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Beyond the Pale - A 'pale' is a fencepost. The English Pale was a boundary in Ireland marking out the part of Ireland under direct English rule circa 1450 (which included Dublin and environs). Those that lived 'beyond the pale', outside of English rule, were considered out of control and uncivilised. You decide...

Monday, September 12, 2005

Letters from the Americas 2005 (part 7) - Canada Nova Scotia


Cape Spear...where's Brittany?
OH CANADA, HELL YEAH!

Take New Zealand, add a dollop of Scotland, lashings and lashings of Irish, sprinkle 1000 island ethic dressing, wrap it in the Union Jack , dip it in America, marinate it in French sauce and that's Canada. It's a truly spectacular country. I'm gonna come out and say it, if the stars aligned I would move to Canada in a split second, I fell in love with the place...

Nova Scotia isn't just named after Scotland, in part, it kinda IS Scotland... the majority of the province owes the origins of its land mass to the continent of Africa (I could launch into the subtler intricacies of platetectonics but I don't want to embarrass anyone with my startlingly vast knowledge ;op), however Cape Breton in Nova Scotia was once actually a part of Scotland that broke off and swam like haggis through an intestine all the way to modern day Canada. I know, it doesn't get more entertaining than a long winded note on the finer details of shifting land masses, don't even get me started on the nocturnal habits of rock algae, man I'm on fire today.


Here's wavin' at you kid

Halifax is a thumping, buzzing, party town. This impression may also be in part due to the fact we arrived just as all the students were flooding back to the city for the start of term. People are uber friendly, and I could really feel the English influence: English slang seemed commonplace and little things like all the bars were called 'pubs'. There is also a massive concrete wave down by the harbour, you won't be able to resist running up and having a feel. 

How 'bout dem Red Sox
We joined a tour called the Salty Bear and I couldn't recommend it enough, it was very much in the vein of the New Zealand Kiwi Experience Tour. Our first stop was a baseball batting cage at the side of the road somewhere on the way to Pomquet beach. The Red Sox can call off their search, it's official, I am without a shadow of a doubt, completely and utterly pantaloonies at the old game of stick and ball. I can do a neat back slice, I'm not afraid to slap some top spin on it, and I can even, through skills you can't just learn, stop the ball dead. Alas, I just can't seem to hit the sliotar forward! Sharon, however, has a long career ahead of her bootin' up for the Yankees. The machine was flinging the balls at her and without so much as a howdyedo, Shazaroo was lining them up and cracking them clear of the park! BatterBatterBatter Swiiiiing

We stayed in a place called Indian Brook, quite a remote spot that involved a tiring 3 minute ferry trip (no joke). I found Canada's main cities of Vancouver and Toronto quite sparsely populated so you can imagine the desolation of the countryside. Although extremely well maintained, the spectacular beauty of the sea inlets, the near empty beaches, and the rolling green hills and rocky coast (eerily similar to the west of Ireland), feels untouched and uniquely beautiful, as if you're the first person to lay eyes on it.

The Cabot Trail is a drive along the coastline with scenery that has a magnetic intensity about it, according to proud Nova Scotians it was voted the second most scenic drive in the entire world by the National Geographic, and the Nova Scotian people were voted the second most friendly in the world. The most scenic drive in the world is...oh dear, what did the guide say...I *think* he said it was the Pacific Coast Highway in the US, and I believe the Ocean road in Australia came in third. I'm sure someone will fly into a rage that I am speaking untruths but it's just an opinion, not even my opinion, I haven't done the PCH or Ocean road, but I personally think the M50 has a lot going for it ;op  

The friendliest people in the world are apparently the relaxed folks from Trinidad and Tobago, as our guide pointed out, if he lived on a Caribbean island he'd probably be quite a friendly chap too. We had two guides throughout the trip and they provided a real flavour of Canadian humour that is distinctly different from the Americans and is far more along the lines of sarcasm and banter.

I've never been whale watching before and to be honest the thoughts of paying money to tear around on a smelly boat in search of bloated, blubbered, bigged up dolphins didn't really appeal. Despite a boat ride about as stable as a ryanair landing, we did indeed see oodles of whales. They were unfortunately on the small side, next time I go I want to see Moby Dick himself do a triple axel while singing the theme tune to jaws backwards!



Cape Breton is also home to the Celidh Trail, which is a trail you follow stopping on the way to join in local Ceili's, some signs you would see would be written in Irish! In case you don't know what a Ceili is, shame on you, it's basically an Irish party with Irish dancing and Irish music. It's like a messy version of River Dance.







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