Friday, October 13, 2006

O Canada

We made it home safely with only a few frustrations going through customs in Montreal. From the moment we boarded the plane last Saturday, I have had the Canadian national anthem in my head (along with an unreasonable craving for maple syrup). Here is a funny website that I found so I could sing more than the first two words! Here is a more official website if you are interested in the history of the song.

Things we will miss about Canada:

1. Beautiful landscapes, although our own maple tree in the front yard is nothing to sneeze at. Actually, we'd prefer that you didn't sneeze at it as our lawn is covered with leaves as it is.

2. Restaurant staff who actually care how you respond when they ask "How was everything?"

3. Breakfast. Stacy and I sat way too long at the dining room table this morning waiting for our fruit course to magically appear.

4. Sweetened tea, seafood chowder and Cows ice cream shop. We plan to visit Oberweis and Red Lobster this weekend to ease the withdrawal effects.

5. Living in a "green" environment. 98% of the carbonated beverages sold on PEI are in refillable glass bottles.

Thanks for joining us on our trip!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Looking Forward

Each of our days here in P.E.I. combined natural wonders and historical explorations and today was no different. Stacy's goals for today were well met as we toured the Charlottetown waterfront area and Province Hall which was the birthplace of the Canadian Federation.

The weather grew colder today (high of about 11 degrees Celsius) which will probably help us transition into the cold weather back home in Chicago. We didn't let the cold wind stop us from spending a part of the afternoon on the shore. It seems we have yet to tire of watching the waves or listening to the powerful sound of water crashing against land. We finished the day on a newly discovered boardwalk a few blocks from our B&B where we watched the sunset and reflected on our holiday.

We are looking forward to returning home, but we are also looking forward to our next trip to P.E.I. Anyone want to join us?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Island Wanderings

Prince Edward Island is small in size (175 miles from tip to tip), but large in terms of activities available to happy travelers like us. Driving around the island is a joy in itself, with the variety of landscapes and autumn colors providing picturesque scenes along the way. It has been interesting, however, becoming accustomed to Canadian road signs. The signs make sense, but sometimes it feels like a giant Rebus book.

People have told us that you can't get lost on P.E.I. If you get misdirected, all you have to do is turn left when you hit water and eventually you will be back where you started from. The only real trouble we have had is getting used to the scale on the P.E.I map. The map is the same size as one of our U.S. state highway maps, but one inch on this map equals about 3 miles. Consequently, when I tell Stacy to "watch out for Route 6" we usually pass by it two seconds later. :-)

Today, Stacy and I visited a few P.E.I. shops and stumbled upon some breathtaking red sand beaches lined by sandstone cliffs on the north shore (again, kudos to Parks Canada!). This is the type of happy accident that makes this area so enjoyable. We have one full day left of our vacation and we have already determined that several things will have to wait for our next visit!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post as Stacy gets to pick what to do for the day! Maybe I can get him to do a guest post...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this Canadian Thanksgiving Day, Stacy and I had a lot to be thankful for! The beautiful weather held on for one more day, making it a perfect time to hike along a variety of trails on the northern side of the Island. The Parks Canada system has really impressed us with the well maintained recreation areas and their efforts to preserve unique natural and historical landmarks within the country.

On one of the Greenwich trails, we walked over a freshwater pond via a floating boardwalk, emerged onto a virtually deserted beach, and then splashed around in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. Well, we didn't really splash around so much as we played chicken with the waves and then dipped our fingers in the chilly water. The trail was very educational and we learned a lot about the fragile habitat as well as the parabolic sand dunes and the unique counter-ridges that are visible here on this side of P.E.I.

We were thankful for every minute.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(They eat turkey here, too. We, however, decided to have seafood.)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Anne's Land

Day two of our trip started out beautifully, with a delicious breakfast served by our two wonderful hosts at the Elmwood Heritage Inn. This historic bed and breakfast is elegantly decorated and has a warm, cozy atmosphere that feels just like home. Well, not our home, of course, but what our home could be if we hired someone to decorate our home and fix our food. After breakfast, we received some insider tips from our hosts and were off on our first full day of adventuring.

Today's main destination was truly a lifelong dream coming to fulfillment as we made our way through the breathtaking landscape to the Anne of Green Gables Heritage Place, a part of the Canada National Parks system. Here we toured the house that inspired Green Gables, which was actually owned by relatives of the author Lucy Maud Montgomery. The house was restored using the descriptions from the books and items typically used during the late 1800s. We walked through rooms that represented those of Anne, Marilla, and Matthew and I could easily imagine many of the scenes from the treasured story.

Another perfect fall day made walking through the trails surrounding the house a magical experience. These were the woods that L. M. Montgomery traipsed through during her childhood and the woods that Anne, Diana, and Gilbert traveled through in their adventures. Stacy and I marveled at the serenity of Lover's Lane and the creepiness of the Haunted Woods.

Interesting things learned today:

1. L. M. Montgomery was rejected five times for her novel, Anne of Green Gables. Luckily, she and her grandmother ran the post office from their kitchen so no one else ever knew.

2. Cheese sticks here can be ordered with a Donair sauce. It seems that this is a regional specialty made from milk, sugar, and vinegar. Stacy is very brave.

3. A mysterious black fly has been following us all day long. Just the one. It is very odd.

4. Ryann's favorite Stacy quotes of the day:

"I think I've had enough meat for today." - I've never heard him say those words before.

"I have to think that it's just a book." - Good thing we opted for the suite so he'll have somewhere to sleep tonight.

Just kidding, he's a doll and we all know that. Who else would go willingly into the Haunted Woods?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Prince of a Place

Stacy and I started our vacation to Prince Edward Island in our usual fashion: arriving late at the airport, bickering over parking spots, and lugging luggage far enough to realize we should have just purchased clothes and toiletries at our destination. When we finally reached our gate, I kept up international relations by accidentally knocking a fellow traveler's pizza onto the pristine airport floor. But, really, I think I did her a favor. Why eat airport pizza when you are mere steps away from Cinnabon?

Soon we were airborne and the flight to Montreal was fantastic! I'm going to fly Air Canada every time I fly from now on. Their website is top-notch and onboard entertainment is provided by individual touch screens that allow you to watch movies, shows, or listen to music during your flight. I watched an episode of NUMB3RS and part of The Devil Wears Prada. You could even pause what you were watching when the beverage service rolled around! It was like having my very own TIVO in the air for the low price of one airline ticket!

Transferring to our Charlottetown flight was fairly uneventful and soon we arrived at PEI on a beautiful fall day. Few clouds blocked the warm sun and a cool breeze reminded us that fall was here, if we had neglected to notice the fiery red and orange leaves on many trees in the area.

We've already learned a lot during out trip. Not ones to hoard trivia, we'll share with you some Canadian traveling tips.

1. When you buy new knitting needles at a Canadian Michaels store, they don't really want to know your zip code.

2. When people say it is going to be 20 tomorrow, act excited. Turns out this is a good thing.

3. Table d'hote means a fixed meal or a meal with several courses at a fixed cost (per Merriam's Online Dictionary).

4. Not everyone on Prince Edward Island has red hair.

5. Be aware of communication problems when traveling internationally. These are most likely to occur with your own spouse. :-)