Lunenburg

When we first started thinking about making our way into Eastern Canada, we had one place in mind: Lunenburg. The entire downtown area of this small Nova Scotia town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, its waterfront is one of the most recognizable of any in the Maritimes, and its pedestrian friendly neighborhoods exude charm. Additionally, there’s an RV campground located right next to the downtown area, making everything so much more convenient (Read: day drinking!!) We had high hopes this stop would be a memorable one filled with the kinds of experiences we really love (mostly day drinking). Happily, Lunenburg did not disappoint. It was one of our favorite Canadian destinations.

The Lunenburg waterfront

One of the things we really liked was that this dock is still a working waterfront. While the town is undoubtedly touristy, there is an air of authenticity that surrounds the port. This was even more noticeable when we visited the famous fishing village of Peggy’s Cove later in the week. That community was so pristine, it seemed like a Hollywood set. Lunenburg just felt a bit more real.

The Lunenburg waterfront from the pier.

a dockside building in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Further lending a sense of authenticity was this large memorial commemorating the many local fishermen who have perished at sea since 1890. Two things jumped out as we examined the memorial: the large numbers of men with the same last names that died at the same time, presumably family members working on the same boats; and the continued danger fishermen face today. While, thankfully, the numbers have vastly decreased, there are still deadly incidents and accidents. The most recent year represented on the memorial was 2014.

The Lunenburg Fishermen's Memorial in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Of course, there were plenty of boats docked in Lunenburg that were less about “work” and more about “play”…

A private sailboat in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Shiny!!!

A private sailboat in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Sailboats anchored in the harbor in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

However, our favorite boats were the PIRATE SHIPS!!!

The Europe docked in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Ahoy, me hearties!!!!

There were several of these docked while we were there and every time I saw one, I had a Jack Sparrow moment. They’re just SO COOL!

The most famous of the ships docked in Lunenburg during our visit was the Blue Nose II which is a replica of a famous racing and fishing schooner that was lost in 1946. The replica is considered the “sailing ambassador” of Nova Scotia.

One night we noticed the decks were open to visitors so we got on board to have a look around. It is a gorgeous ship.

The wheel of the Bluenose II in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

The Bluenose II in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
I can’t keep my vacuum cleaner cord from getting all tangled up. How do they deal with all this????

Because we were quickly approaching the end of our time on the Atlantic coast and we hadn’t actually spent any time out on the water, we decided to take a two hour cruise with a touring company. It was a slightly smaller boat than the Blue Nose.

Star Charters sailboat in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

As we headed out, our guide noted the Bluenose was out in the water for an event. He raced over as quickly as he could so we could see it with its sails up, but unfortunately, we were too far away for me to capture a good photo of it. Just imagine a pirate ship….

Lucky for us though, as it was motoring back to port, it went right by us….

The Bluenose II sailing in the waters near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

The remainder of our time on the sailboat was spent attempting to capture the beautiful Lunenburg waterfront…

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia from the water

and enjoying a calm night on the Atlantic while watching the sun set.

Sunset sail near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Going….
Sunset sail near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
going….
Sunset sail near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Still going… But almost gone.

When not sitting on the dock of the bay wasting time, we were wandering around the town itself. Lunenburg reminded us quite a bit of Saint Andrews in that it was within walking distance of our campground, it offered lots of picturesque waterfront scenery, and the homes in the neighborhoods were full of character. Indeed, there are no boring houses in Lunenburg….

Private home in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Hell, there are no boring doors in Lunenburg….

In addition to the colorful houses, the shops were all independent (no Starbucks here…), there were tons of interesting art galleries, and the streets were full of horse drawn carriages…

Horse drawn carriage on streets of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

What Lunenburg had that Saint Andrews fell short on was a long list of bars and restaurants to while away the day. Several, like The Salt Shaker Deli, The South Shore Fish Shack, and The Grand Banker had great views from their decks, from which we enjoyed various seafood goodness.

Other Lunenburg restaurants felt nothing like that and, therefore, were also winners for us.

The thing was, Lunenburg was our last stop in Canada. And after five weeks in coastal Canada and three weeks in coastal Maine, we were getting pretty burned out on seafood. Additionally, one night it was chilly and rainy. Know what’s good when it’s chilly and rainy and you’re tired of seafood?

Schnitzel!!!!!

Dinner at the Old Black Forest Cafe Restaurant in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Schnitzel, Sauerbraten, and Spatzle

Yup, there’s a real deal German restaurant in Lunenburg called the Old Black Forest Cafe. It’s about three miles from the downtown area, a tiny little restaurant with absolutely delicious food.

We also discovered this place – The Knot Pub. It’s more of a locals bar, set away from the main tourist area. We pretty much loved it because it looked like a hangout for hobbits.

The Knot Pub in Lunenburg

The Swiss Air 111 Memorials

One of the things I wanted to see when we were in Nova Scotia was the memorial to the victims of the Swissair Flight 111 crash that occurred in 1998. What I didn’t realize was there are actually two memorials. It was only when we pulled up to the first memorial, and it looked nothing like the pictures I’d seen online, that we realized there were two different ones. Turns out, after the crash, members of the communities of Peggy’s Cove and Bayswater assisted local authorities with the recovery mission. Both towns have memorials.

The memorial at Bayswater lists the names of those who died and is the final resting place of many of the victims. This is the much less visited memorial and one I didn’t know existed until we were standing there.

Swissair 111 Memorial at Bayswater

Swissair 111 Memorial at Bayswater

The memorial in Peggy’s Cove is the one you’ll see photographed more often. It is in an incredibly beautiful location with views of the coastline and the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove.

Swissair 111 Memorial at Peggy's Cove

Peggy’s Cove

Peggy’s Cove is a tiny picturesque fishing village built next to a lighthouse, and it is spectacular. So spectacular, it kinda felt like we were walking through a movie set. You could imagine the camera panning over the village as the narrator talks about life in this “quiet coastal town….” Everything is beautiful and clean and pristine and perfect. It makes you wonder whether anyone actually lives in the houses or if they are just set pieces. It reminded me a lot of my visit to Seaside, Florida. Whatever the case may be, it was stunningly beautiful and our timing, right before sunset, could not have been better for taking it all in.

Peggy's Cove village in Nova Scotia

Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

Row boats in the water at Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia
Rowboats out in the water. Does anyone use these things? Why are they in the middle of the water instead of next to the dock where someone could actually use them? Are they just props? Why can’t I just enjoy things and stop being so suspicious of everything? “Fraud. Fraud everywhere!!!” This is what happens when you think everyone is a criminal.

The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove is the main draw here for good reason. The structure itself, its location on the rocks, and the way the last sunlight of the day illuminates it all combine to create a mesmerizing picture. It’s like stepping into a painting.

Peggy's Cove lighthouse at sunset

We were also awed by the incredible surf that surrounds the village. I’m not sure if it’s always like this but when we were there, the waves were massive and relentless.

Heavy surf surrounding the lighthouse at Peggy's Cove

Finally, we noticed that while the lighthouse itself was consistently very busy, simply turning away from it and looking down the coastline provided views just as impressive.

Not a bad view. Not a bad view at all.

________________________________________________________________________

Phew….  You still here? That was a LONG post. Sorry bout that. I’m in catch-up mode and I figured it’s about time to wrap up the Canada posts. I plan to eventually write an article about the mechanics of RV travel to Canada (border crossings, internet access, etc.), but that will be a couple weeks down the line when we slow down and I have some time to focus on it.

For right now, we are quickly making our way west across New York State on our way to Chicago for the Chicago Marathon. We’ll be there to support our sister-in-law (Hi Jen!) as she competes in her 21st (!) marathon. Between now and then, I’ll be acting as trip chaperone to ensure my Penn State husband stays on his best behavior as we drive across Ohio (If he disappears for more than ten minutes, I’ll assume he’s covering some state landmark in toilet paper). Once the marathon is over, we’ll point Barney due south and start making our way toward toastier temps.

Thanks for reading!

Where we stayed: Lunenburg Board of Trade Campground

18 COMMENTS

  1. These pictures are stunning! What incredible scenery and quaint buildings. Totally looks like something out of a book that you try to picture and figure out if it is real. The weather looked fairly cooperative, too. I definitely want to explore Canada now after reading your posts. Can’t wait to see you in Chicago!!! Safe travels!

    • Yeah, some of the scenes in Peggy’s Cove literally looked like they were set pieces. Like those lobster traps on the dock in the top picture? Real or props? Who knows? It was all just so perfect, it was crazy. But whatever the case may be, it was lovely to look at. I think you guys would really like the Maritimes – especially PEI and this part of Nova Scotia. It’s all just beautiful with lots of stuff to do, good food, and nice places to stay. Looking forward to Chicago!

  2. As always your photos are spectacular. What a beautiful place. I love the lighthouse. About 25 years ago I bought a painting of this lighthouse. Through your photos I get to see how beautiful it is.

    • Wow, that’s crazy! There are a LOT of lighthouses around. That’s some crazy small world stuff to think you had a painting of this one! Though, on the other hand, it is a particularly striking one. Our two favorites of all the ones we’ve seen were this one and the one in Portland. They are both awesome, but for different reasons. I think for the next leg of our trip we’ll mostly be comparing grain silos and trying to figure out which one we like best. 🙂

  3. Your photos are stunning! I love this place and want to visit. Exquisite. We are currently just outside of Chicago in the Indiana Dunes State Park (Mike grew up here) and are leaving tomorrow. Being an Ohio girl born and raised (but left many years ago and had a Florida Gator baby)–I hope the landmarks are at least toilet papered artistically. Paybacks in Penn are sure to come some day. All in good fun, though. Good thing he’s not from Michigan. 🙂 Safe travels to you. Enjoy Chicago and the marathon.

    • I think he would agree that Michigan is terrible too, so at least you all can agree on that!! We are actually also staying in Indiana, but I’m not sure I realized there was a state park there. We are booked at a commercial campground. I’ll have to check it out. We’re pretty burned out on commercial places after all the Canadian campgrounds. A state park sounds lovely.

  4. I know, I know you are probably tired of reading my comments saying, thanks for taking me back to the Maritimes! But yes I’m am reminiscing thru your lens and perspective! Great photos of yet another colorful town. That was smart camping near Lunenberg and you got explore the town and enjoyed their food.

    • I am not tired at all of your comments! Actually, I am very happy to hear them because your posts provided a lot of the inspiration for us to go to these places. So I consider your positive feedback high praise indeed! We really enjoyed our visit to all of these places. It’s just a spectacular area!

  5. Your photos all look like postcards! Very artistic postcards. Just gorgeous — really, you’re making a good case for us prying ourselves away from the PNW for a summer. Tired of seafood? Never!!! Well, maybe….last night we did end up at a pop-up barbecue joint in Tofino on Vancouver Island after many, many seafood meals. :-)) Love that there’s a campground in Lunenberg — we like being able to just park and walk or bike everywhere.

    • Of all the places we stayed in Canada, our two favorites were Lunenburg and Saint Andrews, and I think that’s because for each of them, we were able to walk or bike to town. It just makes such a difference in how we perceive places. Neither of us wants to sit in the car for 40 minutes or an hour before and after checking something out. It just makes for such a long day. Whereas, when we can walk or bike, the whole day is enjoyable. There’s no wasted time.You guys really should consider going up there one summer. I’ve no question you all would love it!

  6. Great.. now I have another place to add to the travel list!!! Thanks for the stunning photos especially love the food photos. So hungry now 😀

    Safe travels,

    Brenda

    • Given your love of the water, I think you guys would really love the entire region. It is kind of the perfect place really. And yeah, we went a little nuts eating out in Lunenburg, but there were just so many great options, it was hard to stay home! Safe travels to you as well!

  7. Amazing photos, as always! I am so disappointed our trip to the maritimes got cut short last year and your blog is making me jealous, but I have enjoyed following along. And day drinking is the best … especially when you don’t have to have one person drive 🙂

    • Thanks for your kind words! Hopefully you’ll eventually be able to make your way back there. It really is a perfect place to slowly explore over the summer months. And yes, having to drive all the time definitely puts a damper on our carefree ways, so it’s nice to have the option to make bad choices every so often. 🙂

  8. I’m loving Florida, but I have to admit to severe travel envy every time I read one of your posts. You do such an incredible job of capturing the “feel” of each location and conveying it to us readers. And, of course, you’re photography is pretty great too. 🙂

    • I somehow missed this comment…Sorry for my late reply. Anyway, thank you for the kind words. Oddly enough, we have been feeling quite burnt out the last couple weeks after putting on so many miles running around Canada, so I have been getting jealous of folks who are staying in one place! Things should calm down for us in about a week. We’ll still be on the move, but we’ll be staying in our destinations for longer periods of time, which I think will be enormously helpful. I just think it’s funny how you want to be travelling more and we want to be stationary more. Somehow, we’ll all find the right balance. I think it just takes some time and patience!

  9. Looking forward to the “mechanics of RV travel to Canada” post! I’m just getting serious about our summer 2018 planning, up through VT, NH, ME, and Canada. I have lots of “dots” on the map but when I connect them it doesn’t form any kind of a reasonably plan! Time to get selective and once again admit that we “can’t do it all” and need to prune the list a bit…

    Mike & Kat

    • I am in the process right now of writing an entire article about all the ways I screwed up the trip planning in Canada, and most of it comes down to ‘trying to do it all’. Of course, I’m not done with that article, and I haven’t even started the ‘mechanics’ article yet because we’re busy running around Chicago like idiots trying to do it all. Someday we’ll learn….

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