Planning a trip to the East Coast – V

Nova Scotia’s materials may have come in last (last week, so still pretty quick), but they were not to be outdone by the others. A thick explorer’s guide and a map (yeah!) in one envelope, and a CD and other guide in a second envelope. Once again, it looks like a very comprehensive package. Goes to show that even in the age of the Internet, destinations still spend considerable efforts to produce excellent paper-based materials.

Now I would be ready to really start planning my trip, but… it looks like we have to postpone until next year, as we have to go on a family visit to Europe. Other than plane tickets, there is not much to organize for that trip.

So I have taken the provinces’ materials into the office, where they come in very handy while researching top experiences for the country.

Planning a trip to the East Coast – IV

The onslaught of PEI communication just doesn’t stop. And that is a good thing, if you want to keep PEI on the top of my mind. Just now I received another email, with a chance to win a trip to PEI if I submit a great vacation story (doesn’t even have to be to PEI!). The contest is done in Flash, and actually quite tasteful. It’s actually a sweepstakes: the entries are not judged, they choose a random entry.

Planning a trip to the East Coast – III

The PEI guide arrived today (10 days). The guide itself is as the one from New Brunswick, it has all info, but also a lot of ads. However, the guide did come with a map (yeah!) and also a personalized coverletter with a summary of what one can expect in PEI. They also promised another planner under separate cover. Like their immediate email, a nice touch. So far, in the past 10 days, I have received a total of three communications (a confirmation email, an e-newsletter, and the guide). A good way to keep my attention focus on the Gentle Island!

Cond̩ Nast Traveler РBest Islands

Condé Nast traveler has once again listed Vancouver Island among its top ten islands in the world. Meanwhile, Smartertraveler has listed Points East Coastal Drive on Prince Edward Island as one of its five favorite hidden affordable beach destinations.

While Canada may not be top of mind for beaches or islands for most, the international press thinks they’re up there with the best of tropical islands and beaches.

Planning a trip to the East Coast – II

Yesterday the first two guides arrived: New Brunswick and Newfoundland. I was happily surprised about the speed: one week.

Good: Newfoundland came with an excellent map. Bad: New Brunswick didn’t. So I will have a harder time figuring out where to go in new Brunswick I wasn’t able to select a map for New Brunswick, so no surprise there was no map.

Excellent: the format of the Newfoundland guide. Small, booklet style, thick. It looks like a travel guide more than a traditional vacation guide. Some ads, but tastefully hidden among the editorial and listings. The format surprised me the minute I picked it up. Better yet: the contents: some ideas what to do in 5 days – itineraries, experiences. And very nicely laid out.

Not as good: the New Brunswick guide has all the info, but laid out as a traditional vacation guide with lots of ads. Harder to separate the editorial from the ads.

Good: Today PEI sent me an e-newsletter. Nice touch, useful content. Let’s hope the vacation guide follows soon.

Cycling PEI

Quebec is not the only province getting big on cycling. PEI has its own cross-province cycling trail: Confederation trail. It runs 350km, from tip to tip of the island. The trail is PEI’s part of the Trans Canada trail. Another great cycling destination.

Planning a trip to the east coast

I have been to all Canadian provinces and territories, except PEI and Newfoundland. So it is high time to visit these gems. Now that I work in the industry, this is a perfect chance to document my trip planning – the good, the bad and the ugly. I will update this post as the planning progresses.

1. Where to go. Trying to look on a map to see what is feasible. Bad: Online maps are frustrating. Maps are either too small for details, or too large to show relations between provinces. Even Google maps is bad for planning, as it doesn’t show the ferry routes until you zoom in too far. The best map yet: my large Canada map at my desk in the office. It has all the major roads, all the major ferry routes, and shows very well how far destinations are from eachother. Conclusion: paper maps are still the best planning tools.

2. A colleague suggested to order the travel guides for each of the provinces. Immediately ordered a package from PEI, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick. Good: The first three had great order forms, with selections for which guides I wanted, and if I wanted a map (yes, please!!). New Brunswick was OK, but no options as to what to order, and a more convoluted entry form. It took less than a minute to complete each of the forms, very efficient. Let’s see how long it takes to get the information.

Excellent: PEI immediately sent me a follow-up email with a password to log in and sign up for further newsletter. Nice touch – now I know their form worked.

Cycling Quebec

Quebec is promoting cycling in the province, in a serious way. On August 10th they’re opening the Route Verte, a series of cycling trails totalling 4,000km (!). They run from one end of the province to the other, and even take in the Iles de la Madeleine. Not all sections are complete, but when done, it will be the second-longest cycling trail in North America. Of course, the Trans-Canada trail, at 18,000km, will be even longer when it is done. But for one province, 4,000km of cycling trails ain’t bad.

Canada is quickly becoming a killer cycling destination.

Travelling further up into Labrador

It turns out that one can extend the Nordik Express adventure up into northern Labrador with the Northern Ranger. The ship travels from Happy-Valley/Goose Bay all the way up the coast to Nain. Other than the schedules page and some trip reports, there appear to be no sites dedicated to the route. This makes it all the more attractive!

Working ships: Quebec’s north shore

I just returned form a week in Quebec, attending Canada’s largest tourism trade show. After the show I travelled through the region NE of Quebec city for a couple of days. I came away from the show with enough excting experiences to fill my blog for months, but I’ll highlight a few in the coming days.

One experience that I had no idea existed: The Nordik Express. This working ship plies the waters of the St. Lawrence’s north shore, stopping at all the small ports along the way to unload goods and people. Many of these small towns have no road, so the ship is their main way of contact with the outside world. The company’s website has a number of great suggestions for excursions. If you are taking the round trip (one week), they suggest taking a bike to explore the towns along the way. The route is also a great way to travel from Quebec city to Newfoundland, or better yet, a way to complete Quebec/Labrador’s great road trip: Quebec-Baie-Comeau-Fermont/Labrador City-Happy Valley (Labrador). From there a ferry to Cartwright. From there drive to Blanc-Sablon, and take the Nordik Express back to the road head at Natashquan. Drive back to Quebec city.

For the ultimate east coast road trip, at Blanc-Sablon you’d take a ferry over to Newfoundland, drive to the southern end to catch the ferry to Nova Scotia, and then make your way back through New Brunswick and the Gaspe to Quebec city. That would be an amazing way to see Canada’s east.