East Coast of Nova Scotia

Arriving in Nova Scotia was a highlight for us, as we had now reached all three of the Maritime Provinces.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

We started our day in Lunenburg, a UNESCO world heritage site, and home to many colourful buildings. It was, unfortunately, a bit of a cloudy and grey morning, but you wouldn’t know it looking at all of the colourful houses!

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

A few more houses in case you didn’t get the idea.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

Lunenburg is full of old and historical buildings. The Bank of Montreal branch made us feel like we were transported back in time or landed in a Harry Potter movie.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

The town has a rich history of agriculture, fishing, and ship-building. You may have heard of, or at least seen the most famous ship built here, the Bluenose, featured prominently on the Canadian dime. The commemorative replica, the Bluenose II, was docked in Lunenburg during our visit.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

We left Lunenburg relatively soon (not completely unrelated to me being freezing cold and the views being quite grey). In the hope for more sunshine, we drove to Peggy’s Cove and were amazed by the views! It was at this point that Nova Scotia completely stole our hearts.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

Seeing the Peggy’s Point Lighthouse from a distance was simply breathtaking.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

Once we actually arrived at Peggy’s Cove we loved walking around and exploring the small fishing community.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

I was worried Peggy’s Cove would be an over-hyped tourist destination, but we found the place surprisingly undeveloped, and almost magical. Walking around the village you can get a real sense of the simple life of the people that lived here (before all the tourists arrived) and the struggle of living right on the wild Atlantic Ocean.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

Peggy’s Point Lighthouse is clearly the star of the show here.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

We could have walked around the lighthouse for hours. Even though there were a few tourists there, the place felt calm and we enjoyed watching the waves break on the rounded rocks.  Peggy's Cove is exactly what we thought Nova Scotia would be like and we highly recommend you visit.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

Shop My Style

 

My necklace is by GLDN and my purse is from the cutest Chicago online boutique called White Elephant Designs. I linked a similar one below.

 

 

After some delicious mint chocolate ice cream sorbet, we were on the road again, pointed North towards Halifax - the capital of Nova Scotia.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

We saved our exploring of the city for the next day, so sought out a restaurant for dinner and can highly recommend the seafood at Five Fisherman. Our selection for the evening included local Mussels, PEI oysters, a shrimp cocktail, brussels sprouts and some lobster mash for good measure.  We also dared each other to take ever-increasing dips of wasabi on our shrimp. There were no winners. 😀

Also, if you are still keeping score, we were now three for three on the seafood and ice cream challenge.

 

The next morning we were greeted with sunshine as we walked around the Halifax waterfront and explored the city.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

 

As we walked around the waterfront, we came across a few very Canadian food booths. We'll leave it up to you to guess whether we had Beavertails, Poutine, or Cow's Ice Cream for breakfast.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

The city has a large number of historical buildings, almost all of which have a view of the harbour as the city is situated on a hill overlooking the bay.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

If you have more time to spend in the city there are also a number of museums dedicated to the extensive history and culture of the area.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

As we were preparing to head back out on the road, we had one last ‘attration’ to see. Every day (other than Christmas) at 12 noon, a canon is being fired from Citadel Hill as a tribute to Halifax’s history as a major stronghold for the British. We drove up near Citadel Hill just before noon and waited.

 

East Coast of Nova Scotia

 

Now, we knew it was going to happen, and when it was going to happen (give or take a minute) and we still jumped out of our skins. It was LOUD! And with that we were off with a bang heading West!

 

Have you been to the East Coast of Nova Scotia? Have you ever tried Beavertails? Let us know in the comments below!


 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

After a day of driving, we were ready to tour Canada's most densely populated province: Prince Edward Island. Manhattan this is not, as its capital Charlottetown, is home to about half of the 150,000 people that call this island home. Most people arriving in Prince Edward Island will begin their sightseeing about 12.9km away as they cross the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick.

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

We stopped at the Cape Jourimain Nature Centre just before you begin the drive across the bridge to get the best views and can highly recommend it.

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

From here you can walk around on the sandy beach and dip your toes in the (frigid) waters of the Northumberland Strait. Fun fact: The Confederation Bridge is the longest bridge in the world over ice-covered waters, and it even cuts cool patterns in the ice! (see these pictures here).

 

Confederation Bridge - A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

Confederation Bridge - A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

Driving around PEI we were immediately at ease and got a sense of the relaxed pace of island life.

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

The province is mostly rural, containing lots of sprawling fields and farms. Summertime is a great time to visit PEI as lupins are in full bloom around the island in vibrant colours of purple, pink, and white!

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

Of course, Bettina couldn’t resist a picture or two amongst the flowers (while trying not get to stung by a bee)!

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

Her necklaces are from GLDN and she wears them almost every day.

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

Arriving at to the entrance gate of Prince Edward Island National Park, we were getting our wallets out to pay the entrance fee, where the friendly park ranger informed us that *unfortunately* due to it being Canada Day, the entrance was free!

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

We quickly spent all the money we saved though as we came across Richard’s, an island-favourite fish shack serving up delicious lobster rolls and fish and chips.

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

It was possibly the freshest fish and chips we had ever eaten and we would go back any time!

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

We strolled around the beach a little bit but left for Charlottetown soon as the dark clouds rolled in.

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

Charlottetown is a very quaint, historic town, and easily walkable. We really enjoyed wandering the streets,  checking out the many boutiques, historical houses, and waterfront path.

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

As we were walking along, minding our own business, we came across a formed crowd around a blue waterfront building. It was Cow's Ice Cream!

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

Cow’s has been scooping up old-fashioned ice cream with some very clever names for decades and is considered one of the world’s best places to get ice cream. On a summer day by the ocean who can resist ice cream? This was the second day of our road trip and so far we were two for two on having seafood and ice cream each day.

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

How about some Wowie Cowie, Caramel Moocchiato, Cowconut Cream Pie, or a classic Cownadian Maple? There’s just too many good ones.

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

Bettina couldn't resist spending some time talking and posing with the locals also.

 

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

After exploring the old town, we made our way to the Beaconsfield Historic House but were a bit late to check out the museum.

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

Instead, we followed the crowd and walked over to Victoria Park to take in some live music, views and festivities before heading out of the city to our next hotel. It was Canada Day after all!

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

A Scoop of Prince Edward Island

 

Have you been to Prince Edward Island and sampled some Cow’s ice cream?


 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

Rotorua is widely regarded as the geothermal wonderland of New Zealand.  Rightly so, as from our hotel room, we could see steaming geothermal activity and awoke to an unfortunately strong smell of sulfur in the air. It was definitely a surprise as we had arrived late at night under the cover of darkness and didn’t know what to expect the next day (read about our first day in NZ here)!

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

We had a bit of a late start to our day, which seems to be a common theme when we travel, but managed to stop at the impeccably maintained Government Gardens and the Kuirau Park Mud Pools before once again grabbing a lot of coffee, stocking up on some road trip provisions, and setting out for the day.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

For the uninitiated (us, in this case) we had assumed that the geothermal wonderland activity and parks around Rotorua were primarily free and open to the public to explore, similar to our experiences at Yellowstone National Park and throughout Iceland.  While Rotorua does have a number of geothermal areas around the city and free areas nearby, there are a number of privately held thermal parks where you pay admission. We decided to visit the geothermal wonderland called Wai-O-Tapu and the headlining Lady Knox geyser. (Thank you @jmk.travels for your travel tips!)

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

We read online that Lady Knox erupts at 10:15am every day, and with our slow start in the morning we were rushing to arrive in time, rolling up to the parking lot at 10:10am.  We were hoping Lady Knox was having the same kind of morning that we were that day.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

A guide explained some history of the area and Lady Knox which was actually quite interesting. Lady Knox was discovered in 1901 by a group of prisoners from the newly opened nearby ‘open prison’. This prisoners came across the hot thermal water of Lady Knox and began to wash their clothes in the water with soap. The soap created a chemical reaction and Lady Knox erupted with a jet of water, nearly 20 meters high! Turns out, that this is still how Lady Knox erupts. We were a bit disappointed to see that the guide places a surfactant into the opening of the vent to initiate the eruption of Lady Knox each day. Certainly, Lady Knox was no Old Faithful!

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

After the slight disappointment of Lady Knox, we made our way around the rest of the geothermal wonderland and were pleasantly surprised at how large it was.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

We easily spent a couple hours here, walking the trails and seeing the diverse thermal activity.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From bubbling mud pits, to hissing steam vents, boiling hot waterfalls and strikingly lime green pools – there really was something for even the most discerning geothermal observer.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

We also made friends with the locals...

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

The geothermal wonderland was only our first stop that day. With limited time in New Zealand, we were aiming to see as much of the North Island as possible and were headed to Napier (I mapped out our drive for the day here.). Our drive this day took us through the Waikato region to Hawke’s Bay over the hills and through the valleys via State Highway 5. I really enjoyed driving through all the windy roads in this fairly remote area.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

Unfortunately, as we arrived in Napier it began to rain pretty hard.  This was not the weather we had in mind for our afternoon of touring vineyards and wineries. That being said, good wine is good wine whether it is sunny or pouring rain.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

This area has no shortage of world famous vineyards. With this being the low season, a number of the tasting rooms were closed or had limited hours, so make sure you do some research in advance rather than assume they are all open! Our first stop was at Elephant Hill Wine Estate. The pictures of this winery and it’s vineyards set along the ocean looked breathtaking online, however it was raining so hard when we arrived we could hardly see the rows of grapes from inside the tasting room.

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

We enjoyed our first tasting and were eager to try some more, so we continued to Black Barn Vineyards. We enjoyed all the wines, but were blown away by the Pinot Gris here. Pinot Gris is not what we would call one of our favourite wines, but the vintage by Black Barn Vineyards was amazing and we bought a bottle to take with us!

 

From Geothermal Wonderland in Rotorua to Wine Time in Napier, New Zealand

 

Heading into downtown Napier, we took in the Art Deco architecture that is highly concentrated within the city. We enjoyed a dinner of fish and chips and New Zealand lamb at the Emporium Eatery & Bar, which transported us back in time with its interior décor. We didn't take any pictures so you have to believe us when we say it was really well decorated!

Have you heard of New Zealand's great wines before? What is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!

 


 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

Arriving into Auckland at 5:30 am (see our itinerary here), two days after we left the U.S., we felt surprisingly awake though badly in need of a shower. Much to our surprise, there are free showers available at Auckland airport for anyone to use. Of course, we were not prepared at all and had to purchase a towel and toiletries. It was totally worth it! There is no better feeling than having a hot shower after such a long flight. We picked up our rental car, and were ready to explore the North Island, all before sunrise!

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

We began our drive by heading southeast towards Pokeno. I mapped out our drive for the day here. I have found that driving on the left side of the road and right side of the car (to clarify: the opposite of left, and not “correct”) is just like riding a bike, and within a few minutes, I had no issues at all becoming quickly adjusted.

For those who don't know why I'm used to driving on the right side on the road, here's a quick flashback. I spent half a year studying in Bath, UK. I love to drive so I was excited to explore England by car.  Forced to learn to drive on the left side of the road, I learned very quickly, despite having the stick shift on the wrong side of the driver's seat!

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

For the first few hours of our drive, it was raining and cloudy, but as we came over the hills near Hikuai, the clouds parted and the sun began to shine. We were immediately taken aback by the wonders of the North Island.

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

We stopped at a local grocery store to pick up road trip snacks, which is Bettina's favourite part about road trips. It turns out, every country seems to have their own unique chips flavours. Switzerland has Bettina's favourite paprika flavour, Canada has ketchup and all-dressed chips, and New Zealand has *drum roll* chicken flavoured chips! Adventurous as we are, we had to try them and they surprisingly taste just like chicken.

 

Chicken Chips in New Zealand

 

Mount Paku stands proud over the Tairua Harbour, and the top is easily reached by a short hike.  We couldn't pass it up and had to stop there to hike to the top. Other than the birds chirping, everything was completely silent, and almost magical. We definitely felt like we were somewhere special – a place directly taken from a movie scene.

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

The views on the way up were excellent.

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

The views from the top were even better!

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

After a short hike back down to the car, we continued our road trip to the famous Hot Water Beach on Mercury Bay.

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

We found out that the sea water is just as cold as everywhere else but if you dig in the sand, you will find puddles of hot water.

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

After almost getting our feet burned by stepping in the wrong water pool, we can confidently say that the water is indeed hot!

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

Our main destination for the day was the Cathedral Cove - a must see if you're exploring the North Island.

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

As we walked the 2KM path from the parking lot, dark clouds were rapidly approaching.

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

About 500 metres from the beach the skies opened and we got soaking wet as we ran to the caves for shelter.  Were weren’t the only ones taking refuge from the rain in these caves.

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

A short 15 minutes later, the clouds had passed and the sun again began to shine down on the beach, leaving us with the most breathtaking views!

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

Photo credit to our new Canadian friend whom we met on the Cathedral Cove beach: @ekklesia_kofi

 

We spent a lot of time wandering around the beach and enjoying the views before embarking on the final drive for the day - the drive to Rotorua.

 

North Island Wonders of New Zealand

 

We always expected New Zealand to beautiful but didn't expect it to be this magical. What movie do these hills remind you of?

 

 

 


 

Snowy New England Road Trip

Bettina had been dreaming about a New England road trip for quite some time, excited to see the quaint villages and picturesque houses dotting the countryside. When dreaming of vacations though we typically always picture blue skies and warm summer days. This was generally not the case for this trip. We ran into some snow, a fair amount of rain, a lot more snow, and a bit more rain, with patches of blue skies and sunshine (which is when we tried to take all the pictures!).

 

Views on the New England road trip

 

Arriving in Boston late at night, you can find our full itinerary here, we quickly picked up our rental car and headed off to Nashua, New Hampshire, our first overnight.

 

View flying out of Chicago with Southwest - the start of the New England Road Trip

 

There was nothing we really wanted to see here, but were just trying to get outside of Boston while there was little traffic late at night. We spent the next two days traversing New England (not actually a state, but a region comprised of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut). Early the next morning, after a mandatory coffee stop, we started heading east, with an aim to pick up Vermont State Route 100, supposedly one of the more picturesque routes in the state. The ground was mostly covered in snow, but that didn’t hamper the beauty of some of the small towns we found along the way.

 

 

Church on our New England Road Trip

 

New England Style House on our New England Road Trip

 

We stopped in Woodstock, VT, for a caffeine injection and wandered around the cute little town...

 

 

Exploring Woodstock on our New England Road Trip

 

Shop Bettina's Travel Look

 

White Zara Coat

 

without missing out on the main attraction - the Woodstock covered bridge.

 

Woodstock Covered Bridge - on our New England Road Trip

 

If you ever find yourself in Woodstock, maybe also on a New England road trip, we can highly recommend Mon Vert Café. Their coffee and treats are delicious and made with locally sourced organic ingredients. Even in winter, this place was bustling. I can imagine it would be very busy in the summer!

 

Mon Vert Cafe in Woodstock - on our New England Road Trip

 

Treats and Coffee at Mon Vert Cafe - on our New England Road Trip

 

Treats and Coffee at Mon Vert Cafe - on our New England Road Trip

 

We made it to Burlington, VT, just in time for sunset. It's the most populous city in the state, famous as the birthplace of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream! The city is small, and more of a college town, with impressive fraternity and sorority houses.

 

 

The downtown area was just as pretty as we had hoped. After a long drive, we enjoyed walking up and down Church Street, even though it was really cold.

 

Church Street in Burlington - on our New England Road Trip

 

 

After a long day on the road, we hit the pillows. The next morning, we awoke to sun and blue skies and stopped by the waterfront of Lake Champlain for a quick stroll before making our run for the coast.

 

Harbor of Burlington - on our New England Road Trip

 

Our first stop for a few quick pictures was Montpelier, VT, the state capital. There was no a lot going on here on a Sunday morning and with a tight driving schedule, Bettina's working schedule (she ended up getting work requests and managed to work on the road using a phone hotspot while Kyle was driving), we kept going.

 

State Capital in Montpelier - on our New England Road Trip

 

We met some locals on the way and made a mandatory stop at a local maple syrup farm.

 

 

 

 

Being Canadian, there is no substitute to pure Canadian maple syrup, however, I must admit that the Vermont maple syrup is pretty tasty as well. We sampled all the grades maple syrup at Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks and couldn’t resist some maple syrup flavoured ice cream!

 

Maple Syrup at Morse Farm - on our New England Road Trip

 

Delicious Maple Syrup Ice Cream at Morse Farm - on our New England Road Trip

 

Delicious Maple Syrup Ice Cream at Morse Farm - on our New England Road Trip

 

Running on a sugar high we drove all the way through Vermont and into Maine. We came across some beautiful cabins and were surprised by the legitimate-looking ski hills through the White Mountains.

 

 

Before we knew it we were in Portland, Maine, half-way through our New England road trip hungry and ready for seafood!


 

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