It seems like every time we think about a perfect day that we’d like to bottle up to take out at a later date to relive, we’re on a boat. The first one we can remember was a day of sailing in the British Virgin Islands, the only time in her life when Patty sat at a bar (on an otherwise deserted island – Norman Island to be specific) in a bikini! A couple of years ago, we rented a boat and a captain and motored along the French Riviera, glass of champagne in hand.
This past week, as we near the end of summer, we’re traveling closer to home. Armed with a picnic and a full tank of gas, we motored our 24-foot Chris Craft out of our cove on St. Margaret’s Bay in the Halifax region of Nova Scotia. We headed across the bay and rounded the point of land the separates St. Margaret’s Bay from Mahone Bay and headed toward the tiny village of Chester. More of a summer refuge for both Americans and Canadians who can afford the fabulously large, east-coast-styled clapboard dwellings, the village is on every tourist’s travel itinerary as they make their way along what is known as the lighthouse route on the south shore of Nova Scotia. Seeing it from the water, however, always imbues it with a different kind of charm.
After Chester, we made our way along the coast and into Marriott’s Cove that is home to the South Shore Marina and one of our favorite out-of-town restaurants, The Galley. We pulled in to top up our gas and then were off to Oak Island. Yes, Oak Island of the buried treasure fame. Situated just on the shore that is connected to the island with a causeway is the Oak Island Inn and Spa. Rather than pull into here for lunch, we dropped anchor just off the mysterious Oak Island and had a wonderful lunch in the sunshine.
Just after lunch it was about time to head home thinking that we’ll remember this day next winter when we’re gazing out a window to see the snowflakes dancing on the dock!
How far away from home do you have to go before it counts as ‘traveling’? Indeed, what are a couple of discerning (and inveterate) travelers to do when stuck in their offices, chained to their desks for a few months with only the smallest of travel lights at the end of a seemingly endless tunnel? We think that if they are true travelers, they can hop into the car, crank up the satellite radio and set out on a day trip that would make even the most jaded armchair traveler green with envy. So, that’s what we did last week.
Striking out on the east coast of Canada is a no-brainer ; there are so many things to see and experience.
Sometimes we book a room at our favorite waterfront hotel downtown and spend a Saturday night pretending we’re tourists in our home town. We have dinner, walk along the beautifully restored Halifax boardwalk and relish sleeping in and having breakfast served to us in the dining room with a front-row seat on the harbor. Well, that’s for next week on Art’s birthday. Last week, we set out around St. Margaret’s Bay, the home of Peggy’s Cove, and then around to Mahone Bay.
An iconic fishing village, Peggy’s Cove seems to be a tourist must-see in this part of the world. The truth is that there are many just as charming fishing villages dotted along the Atlantic shoreline of Nova Scotia. But Peggy’s Cove, at the entrance to St. Margaret’s Bay is synonymous with Maritime culture it seems. It’s actually only a ten-minute drive from where we live, so we like to take a Sunday noon-hour drive there to sit at the Sou’wester Restaurant to indulge in fish and chips about twice a year.
(We can’t justify following this lunch with their gingerbread – but you should try it!)In the fall, this part of Canada is subject to the ravages of hurricanes that make their way up the eastern seaboard of the United States. This means that the day after a hurricane is the best time to sit and watch the grandeur of Mother Nature as she pounds the waves against the shoreline making mountains of foaming surf.
The other direction out our driveway takes us to Mahone Bay. Larger than St. Margaret’s Bay, Mahone Bay is home to dozens of little islands, making it a haven for sail boats and small yachts. We love to drive along, finding wonderful little places to lunch; and although we’re not ‘antiquers’ (as we’ve taken pains to mention before), we can still tell you that if you are, then you’re in luck because antique shops are dotted along the shoreline in many of the villages we pass through.
Last weekend we were delighted to find a favorite restaurant had reopened. Closed for some three or so years, The Galley, located at South Shore Marine, has reopened for business. We did a U-turn in the middle of the road when we spied the ‘open’ sign so that we could once again sit in a window seat over the marina and watch the sailboats rocking in the breeze. It’s a good thing that we didn’t have any hard and fast plans or we would have missed the best lobster rolls ever. After lunch we continued on to our destination: the local nursery that stocks the best annuals and perennials in the area. After a bit of shopping, we made our way home, happy in the knowledge that in spite of our currently busy schedules, we could find a short trip to take us away from our own yard.
So, if you can only venture out for a day, here are our favorite tips for discerning travel in your own neck of the woods:
Don’t plan or at least don’t over-plan. Although this is counter-intuitive to the discerning travel mantra, these kinds of trips are better left a bit loose. We would have missed eating at The Galley last weekend if we had followed through on our loose plan to eat at the Seaside Shanty and Chowder House (which is kitschy and quaint).
Try something new. This is your chance to turn down a road less traveled, a road that you’ve always wondered about. Just go.
Take photos. We’ve mentioned before that seeing the world through the lens of your camera might not make for the best experience of a place. The truth is, though, that we often don’t take photos close to home. This is a chance to turn this on its head: take photos of the things that you thought you knew. Later, when you look at them, you just might see more-or-less familiar places from a different point of view.
Oh…and if you are actually planning a trip to the east coast of Canada (or will stop in on a cruise of New England and eastern Canada) we have a few suggestions for discerning travelers. Here are a few of our favorites in and around the city.
Favorite Photo Ops: The Halifax Public Gardens, Citadel Hill, the Halifax-Dartmouth ferry from the middle of the harbor, Historic Properties, the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse (45 minutes from downtown)
Favorite Shopping Spots: Park Lane on Spring Garden Road (best shoe store in the city, ladies), Spring Garden Road in general (just stroll along).
But please remember: if you rent a car and take that day trip to Peggy’s Cove, remember that many of us live there and like to get where we’re going. If you want to take in the views, please pull over!