Category Archives: Pedalin’ in the Maritimes~

Days 12 to 16 – Out and about in Halifax + jours de bonus ร  Montrรฉal!

As my journey goes into its 2nd week and beyond, I now find myself again in Halifax, the largest city in the Maritimes with a whole lot to see and do. Something I haven’t mentioned much here is how much of this trips time has actually been spent getting from place to place. By now I have probably used every form of transport possible – except plane (that includes bike and taxi!)! A good example of most of my day in travel was on the way to Moncton – 17 hours by bus since our VIA train was full (I have learned to make reservations now!) or the ferry from North Sydney to Argentia – 17 hours plus a scenic 3 hour drive to St.John’s. Overall the journey has been enjoyable but I have definitely anticipated the destination much more with each stop! :]

Here in Halifax I am staying in an exceptionally clean and friendly hostel which is part of the network known as Hosteling International – a great resource if you are looking for budget accommodations and people to explore and share stories with (as is Backpackers International and Airbnb!). I am surprised to find that nearly every tourist I meet in hostels or bnb’s is European (while most tourists I see in Museums and attractions is Asian!) – especially German. I guess they all have one love in common – love for travel, water and seafood!

So for Halifax this 3 day stay was rather wet…as in soaking, screaming-down-the-streets, lightning-on-your-tail-wet! I had a blast though because it was unexpected and refreshing…I certainly hoped Toronto got some of this rain and cool weather too! Because of the weather, most of this stay involved the indoor sights and sounds, so I grabbed a map, 5 friends I made at the hostel, and we explored the tastes and places to see in Halifax.

Though I may have felt more like a typical “tourist” exploring the museums, parks and National Historic sites of the city, they really taught me alot about Maritime history and culture. Far beyond my thoughts of just a region hurt by Cod collapse the Maritimes – especially places like Halifax – have repeatedly struggled and fought for their freedom, cities (or forts, depending on the time), citizenship, industrial and technological power and as many of us know, for their livelihoods and culture. I felt humbled by all the knowledge in the museums…indeed I would see so many people snapping pictures and running by photos without a second glance at the actual written information, even my hostel buddies! It seems tourism really does have traits of its own versus those who are there to drink the information slowly, or perhaps searching for answers…


I certainly took my share of pictures, but I can say too that I have taken an imprint of Maritime past, a perspective you can’t get anywhere else! The best part has probably been applying what I see in the Museums to the reality of Halifax and the surrounding area around me…Such as learning about the Halifax explosion – you can see the crater shape of the harbour where it occurred! Or the stories of immigrants at Pier 21 – all you need to do is walk down a bus street. Then there were the naval ships and wartime history, local fishermen and the balance of resources, tourism and culture…the list goes on.

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…ofcourse the trip could not be complete without some incredible views and reflection at the citadel – I am so grateful the rain held this last morning!

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The trip continued to its closing as I finally got to enjoy a top-notch VIA rail trip back to Montreal, thank you express deals for the slice of luxury!

And the views…

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It seems since my train ride back the streak of good luck (with the exception of finding a place to stay!) continues! Once I finally hauled my bags into an affordable hotel in Montreal it was time to explore the city, this time with bearable heat! A huge bonus for me was the accompaniment of a good friend and fellow M-scholar Tingjia who took me out for great food, EPIC laughs and intriguing entertainment – thanks so much!!!

No conclusion of Montreal is complete without a short photo-jaunt of their stunning art and architecture…from the buildings to the Olympic Park and beyond, I was speechless.

Time to bus home now, thank you to everyone who has made this trip so memorable and especially to those who toured with me or let me stay with them for some time! I am taking back with me a mountain of photos, a huge stash of environmental and urban planning project ideas/applications and the love of Maritime culture, the art, the places and the whales! Most of all I will never forget the kindness of each and every citizen wherever I went, you all have an Eastern soul – resourceful, kind, slightly windswept and maybe a tad salty – I promise to come back soon (with a bike!) ;]

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Days 8 to 11 – Exploring Canada’s wild east, Newfoundland!

It’s been an incredibly fast-paced journey so far since time really does seem to catch up with us as we travel for ever-longer stretches of time. I can now say I am fully adapted to any bus ride anywhere after what we have experienced! :]

Speaking of journeys, who would have thought we would travel in so many ways? Today after a lengthy coach ride I bid farewell to Deyana who took VIA rail (1st class thanks to an express deal) back to Toronto via Montreal from Halifax. Now it was time for me to head to Newfoundland…6 hours by shuttle car and 17 hours by ferry later…I made it.

Now, as horrible as that travel sounds, the ferry was more like a luxury cruise ship!

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Newfoundland (mainly St.John’s) was to be one of the most surprising portions of my trip since I was now alone (gasp) and essentially at the whim and epic ideas of Meaghan and her equally awesome Aylward family (though I have yet to see the siblings!). Not only did she let me stay with the family but probably wrapped me in more culture and happiness than any of us anticipated (even she was shocked!).

The days were made of some pretty amazing scenes:

Haunted tours…

Not so haunted (new word alert) whalish tours…

A bird extravaganza…

The Cape corner of the world…

And truly beyond me, Meaghan or her friend Meaghan (yes thats right), an enormous pod of near-shore, breaching and totally awesome whales off the coast! (RARE ALERT!!! Have your puffin, er – puffer ready!)

Best for last – Nessie (its real!)

Thank you Meaghan and all the Aylwards for amazing memories, Newfoundland was by far overall the best experience I had – the food so fresh and fine, everyone so kind, the whale-watching sublime! I will be back for more asap! I need copies of all your songs Meaghan! ๐Ÿ˜€

And the real best for last, the incredible voice of Meaghan and her choir, it really was something special and wonderful (this picture is actually worth 2000 words!)…

Days 5 to 7 – A vivid island, deep history and a masterpiece!

Our adventure continues in what is known as “The Gentle Island”…Prince Edward Island.

Despite its small size, small economy, small population and small political influence, this province has won me over in a big way. Me and Deyana enjoyed a thorough exploration of P.E.I on day 5. Having enjoyed a beach and lighthouses, eco-awesome technology and all things Confederation Bridge at Cape Jourimaine, we moved on to taking in the unexpected architecture and lush landscaping in Charlottetown.

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The people on the roads here are incredibly courteous, along with the fact that there are so many huge squares and plazas (and even roads) that are just for pedestrians…fantastic. The next day began with a surprise performance as usual, a dramatic and colourful display by the local theatre group telling us a story of the local First Nations (take a guess!) with drama, storytelling and dance. It brought a big smile to everyone’s face, especially considering only donations were taken and all of it went to support the theatre/arts centre.

Before we moved on to our main destination, the mystical P.E.I National Park, a few “interesting” things happened…I bought an awesome t-shirt and my first flip flops, hooray to bad foot posture! But no really, the main thing that happened was something apparently only me (and later Deyana) saw in the entire city.

There it was, up in the sunny sky, a small patch of dark clouds and…within it…it came…

A funnel cloud. Also known as a pre-tornado…in Atlantic Canada!?!

Though I ran to try and catch a full shot of it (it nearly reached the ground and spun treacherously) it quickly came and went (less than a 3 minutes) and all I could record was this. There was no commotion and I am still in awe…not sure what else to say, it’s the first ever seen for me and a check off my bucket list~

Moving on, the day was overall fantastic as we kayaked through the varied coast (rocky, cliffs, forests, marsh and beach) and explored the seemingly harmonious balance between humans and nature. It was perfect, more-so by the tour of “things-I-would-have-missed” given to us by our wonderful BNB hosts as they drove us back down to Charlottetown, here’s a glimpse of the cool:


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Day 6 was all about Halifax as we entered Nova Scotia for the first time (I will return back after going to Newfoundland!)…well that and an extremely long bus ride (but this time we actually caught the bus! Score!). The day was made up of exploring the outer grounds of the Halifax Citadel as well as the totally complete-and-not-under-construction-or-dingy-in-any-way-and-super-attractive-boardwalk/waterfront…something I think every city in Canada should be very jealous of!

The day hit a satisfying conclusion after looking through the Halifax public gardens and commons…we were pretty much speechless after seeing the quality of the spaces, landscaping and delicious ice cream! I can’t believe this city has such deep history, architecture, greenery and a waterfront! All with the comforts of a modern city respecting its past…

I wonder if I should move here?

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The final day for my amazing friend Deyana concluded with a short hike past the citadel to explore the rather anti-climatic Halifax Museum if Natural History. I guess watching Night at the Museum stretched my expectations rather significantly…it was still some great exhibits, just not as much as I expected. A short trip and confirmation later, Deyana hopped onto her luxury VIA Rail cabin (express deals rock!) and I prepared for bus-off to Newfoundland, see you next post!

Days 2 to 4 – New styles, fresh places and transit trouble!

With another unanticipated festival to end the day we enjoyed our first night in Moncton. I started to get the feeling of this east coast culture, it has is own kind of vibe….people really are different here and so is their behavior, in a good way!

We REALLY enjoy the food so far, especially the first restaurant we laid eyes on – Calactus! Ah such a special place, everything is vegetarian or vegan…sigh I wish it was in Toronto! We were staying in a comfy backpackers inn in Moncton for 2 days and it seems nearly every corner has some great restaurant or eclectic architecture, its like the whole city is a fancy version of Streetsville!

The first day turned out to be particularly special as me and Deyana decided to go see Harry Potter, and it was great! They have an amazing mall in this city with big box stores right next to cool local business, with wifi and incredible preserved marshlands to boot! I must say that go to Moncton for this reason alone just to see the amazing saltwater “rivers” (as I call them) – essentially carved streams of salt water that rise and fall (enter and flow out of) in Moncton each day with the tides, it really is something quite amazing (especially when it seems like a raging river before a movie and a drained mud flat after!). Look up “Moncton Tidal Bore” for some neat info too!

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The following day was the beginning of what has now been my transit bad luck following me here all the way from Mississauga! ๐Ÿ˜›

We started off by checking the farmers market in downtown Moncton – a surprisingly large mix of vendors, restaurants, cafes, outdoor vans sellers and carts, plus a live stage – blowing away anything I have ever seen in the GTA! We ended up going there twice, then thrice that day just to get more delicious goods or hunt down that special postcard (or fudge in my case). Ultimately, the core of the day was to do fake beach fun (man-made) and tree-top exploring (search Moncton TreeGO) in the massive and ecologically sound Centennial Park! For some reason however, me and Deyana ended up looking at the bus schedules wrong and so not only missed the bus once, but 4 times! So we wandered the local trails (also a green dream, they have a “TD Green Street”) and did our farmers market trips before finally heading out to the park…

…Little did we know that not only would our TreeGO experience take much longer than we thought (though it was a memory and eco-event of a lifetime!) but that the pool/beach would close sooner, or that terrifying clouds and rain from hell would descend upon us as we ran about trying to figure out how to get home (at this point we also realized he buses stop running after 8pm…yes 8)….so we ended up sheltering in the local tennis club and taxied it back to our one respite – Calactus restaurant (lol the inn is nice too but this food rules!).

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Day 4 began with my promise to not create any more transit mishaps…oh why do I utter these words still! So we hopped out of the inn and bussed ourselves out to Cape Jourimain, essentially the New Brunswick edge to the Confederation Bridge. Now when I was buying tickets for this trip I thought, “sure go to the Cape early, stay and explore for some hours and then take a shuttle across the bridge to the town of Borden and catch my same bus route (the one dropping me to the Cape) at its later time (only second route of 2 time slots…) from the next stop across the bridge in Borden! Easy right…so I bought tickets for the second trip right then too.

So Cape Jourimain was well…kind of like everything done right! Educating about the environment, wildlife, habitat, staff that truly care and engage us, a small museum, photography, every green technology done right, an interpretive and tourist center and the vast majority of surrounding forests and wetlands restored and/or pristine, teeming with wildlife and the Atlantic breeze:


Oh and the bridge…AWESOME!

As we rush through exploring here we hop on a shuttle across the bridge rather late (I was too insistent on staying to see more!) at 3pm…our bus to Charlottetown would reach Borden at 3:25pm…and it takes us 25 minutes to get to Borden from the Cape…so I screwed up the math again/

We get there and essentially run/lamely drag our luggage across roads and fields to the gas station where our bus has likely already arrived. Mistake 2: We thought both buses would come at the same location – wrong again Rahul! ๐Ÿ˜›
Almost comically, the bus rolls right into and out of the gas station just as I get a view of it…Deyana is still catching up and we both get to say goodbye to mucho money spent on a nice bus ride…and hello to something-greater-than-mucho money for a taxi to Charlottetown! Ahhh…choo!!!

Well we are here and loving the new city regardless, it is even more clean, organized, charming and friendly than Montreal and Moncton combined! Maybe because it has so much going for it in such a small place (Capital, rich farmland, happy people, birthplace of Confederation…etc). The city is full of shops and history, I love the shores already! Now its time to sleep and here are some glimpses if you haven’t been yet:

Next stop…still PEI!

Day 1 – The Journey

After much anticipation we (myself and Deyana) are heading off to Atlantic Canada to learn and explore! (that’s the coast by the way, Dad, not west!) ๐Ÿ˜›

Today’s post will be short since much of what this day entails is…sitting and typing! We are Megabussing it up to Montreal where I hope to see atleast one interesting attraction or feature of that bilingual city before jumping onto VIA Rail for a sleepy ride to Moncton, that will be our first place to explore in the East!

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So we have reached Montreal, and low and behold we find out our VIA Train to Moncton is sold out (only 1 seat left!)! Ah the horror…but ultimately we get bus tickets and so stay in Montreal a bit longer…and it was worth it:

There were 2 festivals going on that day, one a Just for Laughs festival and the other celebrating different forms of African culture, very cool.

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The bus ride was for 14 hours (ended up being 16 hours) and that was quite painful, I guess it built up my resiliency or character or something but anyways we are in Atlantic Canada at last! Hello new time zone, exciting people and places, Harry Potter pt.2 (finally a good movie and ending to the series, I must confess~) and delicious east coast food! ^^