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We had heard about Nova Scotia from friends and family for quite a while, and on September 17th we were finally on our way with a red eye flight from San Francisco to Halifax. Our first encounter with it's geography was a drive north to Wolfville from the airport. From here we circumnavigated the peninsula counter clockwise going as far as Cape Breton. The first thing we noticed was that while Nova Scotia was forested, it lacked large trees. Poor soils and lumbering are probably responsible. Second, the land is relatively low, having many interior bogs. There was almost no litter and houses were almost universally painted (or aluminum clad) and otherwise kept up. Expansive lawns (often just mowed native vegetation) were the norm. The architecture is predominately Victorian...I assume this is when the bulk of population arrived. The people are universally friendly and helpful.
While tourism is the largest industry, ocean industries are probably next and Nova Scotia has had setbacks in recent years with depleted resources and we saw many humble, but clean residences.
Having gone through perhaps 100 towns and villages, the highlights of our tour were:
Annapolis Royal: Wonderful small historic town which is pleasant just by itself. Nearby sites include the Tidal station (also has tourist bureau), the Historic Gardens (miniature Butchart but with more charm), Port Royal Historic Park, a nice historical reconstruction worth an hour or two, and Fort Anne right in town with it's grave yard tour.
Lunenburg: Amazing historic town not much changed since the last century, but with a bustling tourist industry replacing the fishing one. Very well preserved and colorful mid size town large enough to have culture yet intimate. Great museums and home to the Bluenose sailing ship.
Louisbourg: Small nice fishing town, but the real attraction is the Louisbourg Historical Site, the largest in North America. A 20 year complete archeological and historical reconstruction covering perhaps 100 acres with guides in period costumes giving an informative and detailed look into 18th century life at a military outpost. They say allow 4 hours. We were there almost 7 and felt we may have missed a some things.
At almost every turn along the coast one can see picturesque inlets and small towns, yet modernization has also taken hold with many American chain stores present in the outskirts of larger towns.