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Nova Scotia, Bagpipes Treasure, and old world romance

See All the Beauty Nova Scotia Has to Offer

by Lisa Banks

Feast on the bounty of the world's largest scallop fleet, follow the passionate steps of a French mistress separated from her lost love, and catch the wafting of bagpipes caressing a peaceful highland breeze at dusk-without leaving North America.

Just a bit north, where the summer air is clear and fresh and the seafood is exquisite, Nova Scotia imparts a festive touch of old world history served up with traditional Canadian hospitality.

Nova Scotia Travel Review

In the days of swashbuckling pirates and rum running, even Captain Kidd vacationed in Nova Scotia. He'd retire to Oak Island just off the coast to rest and repair his ships. It is even rumored that it's his fortune buried in the 200-foot-deep treasure pit that has thwarted the excavation attempts of hundreds of treasure hunters since 1795, including
Franklin D. Roosevelt and John Wayne.

Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia and Canada's largest east coast city, is a thriving Mecca of culture and celebrations. The Atlantic gateway to Canada since 1749 and first British settlement in Canada, it's host to hundreds of festivals from the month-long street performer Buskerfest in August to Scottish ceilidhs, jazz festivals, farmer's markets, historic re-enactments, and displays of art along lively tree-lined streets.

The sea has shaped the lives of the friendly maritime people, and today the Halifax Harbor boardwalk is still a favorite hangout for locals and visitors alike. With fine dockside dining, exotic shops, luxury hotels, and a casino, there's a bit of something for everyone. You can spend a leisurely afternoon taking in everything from pillaged pieces of the Titanic in the Maritime Museum to the largest gathering of majestic tall ships in the Americas.

And with the highest number of pubs per capita in a nation that takes its fun-loving, relaxed attitude seriously, you'll likely want to catch a rousing performance of local Irish music. Stroll the historic district's cobblestone streets and you may stumble into the Lower Deck, a cozy pub fashioned like the berth of a ship. Don't be surprised when the music breaks for a split second and the entire pub cries with one voice "Sociable!" That's the Haligonian signal for the raising of glasses of ale toward the wooden beamed ceiling in preparation of a deep, collective drink.

Although you're not likely to want to leave Halifax, the ideal Nova Scotian vacation involves a fair sampling of time away from celebratory crowds. One of the best ways to experience the natural paradise of Nova Scotia is by renting a car and driving a few of the province's scenic trails.

You'll feel a spirit of romance lingering on the Evangeline Trail. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem Evangeline immortalized the true story of young lovers separated during the French deportation during Britain's invasion of Nova Scotia in 1755. Today, the trail traces the heroine's steps through historic seaside towns and celebrates the diverse cultures that now live side-by-side.

Nova Scotia Traveling

Over 4,700 miles of coastline and excellent camping, hiking and biking, lets you get as close to nature as you like. Whale watching and sailing off the shoreline is sure to make the stoutest landlubber long for the romantic days of Nova Scotia's Bluenose, the fastest sailing ship in the Atlantic in her day.

No trip to Nova Scotia can be considered complete without a sojourn to the breathtaking island of Cape Breton. Home to a large population of Scottish descendants and considered by some more Scottish than Scotland, you'll catch many a glimpse of bagpipes, kilts, and highland dancing. Mingle with the locals, and you may even hear an exchange or two in Gaelic.

The Scottish inventor Alexander Graham Bell made his Canadian residence in Cape Breton, and his famous words tell the thoughts of many a visitor: "I have traveled the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps and the highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all."

Named for explorer John Cabot who first discovered Cape Breton, the Cabot Trail stirs the senses as it winds around the plunging cliffs making up the coastline of the island. Rest and reclaim reality with a stop at the Bras d'Or Lake, a sea inside the island whose shores are home to 200 bald eagles and the world-class golf course Dundee Hills.

You'll find that the friendly nature of the locals and stunning scenery of Nova Scotia will be two of your favorite trip highlights. But you'll also enjoy a favorable exchange rate that makes your vacation dollar go farther, especially with the already low prices of many goods and services. And now it's never been so easy to get to Nova Scotia. Many airlines offer direct flights to the Halifax International Airport from major cities. Ferry service from Maine and New Brunswick let you shave off drive time if you plan to make the province part of your road trip.

But no matter how you get there, one thing you can be sure of - you'll be glad you went.

Lisa Banks is a freelance writer originally from the tiny village of Bear River, Nova Scotia. She has lived in Japan and Florida, traveled throughout Asia and Europe, and still hasn't found a place with more charming warmth. See more of her work at

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