My Backpacking Memoirs

Hints and Recommendations; my backpacking stories; travel photos; etc...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

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Sunday, May 2, 2010


May 11, 2009 YYZ to YHZ (Toronto to Halifax). My first trip to east coast Canada. Maritime life here I come. Camping in Nova Scotia seems to be the plan. As I land in Halifax, I'm actually 41km from the city center. The helpful visitor's info desk at the airport helps me get to the hostel in downtown Halifax. First stop: Alexander Keith's Brewery, or just the pub anyway. Tours were only running on weekends. The staff wore Scottish garb while serving up the tasty refreshment. Next stop? Snack then snooze. Woke up and stopped in at another pub. 12C Overcast skies.

May 12, 2009. Not a busy day. Searched for some jobs online, in the newspaper, and looking for 'HELP WANTED' signs. Did some backpacker shopping: Chili, pasta, beans, etc...for my up and coming camping trip. Chilled in the common room and watched a hockey game. 10 degrees, rain.

May 13, 2009. A beautiful day. A walking tour of Halifax: Harbour, Citadel, Maritime Museum, etc...and camera shopping (though I didn't buy one). Halifax has charmingly old buildings, cedar sided homes and churches on the Atlantic. 18 degrees, sunny.

Halifax to New Glasgow (or so I thought). I figured I might want to go to PEI today or first thing in the morning. I chose to stick to Nova Scotia.

I arrived in New Glasgow to catch a cab to Pictou, NS. Population 800 ish. Got a room at the 'Rusty Anchor' Non-smoking rooms were smokey, good thing I smoke. I walked down to the pier and ate some fresh haddock at the 'Pressmen' pub. I had a few Keith's and called it a day. Sunny, 23 degrees.

May 14, 2009. I slept in. Grabbed my gear and headed back into town to catch a cab to New Glasgow. I stopped into Debbie's Cafe and Bakery for lunch. MMMMM club house. Debbie had recommended a visit to Joyce at the laundromat a few blocks away. The 73 years young woman was more than happy to share tales of the area and had no fewer than 5 guestbooks filled with names who stopped in at the port to talk to her, including Mel Gibson. She told me the story of the 'Hector' and local catches. Later Debbie stopped in to see Joyce and asked me if I wanted a ride back to New Glasgow to catch the bus. She dropped me off on the Trans-Canada HWY 104 2/3kms from the station. Perfect for me to purchase a new camera and hoof it down the road. NEXT STOP Baddeck and Cape Breton Island.

I rolled into Baddeck at dusk and an elderly couple was kind enough to offer me a ride into town. I got a room at the 'Telegraph'. Shawn, the hotel owner/manager pointed me to the Yacht Club so I could watch the hockey game and meet a few locals over a pint of beer. An extravagant yacht was docked and I later spoke with two lads on the Aussie crew. They were headed down the St. Lawerence and eventually to Lakes Ontario and Erie. I recommended a stop at 'The Cliff' for some Sea Dogs. Sunny, 18 degrees Pictou. Overcast, cool in Baddeck.

May 15, 2009. A relaxing day checking out the town of Baddeck. Population 800 until the tourist season. The town is situated on a salt water lake overlooking an island a few hundred meters from shore. On the island is the William Kidston Lighthouse. To the north was Alexander Graham Bell's former home, also where the first Canadian flight took place in February of 1909. The Silver Dart was the name of the plane, and they recreated the flight for the 100th Anniversary.

I helped some men at the marina drop some floating docks into the water for the upcoming season.

I ate at the 'Yellow Cello Cafe' and had coffee at the 'Bean There' coffee shop. Overcast, cool. Went to the 'Inverary Resort' for a some live tunes and a pint.

May 16 2009. A Cabot Trail tour with Marie and Allison (Ontario), Maria (Athens,Greece), and our local guide Gary. I was probably ahead of the spring schedule and the greens that would be showing there colours. Rated the #1 coastal drive in North America. We stopped at various lookout points and places of interest/fishing villages. We stopped for a lobster lunch (opening day of the season) at 'All Aboard' which I enjoyed with scallops, and further through the drive, a dessert at 'The Dancing Goat' a bakery where I tried chocolate brownie cheesecake. Saw more moose than tourists.

Back at the Telegraph, I was able to catch up on some emails. Campgrounds weren't open until June, unfortunately.
16 degrees, sunny.

May 17, 2009. First task was to get a clear-skied photo of the lighthouse. On the way back to the hotel, I ran into Maria. She invited me to lunch back at the Cello and we had discussed our future plans and past travels. Also caught up on my laundry. I watched the Penguins/Wings game and caught up on some writing. Time to call it a night. Periods of sun, rain.

May 18, 2009. I'll start off the day with a 'Bean There' coffee and then off to Halifax to get a room. Going to miss this town, its friendly folks and smiling faces. I'll be back again someday soon. Rain.

May 19, 2009. Just a waiting day. 11:55 flight to London Gatwick.


May 20, 2009 was spent on a 5 hours cross Atlantic flight.

May 21, 2009. I got cheap accomodations at the Days Hotel near Bethnal Green for a mere 99 quid, which dinged the budget right off the hop. I phoned Michael after an afternoon snooze and had a few drinks in Hackney or somewhere near there.

May 22, 2009. I did a walking tour of London before meeting Mina (Michael's girlfriend) after she got done work. We had a few drinks at a pub before Michael joined us.

May 23, 2009. Did not much of anything, eat, a bit of frisbee, that's all. Great day to be outside.

May 24, 2009. I bought a train ticket to Swansea, Wales. It was a bank holiday. When I arrived at the hotel with my reservation in hand, they had claimed I didn't have a reservation at all. They phoned every hotel in Swansea and they were all booked up. The manager of the Ramada did however put me in a room that had no working plumbing free of charge. It was a bit musty smelling but with the windows open was alright. I had to shower, shave, etc in the pool washrooms. Not bad considering I got the room for free with breakfast. (after returning home, I was billed full price anyway not by the hotel, the online reservation company)

Marina, Swansea, Wales

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Pennard, Wales

May 25, 2009. I caught a later train back to London, but not before going to Pennard and the three peaks for the day. I got to see where Katherine Zeta-Jones' home is, and where she grew up. This was an aw inspiring setting on the Welsh coastline. Back to London before my flight to flight is Tuesday! Could've and would've stayed in Swansea another few nights if I hadn't had a flight booked.

May 26-29, 2009. Dublin. Walking tour of the city. Stopped in at a few pubs. Sampled some Whiskey and a few pints at the famous Temple Bar. The weather was cool yet comfortable for the three days I was there. My last night was in the Dublin Skylon Hotel. I was supposed to meet Louise and Joanne, sisters I had met in California in 2008, but they got busy with final exams. Tommy Tiernan was performing in Kilarney but I didn't go due to time constraints.

From Dublin I caught the boat to Holyhead Wales, before catching a train to Liverpool.

May 29-31, 2009. Liverpool was a revisit.

June 1, 2009. Michael and I booked flights to Zadar. A road was closed so that we could land at the airport. We had a few Karlovackos (Karl o vach kos) before getting a night bus to Dubrovnik.

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