My husband, Greg, and I felt that an extra-stressful winter warranted an extra-special summer vacation. We wanted to head down to Prince Edward Island again (it's become our annual summer spot), yet wanted something a little different. So we opted to travel most of the way by train. We rode the rails from Toronto to Montreal and then hopped aboard The Ocean, a VIA train that travels year-round from Montreal to Halifax.
We decided to spoil ourselves even further and upgraded to Easterly Class, so we could take advantage of the sleeper car and fabulous food. What I found particularly appealing, though, were the on-board learning seminars, narrated by VIA staff who are thoroughly versed in the history of the Maritimes. What could be better than learning all about the stories and people behind the panoramic view of the landscape unfolding before you: mesmerizing sunsets of Chaleur Bay, the quaint Acadian village of Petit- Rocher, and the Tantramar Marshes, at the edge of Amherst, N.S.
Instead of going directly to P.E.I., we broke up our trip with a few days in Nova Scotia, spending the first night at the historic Waverley Inn, which happened to be just a hop, skip and jump from the Halifax train station. The next morning we set off to tour the Annapolis Valley. We started off overlooking the Bay of Fundy at the Wolfville Lookoff, which offers a picture-perfect tableau of farmlands, orchards and woodlands. Greg practically had to drag me away (I was smitten with the scenery) – we were expected for the night at the exquisite family-run Blomidon Inn, which was built as a sea captain's private home in the 19th century. And not far from the Blomidon, whose five acres of luscious gardens provide a lot of the fresh vegetables that make their way onto the menu, is the Domaine de Grand Pré winery, which made for a perfect pairing.
After a relaxing drive back to Halifax, which we used as our base for a couple more days, we were able to take in Peggy's Cove, Lunenburg and Mahone Bay at our leisure. When it comes to finding a relaxing way to vacation, I think we were right on track.
Good to know:
• Locate local attractions and plan your trip at novascotia.com.
• For more information about train trips down east, visit VIA Rail and search under "the ocean."
• Upscale adventures in Clayoquot Sound
• Ranching in Alberta's Cowboy Trail
• Manitoban sweat lodge ceremony
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