Nova Scotia Summer Vacation

Steve and I had the good fortune to secure a very difficult timeshare exchange through Resort Condominiums International (RCI) into White Point Resort in Nova Scotia.  This is the only timeshare available in Nova Scotia.  Summer weeks rarely show up for exchange since this is the peak time to visit this Canadian province.

Nova Scotia and Canada weren’t necessarily on our radar for vacation this year when the exchange was initially made last year.  However, Nova Scotia was somewhere that we had never been and it was a great opportunity to visit a yet unexplored area in North America.

I had over a year to plan our trip, hoping to see and do as much as possible during our visit. Although we greatly enjoy many, many destinations, it’s hard to make return trips when there are so many undiscovered and exciting places yet to be visited.

Our vacations are rarely “sit back and chill”.  Though we do that, we are mainly focused on getting the most immersion that we can in the visited area while on vacation.  Perhaps, we will never pass through this area again.  Fortunately, we will have our pictures, memories and experiences as reminders of our 12-day stay in Nova Scotia.

We like to book tours.  For us, many things are great when striking out on our own; yet, we have found that booking tours helps us get more “up-to-speed” and gain insight, history and local flavor that could potentially be missed while trying to do it all!  Not all budgets can afford tours, especially when there are many members in the family.   Our household has downsized to the point that we can now take vacations with purchased tours added on.

A big part of the vacation, for me, is the planning and research.  I had no idea what was unique to Nova Scotia or what to expect.  It was very exciting to learn about the different areas and the top things to see and do.

We left Norfolk airport during a blistering span of 98+ degree days with high humidity.  We flew into Newark for a plane change, and then a quick two-hour flight into Halifax airport. Upon arrival, we breezed through Customs.  We had applied for Global Entry and made the trip to Washington DC for interviews prior to this trip.  The Global Entry really didn’t improve our movement through Customs in Nova Scotia due to the fact that there was no waiting.  The airport and lack of foot traffic was so much different from all the other airports traveled.

We added five days onto our trip prior to our stay at White Point Resort in order to see other areas of Nova Scotia which were too far out for day trips.  Even with 12 days in Nova Scotia, we didn’t begin to see all it has to offer to those visiting her shores.

Upon leaving the airport, we headed north to Wine country for a couple of days to visit the quaint town of Wolfville and to enjoy some of the fruits of the area.

We arrived at the Blomidon Inn, a beautiful stately mansion, which was converted to a Bed and Breakfast many years ago.  Visitors can stay in rooms within the mansion or in other accommodations onsite.  We chose the Perth Cottage.  It was a great choice for us with its beautifully carved king bed, large jetted tub, and private terrace.  We reserved the Romance Package, which included sparkling wine and chocolates delivered to the cottage and a romantic dinner for two. There were beautiful gardens to explore throughout the property.  From beginning to end, we were very pleased with our choice of this inn for our stay in Wolfville.

 

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As with most travel days, we found ourselves quite exhausted.  We visited a local cafĂ© for dinner, then headed back to the inn for some relaxation.  We made it an early night in order to be rested for our wine tour scheduled for the next day.

There are many wineries in the Wolfville area, which can be toured on one’s own.  However, we chose to book a tour with Uncorked Nova Scotia!  The next morning, we enjoyed a light breakfast at the inn.  We were picked up at the inn in the tour van at 10:30 by our tour guide,  Lila, from Go North Tours .  There was a total of eight for the tour.  The other six were from different areas of Canada.  We were told that we were fortunate with the timing of our visit to Nova Scotia.  A couple that had been in the area the previous week told us that it was quite cold, with the need for coats, hats, scarves and gloves.  The weather was quite exceptional throughout our stay.  It was sunny with temperatures in the upper 70’s.

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Our tour included visiting three wineries, a cheese house and herbal gardens.  Lunch was included at one of the wineries during the tour.  First, we visited Planter’s Ridge.  It was a lovely vineyard and our favorite of the three wineries, both for the wonderful wines and the beautiful setting.

 

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Next we headed to the Fox Hill Cheese House for some great tastings of various types of cheese produced onsite.  We found the products delicious and picked up a sampler pack to enjoy on our vacation.  Throughout the tour, our guide offered up great history on the region that we might not otherwise have learned on our own.

 

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Our next stop on the tour was Grand Pre’ Winery.  This was a lovely estate winery.  We enjoyed wine tastings prior to our lunch at their onsite restaurant, Le Caveau.  Dining was out on the patio and our group sat together, each enjoying one of the two selections offered.  The meal and company was quite enjoyable.

 

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L’Acadie Vineyards was the next stop on the itinerary.  This vineyard is organic certified and s the premier producer of traditional method sparkling Nova Scotia wines.  We were given a brief education on the difference  between sparkling wines and champagne.  The short answer is that only sparkling wines produced in the region of Champagne, France, outside of Paris can be called Champagne.

The last stop on this enjoyable four-hour tour was Tangled Garden, which had acres of beautiful wildflower gardens, herbs and fruits.  Many different products were available for sampling and purchase, all produced onsite utilizing the herbs, fruits, flowers and plants grown in the surrounding gardens.

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We were dropped off back at the Blomidon Inn.  Lila was a very interesting lady and she made the tour quite enjoyable.  We were happy that we chose this particular tour for our time in Wolfville.  It provided a great sampling of the area and some of the different wineries and vineyards that provided great opportunities to taste a variety of wines unique to the area.

For our final evening at the Blomidon Inn, we had dinner at the inn’s restaurant.  We relaxed in our cottage for a couple of hours, as it had been quite a day.  The inn offered fine dining in a comfortable atmosphere.  Many of the original furnishings and artwork of the 19th century mansion were on display throughout the dining room, library and lobby.  As part of our Romance Package, we enjoyed a lovely four course meal.  While we dined, our chocolates and sparkling wine were delivered to our cottage.  It was a great ending to a great day.

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The next morning, we enjoyed another light breakfast in the dining room and took a final stroll through the gardens before checking out.  Next stop, Halifax, the Capitol of Nova Scotia.

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To be continued…….

 

 

Virginia Beach Neptune Festival 2016

For over 30 years, I have attended the annual Virginia Beach Neptune Festival.  It is one of my two favorite annual event weekends.  Except for two years, when hurricanes roared through the area, we have stayed at the oceanfront for the three-day Boardwalk weekend.

This year the Neptune Festival was held September 30 through October 2.  While the weather was iffy leading up to the events, we managed to enjoy our time over the weekend. 

I had arranged a week’s stay, through a timeshare exchange, into one of my favorite resorts in Virginia Beach, Four Sails Resort.  It’s the hidden gem at the north end of the Boardwalk.  All units are oceanfront.  The staff is wonderful.  There are complimentary bikes and WIFI, and it’s budget friendly.

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At the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival, one can enjoy strolling 12 blocks of art, crafts and food along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. There are a multitude of other happenings to be enjoyed by all.  Scheduled annual events include the Neptune Festival Grand Parade down Atlantic Avenue, a fireworks extravaganza, Neptune’s Atlantic Regatta and Volleyball Tournament,  the 8K and 5K Neptune’s Run, and music at the various oceanfront stages. 

 

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While I immensely enjoy all these events, my absolute favorite is the International Sandsculpting Championship.  I take many pictures of the incredible works of art created out of sand.  Each year, I marvel at the displayed talent of these artists, who come from around the world to create their sculptures of sand.

This year was no different.  All were incredible.  Of course, there were favorites, but I found each one quite intriguing and awe-inspiring.   I arrived on Friday afternoon and took the opportunity to snap many pictures prior to the crowds arriving.

Below are some of my personal favorites from the championship.

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In closing, I’m already looking forward to next year.  Consider Virginia Beach’s Neptune Festival when making your vacation plans for a visit to Virginia Beach. Take it from me, you won’t regret it.  It’s fun, fun, fun and usually really great weather!