It was raining, and the island was shrouded in fog. So to speak, the Canadian version of the English Foggy Albion.
It was getting dark. So we decided to go to the nearest town of Summerside. It seems this summer side showed us its other side… fall one.
It was raining cats and dogs. We felt lonely in that second largest city on Prince Edward Island (PEI). There was no one around. It seems obvious that our next destination should be a hotel with a hot shower.
Before we had to go through the quest to buy beer.
As far as we know it is only in Quebec province, you can buy alcohol in any grocery store. In other provinces, only special liquor stores are allowed to sell alcohol beverages. But it completely slipped our mind. Since it was Sunday and after 5 pm, all stores were closed. After long driving, a glass of beer would be perfect at the end of the day.
So, we decided to try our luck to find a beer in an unfamiliar city. Since the city is small – or maybe there is another reason – almighty Google could not help us.
We had to drive through the streets and look at the signs.
Half an hour later we found a small convenience store and bought some food but not beer. They did not sell it.
Let’s make here a short pause in our story. Only to say that this store and its friendly saleswoman would be the first in the chain of unforgettable memories about the island.
“What was so unusual?” – you may ask. The best way to understand is to go there. But if we could only describe in a couple of words, it would be “warm and easy-going communication.” We spent at least half an hour talking with that lovely lady. We talked like old friends.
Our pleasant conversation a little brightened up the bad news that they did not sell the beer. At that late time, you could only find it at bars. Otherwise, you should wait until tomorrow and go to a liquor store. After a long drive hanging out in a bar was the last thing we wanted.
We were dreaming about hot shower and silence.
At that time we decided that we needed to buy a case of beer in Montreal before going on long trips to other provinces. To be honest, every time we forget about it and face the same problem: WHERE TO BUY A BEER?
So back to our story…
We called Quality Inn & Suites Garden of the Gulf that we had booked before crossing the bridge to confirm our reservation.
The woman on the other end of the phone seemed distressed and kept asking if we could find a way in this weather. Her voice was not just worried but alarmed.
If we had said that we lost, she would have rescued us or at least would have sent someone to help.
The visibility on the road was awful, but GPS did not fail. So we found the hotel without any problem. Jennifer, the lady on the phone, met us at the front desk. After all formalities, we went to the car for our stuff. As it was still raining, Jennifer offered an umbrella and went out with us. Before we could get our belongings from the trunk, she grabbed the biggest suitcase and carried it to our room!
It is hard to describe our feelings… On the one hand, we felt guilty that the skinny woman grabbed and dragged the largest suitcase, on the other hand, you understand that this is part of the service. But we caught her on the halfway and changed the suitcases 🙂
Later we went down to the lobby and talked to Jennifer for at least half an hour. She told a lot about herself, the city of Summerside, asked questions about us… Again we had that feeling as if we chatted with a long-time-no-see friend.
That was the end of our first day. The day of an incomparable and sincere hospitality of the inhabitants of Prince Edward Island.
In the morning after the breakfast, we went to Charlottetown, the capital of PEI. The parking rate $0.95 per hour in the center near the City Hall “allowed” us to take our time with sightseeing.
The Monday morning in the capital was very quiet and sunny. Finally, we enjoyed the sunshine after a rainy day.
Walking along the streets, from afar we noticed a bright red retro car. Getting closer, we saw a fire truck from last century. The truck looked impressive at the entrance to Charlottetown fire department.
While we examined and photographed the “museum piece”, a firefighter came to us.
It turned out, the fire truck had been completely restored by firefighters at their expense and donations from the townspeople.
The conversation went on for at least half an hour. Unwittingly we recalled the lady from the convenience store in Summerside and Jennifer in the hotel…
If there was a prize for hospitality, we would not hesitate to give it to this smallest province of Canada.
In this one-story capital, we were struck by the majesty of St. Dunstan’s Basilica Cathedral.
Reaching Charlottetown Visitor Information Centre and talking to an employee, we decided to buy a bus tour around Charlottetown.
Since the city is pretty small, you can see all the major sights in an hour or so. We were waiting for a double-decker bus.
We thought: “It would be great to get to the upper decker!” After a while, the bus pulled up to a stop, on which there was no one else but us. Feeling lucky, we climbed to the upper decker and took seats in the first row.
While we were enjoying our VIP seats, the tour began!
It turned out that on Monday morning you can enjoy a private tour of the city 🙂 There were no more tourists. The driver Bob was also a guide. He gave us a full-fledged tour. We saw the beautiful Victoria Park in Charlottetown harbor, the House of the Lieutenant Governor wherein 2011 the royal couple Kate and William stayed; went around the main streets of the city…
In 2013, Charlottetown was preparing to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Confederation. Bob showed us Provincial house wherein 1864 the Charlottetown Conference was held to discuss Canadian Confederation. The participants of that and subsequent conferences are known as “the Fathers of the Confederation”.
Since then the province of Prince Edward Island is proudly called “Birthplace of Confederation”.
One and half hour tour flew by so quickly. We were grateful and a bit surprised. Despite the fact that we were the only sightseers, the tour had not been canceled 🙂
As is customary in this province, at the end of the excursion, Bob did not rush to part with us. Another good 20 minutes, we were talking. Once again we appreciated sociability and sincerity of the Islanders.
Happy but hungry, we began to look for a place to eat. There were more than a few of them. We did a quick search and checked traveler reviews for restaurants on TripAdvisor. The score was credible. Since we were starving, we did not waste time reading details about each restaurant.
We picked Water St. Fish & Chips with the flag of Wales at the entrance.
There are a lot of good memories about that part of the United Kingdom. But this is another story 🙂
In the end, we did not regret the spontaneous choice, because everything was delicious.
Most of all we remember the scones that were served as bread. My grandmother baked the same ones in my childhood!
We even thought, what if the baker is from Belarus?! We asked the waiter about it. As you might guess, with great pleasure he told us everything he knew about scone baking in the restaurant. And the baker was from Hungary after all.
When we were studying the guides before the trip, we had learned Charlottetown is the home of the best ice cream in Canada.
When we came out of the restaurant, in just 5 minutes, we “stumbled” onto Cow’s ice cream shop. We were full after a good lunch and there was no room for ice cream! But Irina made an effort and tasted one vanilla ball. The Cow’s ice-cream was yummy and not very sweet.
If the city has some sort of “zest”, sooner or later it starts to catch your eye …
Walking through the streets, here and there we saw statues of mice.
It was funny but confusing. It turns out that in Charlottetown those mice (actually different statues of the same mouse) are part of a hunting game for children in Charlottetown. The name of the mouse is Eckhart. This is the main character of the book for children “The true meaning of Crumbfest”, authored by David Weil. He is a famous writer from the province of Prince Edward Island.
Well … the acquaintance with the capital of Prince Edward Island came to an end. It was time to continue our journey.
Our next destination was the terminal Wood Islands to take a ferry to the next province – Nova Scotia.
Wood Islands was only in 70 km (44 miles), so we still had plenty of time until 8 pm. The most important the weather allowed us to admire nature. So we made a couple of stops.
By the way, the length of the whole island is 270 km (168 miles).
The next stop was Camping Campbell’s Cove. We knew nothing about this place and just drove by, following the sign on the road.
It was great that we turned off the road and decided to “drop by” to this wonderful place!
Remember in the very beginning we talked about typical photos of the island, so here we made our own postcards. The coast was exactly as it was described: red sand coast at the campground Campbell’s Cove smoothly going into the bay. Small beach.
The stillness of the quiet!
And only small waves lazily crawled ashore, breaking the silence with their magic sound: slap, slap, slap… All this fascinated us and filled with such calm and a sense of an idyll, that we had to make an incredible effort to leave this place… But we had to hit the road again!
We completely agree with the last statement in the photo above “Paradise – You are here!”
Next, we visited East Point lighthouse on PEI.
While driving we noticed that there are a lot of wind generators in the fields. Earlier the guide Bob told us that electricity on the island is expensive. Thus, the province decided to use wind power.
We reached the very eastern point of the island with a 20-meter (65-feet) high lighthouse.
The lighthouse has an octagon shape. As we were told, before the Confederation, i.e. until 1867, the lighthouses used to be an octagonal shape. After the shape became square… Why? We could not find the answer. For $5 each, we climbed the stairs of the lighthouse to the very top, stumbling on a sleeping “lighthouse keeper” 🙂
The surface of the water stretched far ahead. In that place, three currents meet with each other: the Saint Lawerence River, the Northumberland Strait, and the Atlantic. And with the naked eye, you can see how those currents are overlapped.
Because of the heat, you can not stay long at the top of the lighthouse. So we went down. Besides, we had to catch the last 8 o’clock ferry.
Before we continue the story about our ferry ride, let us make a short aside about the Confederation Bridge. In all guides and Google, you will see that is the toll bridge. It is true but there is a nuance. You can get to Prince Edward Island either through the bridge or by ferry. So, the way to the island is always free of charge.
Once you decide to leave Prince Edward Island, you will have to pay.
In such a smart way, the government is trying to increase the population of the island. Of course, this is a joke 🙂 So, to leave the island by ferry we paid in total $67.
Cars, trucks, motorcycles lined up waiting for the ferry.
While waiting for the ferry a half-funny story happened to us.
Irina forgot in a bathroom her bag with all our documents, her purse along with a bunch of other “necessary” stuff that women keep in their bags!
We were so thrilled with the ride on the ferry that we noticed the loss 10 minutes or more later. Fortunately, the bag was in the same place where she had left.
Soon the departure was announced. The big trucks were first to go followed by cars and motorcycles. During the ride, all vehicles are locked in the hold. You can not go there. Therefore, we were asked to take the necessary with us.
After parking the car, full of impatience and curiosity, we went to look around the ferry. This was our first ride on the ferry for us in Canada. There were two decks for passengers. The upper was open, and it was possible to walk or sit on a bench to admire the nature around.
The ride lasted a little more than an hour. You will find all the information about price and fares, schedule, special offers, and much more on PEI-Nova Scotia ferry website.
From the point of view of comfort and service, everything was minimalistic: simple benches and a small bar where you could buy something to snack. The choice was rather modest: chips, chocolates, drinks… Most of the time we spent upstairs until it got colder.
When we were leaving the terminal Wood Islands in Prince Edward Island, a fog approached the shore. It was a charming and spectacular sight!
The captain told if we were lucky we might meet whales. We were not, but lucky enough to see dolphins and watch the sun go down!
It was already dusk when the ferry docked to the shores of Nova Scotia. When we left Caribou terminal it was already night. We went straight to the hotel. At the front desk, the administrator greeted while registering us.
At that very moment, we realized how the greeting here in Nova Scotia differs from the one on Prince Edward Island. “How are you doing?” on Island was sincere while here it sounds like a formality.
This case once again emphasized how “islanders” are good-hearted and open-minded people.
At the same time, we do not in any way assert that people in Nova Scotia are rude or ignorant. No, in Nova Scotia they are just the same as in the other provinces…