04.08.2011 - 07.08.2011
Thursday: A Day in Lunenburg
The weather was still ugly and gray, and we were exhausted from all the running we'd been doing all week, so we cozied in at the cottage for the morning with good books and thick quilts, as the rain pattered on the tin roof.
For lunch, we walked downtown and visited the Bluenose II (currently inside being "renovated"..I say that loosely because it sure looked to me like the Bluenose II had been dismantled, sold off, and was being completely rebuilt.however they seem to prefer to call it a renovation.) .The Bluenose II is the replica of a famous Canadian sailing vessel that met an untimely end on a Haitian reef. It's the reason Lunenburg residents are often referred to as Bluenosers.
Better a Bluenoser than a Brownnoser, right?
We ate lunch at the Dockside Inn, with fresh crunchy shrimp, bloody Caesars, and homemade carrot cake.
We did a little shopping in the village, sampling the apple vodka at the Ironworks Distillery, buying hand knitted legwarmers at a great shop specializing in clothing only made in Canada, and picking up a cool tote made from old sails.
We wove in and out of the many art galleries and laughed when we saw these two peering out a window:
Late in the gray afternoon, we made the quick 5 minute drive over to Blue Rocks. Little more than a harbor lined with fishing shacks in varying stages of dilapidation, peeling with age and sea and salt, it had an old world charm set against the backdrop of the ominous dark sky.
Unfortunately, we made a poor dinner choice and ate at the Old Fish Factory that evening. Not that it was bad, but this place reminded me of every average tourist trap seafood house I ever ate at as a kid on family vacations to Florida. It was simply nothing special. I avoided the entrees which were vaguely reminiscent of something you'd see on the Myrtle Beach Red Lobster menu and opted for a Caesar salad and the smoked trout cake appetizer with a hearty bowl of chowder. All things considered, it was not a bad choice.
Friday: Mahone Bay Boating
It was our last full day in Canada and Keith & Sydney came over to spend it with us. They had friends with a home not far from Lunenburg and we had all agreed to take their boat out for the day to get a fish eye view of Mahone Bay.
It was interesting to see the landscape from this perspective. The coast was littered with little green islands and boats of every shape and size could be found in every cove. Everything from fishing shacks to giant mansions lined the shore.
We made our way to Mahone Bay proper, tying up at the dock to head in to warm up at the Mug and Anchor Pub with fish & chips and more bloody Caesars.
Fat and happy, we motored back and said our goodbyes to Keith and Sydney. We headed back to Lunenburg, making a quick stop in Mahone Bay for a little shopping. Then, windburned and sleepy, we all enjoyed some down time before dinner.
To make up for the previous night's lackluster meal, I chose Trattoria Bella Nonna in Lunenburg for dinner. We had pretty much stuck with seafood and pub grub for most of the trip, trying to enjoy what was local and traditional in each place we visited, but by this time, I was simply craving some GOOD FOOD.
Trattoria Della Nonna had been one of the most consistently recommended restaurants during our visit to Lunenburg, and I declared we were eating THERE.
Located in the center of Lunenburg on beautiful King Street it is the only authentic Italian restaurant on the South Shore. I love Italian food. I probably love it as much as I love lobster.
It was very late for a reservation, but we called anyway and were able to squeeze in late that night. When we walked inside, the smell of roasted garlic, rich and heavy, wrapped around me like a decadent blanket. As soon as we walked in, we could see that Trattoria della Nonna was exactly what I had hoped for: intimate, cozy, and romantic, with the most amazing smells drifting from the kitchen. The dim lighting cast everything in a warm hue as candles flickered from each table. There were three small floors that were all visible from the front entrance. We were taken to the bottom floor, which felt delightfully cellar-like and reminded me of some of the places we had eaten at while visiting Italy just a few years before.
With a delicious red wine, caprese salad, warm bread with olive oil, and house made gnocchi, I was in heaven.
We finished it off with a chilled glass of Limoncello and called it perfection.
Saturday: Nova Scotia to Bar Harbor, Maine
Going through customs back in the states was almost as easy as it had been entering Canada. After we landed, a truck pulled up to the plane and the friendly customs agents asked us a question or two, glanced at our passports, and said, "Welcome back!"
Next thing we knew, we were pulling up for lunch at Lunt's Gateway Lobster Pound just outside the airport in Bar Harbor, Maine. I had to have at least one more lobster, didn't I?
Our lobsters were steamed in giant vats that sat over hardwood fires and brought to us piping hot with potato salad and cole slaw and a big slice of blueberry pie with ice cream.
Three of us wanted to head to Acadia National Park for the day, so we dropped Teresa off at our B&B, the Acacia House Inn, and drove to the trailhead for the Precipice Trail.
I don't really think this should be called a hike. It's a non-technical climb, meaning you go straight up but you can do it without climbing gear. It climbs 1,000 feet straight up the east face of Champlain Mountain and requires you to navigate a couple of boulder fields, several narrow ledges, and numerous rock climbs with the assistance of metal rungs that have been placed into the rock.
It's strenuous and terrifying and I couldn't wait to do it.
This sign says, ""CAUTION: Only idiots go up this thing. What are you thinking? Go back to your car, head into Bar Harbor, and get an ice cream cone. You don't want to do this. If you do, remember that you should be freakishly fit, will need Superman shoes (and a cape would be super nice), should have some climbing experience with exposed cliffs and ridiculous heights, might have some dislodged rocks fall on you before it's over with but will most definitely vomit from the sheer terror of it all at some point, & will be totally and completely exhausted by the time you get to the top and you still have to come back down the same way you went up, which sucks, really. Oh, and you might die. Don't say we didn't warn you, dumba$$."
Okay, maybe that's not what it actually says, but it should.
Folks are not exaggerating when they say that this trail is a challenge. It was tough. It was nerve wracking. And I'm pretty sure I peed my pants at a couple of the hairpin turns on ledges that weren't as wide as my shoe.
Although this trail is a beast to hike, the pay off is a breathtaking panoramic view of Mount Desert Island that is well worth the effort.
However, views aside, my favorite part was when, after the most intense part of the climb is done, after you've spent about an hour hauling yourself up sheer rock faces using metal rungs that some park genius put about 3 feet apart and shimmying along narrow ledges with your eyes squeezed tightly in fright and prayer, when you are pretty much at the very top, you see a weathered, scratched-up sign. It tells you that going back down is more difficult and time consuming than coming up.
Okay. Wouldn't it have made more sense to put that sign in the freaking PARKING LOT while I still had a choice??????
In my next life, I want to work for the park service so I can put dumb signs like that up and laugh at people too.
Going down was grueling, because we simply had to retrace the same path going down. Gravity was working against us as we climbed down the rungs, shimmied down the cliff edges, and crawled down the giant boulder fields.
We were so proud of ourselves for doing it. Okay, maybe we were just so happy to be alive. Either way, it was a great feeling.
Once our legs stopped shaking and the nervous vomiting ceased, we enjoyed an afternoon of shopping, ice-cream, and dockside drinks in Bar Harbor.
We didn't have dinner plans and town was PACKED so we had to act fast. I knew Poor Boy's Gourmet was supposed to be good so we made a quick phone call. They had a cancellation and gave us a reservation for 7:30. It was 7:00, so we headed that way.
When we got there, the line stretched out the door and down the sidewalk. I watched as person after person walked up to be told it was an hour and a half wait. We walked right up, gave our name, and were immediately seated inside.
Did I feel guilty? Not a bit.
The food was delicious. We had appetizers of lobster bisque, steamed garlic mussels, and a smoked fish dip. Somebody in the kitchen got a little crazy, I think, with the garnishing.
For dinner, I couldn't help myself..I had one more lobster.
Actually, I just did it for the bib. I think I look hot.
As I was eating my brownie a la mode, I realized I had broken a personal record. It was my 4th dessert in a single day.
Sunday: Time for Home
The Acacia House served a phenomenal breakfast. Unlike any other B&B I have been to, they had individual tables set up on a sunny enclosed porch. After bringing you coffee and juice, they actually took your order. You could choose from about 8 selections and they made your breakfast to order. I had blueberry pastries, fresh fruit, and the most wonderful little silver dollar pancakes with fresh strawberries and a lemon cream.
Such a sweet way to wrap things up.
It had been an adventurous week. I felt like we had been all over these islands with their windswept hills and lush green valleys, salt-crusted harbors and colorful wooden towns.
When I think of the Maritimes, I'll be forever delighted with visions of bright yellow and blue wooden lobster buoys clanking noisily against the shaker shingles of a fishing hut, long stretches of golden sand running alongside cool blue gray waters, waves crashing madly on brilliant red cliffs as seagulls cry overhead and a solitary lighthouse stands sentry, fields of blueberries and raspberries that are wet with dew and are ripe for picking, children in rolled up pants with plastic buckets digging clams in the gray sand, or bright yellow sea moss draped across smooth gray stones like a lacy evening gown.
I'll remember that you can buy a Coffee Crisp for about a loonie, that homo milk isn't what it sounds like, and that cereal cream is pretty good stuff. I'll remember that their Smarties are our M&Ms and that our Smarties are their Rockets. I'll remember NOT to eat Rappie Pie but to always eat Poutine and that you can get anything at Canadian Tire.
I'll think of lobsters cooked beside the deck as the sun sets soft and golden on the river and the loons call out. I'll taste the crisp, cold rush of a pear cider and imagine the soft, warm bread of a Donair dripping with sweet garlic sauce. I'll hear the happy music of a fiddle as the quick feet of a young girl leap into the air again and again. I'll miss the laughter of good friends floating gently on the air as the wake of the boat sends ripples toward the shore.
It was a week well spent.
Need more pics? http://www.flickr.com/photos/42427255@N00/sets/72157627653809238/