We have made good time since the last blog. We drove from our last stop through to Montreal just stopping overnight in some places that don't really warrant a mention. When we got to Montreal it was a bit of a culture shock. Quebec province is French and French only. While the surrounding provinces often list things in English and French there is no such luxury here. Every road sign, business name and all the roadwork signs and instructions where all in French. A GSP unit was essential to find your way around. Luckily most people spoke reasonable English so communication wasn't too much of an issue. Along with the language the people are very much French - they are rather an arrogant type - yes this is a broad generalisation but true none the less. They are also quite mad on the road and we didn't enjoy driving in this area very much. However it was a bit of an adventure and a game to try and translate the electronic roadworks signs - mostly we just flew blind and played follow the leader on the roads.
Out of Montreal and before Quebec city we drove up to La Maurice
National Park. This was a fantastic spot and we stayed for 3 nights. The first night we stayed on the western side of the park and did some of the local walks. The next day we parked up and hired a canoe and paddled out on one of the many lake that are encompassed in the park. The weather was great and we took a picnic lunch and found a beach to sit on for a while. We then drove around to the eastern side of the park where we did some more hiking. It was very hot in Quebec, and we decided to keep pushing on as the forecasts were for 37 degrees and thunderstorms. These are the thunderstorms that never come - it just gets so hot and humid it is unbearable. The thunder rumbles all day and you get about a minute of rain and then it all disappears.
From Quebec province we headed into New Brunswick. This is quite a small province, only about a third the size of New Zealand. It is a pretty area, quite hilly with a lot of farmland and undeveloped area. The highlight here was the Bay of Fundy and
Fundy National Park. This area is apparantly very well known for its seafood and so we indulged in a 3 course meal in the tiny township of Alma next to Fundy National Park. Tane had mussels for his entree and then half a lobster, scallops and prawns. I had bacon wrapped scallops for entree and then chicken stuffed with lobster, cream cheese and herbs. The whole lot including drinks and dessert set us back $130 which I though quite reasonable considering a lobster dinner in NZ will set you back about $60 on its own. Unfortunately we could only spend one night here as we had to be in Moncton for our eye check up the next day so we will go back to this area later. Our eye exam went well and other than a little bit of swelling (normal) our eyes are in great shape and my vision is better than it was with glasses.
We are now on Prince Edward Island. This is a beautiful spot with miles of sandy white beaches with clear warm water. Although the sand is nearly white the soil here is very red as it is high in iron oxide which
makes it great for farming. It is a heavily agricultural area and the local businesses all try to support each other. We have been on the tourist trail here including visiting the local distilleries and vineyards. They all buy their produce from local farmers to support the local economy. There is a bridge between New Brunswick and PEI which takes about 10 minutes to drive across - it is massively long at 12.9km. As a result there is a $45 toll on it as I imagine it cost quite a bit to build and maintain. The island is mostly comprised of small villages and townships - it is like being somewhere totally different to mainland Canada. You drive passed miles of farmland with derelict houses that have been left to fall down sagging in the middle of fields. It is really quite charming and peaceful here. There are lots of old style churches scattered around the island. It's nice to see them with the traditional steeples and stained glass windows. Not like the modern churches. There are a couple of bigger townships to do your shopping in but it is mostly rural. Today we went for a walk along one
of the many beach and met some people digging for clams - biggest clams I have ever seen. We also found a tiny settlement on the east coast called New Zealand! We will spend about 4 more days here touring around the island before heading to Nova Scotia and New Foundland.
We visited a lighthouse in one of the areas around East Point and got to climb up to the top. The lighthouse is no longer in use and is now a museum. This radio system at this lighthouse was the 5th to pick up the SOS signal from the Titanic.
In Charlottetown we visited St Dunstan’s Basilica – a beautiful big old church which was nearly 100 years old. There have actually been 4 churches on the site since 1816, however the first two burnt down and the third fell down before the one currently on site was built. This is a traditional big church with huge stained glass windows and ornate trimming. We also visited Providence House - the old government building – which is a national historic site. The building has been preserved as a replica of how the various offices of parliament would have
looked over 100 years ago.
From here we drove up the north cape of the island which was mostly rural areas where they grow a lot of potato and there wasn’t an awful lot to see. The last place we stayed was Cavendish which was part of the National Park system and from there we visited the site that was the inspiration for the Anne of Green Gables stories by LM Montgomery. We also took a dip in the ocean here and it was rather icy – only good for a 5 minute dip!
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