Saturday 22 May
The train journey from Montreal was reasonably pleasant, provided you can get used to sleeping in a normal upright seat. This is the cheapest option on the train by the way. Then you have the bunk bed options, and finally the private rooms.
As another bit of interesting but perhaps useless information, I also discovered how the stewards on the train remembered which passengers they needed to wake up before arriving at each station. Since this was an overnight train that stopped at various stations in the early hours of the morning, I should think it is imperative to get it right! 😉 Well, the system was very simple and I would say about 99% foolproof. It just involved a simple Post-It note stuck to the luggage compartment above each passenger. No computers, or messy notepad. Neat, isn’t it?
For me, the long time spent on the train was kind of meditative. Time for contemplation. The train is somewhat like a time-capsule, which transports a person slowly (relative to an aeroplane) from one place to the next. During the journey, you are suspended in time, with no contact with the outside world except through the passive and detached view from the window. Moving to a planned destination, but possibly where many unknowns await.
Sunday 23 May
Had a bit of an incident today. Well, I almost missed the bus heading from Moncton to Prince Edward Island (PEI). After I alighted the train at Moncton, while waiting for the bus connection – another 3-hour journey – I was just leisurely wandering the downtown area and little did I realise that Moncton is actually 1 hour ahead of Montreal. Fortunately, as I sat down and about to enjoy a half-hour session responding to my emails and perhaps updating my website, I noticed that the computer displayed the “wrong” time. At that point I had only about 10 minutes left before the bus was due to leave. This was followed by a quick exit (with full refund) and a mad dash back to the train station, where the bus was about to move off, with my bags onboard!
Well, as they say, “All’s well that ends well…”
(10pm LOCAL time)
Just came back from a fantastic lobster dinner in downtown. This was at a place called Water Prince – the Corner Shop, named so because it sits at an intersection. Though a little pricey but highly recommended. Sorry, no pictures – too busy eating!
Photos of Charlottetown (opens a new window)
Monday 24 May
Rented a car today, and for the next two days in fact. Planned to do a bit of drive-touring on the island.
Followed the Blue Heron Drive for today, which is a almost-200km long scenic drive in the central part of PEI. There are many points of interest along the way, although I visited only a handful given the amount of time I had, and all related to Anne of Green Gables, a series of novels written by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Disclaimer: I am not a fan in the strict sense, since I have never read the novels, but I have only seen the America-produced TV series. I am sure the Anne-purists will have a field day with that one!
The drive was quite hassle-free. Despite the fact that I have never driven on the right-hand side of the road before, it was surprisingly painless. Even managed to successfully negotiated a few 3-way stops too. Furthermore, the traffic was light and road signs very straightforward to follow. However, I must admit the windscreen wipers did go off a few times (instead of the indicators), and I was often searching for the non-existent seat belt on the right and the handbrake on the left!
The landscape in central PEI consists of series of gentle undulating hills, covered by bright, moist green grass, and complemented by the various shades of green of the coniferous trees. The regularity was interrupted by the occasional red of freshly upturned earth, ready for planting. Then there were all these nice, English-style cottage houses all over the place.
While I am not an Anne-fan, I really enjoyed the visit to the Green Gables House – the house she modelled the Cuthberts’ house after. However, I was told that the Green Gables in the TV series was NOT the real thing… but I loved it anyway for its homely feel. The tranquillity of the Lovers’ Lane and also Haunted Woods in the area immediately surrounding the house made it easy to see how such environments have inspired Montgomery to write all the novels she did.
To cap off the day, I treated myself to another sumptuous dinner, although no lobster tonight, at the Lobster on the Wharf. Just the plain old fish’n’chips, with a soup, an appetizer and a beer to go. Suffice to say that I am quite satisfied!
Sights along the Blue Heron Drive (opens a new window)
Tuesday 25 May
Today was very cold, all day long. It was cloudy all the way till shortly before I reached North Cape (the northern tip of PEI), just after 3pm. However, it got colder and colder even though the sun was out…
Drove to the western side of PEI and followed the Lady Slipper Drive today. The total distance for the round-trip was about 380km. The countryside was quite flat, and more heavily wooded compared to yesterday’s route. Most of the time, I had the sea in full view, since the highway kind of hugged the coastline. There were many small communities along the way, and very, very to go past.
Visited two lighthouses today. West Point was the first one, which in fact contains a guest room, converted from a former lighthouse master’s quarters. The second was at the North Cape, roughly halfway along the route. Here is the Atlantic test site for electricity-generating windmills and there were many huge beasts around. By the way, the Cape is or on the edge of the Arctic Circle – not that I realised how far north I was at the time.
Ended the day with a nice steak and some dessert at a place called Harbour House Restaurant. Very nice indeed. The soup – some orange-based concoction with rosemary – was quite delicious. Again, ended the day with a very full stomach… Oh, just in case someone out there thinks that I am some 100kg giant. For the record, I had very light lunches for the past few days: soup and bread on Sunday, a cinnamon roll yesterday and some sandwiches today. 🙂
Sights along the Lady Slipper Drive (opens a new window)
Wednesday 26 May
The bus heading to Moncton was scheduled to depart at midday, so only had a few hours left this morning to walk around the town centre of Charlottetown. Managed to get to Province House where the plans for a single Canada was debated over and laid out close to a century ago.
No more incidents before boarding the train to Quebec City. Return to normality…