The subject of an adventure to Nova Scotia oddly came up on our first date. Sitting awkwardly across a plate of spinach salad, steak tips, and mashed potatoes in a kinda sucky bar with a pretty awful beer selection, we both agreed that Nova Scotia would be a rockin' future vacation destination - I'm just not sure either one of us knew we'd be going together. It was around this point in the conversation that a metal shard was discovered in the potatoes. Take that omen however you want. Nova Scotia is up there above Maine. In Canada. It's rugged and scenic but more importantly, it's NORTH of our year-round latitude. We were traveling in the height of summer - August to be specific. If I have one rule in life, it's that I do not willingly go south in the summer. Heat + Amberly = Sad Face. I can barely tolerate an August day in the greater Boston area. So, my preference is to venture north in summer, south in winter...at least until I get overruled (likely) or we run out of places north of Boston (also likely). Dammit, I'm screwed. But then it happened...technically about six months into deciding we liked each other enough to go on a trip together. We boarded a plane, flew north, and the journey began.
We had less than a day to explore Halifax. It's not the biggest place in the world and, while I'm sure there are hidden gems we should have probably made a point to see, we were happy enough wandering around the Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk, eventually finding ourselves outside The Foggy Goggle where we devoured some lobster dip and beer. Okay, let me be honest with you...we didn't just end up at The Foggy Goggle. I read a review of their Dark Belgian Chocolate Brownie served with vanilla ice cream that said "there is nothing like the interracial mixture of chocolate and vanilla - the white cream melts all over the backside of the brownie" - you just don't come across a review like that everyday, right? We had to know what this dumb brownie was all about and, while it didn't expressly disappoint, it didn't elicit an erotic review from us either. After dinner, we wandered some more and took in the nighttime views around Grand Parade Square. Andy cannot resist photographing a sweet arch like this.
Pro Travel Tip: update your GPS with international maps before you get to your destination. It can save you about 200 bucks and you'll avoid the annoyance of trying to update the GPS you brought with you using hotel computers that move at the speed of inchworms. If it's not already obvious, the first task of Day Two was to visit Best Buy so we could get some Canadian GPS action. Road Trip Essentials 101:
chocolate covered espresso beans
Armed with the above, we set out. The ultimate destination that day was Baddeck up on Cape Breton. Our map had us passing just east of Cobequid Bay, part of the Minas Basin, so we decided to go off course slightly to explore the bay. This place was pretty magical. It was our first taste of the enchanting landscapes we would see on this journey.
What a spellbinding place.
When we got back to the car, it was snack time. I think we can all agree that BBQ potato chips are delicious - but whoever thought to take it to the next level with baby back ribs has possibly the finest mind around. I could go on and on about President's Choice potato chip flavors and, in a future blog post, you can full-on expect, like, at least 500 words on the subject. Needless to say, they are fabulous and I need a Canadian hookup to ship me some (contact me if you live up there and we can work something out - I'm very serious about this).
A few hours (and a whole bag of chips) later, we were in Baddeck checking into the Telegraph House and Motel. We got upgraded to the sweetest little cabin. I highly recommend staying in a cabin at this place. The main lodge just seemed a little too stuffy for our taste. We sacrificed a balcony with a view of Bras d'or Lake in making the switch, but it was totally worth it to be a little more isolated. We had two reasons for ending Day Two in Baddeck:
It was a good jumping off point to get up early on Day Three for Cape Breton exploration
All-You-Can-Eat lobster* at Baddeck Lobster Suppers
*Admittedly, I am not the best at reading details. Many times, I see what I want to see and not what is actually there. This has mostly worked out fine for me. But on this particular night, I was really really really disappointed by it. You see, it was an all-you-can-eat rolls/biscuits/mussels/chowder situation. Not lobster. You guys, I was SO jazzed to leave behind, like, at least 3 lobster bodies that night. Sadly, I only left one behind. It was good one! Oh, it was divine-tasting for sure. Needless to say, we went to town on those all-you-can-eat sides. I think Andy consumed two buckets of mussels and I probably put away a day's worth of carbs in rolls and biscuits. It was absolutely pouring buckets when we arrived at Baddeck Lobster Suppers. By the end of the meal, feeling full and adjusting to the fact that I had not, in fact, been able to consume all I could eat in the lobster department, the rain had let up. It was one of those serenly calm moments where nothing moved, the sun was setting, and the lake was glassy and smooth. We left the restaurant and strolled along the shoreline of Bras D'or Lake. Even the garbage cans looked peaceful.
Hey, stay tuned for Nova Scotia - Part Deux, where we'll: ...attempt to scare away wild animals ...sleep in a glorified storage locker ...and pay a lot of money to cross a bridge! NEXT