Monthly Archives: July 2012

L’architecture du Vieux-Québec

As I alluded to in my Halifax blog post, I have somewhat of a building fetish.

Let me take you on a photographic stroll through the streets of Old Quebec.

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Carving Up The Dancefloor in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

You won’t hear any Rihanna when you’re out on the town in Cape Breton.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 12 or 80, a local, a tourist or a WWOOFer: Saturday nights in this part of Canada are all about the traditional Family Square Dance.

As a first-timer, it’s easy to get psyched out by all the fancy Ceilidh footwork. Luckily they do the same three dances all night (and every Saturday night) so  it doesn’t take long to get the gist of the steps.  Then it’s just a matter of pairing up with an experienced dancer and letting them fling you around the dance floor.

It’s just like that scene from Titanic.

The energy is intoxicating – so much spinning, toe tapping, knee slapping, yelping and walloping.

I later realized this is because everyone is intoxicated. (They can’t serve alcohol because it’s a family event so people sneak out to the car park between songs to load up on whiskey. I should have twigged earlier – where there’s Cape Bretons, there’s sure to be booze!)

Verdict: PG fun and a lot cheaper than a night at the pub!

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Your Bike Is Safe On Prince Edward Island

“So, is there a lock that comes with it?” I asked as I rented a bike in Cavendish, PEI.

“Nah, you won’t need one,” was the reply.

“Do you want me to leave a deposit or anything?”

“Nah, just pay when you bring it back.”

And that exchange pretty much sums up PEI!

I left the (brand new) bike unlocked and unattended as I went to the beach, ate lunch, and slept in my tent. That bike would not have lasted five minutes in Toronto! Those Islanders are a trusting and trustworthy bunch. In fact, I did not see one cop the whole six days I was there.

Observation number 2: Blue sky, green grass, red clay.


Observation number 3: Anne of Green Gables hysteria.


Anne of Green Gables is a novel written in 1908 about an orphan from Nova Scotia who gets sent to live in PEI.

I didn’t grow up reading the book (and subsequent sequels) so I was surprised to discover that people from all over the world visit PEI to see where the story is set. You can’t go anywhere in Cavendish (half an hour from Charlottetown) without having some Anne of Green Gables thrown in your face. But people love it! It’s especially big in Japan. Some girls I met in Charlottetown (who were also in PEI to pay homage to Anne) said they were chatting to a Japanese woman who makes the pilgrimage to PEI every year. And a taxi driver was telling me that tourists are genuinely distraught when they visit the author’s grave. It’s amazing to see that these books have made such an impact on people.

Observation number 4: small hostels are far better than big ones.

I’ve stayed in my fair share of hostels and this rule always holds true. It was particularly apparent when I stayed at Charlottetown Backpackers Inn (and reconfirmed when I stayed at HI Quebec City which is more like a big, impersonal factory than a hostel!).

When I stayed, there were around eight travelers working part-time at CBI (most of the time they outnumbered guests!) and they were all such great people. There is such a nice, communal feeling to the place as well – breakfast altogether in the mornings (everyone fits on one dining table) and pool and beers in the evenings. And the thing I loved most – every Sunday the whole hostel (staff, guests and owner) attends music trivia at the local pub. I planned to stay one night and stayed four!



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