We have wanted to get to this scenic Nova Scotia peninsula for decades. But despite having lived more than 20 years in Boston, it wasn’t until we moved to San Francisco that we finally got around to taking this trip. This introductory trip effectively took us three-quarters of the way around the peninsula (excluding only the southwest coast). It gave us time to explore geological wonders such as the Bay of Fundy’s huge tidal variations and the 400-year history and cultural heritage of “New Scotland” (to speak of the even older French “Acadian heritage and that of the British, who forced many Acadians to retreat to what is now Louisiana). But our primary motivation for visiting the province was to explore the rugged, rocky coastline of Cape Breton National Park and its dramatic Cabot Trail.
Our exploration began in the capital, largest city and historic center of Halifax, after a flight in from Toronto. It took us through historic mid-peninsula towns including Wolfville and Grand Pre’ and to the Bay of Fundy to see the huge, 50+-foot variation between high and low tides. We then drove north, with a particular focus on the stunning natural beauty of the Cabot Trail, before driving south along the east coast to the historic town and fortress at Louisbourg, the picture-perfect village of Peggy’s Cove, through historic southern towns including Lunenburg and Shelbourne. We ended up in the southern port town of Yarmouth, where we 9.5 hour ferry to Portland, Maine (a service that has only been recently reinstated after a long hiatus). And did we mention the lobster, the ungainly crustacean that dominated our diet throughout week-long exploration.
The trip, pretty much as we hoped for, plus more. We had, for example, anticipated, from pictures, the beauty of the majestic Cabot Trail, but not the subtle pleasures of Cape Breton National Park’s Bog Trail. We planned to experience the Bay of Fundy’s dramatic tidal changes, but hadn’t seen or heard anything about the riparian tidal bores, much less the chance to raft them, like white water. We didn’t meanwhile, expect much from the wines, so we weren’t disappointed. But even if we had been, the universal availability, amazingly low prices and the ocean-fresh taste and texture of the lobsters would have more than made up for the limitations of Nova Scotian wines.
Overall, a wonderful trip that exceeded our high expectations.
Each section of our trip is detailed in the following series of posts.