Torontonians Liora Tal and Daniel Bloch were two of the lucky ducks who won a surprise trip to New Brunswick this summer. Not so surprisingly, they had the time of their lives. Read all about their adventures from Liora…
Published September 2016
My husband, Daniel, and I love to travel. And eat. We probably spend more time than the average couple planning ways to do as much of both these things as possible. It’s not unusual for us to have flights booked to go somewhere, but already be planning for the next vacation after we return. Especially if nice restaurants are on the agenda and we need to make reservations in advance. I would say that our travel photo albums (yes, we still print our pictures!) are equal parts landscapes and food. It’s always fun to look back on a meal and remember exactly how we were feeling in that moment, where we were sitting, and of course what we ate.
We both work long hours in Toronto’s fast-paced Real Estate market. We often pass each other in the hallway as one of us runs out the door and another one dashes to the computer. We love what we do, but we live for the breaks in between where we can pull away from it all, get inspired and recharged. Our home is full of tokens we’ve collected on trips made around the world both before we were a couple and since we’ve been together. We are so enthusiastic about our travels, friends have literally come over for slide show presentations on places they plan to visit where we can offer tips (lots of them). So when the opportunity came to take a trip to Canada’s East Coast for our first time we were excited and hungry for adventure (and all of the seafood we kept hearing about).
So how did it all go down? Daniel had received a call to attend a focus group in Toronto. During the phone call, he had to answer a series of qualifying questions and was given a time and location to arrive for the in-person meeting. Most focus groups consist of a boardroom and a small group of people providing their opinion about a particular product or service, the brand itself often not revealed to them until the end.
Daniel was pleasantly surprised to arrive at a downtown pub where friendly staff were on hand to offer him a drink. The group spent some time talking about their own travel experiences abroad and within Canada. Before long, a curtain was drawn to reveal live music entertainment and a surprise kitchen party began! The guests were served delicious East Coast inspired treats and given Virtual Reality goggles to experience the feeling of walking on the ocean floor.
If that wasn’t exciting enough, it was revealed to the group that they would each, together with a guest, be sent to New Brunswick to experience the real adventure for themselves. What started as a number of strangers gathering to discuss a mysterious product, turned into a group of fast friends who were gathered in a celebration of sorts. I remember getting an excited text message from Daniel that night saying “We’re going to New Brunswick!”.
And so, the planning began for what would be an unforgettable travel experience. We wanted to make the experience as local as possible by staying in people’s homes that we found on Air BnB, and even “glamping”!
After arriving in Fredericton on a tiny plane, we hopped in our rental car drove to our first stop of Saint Andrews. The thing we noticed immediately, aside from the adorable and well preserved seaside town, were signs everywhere for Picaroons Ale, New Brunswick’s official beer. This, we said, we have to try. We were on vacation after all. Luckily, we discovered a pub that offered both views of the stunning harbour and an endless offering of the local brew with live music in the background. One Fish & Chips to share, a ‘Yippee IPA’ for Daniel, a ‘Dark & Stormy Night’ for me and we were in heaven.
The town is set on a peninsula within the Bay of Fundy and has the most wonderful collection of loyalist era architecture. Whale watching is a popular excursion here, as is golf and countless tours for the history buff. You can see that this is a treasured part of the province, both by locals and visitors. We spent the rest of our day exploring the idillic village, countless historical churches, tourist shops, and ended our evening with an ice cream.
The next day we followed Route 1 to Saint John where we enjoyed some shopping at fantastic antique and record shops followed by a bite at the City Market. Daniel opted for the Lobster Roll as I indulged in a seafood chowder and biscuit. We drove on through what we can only describe as the most picture-perfect Canadian scenery through evergreen forests to the town of Alma where we would spend some time exploring the Fundy National Park. With so many options for things to do, one could easily spend a summer here (and we met people who were doing just that). Whether kayaking on the world famous tides, hiking in the wilderness or a day at the beach, this place is every kind of nature lover’s vacation in one.
We worked up our appetites on the Dickson Falls Trail, and feasted in town on the catch of the day Lobster dinner, with a side lobster Mac and Cheese, Caesar’s to drink, and since life isn’t complete without a little dessert we shared the house-made cheesecake with maple syrup glaze. There seems to be debate between the 3 Maritime provinces about who has the best lobster. It was explained to us that since the waters in Alma are “brackish” (a new term for us city slickers), the meat takes on a sweeter flavour than their saltwater counterparts. We plan to eat our way through the rest of Canada and come to our own conclusion, but so far this is the best Lobster we’ve ever had, hands down.
The next day we drove through quintessential oceanside towns to check out the massively popular Hopewell Rocks, also known as the Flowerpots for their unique formation caused by tide erosion. They truly lived up to their spectacular promise and it is easy to see why this area is considered one of the Marine Wonders of the World. You want to plan a visit where you can see the rocks at low tide and again when the tide comes in. There are schedules in the visitor’s centres around the region as well as online. Your pass is valid for 24 hours so that you can see it again a second time.
The next couple of days were just us, the stars and the breathtaking Bay of Fundy. We stayed on a property owned by arguably the nicest person in the world who had built a series of Yurts, or, roofed camping tent accommodations. We enjoyed campfires, reading our books and quietly reflecting on the magic of our beautiful country and the kindness we encountered along the way.
From the moment we landed in Fredericton to the time we reluctantly boarded our flight home, everything about this trip was easy and perfectly paced the way life should be. For us it is not a question of if we will go back but a matter of when. As we fill our photo album with new memories of things we did, saw, and ate, we are so grateful for the time we spent this summer exploring New Brunswick’s incomparable Fundy Route.