Monday, July 18, 2011

Prince Edward Island

Just before we drove over the LONG causeway to Prince Edward Island (PEI for short), the royals (William and Kate) had visited the place because Kate, I heard, had read Anne of Green Gables and wanted to see the place. I found it a little weird that a whole island could make an industry out of a fictional character but sure enough, on the north side, there are blocks and blocks of real estate connected to Anne, including a sort of village where characters from the book mill about. We did not go there as the story meant nothing to Veeka and I wasn't going to drop a ton of money visiting such a spot.
We were also dogged by bad weather. We stayed with David and Dianne - a lovely couple who lived just outside of Charlottetown, the major city in the area. Our second day there, I took Veeka to see the annual Anne of Green Gables musical downtown which she liked a lot. The pace is geared toward young children as the scenes move very quickly. Our first day there, the weather was likewise awful and so I just started driving about, trying to find pretty sights. Then quite late in the afternoon, the sun came out and we headed for some of the beaches on the island's northern coast. I finally began to see why people like this island. We walked through long grasses on the sand dunes to get to the Dalway beach, which had red sand and blue-white seashells. I snapped a photo of Veeka posing at Cavendish, another of the beaches, next to some kind of Stonehenge set-up someone had made in the sand. Veeka is such a beach bum; it's such a shame we didn't get more time at them.
On Thursday the 14th, we took a ferry from PEI to Nova Scotia, then set out for Cape Breton, the most isolated part of the Maritimes. Will say more about this in a future post but we ended up spending 3 nights - instead of 2 - there as there was so much to see and do, despite the awful weather. One of the first things I noticed were road signs in English and Gaelic. Now that was a switch from English/French. I left Veeka for the day with some kids who were at the host's house and went to the Highland Village in Iona, a reconstruction of what a typical Scottish/Gaelic settlement looked like in the 19th century, which is when the Scots were leaving the Old World to move here. The folks at the village told me that the much colder weather and the bugs really put off the Scots but like the folks in the Emigrants books, they had little choice but to move to the New World as conditions back home were impossible.
And Cape Breton is so like Scotland. As I was driving to where our hosts lived - in the mist and rain - I felt like I was driving down a firth. The landscape looked so similar.

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