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Blomidon Provincial Park – Canning

19 Jul

On our last trip to the Annapolis Valley, we stumbled upon Blomidon Provincial Park while checking out the panoramic vista of the Bay of Fundy from Blomidon Ridge.

At the time, it was the first weekend of June, and the campground was packed.  We had to plead a little with the front gate just to get a peek inside.  When planning our recent trip, we made sure to book Blomidon early on.  This park seems to be consistently popular, and we can see why.

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Evangeline Inn & Motel – Wolfville

23 Jun

The Evangeline Inn and Motel is located just off Exit 10 from Hwy 101 as you head in to Wolfville.  It is ideally located to be your base of operations as you explore the many attractions in the area.  Within a 10km radius you can reach the Just Us Coffeehouse and Museum, the Grand Pré National Historic Site (post coming soon) and five wineries, including Luckett Vineyards, L’Acadie Vineyards, Gaspereau Vineyards, Muir Murray Estate Winery and Domaine de Grand Pré Vineyards.

The rooms are comfortable and reasonably priced in the $100-$130 range.  The inn is a former home of Prime Minister Robert Borden and includes a bust of the former PM.  We stayed in the King-sized suite in the inn.  It’s a cozy room with antique furniture, a king-sized bed and claw-foot bathtub.  Basically, exactly what you’d want to find in an inn.

The pool area was on the small side but definitely decent for a motel.  One of the cool features is the fireplace next to the pool.  Note that it closes early at 9pm.  Your stay includes breakfast at the café.  We recommend the omelet.  It’s a good size and loaded with ham, peppers and mushrooms.

We also tried the café for dinner the night of our stay.  The selection is not huge, and it is mostly basic options such as sandwiches, but the food is good, the portions are big and the prices are low.  They also skip the flour in their fish cakes, making the female half of our duo one happy girl.

@DrewMooreNS

Land of Evangeline Campsite – Wolfville

14 Jun

The Land of Evangeline Campsite is at the northern end of the Grand Pré Road, past the Grand Pre National Historic Site.  It’s a pretty typical campground with both serviced and non-serviced sites, bathroom and shower facilities, an on-site store and a mini-putt.

The lots are pretty open, but in exchange…

…you get a really amazing view!

The sites are open with nothing really dividing them.  It’s pretty clear that these grounds are more for campers than tents.  Not the sort of campground that appeals to us but the redeeming qualities included the view of the sunset over the Bay of Fundy and the campgrounds’ proximity to the Grand Pré Historic Site, Domaine de Grand Pré winery and the Just Us Coffeehouse and Museum.

Site: $29-$40

Bundle of wood: $4

Shower: 4 quarters minimum*

*We were told during check in that ‘4 quarters gets you about 10 minutes’. Being eco-minded, we typically opt for a 3-5 minute shower. With this in mind, the female half of this blog made the trek to the shower area with only 2 quarters. Hoping that others can avoid our mistake.

The Local Wedding NS

12 Jun

Anyone who has been following our adventures for the past year and a half might know that we are not one local traveler but a couple of local travelers. *  In fact, we are a couple and we recently got married.  Although our wedding isn’t necessarily something random readers would travel to, it was still most definitely an adventure and we were pretty keen to stick with a local theme.  Plus, since it led to some really fantastic local travel adventures for our honeymoon in the Annapolis Valley, we felt like sharing the day here.

Long before the day itself (it was a lengthy engagement), we booked our ceremony and reception at the Atlantica Hotel (@atlanticahfx) at the corner of Quinpool and Robie in Halifax.  Some of you might know it as the old Holiday Inn.  The hotel has been completely overhauled, with beautiful suites, two spacious event spaces (we flip-flopped over which to use for our wedding) and one of the best pool areas among Halifax hotels.

We took to Twitter to find local registries.  @IlovelocalHFX, and many others, promptly recommended Cucina Moderna (@cucinamoderna) on Dresdon Row.  We spent a fun afternoon browsing through their chic kitchenware, and later added a second registry at The Trail Shop (@TrailShop) on Quinpool Road.  We had a blast at the Trail Shop, anticipating all of the camping we want to do this year.

For the rehearsal party and all of the other festivities during the weekend, we stocked up on growlers of Garrison (@GarrisonBrewing) and Propeller (@PropellerBeer), as well as some bottles of Benjamin Bridge (@Benjamin_Bridge) Nova 7.  Being of Scottish descent, my mother brought a bottle of Glen Breton (@GlenBreton) for me and my groomsmen.

The rehearsal party was catered by @Scanway, and Gillian’s second hand Vera Wang dress for the evening (and for all events leading up to the wedding) was from local high end consignment shop Crimson and Clover (@crimson_clover).

Our Saturday morning ritual is to take the bus down to the Seaport Market (@HfxSeaportMrkt) to do our grocery shopping for the week and chat with the vendors and other regulars.  Gillian was a little busy getting her hair done, so I went with some of my groomsmen and my uncle for breakfast.  I went with the chicken curry Cornish pasty (delicious).  The others were afraid this might be too heavy for a wedding day so they got breakfast wraps from Wrap So D.

We washed these down with some Trinity Gold Lemonade, courtesy of our friend, Josh (@joshnordin) and then popped over to Garrison.  Trinity Gold also provided their tasty lemonade for our pre-reception cocktail.  You can now find their lemonade at Saege Bistro (@SaegeBistro).

While we were otherwise occupied, Gillian and the bridesmaids spent the morning getting pretty, with help from fantastic local makeup artist Kristen Scott (@Krisco_).  For jewels, the girls all donned sea urchin necklaces by local company RunFree RunWild, who adapted one of her popular items to custom fit the dress.

The flowers for the bouquets were all selected from a list of Avon Valley‘s ‘Local’ cuts and artfully arranged by Sandra of ‘I Do’ flowers.  The remaining flowers were almost entirely living plants, with all flower design done by Gillian’s Dad, Jay Wesley (@jaywesley4).   Jay has spent years working with the Public Gardens and totally transformed the space.

We consider ourselves very fortunate to have so many talented friends.  We knew right away that people would remember our wedding for the music.  Luke Watters (@LukeLWatters) is something of a prodigy and wowed our friends and family with the processionals during the ceremony, featuring a sing-along cover of Justin Rutledge’s Don’t be So Mean Jellybean (Rutledge was the first concert we saw together at the In the Dead of Winter Festival in 2009).  Gillian’s sister, Brittany (@BrittanyWesley) is a very talented vocalist.  She treated us to her rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in lieu of grace.  ECMA winner Steven Bowers (@Steven_Bowers) honoured us by performing his 50th wedding anniversary song, It Breaks You So, for our first dance.  It was hard to find a dry eye in the place after that one.  Steve and Luke backed each other for some of their originals and then we let them off the hook to party as Zulca Moon took over.  We discovered these guys at the Seaport Market and fell in love with their infectious grooves.  Seriously, crowds of grinning people form instantly when these guys play at the market and they were in top form for our wedding.  People have been and will be talking about the music for a long time!

Instead of clinking glasses during the dinner to get us to kiss, we asked our guests to make donations to Clean Nova Scotia (@CleanNS).  Also in lieu of favours, we will be making a further donation to Clean NS, specifically to their Adopt a Watershed program.  We live in an area where the Williams Lake watershed is in jeopardy so this program is close to our hearts.

Due to a wheat allergy, we had to avoid regular cake.  Luckily, this meant we could indulge in a variety of cheesecakes from Sweet Hereafter (@Sweet_Hereafter).  Also thanks to @HalifaxSalseros for teaching us to salsa so we could properly groove to Zulca Moon.

Clearly we are pretty big on documenting everything, and we couldn’t have asked for anyone better to document the day in photos than Tanya Shields (@TanyaShields).  She, Jimmy and Ebony did an incredible job of capturing all of the important moments and the vibe of our wedding, right down to the shot of us together with a Metro Transit bus passing behind us.  You can check out her online gallery of the day here.

We’d like to thank @BishopsLanding and @Ristoranteamano for letting us do our shoot in the same neighbourhood where we first lived and where I proposed to Gillian on the waterfront.  Also a big “thank you” to @BishopsCellar for lending us the champagne glasses.

If you’re interested in checking out the play by play of the day, look up #DnGWedFest2012 on Twitter.  Thanks to all of our friends for live-tweeting!

I know we’ve said it already, but one more HUGE thanks to Tanya Shields. She not only did a fantastic job on the day, when we told her about this blog post she went to work picking out some perfect shots to go with this article.  All photos in this post are her lovely images.

*We are always looking for guest bloggers to help us cover our fantastic region.  If you’re interested, please email localtravelerns@gmail.com or send us a message on twitter, @gillianwesleyns or @drewmoorens.

#21 Bus Route – Lakeside

30 May

For our third post on day-trips and vacation spots in HRM accessible by bus (and bike!), we’ll take you for a ride on the #21.  We were originally thinking of doing a post combining routes #21, #22 and #23 to cover all the lakes you can get to along St. Margaret’s Bay Road.  Then we discovered D & Jo’s Country Market and decided to give the #21 its own post.

Note for Cyclists: As always, we have included the cycling distances from the point of origin at a Metro Transit Terminal.  This time we began the route at the Lacewood Terminal, near the corner of Lacewood and Dunbrack.

Canada Games Centre (1km)

The Canada Games Centre is on Lacewood Avenue, halfway between the Lacewood Terminal and Hwy 102.  It is HRM’s newest recreational and fitness facility, built for the 2011 Canada Games.  It includes an Olympic-sized pool, state of the art workout facilities, basketball courts and an indoor track.  A big pro is that they do women-only swims on Sunday.  A big con is the membership fees (pricey).  (@cdagamescentre)

Keshen Goodman Public Library (1km)

At the same stop for the Canada Games Centre, you will also see the Keshen Goodman Public Library.  This is one of the best libraries in HRM, with floor to ceiling windows allowing plenty of natural light, a great selection of books, audio books, videos and comics.  It also features a café, free Internet access and a great meeting space.  (@hfxpublib)

Bayers Lake Business Park (2.4km)

To be honest, this isn’t the sort of thing we’d normally include in a local travel post, but, it is along this route and it is a place people might want to visit.  It has everything you’d expect to find in a business park, with the full range of retail, grocery, building supplies & discount stores mixed with fast food and franchise restaurants.  Ela Greek Taverna (formerly Opa) is something of a standout here.  (@BayersLakePark)

Chain of Lakes Trail (4km)

Formed in December 2009, this trail runs more than 7 km before linking with the Beechville Lakeside Timberlea Trail.  As suggested in its title, this trail hits most of the many lakes along the St. Margaret’s Bay Road, and is bike and foot friendly.  The trail takes about 2 hours to walk one way.  Once you get tired, make a beeline for the road and let your friendly bus driver do the rest of the work. To find out more on this trail, click here.

Lovett Lake (7.1km)

You are now approaching major lake activity. If you stayed on the #21, you have only a few more stops from Bayers Lake to get to Lovett Lake.  After spending some time at Lovett, you can also switch to the Chain of Lakes trail from this area. Walk up Lakeside Park Drive, then take the trail to get to the back side of Governor Lake.

Governor Lake (9.0km)

Whether you reach it by bus or by trail, we urge you to check out Governor Lake. This spot is said to be a great fishing spot for speckle trout.  There is also a farmers market here for lake supplies (see below), and a restaurant if you are looking for a larger meal. There are multiple entry points to this lake, some of them smaller than others. Either way it is a great spot for an afternoon of swimming.

There are a number of small entry points to Governors lake off of the neighborhoods that line the lake off of the St. Margaret’s Bay Road

D & Jo’s Country Market (9.0km)

This delightful country market really clinched this bus route for us.  It’s not huge, but it’s packed with many local food items we haven’t seen in too many other places, including Cavicchi’s Meats, Schoolhouse Bakery, Char’s Country Dips & Seasoning and Farmer John’s Herbs.  We’ll definitely be catching the #21 to come back out here.

Other Notable Swimming Spots

If you continue on from Governor Lake, you’ll come across Six Mile Lake (a bit of a trek from the road), Mill Pond, and Frasers Lake. All are great but a bit harder to access from the road.  Fraser Lake, the last lake along the #21 Bus Route, is a very large lake, but the spots accessible from this route are mostly occupied by private properties.

According to an article in The Coast, two of the lakes along this route are popular spots for swimming in your birthday suit. While naked dips are illegal in HRM, we thought we’d share this fun fact.

Did we miss something along this route? Snap some photos and send an email to localtravelerns@gmail.com to help us get a full picture of things to do on the #21. Looking for more bus-able adventures? Check out our past posts on the #15 Bus Route and the #60 Bus Route.

Help us build our next route:
We’ve been inspired by the crowd-sourced Twitter account, @celebrateNS and would like to invite you to share your favourite places in HRM and the route you use to reach it.  Walking trails, community centres, watering holes, panoramic vistas, local shops are all welcome additions to preferred destinations.  Comment on this post, or email us at localtravelerns@gmail.com.

Bus Route #60 – Eastern Passage

23 May

Welcome to our second installment of day-trips and vacation spots in HRM accessible by bus (and bike!). Today we’ll chronicle the #60 Bus Route to Eastern Passage.

Note for cyclists: We’ve added distances from the Bridge Terminal in brackets next to each location. The trip is pretty flat for the most part, with sparse bike lanes.  There are some great coastal views along this route.

Downtown Dartmouth: (0.9km)
From the Bridge terminal, the #60 route first takes a scenic tour of Downtown Dartmouth. If you aren’t up for a long day-trip, you can get off early and explore some of Downtown Dartmouth’s awesome offerings including Alderney Landing, Two if by Sea, and Celtic Corner.  These stops will be better covered on one of our upcoming bus routes, but are worth mentioning for any trek through Dartmouth.

If you haven’t tried their croissants, get to the Dartmouth or Halifax location right away. Its a must-try spot in HRM.


NSCC Centre for the Built Environment
: (3.2km)
A few more stops will take you to the NSCC’s Centre for the Built Environment. Why is a community college a worthwhile stop on a day-trip? The NSCC’s Built Environment Campus is no ordinary school.  As one of the greenest buildings in the province, the campus features the first Cold Climate Living Wall, two interior soil-less living walls, a living roof, and a number of other cool green features. Sign in at the visitors desk and take a quick peek at this unique space.

John’s Lunch: (3.7km)
From NSCC, take a short walk over to John’s Lunch. John’s might not look like much from the outside, but this little restaurant has gained a big name for itself with their fish and chips. It was recently named the Best of Fish and Chips in The Coast’s “Best of Food” guide for the second year in a row.  Stop in for lunch, you’ll be happy you did, and even happier for the short walk before this large indulgence. http://www.johnslunch.com/

Shearwater Aviation Museum: (7.6km)
Even if you think you have no interest in planes, we highly recommend stopping at the Shearwater Aviation Museum. The museum is home to 15 heritage aircrafts, including a rebuilt Fairey Swordfish Mk. II and a WWII vintage biplane. It also houses over 12,000 artifacts such as uniforms, aircraft tools and insignia, and a collection of aviation art.  While there, make sure you check out the flight simulator to get a feel of what it’s like to be in the cockpit. Entrance is by donation. The space is also available on a limited bases for event rentals, and would make a truly unique space depending on the event.

To find out more, or check out the hours of operation, click here.

Fisherman’s Cove: (10km)
I remember visiting Fisherman’s Cove when I was much younger and thinking it was a world away from the city. Today, I’m sad it took me so long to realize just how close this HRM gem is. The #60 drops you right at the entrance. Keep your eyes out for the fish mural.

Fish mark the spot for Fisherman’s Cove


From the mural, walk straight a few meters and you’ll soon find yourself in the middle of a mini-paradise. Start with a walk along the boardwalk, and check out the amazing views of Lawlor Island.  This is also a great spot for a leisurely Kayak trip.

There are a few small beaches in Fisherman’s Cove, not all are okay for swimming due to strong currents so pay careful attention to signs.

After building an appetite, check out some of the awesome eateries including Boondocks and Wharf Wraps, or grab a beer at the Fisherman’s Cove Alehouse.

You can also check out some of the boardwalk shops, including The Fisherman’s Cove Gallery, run by 10 local artists.  Stop in and browse, and talk to one of the artists.

There is so much to see in Fisherman’s Cove. It is everything you could hope for in a board walk; ice cream shops, novelty stores, lobster shacks, whale watching excursions and even a ferry to McNabs Island. We recommend spending at least half a day to take in the beauty.  If you really fall in love with the area, you can always spend the night at the ‘Inn on Fisherman’s Cove”.

Hartlen Point Forces Golf Course:
Up for a game of golf? The #60 takes you within walking distance of the Hartlen Point Forces Golf Course. Take the bus to the tip where Shore road and Caldwell Road meet, then walk 10 minutes down Shore Road. The course is owned by the Canadian Armed Forces, but is open to the public. We don’t know much about golf, but we hear this is a challenging course.  Green fees start as low as $18. There are also rentals available on-site if you don’t want to drag your clubs on the bus. Check out the golf course here.

Silver Sands Beach Park: (15.1km)
The #60 bus route ends at Samuel Danial Road, but if you are a biker, we suggest packing your bike and making two extra stops. The first is Silver Sands Beach Park, a 3k journey from the end of the route.  This unique and quiet area is a great spot for a semi-private picnic with a view.

Not the best spot to lounge in the sand, but it does make an awesome picnic spot.

Rainbow Haven Beach: (18.2km)
A 7km trek from the end of the #60 route is one of the better beaches in Nova Scotia, Rainbow Haven Beach. Get off the #60 at Samuel Danial Road, and bike along Cow Bay Road then Bissett Road. Beach amenities include change houses, a canteen, showers, flush toilets, beach volleyball nets, and boardwalks. From bus to bike, you are looking at about an hours journey, a worthwhile trip to lounge on Rainbow Haven.  A note to first time visitors, this beach was slow on the day of our visit in May, but Rainbow Haven fills up fast on a hot summer’s day. Get there early to score a spot on the sand.

Click Route_60 to get the schedule.

Help us build our next route:
We’ve been inspired by the crowd-sourced Twitter account, @celebrateNS and would like to invite you to share your favourite places in HRM and the route you use to reach it.  Walking trails, community centres, watering holes, panoramic vistas, local shops are all welcome additions to preferred destinations.  Comment on this post, or email us at localtravelerns@gmail.com.

The Holman Grand – Charlottetown

18 May

Back in January, work found us staying at The Holman Grand in Charlottetown, PEI (http://www.theholmangrand.com/). While I have frequently used the Holman as an event space, this was our first opportunity to stay on-site.

The Holman makes an impression from the moment you pull in. We arrived after dark to find the building illuminated in multi-coloured lights.  The main lobby has a clean, modern feel, with sleek furniture, unique floral arrangements and multiple mini fish displays along the front desk.

After making our way to the 9th floor, we had our first peek at a unique hotel feature:

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Inverary Inn – Baddeck

6 May

We recently spent two nights at the Inverary Inn as part of a conference. It was the off-season (March), a time when Inverary remains open, but with limited food services, and no water activities. The Lakefront restaurant, paddle boat and kayak rentals, and most of the town of Baddeck that we would have loved to explore were closed for business. Continue reading

Murphy’s Campground

18 Sep

A few weeks ago, we set off on an impromptu trip to Cape Breton, our hearts set on camping the cabot trail. However, after a long workweek and a few unsuccessful inquiries to campsites, we settled on a shorter (but no less beautiful) trip to the Eastern shore.

 

The Eastern shore is the least visited part of our fair province, although the drive alone makes it hard to understand why. The journey was filled with breathtaking sights of the shoreline, secluded picnic spots and pristine beaches. Over the next few posts, we’ll share some of the highlights of our Eastern Shore Adventure.

 

First up, Murphy’s Campground:

Located about 45 minutes outside of downtown Halifax, Murphy’s Campground is conveniently located for urbanites looking for a short trip out of the city. We didn’t book Murphy’s in advance and ended up on a very small plot, just big enough to squeeze the car and our tent onto. Our site was not unique in this, as most sites are small and close together.  This can be a plus if you’re the sociable type, but for others it makes it difficult to feel like you’ve gotten away from it all.  In fact, Murphy’s is one of the more social campgrounds we’ve seen, offering nightly community bonfires with music and free mussels, and the Sailor’s Rest, a lounge in a cabin with complimentary coffee.

 

Prices are okay but not great, at $25/night and $5/bundle of wood.  If you’re feeling thrifty, there are plenty of houses offering $2-3 bundles all along the road in each direction leading to the grounds.  The people are friendly, and don’t give you the same hassle with registration that another campground in the region does.  If you are booking in advance with a few friends, try to get the two plots at the end of the road as they’re a little more secluded from the rest.

Brigitte’s Bed & Breakfast

4 Sep

After a mistaken double booking at the Best Western Woodstock, we found ourselves faced with a bit of an unexpected adventure. It was 11 pm, and due to extra accomodation traffic from the U2 concert in Moncton, our options were narrow. The hotel made a few frantic phonecalls, and eventually found us a room at a little B&B called Brigette’s.  We were traveling with family, and though we like to think of ourselves as the adventurous types, not all of our family members are as open to broadening their horizons.  However, we were stuck, and after a 15 minute drive down a dark country road with the female half’s mother calling all of her sisters to let them know where we were going in case we were never heard from again, we reached Brigitte’s.

Named after the owner, Brigitte’s Bed and Breakfast is a 5 room B&B in a modern style home.  The front of the house is deceiving, hiding both the size and splendor of the house.  There are three common areas indoors, including a large bar area complete with pool table and dartboards.  The guest rooms are decorated with themes from different countries, and the semi-private bathrooms were done in white tile and chocolate brown accents, nearly spa-like.  To top it off, there is a large outdoor pool with patio area and tiki bar.

Breakfasts can range from yogurt and berries to a full eggs, bacon, ham and toast spread, depending on your preference.  One of the best parts of this trip was having the opportunity to meet Brigitte and her husband, one of the nicest couples we have had the pleasure to meet. We were sad that we were only in Woodstock for the night.

Brigitte’s would make for a great weekend or week long retreat with friends or co-workers (they hold many corporate meetings). And, with rooms starting at $65 a night (including breakfast), Brigitte’s is sure to become a repeat destination for us.