Tag Archives: backpacker hostel

Brier Island … Something you Simply Should Not Miss

I know, I know. This was first meant to be a blog about why you should stay with us in our hostel. It then morphed into a blog about why you should stay in Lunenburg County … well, today I’m just going to go right ahead and smash down that final barrier and say you should visit Nova Scotia! Because today (well, yesterday) we spent the day in Brier Island, and I can’t even begin to explain what an incredible experience it was.

It was our intention to get up super-early and get going, however with garbage day and visitors in the hostel we didn’t end up getting away until nearly 9am. Still, we made it to the Island by noon, and even stopped a couple times on the way.

The drive through the middle of the province was winding and lovely — if we were going to take it easy we would have checked into Caledonia House Hostel for the night and spent the day in Kejimkujik National Park. Sharon & Dan run that backpackers hostel, and they are lovely hosts … and so close to Keji! It would have been perfect. Sadly, we are on a pretty tight budget for time, as there were people staying in the hostel, so we just plodded on passing through so many quaint little communities – I really would have loved to have stopped. We stopped briefly in Digby to grab some motion sickness pills for our 4 and 9 year olds, and a quick bite to eat from Timmies (yup – there’s a Tim Hortons pretty much everywhere) and then on to the first of two ferry rides.

The first took us to Long Island (… pity we couldn’t stop for an ice tea :) ). The boat ride was super quick, and Long Island was lovely. Little homes dotted here and there, the balancing rock (well worth the hike to see), shops, a school, cafe … a busy little island which we didn’t really have time to stop here though because our final destination was Brier Island, and we were hightailing it. The second ferry took a bit longer (like 7 minutes instead of 5) and we were there.

The first thing I saw was a local riding his lawn tractor down the road. Lawn tractors, 4-wheelers, golf carts … part of the regular flow of traffic on Brier Island. I was instantly in love. With the Island, not the local.

Our first stop was at Brier Island Backpackers to see Wally & Joyce. What an incredible hostel they have there. Colourful rooms, huge big kitchen & common room .. and the view? Absolutely breathtaking! Gorgeous!!

There was no time for chitchat, though, as Wally & Joyce bundled us up in the special wet-weather-flotation-gear and packed us into their zodiac. We practically flew out into the open ocean … and there? It happened.

Whoosh! A big spray of water up into the air and seconds later WOW the stinkiest smell … whale breath (glad I didn’t have to kiss one!). We found a whale who did some lovely dives for us. We sat and watched for a while and them zoom! We were off again and .. wonder of all wonders .. found a mother and her calf. Whale, not cow. We’re in the middle of the ocean, right? It was absolutely magnificent. They put on such a show for us – swimming along the top of the water for ages, blowing, rolling over, diving and showing us their massive great tails and, la pièce de résistance, the full breach. Two times. Seriously. If you haven’t seen it, you haven’t breathed.

Our three hours on the water passed far too quickly and we headed back (mostly, I think, because our 4-year old had had enough). We visited the lighthouse and the stunning beach. Ah! There was so much unexplored but we were running out of time :( . We had a delicious dinner at the Cafe there next to the Hostel — truly delicious: fried and yet completely ungreasy fish & chips. We met a very cool little puppy named Seven and Wally gave some dog treats to the kids to feed the sweet little guy. We watched a man drive his lawn tractor to the gas station and fill up with $1.87 gas and then drive off back home again. We caught the 7:25pm ferry to Long Island and began the treck back home. We got home at around 11pm.

So yes, please, come to Lunenburg and stay with us at our hostel where we have campfires and marshmallows every night the stars are out, and we are as relaxed and comfy and friendly as can be. Do it, because you’ll love it here. And it’s cheap .. even better, right?

But if you’re coming to Nova Scotia you simply have to make the trip to Brier Island. And if you’re coming to Nova Scotia and planning to go whale watching? Don’t do it from anywhere else. Brier Island is right there .. right at the open ocean. The Atlantic is surrounding you — it’s only a quick drive. You get to spend all your time watching one of the greatest creatures on earth. And if you’re going to Brier Island, you’ve got to stay at the hostel there. I mean, there’s an “upper class” lodge you can stay at of course. Which, I am sure, is incredible. But seriously – why go to Brier Island and not spend the night? It isn’t a day trip — there’s too much to see and do. Me? I could live there quite happily. But it’s worth at LEAST one night, but more likely two or three. It’s heaven!

What an Amazing Ride

Summer has been such an incredible one. It’s been quite perfect for me, because I’m someone who loves a bit of sunny hot weather to be followed by a bit of cool rain, and then more hot sun. We’ve certainly had more rain this summer than I ever remember, but so many hot sunny days mixed in it’s been the perfect combination. The farmers’ markets will be overflowing with fresh produce, and if you’re into eating meat then all those grass fed animals being sold will be chubby and absolutely delicious.

Summer is quickly coming to its end, and my regular old life is waiting for me just over the next Waxing Gibbous. Autumn is my absolutely favorite season of all —- the gloriously warm & sunny days; the cool, crips nights; the storms, when they come, are big & powerful; the leaves start changing … our whole world finishes and comes to a close, and who knows what the next season will bring. Anticipation of lots of snow for tobogganing; dread of all the many snowsuit days; the happy fire crackling each and every night in the woodstove to keep us toasty & warm …. and a regimented life where I know I can find time to write here, each and every day.

I’m thinking big changes are on their way — hopefully for the better.

Now hasn’t this been an odd little blog about Lunenburg and Mahone Bay ….

Our little hostel has been having a little campfire each and every night (when it isn’t raining) — marshmallows and homemade roasting sticks. Sometimes the kids join in for a while, sometimes not… their bedtime is fairly early, though, so most of the night is yours.

… And our toilet garden is blooming magnificently… now which of you isn’t filled with curiousity over THAT little statement ?? .. why not come see it for yourself

Whether the weather be cold, or whether the weather be hot…

we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether we like it or not.

So it seems I can hardly avoid the weather. It’s sticking its nose into my business every time I turn around, so I feel it is crying out for some attention. Not just the idle chitchat you hear from people – tourists and locals alike – but some serious, written in cyberstone attention that will remain, forevermore, in cyberspace.

Nova Scotia is a peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean. For anyone who knows anything about the ocean, you’ll be saying “Ahhh. Okay, I get it.” For those of you with less oceanic experience, let me just say that while weather changes everywhere all the time, coastal areas are ever so much much more prone to the changes, because that ocean is having a huge impact on our weather. And boy, she changes a lot around here!

Nova Scotia (and other chilly coastal areas) are quite famous for their remarkable colours in autumn. It’s .. well … impossible to explain. And as much as the colours are gobstopping here, up in Cape Breton is it even more so. One of the things affecting our beautiful colours is our changeable weather. From hot to cold, wet to dry. All of this is being registered by the tree and once we get that rain in September where the air just feels different afterward? That’s when the trees start their song. It builds slowly with the voice of one, lone, red maple leaf (why red? why maple? Because that’s what occured to me. I don’t actually claim to know which leaf turns what colour first.). The tune quickly spreads and to the red song come the yellow and orange harmonies. And then .. huzzah! Our whole arboribus world sings a heartstopping song … I’m off topic again, aren’t I. It’s like an addiction with me.

So yes, our weather is ever-changing. Sometimes you need a sweater in August. Sometimes people are playing golf over the Christmas holidays. No question but that you’ll need a raincoat in Spring … not that it’ll rain every day (although it kind of felt that way this year), but it will rain. And it might rain in summer as well. And autumn. And winter. You might get hail. Hurricanes (not like the kind down south, just our milder & gentler version). Snow. Fog .. ahh definitely some fog which is perhaps one of my favorite kinds of weather… it’s so mysterious, don’t you think? Adds to the whole pirate, ghost, haunted feeling I’m always looking for and finding fairly often when I can be bothered to look hard enough.

Despite the bad rap our weather gets, we also get gloriously hot and sunny days where people are complaining because it’s just too darn hot. 35 degrees (100 for all of you south of the border) is not at all uncommon, and it gets hotter than that as well, although not regularly (thank goodness).

Our backpacker hostel is on a well, which it shares with our house and a little cottage we rent out year-round. The rain is good for us. I’m always happy to see it, so long as I get a sunny day as well. Which we do. But that’s my purely selfish reason for liking the rain.

If it rains while you’re on vacation, all that means is that you have a day to look around the museums and art galleries without having to be distracted by the call of the sun .. calling you to one of our numerous beaches .. to the park .. to the back deck (if laying in the sun is what you’re into) .. to the campground. Tomorrow that bit of rain will look like a whole new world: the trees, plants and flowers will all be bursting with green .. looking lush and lively (say that 10 times fast!). The bird poop on the picnic table today will be washed away tomorrow, so you can sit down and enjoy a feed without fear that your child will think it’s a yoghurt covered raisin and pop it into his or her mouth. The veggies that our local farmers are growing and hoping to sell at the Farmers’ Markets will take a huge leap in growth so that instead of one bag of fresh beans you can buy 2 .. plus peas, carrots and some new spuds. All because of rain.

I know you want your holiday to be perfect, but really: Nova Scotia is all about changing weather. It’s part of what makes us .. us. If you got absolutely no rain or fog or storms or anything but sun when you were here, could you really say you experienced Nova Scotia?

A little bit of rain never hurt anyone … and summer rain is when you can run outside naked (okay, I guess we aren’t quite that liberal minded in these parts ..) you can run outside in your bathing suit and get a good soaking straight from the clouds. Remember doing that when you were a kid? Do it again on your holiday. Really. You’ll feel 15 again.

numerus quattuor: Zee Beeg Exe

… less of a festival, and more of a right of passage, the South Shore Exhibition is something I have heard people talk about since I was a child. I went to Camp Mush-A-Mush for a week each summer, and all the kids from down Lunenburg way all talked about The Big Ex and it sounded so exotic.

Now that I live here it is a yearly tradition for me and my children. The six day event is packed chock full of every kind of country fun you can possibly imagine. Starting with a big street parade on Tuesday (yikes! today!!) at 6pm (hey: and this parade? It gives out free candy .. yahoo! Who (but a like-minded parent) doesn’t want loads of free candy?

But that’s not all. Oh no, that’s not all at all. Live music up the ying yang; barrel races; strong man competition; oxen and horse pulls; steer riding rodeo; oh my heavens there’s even more! There’s the small petting barn; the 4H barn where you can view loads of animals and projects prepared or reared (depending on what you’re looking at) by local kids. [Our eldest daughter, Shani, won first prize last year for a papier mache bowl she made. She's not entering this year, but there are loads of other kids entering their beautiful projects and they're well worth seeing.] But wait! There is still more!!! Dora the Explorer is apparently coming to visit. And there’s still the rides .. oh my, who can forget the rides? All the awesome rides with the game guys trying to get you to spend your money on games which ‘ga-run-tee a winnah every time’. There’s snow cones, popcorn, ice cream, pizza, hotdog & fries, cowboy hats, craft tables .. on and on and on. It’s something unlike any of the big city events you’ve been to, and I politely suggest you stop by and check things out. From our little hostel it is only a 20 minute drive — and if you don’t choose backpacking as a place to lay your head at night (but if you don’t .. why don’t you? Check it out – sleep in total comfort with good people for very little money) there are plenty of other choices for accommodation down here in Mahone Bay and Lunenburg.

Come one, come all .. you’ll have the time of your life …. or at least the time of your visit to Nova Scotia.

nummar tríggir — Pirates Arrrrrr!

So it’s been ages. I had this great blog done all about the most awesome Pirate Festival coming up in Mahone Bay .. and then I had to rush off with the kids and my husband deleted it all! Arrrrgh! So I felt totally dejected and walked away. But I guess I’m an adult, so I’d better just jump back on board here, right?

As I had mentioned in the past, there was once a Wooden Boat Festival in Mahone Bay. Over the past few years it has had a couple changes, first to the Classic Boat Festival, and then to the Pirate Festival & Regatta. I believe I also mentioned how incredibly, undeniably appropriate a pirate festival was for Mahone Bay. Why? Where can I even begin? Legends of pirate treasure abound in this neck of the woods (this leg of the ocean?) .. Oak Island where people still to this day are looking for hidden treasure. A convaluted story starting with an American Privateer ship named The Teazer which was captured by the Brits in 1812, the Captain took an oath to never again bear arms against the King to save his neck (literally) and returned to the US of A .. only to receive another letter of mark in 1813 to recommence his privateering days. (the life of a pirate ♪) She was instantly successful and therefore instantly sought out by the Brits. On her last attempt to flee the Brits she sailed into our little piece of heaven, attempting to use the many islands of Mahone Bay as cover .. alas, it didn’t work and before the ship could be capture the captain caught his ship on fire and the day ended with an incredibly dramatic explosion from all the munitions aboard. Wow. The ship still haunts the harbour, and part of the festival is the reinactment of the Young Teazer’s final journey ……….. although instead of munitions the light fireworks instead, which makes for a very happy ending indeed. Goodness I could go on and on, but let’s just leave it at this: Mahone Bay is, quite simple, The Perfect Setting for a festival involving pirates.

There is so much jam-packed into this weekend, and it is this very weekend. The one coming up. (Ahh! I’m so excited! I love this festival!!) You’ve got to be here. You just do. There are boat races, crafts for kids, pirates all though town (under strict contact NOT to do any pillaging or .. uh .. other things pirates are so famous for). And that’s not all. Mermaids. Does the thought of a mermaid make your imagination start to sing they way it does mine? Mr. Langille, across the road from us, he has mermaids in his pond and my kids often watch him when he goes to feed them. But they’re rather shy mermaids. A real mermaid is coming to the Pirate Festival, and she’s going to make every child’s day. Raina, the mermaid, will be visiting our fine shores, and surely you can’t miss that. I’ve seen the foam on the ocean, which my grandmother (from the Faroe Islands) always told me came from mermaids once they had died. But never have I had a chance to meet a real one. There’s no way anyone can keep me away … surely you won’t stay away either.

Come to Mahone Bay and experience what is perhaps the most awesome festival of the summer … it’s a very close tie between this and the Folk Harbour Festival coming up in August in Lunenburg.

Music makes my heart beat, but pirates & mermaids make it sing …

So you want to know what to do THIS weekend??

Man. So, Lunenburg is a pretty quiet town, right? That’s something I truly love about it. I love walking into a grocery store and having Bryan say “Hey, Trudi – we’ve got more cucumbers for Mitchell” or when I go to the library “Trudi! Shani’s books are here”. Or how about randomly on the street “You’re Trudi-Jacqui-With-The-Awesome-Hair’s-Mum, right?”. It rocks. I don’t want to be invisible, and I’m not here. Cool. But this weekend? This weekend is jam packed with stuff.

First is the Lunenburg Festival of Crafts. There are incredible artists all there .. in the community centre .. selling all their beautiful wares. An amazing selection of whatever it happens to be that you’r e interested in. You really can’t go and not spend some money .. or at least mourne over the fact that you can’t spend money (that’s kind of where I’m sitting at the moment).

Pardon me? Artsy craftsy really isn’t your style? First, let me say you have NO idea what you’re saying. But then allow me to delve further into Lunenburg’s goings on this upcoming weekend (yup – there’s just enough time for you to plan a trip down – bus it, hitchhike it, shuttle it, bike it .. cyclists get 10% off at Kip & Kaboodle, did you know that? S’truth. Our hostel rocks).

There is also, this very weekend, the Lunenburg Street Festival. Jenna Barry – oooooh, a voice like Irish Cream on a cold winter’s night. And she’s just ONE of the many performers. Slow Cooking Cover, String Fever, Pat Watson, Eilidh & Paul … the list goes on and on. Buskers too, of course. Food, music, art … bargains galore.

Ah … I love where I live. Why don’t you come and get a little taste of it? It’ll melt in your mouth.

Hidden Gem’s? We gottem!!

So today I went to the Kejimkujik Seaside Adjunct with my family, and it’s just incredible! I had only been there once before, and now I wonder what’s been keeping me away.

Only a hop skip & a jump from Liverpool, Nova Scotia (which is also worth a look, btw).

It is also fantastically unadvertised. Why, when you have such a beautiful piece of protected parkland, would you not scream it out to the world? “COME ONE AND ALL! Come see nesting grounds of the protected Piping Plover! Come climb on rocks, hike a super-easy hike through the woods (our 4-year old did it with no help) and get to the softer-than-soft white sand beaches. The amazing flowers and plantlife are actually quite breathtaking. And the seals shlumpfing along the rocks a stone’s throw away are also kind of neat to see.

Kejimkujik Seaside Adjunct. You’ve really got to go there — you can camp there, there’s an awesome camping ground. You can go for the day — it’s only about an hour from our backpacker lodge (nudge-nudge wink-wink) … so about two hours from Halifax. But it’s worth it, man. You will NOT be sorry.

Kejimkujik Seaside Adjunct. It’s worth a second look. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

What a day to be HERE!

So seriously, do you like sailing? For free?? Who doesn’t, right? Today (and ONLY today) there is free sailing right out of Lunenburg. The Lunenbug/Nova Scotia Sail School is offering free sails all afternoon. Man – don’t you wish you’d stayed HERE last night? As we speak my husband and kids are out sailing the great blue yonder … and here I am, not with them. Boooo me!

We’ve had more lobster boils than you can shake a stick at here lately, and the wine’s been flowing freely. My newest addition to the hostel is the toilet-planter. I’ll post photos once they’re blooming — at the moment it’s just green leaves & vines. But hey: get a new toilet for the hostel, why throw the old one out when it makes the perfect planter?? Everyone here loves it (except Veda, our older Australian: our 8-year old says she thinks Veda said she liked it to be polite).

Ah, what a cool life I lead. You should really come and be a part of it …

Let’s add some colour here

So two photos: one of the Picton Castle as it arrived on Saturday (isn’t she a beautiful ship?) and the other is one of my daughter’s welcoming summer — yahoo!!

It’s the first full day of summer, and Nova Scotia is making sure we all know it! Another absolutely stunning day. Come on down, visit one of our beaches or if that’s too natural for your taste then go for a swim in one of the many indoor or outdoor pools we have in our area.

We sat up late last night at the picnic tables out in front of the backpackers hostel and have a few beers — listening to the last of the spring peepers (there’s still one or two male frogs out there hoping to get lucky before the heat sets in) and the owls .. lovely. Come join us … why sit in the busy sitting breathing in pollution when you can be here breathing in fresh sea air? Ahhhhhh … I love where I live ♥

Aspo-WhatDidYouSay Peninsula

Aspotogan (ASS-pa-TOH-gan) Peninsula. The name is an anglicized version of a Mi’Kmaq word Ashmutogun or Ukpudeskakun, and the peninsula is situated between St. Margaret’s and Mahone Bays.

Regardless of where the name came from or whether you’ve ever heard of it or not, once you’ve been there you’ll never, ever forget it. It’s a simply stunning drive and you’ll surely use up a memory card snapping photos along the way.

Drive it by car? Well, if you must. But you are far better off going by bike, becase in a car you are simply going to miss way too much!

Oh – you don’t have a bike? I’m sure we can help you out there. There are certainly plenty of places to rent bikes around here in addition to our backpacker hostel, so even if ours are all gone we’ll help kit you out with bike and helmet and all you need for your day.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, your camera will become an encyclopedia.