Cape Breton

July 19, 2013
Posted on October 3, 2013

It was a sunny morning with clouds lurking all around. We went to greet our hostess who served us a nice breakfast. It was a pleasant surprise to yum on REAL scrambled eggs and not the seemingly artificial and tasteless concoction that we have become accustomed to in the big chain restaurants. We don’t usually meet travellers from the west coast, as the scenery of the Rocky Mountains would probably far surpass that of the hills and small mountains found in the east. However joining us for breakfast were a couple traveling from the west who took a plane to Ottawa and rented a car to go to Newfoundland for the third time.

We packed up and headed towards the Cabot Trail. It was nice and chilly so we took the first opportunity to jump into our rain suites. Upon reaching the Cabot trail we went North towards the highlands. We practiced carving out the turns and eventually reached a small glass making shop and stopped to browse and get a souvenir.

We soon found ourselves hungry and began searching for a place to eat. That meant riding along, looking at restaurants by the road and having a deep discussion (“How about this one?” – “Too late, passed it already”) until we finally got hungry enough to stop at the nearest diner that looked operational. The parking area was gravel and I managed to drop the bike as I entered it. The whole braking on odd surfaces and angles needs more practice. That did not do any good to my mood, which was already not at its best due to the shifty weather. Call me superficial, but I somehow feel a lot better with the sun shining. It was the second time we visited Cabot Trail, and again it presented only tiny slivers of blue sky, if any. The food was okay at best. They rave about lobsters (and seafood in general) on the east coast, but not every establishment actually does these ingredients justice.

After the lunch break we kept on going by the trail, and on one of the sharper right hairpin turns I went too wide and into the opposing lane for a brief moment 🙁 Good practice overall. We stopped many times to take photos, although oftentimes the scenery looked much better with the naked eyes than in the resulting pictures. Once past the Highlands, the sky turned darker and it started to rain. When we reached Chéticamp the road turned for the worse. It was under construction for quite a few kilometres, with uneven surface and loose rocks flying into us. The winds picked up and were so strong, I was worried I’d actually get pushed off the road (it did not help that the road was slippery from the rain and surface conditions changed as we went in and out of construction zones).

The day was winding down and it was time for dinner. We thought of eating in Baddeck but the place we liked closed 15min before we came there and the other place was too busy, so we decided to push on and eat in North Sydney. Our first choice was the highly recommended Lobster Pound, but for some reason after barely finding it hidden on the side of a pizza building, it was closed that specific Friday evening  – sorry folks – that’s all for tonight. We decided to backtrack a little and eat at another restaurant called Black Spoon. The food there was delicious and fairly priced. It was quite a departure from the last few days and made me feel like I’m in  a real, normal city again. I admit, I must be very spoiled by the availability of good food in Toronto, and that makes me feel a certain love/hate towards the more remote areas and how they fill my soul with awe but sometimes leave my stomach unimpressed.

After a relaxing dinner we went to the ferry terminal to get on our boat. We got our boarding passes and were told to head to the front of the line.  We waited for quite a while and did not board first as originally expected, some cars went ahead of us. We talked to a guy with a beard who rode a Gold Wing with a trailer and apparently was in Newfoundland a few times. We boarded and proceeded to tie down our bikes, which was an adventure in its own right. After all the other bikers were gone from the vehicle deck, we too headed up to get some rest, if at all possible. Deck 7 was the main one and very busy. We ended up getting a pair of seats in a more quiet area on deck 8. The ferry trip was a mix of trying to fall asleep and watching cheesy TV shows on the overhead screens. On the bright side, the seats were significantly roomier and more comfortable than airline seats and even had USB power plugs.

It was hard to get any sleep on the ferry, even in the fairly comfortable seats. A cabin would have been better perhaps, but there weren’t any available when we booked – about a month in advance. It’s definitely something to try and arrange for if we ever go back to Newfoundland by ferry.

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