Tuesday, September 8, 2015

September 5 - Cavendish Beach

Another stressful morning reading the papers on line, drinking coffee and watching the ocean. 
It's a hard life.

Today was beach day! 
It was  a nice sunny and warm morning and we went back to Cavendish to check out the beach.

Lobsters traps. 

The Cavendish Beach is inside a National Park and it costs $15.60 to get in. 
They have camping sites, picnic areas and playground, but we just hung out on the beach. 

The water was super cold, but they went in anyway.

Sand sculptures.

This is happiness!

No need to say anything else, right?

Giggio - Fifi's inseparable friend - also enjoyed the sun.

 After the beach we all got excited to do something very local: an evening of east coast music. They are called Ceilidhs over here (pronounces "gay - lees") and they happen almost daily in different communities around the island. Unfortunately there was just one close by today, and when we got there it was sold out. We could still enjoy the fun music from the outs for a bit.

FROM WIKIPEDIA: In modern usage, a cèilidh or ceilidh /ˈkli/ is a traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing. It originated from Ireland and Scotland, but is now common throughout the Scottish and Irish diasporas, as well as throughout England in a fusion with English country dance.

Visiting PEI in September is not a good idea because most of attractions are already closed for the summer.  We missed the good lunch at the Culinary Institute of Canada, the Anne of Green Gables musical, and small music performances. But there is one advantage: shopping. Most of stores have huge blow out end of season sales.

The Cavendish Boardwalk at night - an option for late shoppers.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

September 4 - Montague

Another fantastic day on the island! The weather was good again, but a bit cooler - about 18 degrees. Instead of going to the beach, we went to check out the east part of the island. But on the way there, we stopped around the corner from our cottage to check these old buildings out.

SOURCE: http://www.farmersbank.ca

The Farmers' Bank of Rustico is a building of national importance, an important monument of P.E.I. architecture as well as a symbol of Acadian survival. The Bank operated from 1864 to 1894 and was an important link in the establishment of "Les Caisses populaires" in Quebec and "Credit Unions" in the rest of Canada.
The building is a legacy of an extraordinary person, Reverend Georges-Antoine Belcourt, parish priest of Rustico from 1859 to 1869. On arriving in Rustico, he noted the lack of education and the extreme economic hardships of the inhabitants. He organized the "Catholic Institute" with over 250 members. Meetings and study clubs resulted in the establishment of the Bank which provided loans to farmers at reasonable rates of interest. The Bank operated for thirty years but was forced to close its doors as a result of the passage of the Bank Act in 1871.
Father Belcourt and his parishioners constructed a building sixty by forty feet in dimensions. The building was of frame construction covered on all sides with sandstone. It was a very imposing structure and built to denote the strength and solidity deserving of a bank. It served as a Parish Hall for many years and is now used as a Museum to commemorate the work accomplished by Father Belcourt during his stay in Rustico.

SOURCE: http://www.farmersbank.ca

As one of the most historic buildings on P.E.I., the Doucet House is certainly the oldest house in the Rustico area and quite possibly in the whole province.
The house was originally situated on Grand-Père Point (Cymbria) and was continually inhabited by descendants of Doucet families until 1982 when it was acquired by John Langdale who used it as a summer residence. When the latter decided to build a new home on the site, he stated his intention to either demolish it or give it to a person or party who would move it to another site. The Friends of the Farmers' Bank accepted the offer and the house was moved to a site adjacent to the Bank in December 1999. The house had originally been used on occasion as a place of worship at a time when there was no church or other suitable building available in the early days of the colony. The house has been fully restored and contains many items of period antique furnishings.
The re-enactment of the arrival of Jean Doucet and his wife Marguerite Gaudet to Rustico by "shallop" took place on June 26, 2004 and the official opening ceremonies of the Doucet House were held on June 29, 2004.

St. Augustine - Oldest Catholic Church in P.E.I. built in 1838.

From there, we headed east to a town called Montague. 
What a pleasant surprise! 
The place was absolutely cute and perfect for a lazy day, just like we were hoping. 

FROM WIKIPEDIA: Montague is a Canadian town and the largest population centre in Kings CountyPrince Edward Island.
The town straddles the Montague River which is the dividing line between the townships of Lot 52 and Lot 59. The town functions as a regional service centre for a rural population of 20,000. The town supports two large supermarkets, three hardware stores, a number of independent businesses, and several fast food restaurants, banks, and car dealerships.
Montague is the third largest non-suburban municipality in the province, and is the only town east of Stratford to show notable growth recently.

FROM WIKIPEDIA: The town is home to the Kings County Memorial Hospital, provincial government offices, and the Montague Curling Club, along with an elementary, intermediate and regional high school. The past years have seen a number of older homes and commercial buildings replaced with new, suburban style development along Main Street, particularly in the north end. A large scale redevelopment of the town's waterfront has taken place in recent years.
Located 44 km east of Charlottetown and 15 km southwest of Georgetown, the town's precise location is 46°10′N, 62°39′W.

The Station Cafe.
As the name says, this building used to be a train station a long time ago. 
Now it is a nice restaurant where we tried their chowder, mussels and burger.
There is a nice gift store and an information centre right behind it too.

 The area around the river could not be better for the kids to run around and explore.

I loved these buildings. They are used for lobster fishing and are located across from the local art gallery where we bought a piece of etching (a kind of printing on the stone technique).  This gallery represents about 40 local artists. Really good stuff.

The Montague River.

The great day could not finish any better, back at the cottage meeting an old friend. Jason and I first met years ago while we were participating in a Journalist in Conflict Zone course. Basically we were being trained as journalists as to how to cover wars - in this case with Canadian troops about to be deployed to Afghanistan. The super realistic training exercise happened in the Mohave Desert in California for three weeks and although it was pretty intense, we had a blast as a team. I am so happy to meet up with Jason Boy again - who is an islander from P.E.I. He still the same sweet friend. 

PS. You can read about our war experience on this blog - look for the February 2010 posts.

Friday, September 4, 2015

September 3 - Charlottetown

At first it was strange to be in the city again. After almost a week in rural and remote areas, we were not used to stopping at traffic lights, sharing the sidewalk with other pedestrians and hearing city noises. Still, we got used to it quickly and started really enjoying P.E.I's capital Charlottetown.
The city is small, with 35 thousand people, but if we count it's surroundings, there are about 65 thousand people living in Greater Charlottetown. That's just less than half of the province's population (140 thousand).

The city is adorable. 
The buildings are really cute, colourful and well preserved. 

If you are visiting P.E.I. and don't have too much time to spare in the city, one day is enough to see the basic tourist attractions. Besides just walking around, here are the places you must go: 

- the Province House
- the Confederation Centre of the Arts (first photo)
- St. Dunstan's Basilica (photo above)
- Victoria Park

Another great suggestion is the Culinary Institute of Canada. I had a wonderful meal there about 10 years ago when I visited P.E.I. with my parents. But we were not so lucky this time. The school's restaurant is closed for the month of September, like many other things on the island. (Another tip: try to avoid visiting P.E.I. at this time. A week earlier, in August, makes a huge difference).

I found out about this place by calling the Culinary Institute of Canada. While chatting with a girl on the other side of the phone line, she told me that there are a couple of restaurants opened by former students of the institute. The Terre Rouge (72 Queen Street) is one of them (the other was right beside it, called Sim's).

At first we hesitated to go in with the kids because we thought it would be hard to enjoy the fine lunch experience with them bouncing around and with a sophisticated menu, but we decided to try it anyway. Well, it was a pleasant experience in the end. 
Although the food is delicious and high end, they carry simple things on the menu, like grilled cheese and mac n' cheese. Perfect for the children.
I had Chowder and Biscuits. 
Mike ordered House Cured Charcuterie with Artisanal Cheeses.
The girls shared a grilled cheese sandwich with salad.

After trying the mussels from my soup,  Juju found another favourite seafood. She demanded that we ordered a bowl of P.E.I Mussels with wine and garlic sauce, which I didn't contest. My "Manezinha da Ilha" now shares the same seafood taste as her mamãe.

The day was so beautiful that we enjoyed a walk by the water in the afternoon.

We needed to stop at COWS,  P.E.I.'s most popular ice cream place. They are huge in the island and own a bunch of other businesses, a clothes line being one of them. I could not resist to post a picture of this incredibly creative t-shirt. 

The rest of the day was spend at Victoria Park, by the water. The park overlooks the ocean and has a beautiful boardwalk. 

The kids obviously loved its playground and its free swimming pool.
Mommy was "forced" to get in the extremely cold water with them. Urrrgggghh!

On the day that my mind was consumed by the tragic photo of the little boy who drowned close to Turkey on his way to seek refuge in Europe from devastated Syria, I met this adorable boy. I didn't ask his name, but he told me he learned to play violin in Syria before coming to Canada, a couple of months ago. He and his family are safe in Charlottetown trying to make a new life in this country. And he was a good violin player as well.

Urban (clear) message in Charlottetown.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

September 2 - Cavendish

Welcome to Cavendish, P.E.I.'s most famous beach. The beach is located on the north of the island and is part of the Prince Edward Island National Park.

But we didn't spend our day at the beach. Instead, out day was devoted entirely to Cavendish' s most famous resident: Anne Shirley, or as she is most known, Anne of Green Gables.

FROM WIKIPEDIA: Anne of Green Gables is a 1908 novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Written for all ages, it has been considered a children's novel since the mid-twentieth century. It recounts the adventures of Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan girl who is mistakenly sent to Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a middle-aged brother and sister who had intended to adopt a boy to help them on their farm in Prince Edward Island. The novel recounts how Anne makes her way with the Cuthberts, in school, and within the town.
Since publication, Anne of Green Gables has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 20 languages.[4] Numerous sequels were written by Montgomery, and since her death, another sequel has been published, as well as an authorized prequel. The original book is taught to students around the world.
It has been adapted as film, made-for-television movies, and animated and live-action television series. Anne Shirley was played by Megan Follows in the 1985 Canadian produced movie. Plays and musicals have also been created, with productions annually in Canada since 1964 of the first musical production, which has toured in Canada, the United States, Europe and Japan.

When it could not get better, it did! We met Anne herself walking around the farm. She was sweet and a bit naughty, just like in the book. Anne took time to talk to us and answer all questions, including if she likes Gilbert. Not surprisingly the answer was a big no!

Anne's haunted forest.

SOURCE: http://www.gov.pe.ca/greengables/

Green Gables, located in Cavendish in the Prince Edward Island National Park, is a popular tourist destination. Each year hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world visit the site which inspired the setting for L.M. Montgomery to create her beloved tale of a red-haired orphan, Anne of Green Gables. In addition to the Green Gables House, several museums and sites invite visitors to learn more about Anne and Montgomery and a popular musical version of the story runs every summer at the Charlottetown Festival.
Interpretation programs and new personalized tours of the site are offered to visitors during the month of May to October. The tours highlight the heritage of the area and explain the significance of the site; portraying Lucy Maud Montgomery's role as an author of national historical significance. And of course, visitors to the site will be welcome to stroll the Haunted Woods and Balsam Hollow trails as described in the book.

The picture of the day.
I don't need to say how excited and proud they were to be sitting beside their newest favourite book character. I have a feeling this love affair will carry forward for their lives.

Not too far from the Green Gables is the Avonlea Village, a small village with shops, restaurant music and pony rides, which recreates the fictional community where the book Anne of Green Gables is set. Although it is a commercial place, it's worth a visit. The restaurants look like they serve quality food and the place is just adorable. just let your imagination work and you will start seeing Anne, Gilbert and Diana on every corner. 

There are three heritage building here: the 1876 schoolhouse - where the author L. M. Montgomery used to teach -, the 1906 Minister's residence and the 1872 historic church. 
This church is now a place for local musicians to perform. In the summer, there are two concerts a day here. Before, in late 1800s this was a sanctuary place for residents of Cavendish, including its most illustrious resident ever.

Just like her.

My favourite Anne of Green Gables part of the day! ;)

Because one needs blue ice cream to match the blue hair pin.

A sentimental mom moment:

Throughout the day I got tears in my eyes at different moments. The novel Anne of Green Gables was the first real chapter book that I read to my 4 year old Julia. While reading to her I could experience all the amazing feelings that a good book can spark. She laughed, she was apprehensive, she cried and she felt angry (against Gilbert, of course). To be here, just a week before she starts a new chapter in new short but happy life going to "big kids school", was very emotional for me. Like Anne, I wish my imaginative little girl, a journey full of excitement, beauty, friendships and obstacles as well. I am positive that like Anne, my Juju will conquer the world and touch many lives! Te amo, Juju!