Nova Scotia Trip.
By Hank Ellenbast.
There are three ways you can get to Nova Scotia. One is by what
they call the slow ferry. It leaves from Portland Maine everyday at 9:00 PM.
Its an overnight trip and gets into Yarmouth NS at 8:00 AM the following day. You can get a small cabin for the overnight trip and I highly recommend doing so. On board there's gambling and night club entertainment. There's also a full service restaurant. The price for two with motorcycle round trip was $340. With a car it was around $500. The second way is by what they call the fast ferry. Its a high speed catamaran which leaves out of Bar Harbor Maine. They make two round trips daily. In the AM and PM. This ferry takes about 3 hours and goes to Yarmouth NS also. I'm not sure of the cost but its a little less than the long ferry because you don't need a cabin. If your taking a car reservations are required for both ferries. The third option is to drive around through New Brunswick . If you have plenty of time and like to drive this isn't a bad option. The ferries will save you about 900 miles of driving. We took the long ferry out of Portland and I enjoyed the trip over a night, however coming back it was a looooong 12 hours. The next time we go well drive the extra 4 hours to Bar Harbor and take the CAT as its called.
Right now the the exchange rate in Canada is $1.45 Canadian for
$1.00 US. So its a bargain traveling in Canada now. You can exchange US money at
the ferry terminals or as we did, went to the bank in Yarmouth NS. Make sure you
exchange your money at a bank because they will give you the best rate. On the
surface it looks much better than it actually turns out, because there's a 15%
government tax on all purchases.
Accommodations are the best bargain because the Canadian government will refund the 15% tax. So make sure you save all your receipts. You can also put most of expenses on your credit card and the credit card company will do the exchange when they bill you and at a rate comparable
to a bank.
Things to see and do:
When you look at Nova Scotia on the map its very deceiving. It
looks so small. Believe me its not. If you wanted to drive around the entire
province including every cove its approx. 4000 miles around. If you have a
limited amount time than you have to make some compromises. We had eight full
days to spend on Nova Scotia and think we covered most of the high points of the
province. We started south out of Yarmouth to drive along the south coast first
towards Halifax the capital. We stopped the first night in Lunenburg. Lunenburg
is a very picturesque harbor and a great place to spend an evening. Depending on
how many coves you explore along the way its a comfortable drive from Yarmouth.
The following day we continued east along the south coast through Peggy's Cove
and Halifax. Peggy's cove is one of the main tourist attractions and for that
reason is also very crowded. It probably was nice about a hundred years ago
without about a dozen tour buses trying to squeeze in. I guess its worth a visit
at least one time anyway. We didn't spend much time in Halifax. We were mainly
interested in seeing the water front area which is beautiful. If you like to
spend some time in a clean well run cities than Halifax would be worth a few
days. We moved on after a few hours and continued east on RT 7 to Port Dufferin.
The ride from Halifax to Port Dufferin had some great scenery. We spend the
night at a nice motel called the Marque Dufferin (902-654-2696). The motel is
right on the water and the on site restaurant was just what we were looking for
after driving all day. The price of the rooms was about $70 Canadian which
translates to $42 US. The following day we headed out on Rt 7 east and
eventually north through Antigonish to Auld's Cove. We found a great place to
stay for the next two nights. It's called the Cove Motel (902-747-2700) and its
located right on the Canso Straits which separates Nova Scotia from Cape Breton
Island. You mentioned you were looking for a centrally located place, well being
Nova Scotia is so large there probably isn't one ideal location, but this one
comes close. The rates were in the $80 range
Canadian. Our intentions were to do the Cabot Trail the next day which is an absolute must do, than return to the motel for another night.
While we were having dinner at the motel overlooking the water we could see pilot whales playing in the straits, it was incredible. The next day we did the trail and it lived up to all our expectations and than some. In fact we liked it so much we did it again later in the week but this time counter clockwise. Our next stop was Sydney NS for a nights stay and a chance to visit The Fortress of Louisbourg. The fort is another definite to visit with three hundred years of history. You can easily spend a day or two there. The following day we took Rt 105 back over to the Cabot's Trail for
another go around and back to the Cove Motel. Did I say I really liked the motel! Our intentions were to follow the north coast back to Yarmouth and catch the ferry back to Maine. Along the way we decided to go on one of the tidal bore rides which takes advantage of the 40 foot tides in the Bay of Fundy. The one we decided on was the Tidal Bore Rafting Park (902-758-4032) located on the Shubenacadie river. They just built all new cabins right on the river and were very nice people. It was a phenomenal sight. The morning we got up the river was almost dry. They manage to take you out in Zodiac with outboard motor and meet the incoming tide. The whole river fills up in 2 hours so depending on the lunar cycle you meet a wall of water coming in between 2 & 8 feet high. If you survive that they play in the rapids created by the incoming tide for another hour or so. Afterwards they serve lunch for everyone. I highly recommend this trip, make sure to make reservations. Also, check the calendar in the NS guide book for the best times that month for a really high tide ride, you might want to schedule around it. Our last stop before heading back to Yarmouth was in Wolfville which is located on the north coast just off the 105 interstate. We rented a clean two bedroom apartment, the name of the place escapes me at the moment. This is the only place we had trouble finding a room so we couldn't be choosey. Wolfville is a college town so there's always something going on. Its a worthwhile stop because right nearby is Hall's Harbour which is a very dramatic sight if you can catch it a low tide, as we did. Wolfville is also the place where we had our best meal of the trip at the Blomendon Inn which was a short walk from where we stayed. We didn't check there prices but it looked like it would be a great place to stay. The following day we headed back to Yarmouth for the ferry ride home. If you decide to take the long ferry which leaves at 9:00 am be sure to make a room reservation in Yarmouth for the previous night when you arrive. This is especially important if your leaving on a weekend.
Links & Phone Numbers:
Nova Scotia info web site http://www.exploreNS.com ( they have an
excellent guide book which covers everything. Or call 800-565-0000
Long Ferry info web site http://www.princeoffundy.com or call
800-341-7540. Short Ferry info 888-249-7245
Well that's all I can think of. I've attached some photos I thought
you'd find interesting. If you have any other questions just let me
know. Have a great trip!