Monthly Archives: October 2011

This Blog has MOVED!!!

Thank you for visiting Blog on the Run.  As of Halloween 2011, I have officially stopped posting here and will be posting only at my new URL, www.suitcasescholar.com.  I have moved all posts from the last two plus years over to The Suitcase Scholar, and this blog continues as usual–just at this new address.  If you’ve been directed here by a link on that blog, please click your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to The Suitcase Scholar (or click any of the links in this post–they will all take you there!)

Additionally, if you’ve found this blog by doing a Google search and have enjoyed what you read (or learned from it), please consider subscribing over at The Suitcase Scholar.  It will continue to provide travel-related reviews, tips, and stories for as long as I have fingers to type with!

Thanks for visiting!   See you over on The Suitcase Scholar!

A Type-A Planner Plans a Last-Minute Trip

I learned something new about myself this week–I can go from zero to totally-trip-planned in under eight days.

Last Friday I found a really (REALLY) low fare on a cruise (yes, a cruise) out of New York City–sailing to Bermuda.  It was so very low that I only hesitated for a few seconds over the ‘book now’ button before clicking it.  And then suddenly I was going to Bermuda–in eight days.  The ship sails tomorrow afternoon, and I am going to be on it.

Does the spur-of-the-moment nature of this trip mean that I’m just going to sort of ‘wing it’?  Of course not!  In the last eight days I’ve managed to read an entire Bermuda guide book (and highlight it), order and receive a tourism guide (with pocket map) from the Bermuda Tourism board, seriously weigh my transportation options, and research pointers for solo cruisers.  I returned to a popular online cruise forum, posted questions, participated in discussions, and joined a group for a meet-and-greet the morning of my first day at sea.  I even found someone who offered to join me for dinner on Sunday night (dear, if you’re reading this–it is a woman and her sister!)  I took all of the information from the guide books, from the forums, and from the internet as a whole and condensed it into three different itinerary options for myself.  I combined that information with summaries of the ferry and bus schedules and then printed it out and added it to the folder you see pictured above.  I packed my suitcase (yes, I’m taking a whole suitcase) and now I’m just kind of sitting here waiting for it to be tomorrow!

What I did not do was finish writing the last two overview posts from my summer road trip (nevermind the many detail posts I have planned) or even begin writing about my 15 days in Walt Disney World (even though I have an actual list of ‘things to post about in relation to my 15 days in Walt Disney World!)  And now I’m leaving again–to spend seven days on a ship without internet access (dum dum DUM!)  Well, I suppose internet access is available–I’m just not paying a dollar per minute for what I’ve been told is really slow service.  So I’m accruing a fairly serious travel blog backlog.  But oh well!  I’m sailing to Bermuda–tomorrow!!!

 

 

PEI: In Retrospect, I’m Glad it Rained

Green Gables is not a reason to visit PEI. But it is delightfully tacky!

I chose to spend five nights of our summer road trip on Prince Edward Island because I thought it would be a good way to break up the trip–and because I thought we’d like to spend a few days lounging on the beach.  By this point in the trip I figured we’d be tired of ‘doing things’ and would want to just do nothing for a while.  Unfortunately, the weather had other plans.

Driving across the Confederation Bridge in the pouring rain.

My Maritime Canada guide book told me that, thanks to something magical having to do with the jet stream, PEI’s waters were ‘the warmest waters north of North Carolina’.  And I thought ‘well gee–I swim in Maryland and New Jersey–so Prince Edward Island must be even better!’  But what I failed to take into account is this:

If you’ve ever been to the Jersey shore, you’ll know that part of the allure of the beach is that it is a respite from the heat of the air temperature.  As mid-summer highs can soar into the 90s, it seems like a good idea to plunge into the Atlantic ocean.

In PEI, the air temperature did not go above 70.  In fact, for the first three days of our four day stay, the temperatures did not rise above 63.  In the evenings we closed the windows it was so cold–and it rained off and on the entire time.

My dreams of beach lounging were crushed.

However–we got to do a great many things that we wouldn’t have done had it been 80 degrees and sunny.  We spent our first full day exploring PEI National Park–which is, to be fair, a giant stretch of beach.  But because of the weather, we had it all to ourselves.  This resulted in many amazing photo opportunities….

An empty (if cold) beach. Note the long sleeves in August.

Had it been warmer (and drier) this shot would be filled with umbrellas.

Standing on a sand bar at low tide--again with the empty beach.

…including my favorite photo from the entire trip, which I achieved by balancing my camera on the abandoned lifeguard stand and utilizing the 10 second timer.  I had no idea it would turn out this well…

We decided to spend day two exploring Charlottetown, a ‘city’ a good 45 minute drive from our motel in Cavendish.  Had it been sunny out, we may have skipped Charlottetown entirely–but that would have been a huge mistake.  You see, it was a highlight of our trip to PEI, no small part thanks to the amazing tour we signed up for at the last minute–Taste of the Town.  We learned of this tour via a flyer at the tourist office–of all places!   We enjoyed a good 3 hour tour of the city punctuated with history, architecture, and (of course) food!  A detailed review of this amazing tour will eventually be linked HERE….as soon as I write it!

My favorite stop along the foodie tour--Liquid Gold, an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting room!

The most educational part of the tour--I learn to shuck an oyster.

The worst of the weather was on day three.  At this point we were beyond annoyed.  We were also beginning to tire of each other.  After all, we’d been on the road together for over two weeks at this point.  So we made another weather-induced decision:  we’d do whatever the hell we wanted on day three.  This meant that my husband stayed in the motel room and read his book and I drove all around western and southern PEI, stopping randomly and taking photos.

Driving around on my own, I found this horse. I wanted to hug him (or her...?)

And then…on our final day on the island…the gods said ‘let there be light’!  And we went to the beach.  And put our toes in the sand, swam in the (very cold) water, and had a marvelous time.  On the way to dinner that night, the sun continued to shine, and my husband knew better than to deny me the chance to photograph some puffy white clouds….

This is the weather I was looking for!

We had an amazing time despite–no, because of the weather.  I would definitely return to PEI. The people were kind, the food was amazing (also future post to come) and it is possible to have an enjoyable visit (and get some great photos) even when the weather doesn’t cooperate!

 

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia: Sensory Perfection

Everyone’s heard of sensory deprivation–you know, when you go in one of those little tanks to mediate?  And anyone who has been to a high school football game can also describe the sensation of sensory overload.  But on Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, I experienced a third option:  sensory perfection.

We drove all the way from Pennsylvania to Nova Scotia so we could drive around some more.  Yes, this sounds insane–but only if you’ve never been to Cape Breton.

My little car...at the end of the world!

Driving on Cape Breton was an attraction in and of itself.  We turned impossible corners on the edges of cliffs, with the ocean opening up before us, while listening to O Fortuna and Dance of the Swans.  Amazing views gave way to even more amazing views, and at one point it was literally impossible to not smile whilst zigging and zagging on the curvy roads.

View from the side of the road, just north of Cheticamp

The view from the passenger's seat!

Have you ever seen one of those sweeping epic travel videos?  The ones where beautiful music plays whilst showing footage from what must have been a helicopter swooping between cliffs?  Yeah–it was kind of like that…but in a Scion hatchback.

Of course, we didn’t ‘just’ drive.  We also pulled over on the side of the road and stared–a lot–mouths open, amazed.  I took hundreds of photos.  Additionally, we strapped on our hiking boots and headed out on some amazing hikes.  If you are on Cape Breton and do not do the Skyline Trail hike, well, there may actually be something wrong with you.  Looking out over the water from the top of a cliff you can both see and hear the waves breaking against the rocks far below you.  I only wish I could have tasted anything–my husband refused to bring food with us for fear of a bear attack.  My husband has issues!

Near the beginning of the Skyline Trail

Near the end of Skyline Trail

The Middle Head trail–just beyond Keltic Lodge–is another ‘feast for the senses’ (in quotes because I fully realize how cheesy that sounds–but it is true!)  It was an easy two-hour hike out the length of a narrow peninsula and back.  The best part?  The meadow in the middle, where the grass blows in the sea breeze and water surrounds you on both sides.  If you’ve never heard grass whispering and waves crashing whilst your hair blows all around your head and the smell of wild roses fills the air–you simply must get yourself to Cape Breton.  As soon as possible, actually.

My only regret for that hike?  I didn’t take my camera!  What was I thinking?  (Well, I know what I was thinking.  I was thinking ‘I’m tired of hiking with this camera around my neck’!)

At night I laid in bed and wondered where all that traffic noise was coming from–after all, we barely passed other cars during all of our day’s adventures.  And then on the second night there I realized–that sound wasn’t traffic.  It was the pounding of the surf on the beach a quarter mile from our cabin.

The freight train sounding beach near our cabin

It sounded a lot like a freight train–or a caravan of trucks.  And it made for a great night’s sleep.  Well, it was that or the hours of hiking each day!