The last week of August, about one second before school starts again, and one second after most of the tourists have left, we decided to turn northward onto Nova Scotia, kids and all.
We took a flight to Halifax. I did not expect too much before visiting NS, as I had a chat with only one nice lady who’s been there more than 20 years ago, that told me some things. And I have done some reading. Yet, it was only after arriving and tasting the actual dish, did I savor the special aroma and superb sensations of Nova Scotia. Now I am glad to pass on my own experience and give you Nova Scotia on my silver platter.
If I need to describe it in one word, then NS is probably Heaven. If graphics are needed, then words like curvy, winding, and twisting come to mind, colored with the blue of the Atlantic ocean, deep greens for trees, dots of white for sail boats and seagulls, and burnt red for the mighty cliffs and their soil color.
It’s all about breathing the freshest air, giving your eyes the chance to see the horizon, and endless sights of grand nature and picturesque fishermen villages.
But first things first. We started and ended our visit at Halifax, one of the few urban landscaped you’ll find in NS. There is something so relaxing about this city. I guess it’s because we come from the New York metro.
Halifax, though a busy city, felt more like a town, a cozy place. It has its share of museums, (*) good restaurants, and charming little spots. It has the breeze of the ocean.
(*) We are always on the look for authentic, independent dining places (yes, even with kids), and managed to avoid fast food places for the past few years. In Halifax we found plenty: Turkish, Japanese, lots n’lots of seafood, fresh salads (and not just a tomato cut in half that calls itself a garden salad). Do not miss the Saturday farmers market, that contains not only the freshest foods and pastries, but also artists and crafters.
I must confess: we arrived just as Hurricane Bill made its way into the island, and left NS while tropical storm Danni was rushing through. At first I felt a bit on the down side, tucked with my 3 kids, 1 husband and 2 in-laws in the hotel, waiting for the rain and wind to go away. That took a bit more than a day and a change of plans. But once we got past those couple of days, the glory and magnificent views, as well as a few surprises came our way and bounced the spirits upward. We have met many beautiful places, but here are just a few of the highlights that made our mouth muscles form into the shape of a smile:
Cape Breton, by far, the most beautiful place in Nova Scotia, and one of my favorites in the world.
Cheticamp, Cape Breton. A little village, right at the beginning of the Cabot trail, at the entrance of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Like most villages here, it has its own little harbor, fishing boats, one main road with bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants, craft shops, and the smell of salty water.
Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton. A tiny village, where we took a boat to watch whales and seals, and even the bold eagles.
Gampo Abbey, Cape Breton. A Buddhist Monastery, where you take a deep breath, fill your lungs with the freshest air. You can stroll around the grounds of the monastery and you’re in high nirvana just by looking at the breathtaking views. Situated at a secluded area, not far from Pleasant Bay, on top of a cliff, watching the great big blue ocean, surrounded by forests, wild flower fields and sea breezes, it’s the very place to meditate. There’s also a golden stupa, organic gardens, and of course, pleasant monks.
Green Cove, Cape Breton. Huge pink rocks to jump on, lie down on, walk on, sit on, or just gaze at. Enchanting.
Baddeck, Cape Breton. A village, a harbor, a place where Alexander Graham Bell used to live (a very nice and interesting museum), Forks Falls, Crown Jewel Resort. Though we didn’t actually stayed at the Crown Jewel Resort, we had the privilege of meeting a unique family that runs the place after have decided to fulfill itself. They have settled in Cape Breton, raising farm animals and sled dogs, operating on green energy and cooking gourmet organic food. We were inspired.
Sherbooke Village. Historic village that depicts a typical village set to the mid 19th century. Reconstructed houses, shops, offices as well as people wearing the era’s costumes, walking around, working, and crafting. The kids had a blast.
Peggy’s Cove. The bigger sister of Green Cove (in Cape Breton). The place is pretty, though a bit touristic to my taste. Still, kids loved the huge rocks, one of the typical landscapes of Nova Scotia.
Lunenburg. A historic village with houses, churches and shops dating back to 1753, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, too, it is a bit touristic, but at the end of August it does not feel that crowded. Stroll around the old town, enjoy good seafood, interesting ships and museums.
I want to hope to return to this lovely place. For more photos, take a look at the NS photos page.