I set off from Heathrow on a beautifully sunny, autumn day from Terminal 2 – The Queen’s Terminal – with Air Canada. I was lucky to be invited to the Air Canada lounge (strictly for business and first class passengers!) it’s conveniently near the gates, has large glass windows for good views, comfortable seating and a great selection of food and drinks.
The flight to Halifax is under 7 hours, so easy and comfortable… and then I was in Canada!
My hotel was the Pictou Lodge Beachfront Resort which is in a beautiful area on the Northumberland Strait. The resort has 2 storey lodges, and each one has a balcony or terrace with barbecue, large kitchen and lounge and 2 bedrooms. The resort has a swimming pool and lots of activities.
With the Hector Heritage Quay (named after the first ship to arrive from Scotland) and the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site and the ferry port nearby, this is a lovely stop for a few days. The history of Nova Scotia is fascinating.
Nova Scotia is all about scenery, it’s a true coastal province with stunning views everywhere, an amazing self drive or coach tour destination with a massive network of trails to walk and to cycle and lots of water based activities, too. I chose kayaking which was a great experience and despite the rain it was FUN!
Nova Scotia is also all about food, especially seafood. I have to admit that I was offered Lobster in one way or another every day. And there are some great wine areas here. Some of the vineyards are very worth while visiting for the wine as well as the settings! For the beer lover there are a lot of microbreweries and through the Scottish influence, a pub with live music is never far away.
As I was travelling, lunch was mostly in small cafés or a picnic box on the go. Both options were always delicious with lobster chowder or sandwich my favourite.
I loved Louisbourg. This little town was so well preserved you can imagine it as it was centuries ago – the mist swirling between the houses, everyone in period costumes, sheep grazing, canons firing! It’s one of many Signature Experiences recommended by The Canadian Tourist Commission. They encompass a wide variety of sites and experiences all over Canada, not to be missed.
You can learn more about the culture at the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts which is on the famous Cabot Trail . As part of this I walked the magnificent Skyline Trail which is one of 24 trails in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park alone – just beautiful.
Overnight was at the Keltic Lodge and as the sun came out I was overawed by the incredible scenery . This lovely place boasts a fabulous golf course, a great spa, a heated outdoor swimming pool and a wonderful restaurant with some of the best food I sampled on this trip.
Next day I visited the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck – a lovely little town. The museum is so interesting – Alexander Graham Bell was a real genius and the telephone was only one of his many inventions. Our White Glove Tour here – another CTC Signature Experience – was great, with hands-on experiences!
I stayed at the Inverary Resort and explored the town by foot for a walk that evening. Next was Sherbrooke Village on the way back to Halifax… along a lovely scenic coastal road. I would love to drive along there again in the autumn as the colours would be glorious. Autumn is later here than in New England, more towards mid October. This typical village from 1860 is maintained just as it used to be. It is the province’s largest museum site. Again, staff wear period costumes, and everything is portrayed as it used to be – an ironmonger, a working farm with animals, a chemist, a guesthouse, a prison, a restaurant and much more. Great fun!!
Not far from here is Liscombe Lodge, a nature lover’s delight. I chose to hike along one of the trails but there are also swimming, cycling, boating and kayaking to choose from.
Finally, some time in Halifax! What a lovely city! The weather had turned and it was basking in warm sunshine. I was at The Marriott, right on the waterfront at the beginning of a boardwalk which stretches all the way to the famous Pier 21, where all the cruise ships berth. It’s an easy to walk city with great restaurants, pubs, shops and views and a fortress with amazing views over the city.
I took a coach tour to Peggy’s Cove that afternoon and while it sounded ‘touristy’ it really was a great experience and a great photo opportunity and well worth the visit.
If you have time, try to see Lunenburg, and the Annapolis Valley, the landscape, history and last but not least vineyards were so beautiful .
On my last day in Canada I took myself off and walked the whole length of Halifax through some beautiful parks and residential areas. Towards the evening I took the ferry over to Dartmouth (only 10 minutes) where I sat in a lovely outdoor restaurant and watched the sunset over Halifax. The perfect end to the perfect trip.
Want to explore the Scottish Heritage of Canada? Come and see me – I’d love to help!