A quiet, relaxed day today, as befitting a Sunday. We got up relatively late (Pamela and I set out alarm for 8:15, but we woke up before it went off), and started out drive to Charlottetown around 10:00, after a mediocre but serviceable breakfast.
Prince Edward Island is, of course, an island, which means that there are a limited number of ways to get there. The first is a ferry from Caribou, Nova Scotia (near New Glasgow, where we stayed a couple nights ago) to Wood Islands, PEI. The second is Confederation Bridge, from Border-Carleton, PEI to Bayfield, New Brunswick. We took the ferry today, and will take the bridge when we leave tomorrow.
The ferry is, technically, more expensive than the bridge. However, both the ferry and the bridge are priced for the round trip, not one-way, and collect the fee when leaving PEI, so we didn’t pay for the ferry today. (This leads to obvious jokes about “They’ll let you onto PEI for free, but you have to pay if you want to leave”).
It’s recommend that you get to the ferry about an hour early so that you can secure a place in line, and so that they can get everyone loaded onto the ferry in time for its departure. This also gives the gift shop the opportunity to sell you stuff (I bought more fudge, because I’m weak). As a bonus, while the harbour is fenced off, it’s not secure — there’s just a sign saying “enter at your own risk” — so I got to wander around and take pictures of the boats, and Dad chatted to a local fisherman.
The ferry ride itself is about 75 minutes long. There’s a little cafeteria on the ship – we were taking the 12:30 ferry, so we had lunch – and some other diversions (some tourist information, and I think a few arcade games), but we spent most of the trip on the decks, watching the waves and the occasional island or passing ship.
Once we got to PEI, we drove over to a lighthouse that’s right by the harbour. During the summer, it’s open to the public, but it was closed for the season now, so we just admired it and went on our way.
PEI is a very pretty place, and quite different than Nova Scotia. The famous red soil is very evident, and where Nova Scotia was trees, trees, trees, PEI is covered in farms. It’s very picturesque, with little farms on rolling hills with the ocean in the distance. While it doesn’t have the mountains of the Cape Breton highlands, it has a charm all its own, and feels very…lived-in. A lot of Nova Scotia seemed…empty, with small towns that barely deserved the name, and huge tracts of undeveloped land. PEI has farms, and fishing villages that seem like people actually live and work there.
Of course, PEI is pretty small. We were all, I think, a little surprised at how big Nova Scotia was. It’s easy to think of the Maritime provinces as piddly little things, but you can spend a lot of time driving in Nova Scotia. PEI is, legitimately, small…we were driving across it the long way, and made it to Charlottetown, which is about halfway, in around an hour.
We actually had to drive all the way through Charlottetown and out the other side to get to our hotel, which is technically in Cornwall. It’s a Super 8, and surprisingly nice. It looks recently renovated, and the rooms are quite spacious. The bathroom in mine and Pamela’s room is huge – almost as big as mine at home (which is just silly). They get one black strike though: it seems they don’t keep the coffee and hot water thermos equipment separate, so when I made myself a cup of tea, it tasted of coffee. Blech.
We looked into getting to a church service today, but our travel options were limited by the ferry schedule, and the two local churches that we considered don’t have afternoon services (we actually drove past the Free Reformed Church of Scotland around 3:00 or so). So we settled with a very quiet day (dinner in our hotel room, no real sightseeing).
We’ve got the rest of the trip pretty much planned out now. The next two nights (our last two) are booked in what looks like a very nice hotel in Moncton. We hope to spend some time exploring Charlottetown tomorrow, and then on Tuesday we’ll go to the Fundy coast, hoping to see the Hopewell Rocks, the famous tides, and maybe a couple other things. Wednesday morning we might take a look around Moncton, and in the afternoon, we fly back home…