The boats in Alma resting on the sea bottom at low tide
After five weeks in Montreal studying French, it was definitely time for a less academic, more “fun-in-the-sun” vacation, so last week me and my best friend Clio set off for an 8 day road trip through the Maritimes. We started in Montreal on a 14 hour car journey through Quebec and New Brunswick all the way to Halifax, Nova Scotia, right on the Atlantic coast. We got there with a random stranger who posted on craigslist rideshare for only $100 each, a bargain compared to the $200+ bus or $250 flight. Unfortunately for us, he liked to talk, and talk a lot, and mostly about himself. He was a mid-twenties, Italian highschool teacher (also hairy and chubby with greasy curly hair) who boasted about the grade 11 girls who had crushes on him and boys who aspired to be him. Once in a while he would bring up his ex girlfriends and how he only dated or had interest in gorgeous women. Oh ignorance, but entertaining at the very least.
After taking turns fighting for the backseat (where we could pretend we were sleeping and not engage in conversation), we made it safely to Halifax where a peer student that I met from the French program lived. Our host was Tim, one of the most friendly, positive, and energetic people I’ve ever met. He lives in a residence called Trinity House, run by members from the adjacent church, complete with a guest bedroom for two where we stayed. The times that Tim walked with us, he knew every person that was in anyway involved with King’s College, the oldest university in Canada where he studied. We spent most of our days doing the touristic clichés, and even though we were there from Monday to Thursday, we hit the town every night for some drinking and dancing festivities. East coast Canadians were super nice, and the food was great since we managed to feast on a $10 lobster meal each, sucker our way into some free street sausages, and indulge in the local brews. On our last night there, we saw a cover band called Mellotones play at the Seahorse, and they rocked out to some of the best songs with a 9 piece soul/funk band whose blonde curly-haired lead singer who could mimic Michael Jackson pretty convincingly inbetween playing his saxophone.
After Halifax, we took this door to door shuttle service to get to Prince Edward Island; it was about a 5 hour drive in an 11 passenger packed like a sardine can that started at 6:45 am, so, not very comfortable. Once we arrived in Charlottetown, PEI’s capital, we had the first, true summer day with 26 degree heat and no clouds in the sky. We grabbed fried scallop lunch at Peake’s, a restaurant right on the wharf, and made friends with a lonely guy at the table beside us. We chatted with him a bit, and when he realized we were out of towners looking for a nice beach to camp, he offered us a ride to Tea Hill. We spent most of the afternoon there sunbathing and relaxing, and then our rideshare that we had organized for the following morning from PEI to New Brunswick called to make arrangements for another early morning pick up.
He sounded really nice on the phone, but again, another random stranger from craigslist. He offered to pick us up then and take us to a beach closer to where he was staying so that the following morning it would be easier to accept, so we accepted. We moved to Bedford, to some secluded beach with more sand and calmer water. Chris, the rideshare guy, ended up being super strange and talking all sorts of contradictory information on the short ride over, so when he asked to come hang out with us on the beach, we quickly denied with some lame excuse. Then, being 2 paranoid female backpackers on a lonely beach, we decided to be stealth about our camping location by walking a few hundred meters over to this deserted mansion, which ended up being inhabited by an elderly couple with 13 Porches and 1 Mercedes. We camped on their lawn and told them about our safety concerns, so they made us feel nice and cozy on their perfectly groomed lawn and woke us up with bottled water and an offer to use their porcelain toilet. Since we had almost no other choice, we still met Chris in the morning to catch our ride to New Brunswick, and we were a lot calmer to share the car with his 60 year old aunty for the three hour drive.
In Fredericton, the capital of NB, we stayed with my roommate from Montreal. Matthew, or, more affectionately, Turbo, is a burly faced, lumberjack shirt wearing teddybear who is always singing or strumming his guitar. As you can imagine, he was also great company and a wonderful host, and we took a day trip down to Alma in the Bay of Fundy where they have the highest tides in the world. They say that their 10 meter tide differences make their harbor only accessible during high tide, and all other times, the boats rest on the ocean floor. Alma is a tiny village with a huge lobster industry, so for lunch, we feasted on more fresh lobster (and some snow crab) for about $6 – $9 each, and further indulged with the most amazing sticky buns I’ve ever had, complete with hot chocolate to drink. It was a chilly, misty day, so hot chocolate could not have been more appropriate as we walked along the incoming tide. On the way home we somehow got lost in Fundy national park, but since its only 20km around, it didn’t cost us much time, just a lot of confusion since there’s only one road through it and getting lost on the way out is quite an accomplishment. From Fredericton, we came back to montreal late last night, and tonight I’ll regretfully be parting Montreal and Clio. Tomorrow morning I’ll be waking up in New York after an overnight bus. Hopefully there will be no more Italians or Chris to share the long drive with…