Nova Scotia boasts warm people and great seafood |

Nova Scotia boasts warm people and great seafood

I always wanted to go to Nova Scotia, but I don’t know why. Perhaps it was the exotic sounding name. Maybe the people are different …

Our trip began in Portland, Maine, where we caught an overnight ferry to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. I had dreams of a romantic dinner followed by a cozy night’s sleep in some delightful cabin. Well, I was half right – the dinner wasn’t too bad, but the cabin was the smallest I had ever occupied, sans private bath.

Thank goodness, morning came quickly. If you don’t line up before 6 a.m., you will probably not get your breakfast. Again, the food was acceptable, but I kept feeling like the ferry’s crew were sheepdogs herding us around. We were constantly lining up, first for cabin keys, then breakfast tickets, breakfast and then the big finale: Be at your battle stations (your parked car in the hold) no later than 8 a.m.!

Arriving in Yarmouth was most exciting. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day and the locals could not have been more helpful and friendly. We had a flat tire upon arrival, a Sunday morning no less. It was quickly fixed by a smiling garage attendant for only $4 Canadian.

There are three groups of people living in distinct areas: the Loyalists (exiled during the American Revolution), the Germans and the Cajuns, ancestors of our Louisiana brethren.

The first group we met in the Yarmouth area was the Loyalists. They still kiddingly refer to U. S. citizens as “those revolutionaries who left good old England.”

Everywhere you find great seafood. It was always good.

My 300-pound-plus brother had to “test” the seafood chowder wherever we went. When you weigh more than 300 pounds, you have a lot of experience eating.

Traveling in late August, we missed the bulk of the tourists and had no problems locating inexpensive and beautiful lodging. My favorite was the Quarterdeck near Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia. There were four of us, and we shared a two-bedroom, two-bath, almost brand-new condo 20 feet from the ocean, right on a wide expanse of sandy, private beach.

Going northeast, we visited Peggy’s Cove and then Lunenberg, a charming German seaside community.

South of Halifax (which we intend to visit next time) we headed due north, stopping at Truro, a town known for its huge wooden statues artistically carved out of dead elm trees.

Our next objective: Prince Edward Island. Though Nova Scotia so far had been beautiful, we were not prepared for the even greater beauty at Prince Edward.

We spent some time in Charlottetown, where the men went in one direction and the women went shopping. City hall was housed in what appeared to be an old fire station. I was dressed very casually, but the employees on each of the four floors greeted me as if I were a visiting dignitary. They proudly gave me a tour of “their” respective floor. I even met with the mayor, who walked me around his floor, sharing stories about the restoration of the firehouse.

We had heard of a particularly elegant resort, Dalvay by the Sea. A rich American had once built it as a summer home. At first we thought it was too expensive: $518 per night.

Then we started calculating. Two couples made it $259. Converting it to Canadian dollars made it $171. Then when we realized it came with a full breakfast and dinner, it suddenly became a bargain.

The dinner turned out to be the most elegant of the entire trip, with the finale being a fabulous plum pudding dessert.

The next day we went to the women’s shrine on Prince Edward Island: the Anne of Green Gables house in Cavendish. The house was used to film the interiors and many of the exteriors for the movie, and the rooms feature the movie sets and related memorabilia.

Outside the structure is a huge parking lot filled with sulking husbands/boyfriends impatiently waiting for the end of the tours. I commiserated with many of them.

Moving on, we found ourselves in Digby, possibly the scallop capital of the world. Again, the people were extremely friendly, and we gorged ourselves on scallops.

Heading back to Yarmouth, we passed a park where we met a French-Canadian couple seeking shelter from a brief late summer downpour. We asked them about specialty dishes and restaurants in the area. They recommended a local tasty treat called rappie pie and suggested a place we might find it.

We ordered a small pie as an appetizer and found that it had only four ingredients: potatoes, shredded chicken, chicken bullion and butter. It was fabulous that cold, rainy day.

The final day of what had been a total of 13, we reluctantly got on the ferry, bidding farewell to the wonderful people of Nova Scotia. In the end, we all agreed that though the land was beautiful, the most outstanding quality of Nova Scotia is its kindhearted people.

Kent Rasmussen lives in Grass Valley.

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