Driving to Eastern Canada
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Jul 16, 2012 8:34 AM Last Post By: oceania26
Jul 7, 2012 6:28 PM
Driving to Eastern CanadaNext spring I'll be staying in Nova Scotia (Lunenburg area) for 2+ months. I plan to spend an additional time before and after to travel to PEI, New Brunswick and hopefully Newfoundland. My plan is drive there and back so I can have access to my car (from Toronto).
My questions are:
1) I'm not sure how feasible NFLD is going to be because of the money and distance to get there. How much time should I budget and what itinerary would you suggest? It's really expensive to take my car over ($650) but if I fly ($450), I would have to rent a car if I wanted to venture out of St John's and according to LP, it's expensive and hard to find a rental so then it makes more sense to take my car over.
2) how much should I budget for gas, food and accommodations (hostels) per day?
3) what are your must sees and dos for these areas?
My interest: I'm pretty much open to anything and everything - the idea is to experience the places - I enjoy and embrace variety. . I love walking, hiking, biking (physical activity), history, museums, I like the hustle and bustle city life, but also scenic areas - love oceans and lighthouses...as well just peaceful, tranquil places just to read a book or have a picnic
Here's what I've come up with so far - please feel free to provide feedback:
On my way there: Toronto > Montreal/Quebec City > Edmundston > Bathurst/Miramichi > Moncton > Lunenburg
- how much time should I budget ( Montreal/Quebec City is only to spend the night, been there before)
While I'm in Lunenburg day/weekend trips to:
-Kejimkujik National Park
On my way back home: NFLD (if I decide to go) Sydney > Baddeck > Cape Breton Island > Cabot Trail/Cape Breton park > Pictou/Tatamagouche? > PEI > Amherst > Fundy NP/Bay of Fundy > St John's > Fredricton > somewhere in Maine > Boston > somewhere in upstate NY > Toronto
+- how much time should I budget for this leg?
- where in PEI, Maine and NY are good places to stop and also tour?
Jul 7, 2012 10:42 PM
1Car costs about a hundred dollars each way on the Port Aux Basques ferry. That's the only one I've taken, so the only one I checked. I'm not sure what costs the $650 you quoted.
I loved Newfoundland. Loved Labrador equally or more. However, I probably wouldn't head for either during springtime--wait for stable summer weather, long days and heat.
Hope that's helpful.
Jul 8, 2012 2:21 AM
2You'll love Nova Scotia by the sounds of it.
Halifax is not Toronto, but it's a big enough cosmopolitan city that you'll find plenty to do when you feel like going into town, and Lunenburg is only about an hour away. It won't take much effort to make friends in town you can couchsurf with either, generally speaking. I grew up in the GTA but with Bluenoser roots and was only to happy to be able to move "home" a few years ago, best decision ever.
For someone who loves the outdoors there's loads of places to camp, hike, kayak, and so on - and all really close together. If you've got the inclination to take up surfing, you can do that too at Lawrencetown or Rainbow Haven, and there's surf shops that will rent you gear and give you lessons.
As far as Maine goes - it's a nice scenic drive along the Coastal Route 1 through Acadia National Park and into Bar Harbor. Plenty of cheap accommodations can be found in Bangor probably the furthest you'll get. Taking I-95 from Houlton to Bangor is a boring drive, better to follow NB-1 to St. Stephen and cross the border there.
If you're a drinker, stop at the New Hampshire State Liquor Store on the way home. You can't miss it, they have their own highway signs - the prices are unbelievable and the selection is unlike anything you'll find at most LCBOs (and definitely vastly superior to NSLCs).
Boston's worth at least a couple days' exploring, and you can then cruise up through Vermont and across the border back into Canada at one of several crossings, again nice scenery and driving.
As for PEI - ferry and bridge are the same price, around $52 when you leave (PEI is like a drug dealer - they let you on for free, but when you leave, then it hurts). The ferry is closer to Lunenburg, but it's really six of one half a dozen of the other.
Jul 8, 2012 5:10 AM
3I was just in Halifax and had a blast - it's an awesome little city, and as the poster above says, cosmopolitan.
I also hit Peggy's Cove while in Nova Scotia it's worth a stop between Lunenburg and Halifax. the Grand Pré area is also worth a check out.
As for Newfoundland - I went last spring (well, late May early June) which is supposed to be the best time to see icebergs, but....wasn't. Anyway, I really enjoyed Twillingate - the "iceberg capital of the world" - a quaint, small town on the east coast north of St. John's. We ended up hiking around the area a lot - incredible views. We had two days there, which were plenty. We stayed at a B&B for about $90 a night. (Sleepy Noggin, in case your interested - really nice place, incredibly nice owners)
We also drove out to Gros Morne National Park, which was fantastic. Again, we only stayed two days (checked out the fjords at Western Brook Pond, and the Table lands) which was not enough. We stayed in Rocky Harbour, which was a neat little place. But little is a key word. We stayed at the hotel there - we had booked into a hostel nearby, but couldn't find the place. There's lots of B&Bs and I think another hostel in the town itself, though. As for food - I remember it being a bit more expensive than home (Ottawa) but again, if you go later in the year perhaps food will be cheaper (i.e. grown there instead of imported)
It took us the better part of a day to drive from St. John's to Rocky Harbour - maybe about 8 hours? This was in driving rain though, so we couldn't go too fast.
I really wish I had gotten up to St. Anthony's in the north, but we didn't have time. It would have added at least three more days (two days of driving, and one day there).
Give yourself a good week for St. John's. There's so much there (well, that's including day trips. We drove down to Cape Spear as well.) Also check out Signal Hill at night - the city lights spread out before you.
If you want to know anything more, ask away!
Jul 8, 2012 9:14 PM
4Thanks everyone, some great tips!!! I'm pretty confused about NFLD though.
Mark - I checked using this site: https://reservations.marine-atlantic.ca/booking/booking/bookingprocess.aspx?language=en-ca
North Sydney to Argentia comes out to $325 one way. Port aux Basques is $146 one way but according to Google maps is 18 hours to St John's.
mathowny - so you did St John and Gros Morne in a week?
I suppose another option is to take the ferry to Port aux Basques and then drive the Trans-Canada Hwy to St John and take the ferry from Argentia...but it's just too much time in the car especially since I'm driving back and forth from Toronto as it is.
I think I might save NFLD for another time unless I find a travel buddy for this portion of the trip. It just seems too long and expensive to do solo...and even if I do, my car is a manual and many people don't know how to drive one :s
Jul 8, 2012 9:21 PM
Jul 9, 2012 4:28 AM
6In 10 days we did Gros Morne, St. John's and Twillingate. (2 days, three nights in both Gros Morne and Twillingate.)
I once drove from Ottawa to Yarmouth, then to Charlottetown, then back to Ottawa. We had CAA, but it was also in January. I don't remember much being in Edmunston, but this was also back in 2001 or so, and we were driving straight through - I was pretty tired by that point. We filled up in Ottawa, Rivière du Loup, and then Halifax (driving a PT Cruiser) on the way there. Home, we filled up in Yarmouth, Charlottetown, Trois-Rivières and possibly one more spot that I've forgotten.
Edited by: mathowny
Jul 9, 2012 7:29 PM
You must have done something very wrong as it is only about 10 hours from Port aux Basques to St. John's ( note the 's) NL. The result I got is below. As I have driven this route I know it is accurate.
901 km, 10 hours 15 mins
Trans-Canada Hwy/NL-1 E
I noticed that you often forget the 's in St. John's in your posts. If you did this in your search you would have gotten St. John, New Brunswick and the blue path would go over the ocean. Even then the shortest route is only fourteen hours. You even put the 's in your original post when you must have been referring to St. John, NB. In your description of your way back "PEI > Amherst > Fundy NP/Bay of Fundy > St John's > Fredricton >". This should be St. John, NB.
I recommend you extend your trip and spend a few days seeing Gros Morne to make the drive worthwhile. Considering NL car rentals can be $600/week + you will save money bringing your car over.
Jul 10, 2012 4:52 AM
Jul 10, 2012 6:27 AM
9"You must have done something very wrong "
Haha...a little bit dramatic, don't you think? I did forget the 's once or twice, not sure if you can call that often but I also I think I would have noticed if Google maps was telling me to drive back to NB through the ocean...lol... but I do appreciate the concern, thanks.
I must have inadvertently included the ferry time into the driving ...thanks for pointing that out because it does make it more feasible to visit there.
So the only option I can really consider is taking the ferry to Port aux Basques, drive to St. John's (stopping at Gros Morne, Twillingate and hopefully a few other places) and then go back to Nova Scotia from Argentia. So I will budget 10-14 days for this leg of the trip.
Jul 12, 2012 1:03 PM
Jul 12, 2012 1:22 PM
11On my way there:
Toronto > Montreal > Edmundston > Bathurst/Miramichi > Moncton > Lunenburg
On my back :
Lunenburg > Sherbrooke > Fortress Louisbourg > ferry to Port aux Basques >
Rocky Harbour > Port Rexton > St. John's > Argentia (stop at Cape St Mary) > Ferry to North Sydney
Cabot Trail (start/end Baddeck) > Ferry to PEI > Advocate Harbour (Joggins Fossil Cliffs, Cape Chignecto Provincial Park) > Hopewell Cape (Hopwell Rocks, Cape Enrage, Fund NP) > Saint John's > Fredricton (stop thru Saint Andrew) > Bar Harbour Maine > Boston > Burlington, Vermont > Ottawa > Toronto
Jul 16, 2012 1:42 AM
12If you're going to Bathurst/Miramichi, stick to the cost through Shediac. There's not much worth seeing in Moncton to be quite honest, and you're going to pass it anyhow on the return trip it looks like. Burlington is a nice little town, I quite enjoyed a short stay there - the Hilton Burlington was a fantastic hotel walking distance to everything downtown, and they had some great deals when I was last there.
Jul 16, 2012 8:34 AM
13Thanks Ploughjockey! Funny that you mention that because my trip was getting too long so I actually cut those places out. I also tried to plan it out so majority of my overnights have hostels in the city so it will make my trip more affordable. Definitely will be buying a HI membership!
On the other hand, after researching NFLD it has become a must even though it's costing me $750 to get there and back :-P
This is what I have now:
On the way there
Toronto > Ottawa > Quebec City > Fredericton > Advocate Harbour (Cape Chignecto, Joggin Fossils) > Lunenburg
On the way back
Lunenburg > Louisbourg (stop at Sherbrooke) > Port aux Basque ferry > Rocky Harbour > Trinity > St. John's > Argentia ferry > Baddeck/Mt Pleasant > Charlottetown > Fundy NP (Hopewell Rocks & Cape Enrage), St John's > Grand Manan? > Bar Habour via St. Andrews > Boston ....depending on time and money I probably will go back home straight from Boston through NY...so any nice stops through upstate NY would be appreciated.
Is 2 days enough for PEI? To be honest I didn't find much on it when I was doing my research and considering I'm going to other very scenic places I'm ok with not seeing every corner of it. Itinerary suggestions or must-sees would be appreciated.
Thanks everyone....I'm soooooooo excited about this trip!
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