All good things apparently must come to an end and so it is with my two-week trip to Canada. It’s been a blast.
The purpose of this journey was to highlight to Australian travellers – in particular the 250,000 YourLifeChoices members – the fun to be had when visiting the provinces of eastern Canada. So, we started in the maritime province of Nova Scotia, ten delighted in the rugged beauty of Atlantic Newfoundland, finishing in historic Quebec City, where we were captivated by French Canada.
Who is we? Initially I was to travel on my own, covering long distances by car in both Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. But my friend Jennie (who is retired) said she had the time to join me. What fun. So, ‘Thelma and Louise’ hit Canada and shared two weeks of fun on the road, in the cafés and at some of Canada’s most historic sites.
We drove, laughed, listened, dined, sang, danced – and shared a toast or two of fine Canadian wines. I am deeply indebted to Jennie for joining me on a ‘work’ trip and doubling the insights I was able to gain into what makes this part of Canada such a rewarding travel experience for people our age.
Over the next few months we will share many of these unique adventures and activities, but in no particular order, here are 10 things you didn’t know about Canada and why it is a must for your bucket list:
1. The women in Newfoundland are a hardy bunch. They often live in isolated communities, but are strong, funny, super smart and happy to share their stories. We salute them.
2. The Crow’s Nest bar in St Johns, Newfoundland, is a tiny military bolthole with the most amazing collection of memorabilia and a manager, Joy, who knows so much about the role of this strategic town during both world wars.
3. The spiritual nature of Quebec City and the wider province, which today offer travellers places of rest and beauty
4. The tiny UNESCO World Heritage town of Lunenberg in Nova Scotia, home to European immigrants and thus generations of families of industry and imagination.
5. The Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck in Nova Scotia and what a visionary couple he and his wife Mabel were.
6. The seafood – OMG – lobster, mussels, chowder, cod – and not just for eating. Kissing a cod is a must if you want to be ‘screeched’ in as a local in Newfoundland.
7. The quality of Canadian wines – the Nova Scotia whites are crisp, light and delicious. And the for the best named wine, it’s hard to go past the ‘Great Big Frigging Red’ which was created to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday this year.
8. The local crafts scene in the eastern provinces, which is largely based on knitting, quilting, ceramics and many fine First Nations wood carvings.
9. The great value Bed & Breakfast accommodation with hearty home-cooked breakfasts and the chance to learn so much about your host’s way of life.
10. The genuine hospitality offered by local people in all walks of life. The further east we went, the more we found the locals were happy to have a chat, tell us their stories and share their suggestions on where to go and what to see.
There are many ways to explore eastern Canada – by cruise ship from Halifax or Boston, by guided tour in all these provinces, by train with Via Rail, or by self-drive. It depends on your personal preference and you can easily combine all the above if you have the time to do so. Whichever way you choose to go, make sure you do go. Airfares are very low right now, the accommodation is very affordable and there is a mighty fine adventure awaiting you on the other side of the world.
Eastern Explorer & Cruise – 16-Days from $10,495
From the English-speaking Toronto to French-speaking Québec to seaside Halifax Nova Scotia, this delightful journey shows you the best Eastern Canada has to offer.
Enchanting Eastern Canada from $2109
Explore the best of Eastern Canada including historical cities, spectacular landmarks and delightful cuisine. Starting in the vibrant city of Toronto and travelling to the Nation’s Capital – Ottawa. Spend time at leisure visiting museums, cafes, specialty food shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants. All aboard the VIA Rail train to Montreal. The city of Montreal boasts some of Canada’s oldest and most spectacular architecture. The charming walled city of Quebec is a highlight. Quebec City is the heart of Canada, and almost 400 years old!