family enjoyed calling my “streetwalker thing”.  Halifax has never had much of a problem with terrorists, but like most Israeli towns it [the Israeli town I was located in] had instituted a “Civil Guard”, which some wags also called the “Old Crocks Brigade”, or worse.  This involved members of the citizenry who would once each month voluntarily undertake armed nighttime street patrols in groups of two, under the supervision of the chronically undermanned police.  The rate of terrorist attacks was too small to show a measurable difference, but the rate of nighttime burglaries had shown a satisfying decrease – if one ignored the almost equal increase in the rate of daytime burglaries.  Among other benefits I got to spend long hours in conversation – with my partner and on the walkie-talkie (known in Hebrew as HaMotorola) to the police.  At least my fluency improved, if not the delicacy of my language.

My partner that night was an old sea-dog.  He had retired from the Israeli Navy at about 65, after a life at sea – at first in the merchant marine, and then in the Israeli Defence Forces.

His first question was essentially “where’re ya from kid?”, to which I dutifully replied “Nova Scotia” in my best Hebrew, swallowing what little remained of my professional dignity after my daily encounter with the admittedly bright, but sometimes disconcertingly abrupt and direct Israeli students I was teaching.

“I’ll bet I know a place in Nova Scotia you’ve never been”, he then continued.

 

Feeling my pride at stake, I replied “try me!”

 

“Dingwall!” he said.

 

“My favourite place”, I replied honestly, having spent several weekends in this wonderful spot every summer with my wife and children since arriving in Nova Scotia in 1973 from points west.  It is an idyllically situated little village a few miles off the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, with mountains descending straight into the sea, sandy beaches, the rough North Atlantic, almost no people, and our very favourite motel, which had only four spotless cottages.  “But how did you ever get there?” I asked, and thereby hangs the following tale.

In 1948 Israel was invaded by six Arab armies and found itself with very few arms and fewer friends.  Among the desperate needs was the need for vehicles, especially Jeeps.  But no-one would sell the newborn country any Jeeps, for fear of angering the Arab states.  Finally, Canada agreed to sell Israel 48 used World-War Two surplus Jeeps, but under very strict conditions: no-one must know of the sale.  No-one must even be able to see the delivery taking place.  Thus the delivery would not be permitted to take place in Halifax, or even Sydney in cape Breton, as the risk of someone seeing it taking place would be too great.  It would be Dingwall, Nova Scotia or nothing.  Take it or leave it, and, of course, as beggars can’t be choosers, Israel took it.

My partner was then the captain of a small freighter, and it fell upon him to pick up the Jeeps.  He was told that he must enter Dingwall harbour through a narrow space in the stone breakwaters, at night, without lights, and that he must be at sea before first light in the morning.

“Do you know what ‘meshuggah’ is?” he asked rhetorically.  “Meshuggah is someone who takes a big ship into Dingwall harbour at night without lights – that’s a meshuggah!”  But he got his load of Jeeps, he was at sea before morning, “hightailing it for the Med”, as he put it, and Dingwall had played its part in the history of Israel.  It may have been very important.

 

Postscript: I recently heard from a friend of a friend that “Of course I know about those Jeeps – those were the Jeeps that Moshe Dayan used to take the town of Ramle, in one of the decisive battles of the War of Independence!”

War Bride Reunion

As war brides returned to Halifax for a weekend reunion, I had the pleasure of showing some of them around the area in between their celebrations at Pier 21.

Our first day tour was along the scenic South Shore coastline visiting Hubbards, Chester, Mahone Bay and Lunenburg.  Not only did they get to see some beautiful sights, but also enjoyed shopping in some boutique Nova Scotian stores.

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No trip to Nova Scotia would be complete without visiting the Bay of Fundy, so day two saw a leisurely drive to the Annapolis Valley to the small fishing village of Hall’s Harbour where everyone could see both high and low tides of the Bay of Fundy.  We also enjoyed a unique tour of a lobster pound.

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While the tide changed, we had plenty of time to visit and explore Blomidon Look-Off, the Acadian Deportation Cross in Grand Pre and also Lucketts Vineyards in Gaspereau Valley.

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With the Bay of Fundy’s highest tides in mind, we visited Salmon River in Truro so they could see the unique tidal bore arrive in ‘full force’.

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A rainy Monday led us to change the itinerary slightly and we decided to spend the day in Halifax visiting some of the historic sites.  We began with a trip to Citadel Hill to witness the noon-gun salute (which on this day, became a 21-gun salute to honour Queen Victoria’s birthday) and continued on to visit the 1917 Halifax Explosion sites and the Titanic Cemetery.  As the drizzle subsided, we headed to Peggy’s Cove for somewhat of a foggy and damp vista then warmed up in the “Sou’Wester” restaurant with a lunch of lobster rolls.

Our final day of touring began with a ferry ride from Halifax to Woodside, thus allowing the war brides a superb view of Pier 21.  Pier 21 was their initial point of entry into Canada so many years ago and undoubtedly stirred a few emotions.  From Woodside, we toured along the Eastern Shore to Fisherman’s Cove and Lawrencetown Beach before returning to their hotel.

A fun-filled few days full of celebrations, shopping and sight-seeing – Thank you Ladies!

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