If you're a fan of L.M. Montgomery, Prince Edward Island, Canada is the place to explore the locations described in many of her books.

Getting There

Getting to Prince Edward Island by car involves one of two routes from the United States: you can drive up through Maine or you can take a ferry from Boston to Nova Scotia and up. In case you have ideas that the ferry would save time, this is generally not the case. What generally would be the case involves cold Atlantic air and rough Atlantic seas, but you might see a whale. If you choose to drive up through Maine, realize that while Maine is beautiful, it is also a very tall state north to south, especially once it's dark outside. In fact, Maine is the one place where I saw something while driving that I have yet to explain: my wife was asleep and I hadn't seen another car in about twenty minutes when something seemed to fly across the front of my car. I'm sure it was some sort of strange reflection from a nearby residence or unseen car, but it might have been a UFO with a driver just as freaked out by the dark as I was.

Behave naturally while crossing the Canadian border. My wife and I had just gotten married, so we were naturally disagreeing about something when we crossed, and they let us go without much fanfare. Also, most smugglers probably try to get through to Canada from New York or Michigan, not from Maine, especially since you're a couple hundred miles from anywhere when you get across up there.

The Confederation Bridge to PEI is pretty sweet. Once you accept the fact that it's cheaper and faster than taking the ferry, which was the only way besides swimming until 1997, and the fact that you won't survive a bridge collapse, you'll enjoy the ride. It's the longest bridge over ice-covered water, but if you visit Prince Edward Island during the winter, you might need to rethink your travel choices. In fact, the tourist season in most of Canada doesn't start until May, and that's when the ice is pretty much gone. At forty or so Canadian dollars, the bridge is a bit pricey, but you can save money if you park on the other side and take a motorcycle across, assuming you suddenly have a motorcycle.

In fact, Prince Edward Island is well-suited to a motorcycle or scooter, if equipped to handle the dirt roads. Biking could be fun, but don't bring the Bianchi road racing bikes here.The island is small, and you usually get places much faster than expected, though this might be partially due to the km to miles conversion, as well. To get an idea of the size of the island, Charlottetown is sort of in the middle. If you want to go to the furthest east point, that takes about 100km, which is even less in miles. But they don't have expressways, and your car might not like the red dirt roads, so be careful, or rent a car and buff out the damage before you turn it back in. In fact, you can fly in and rent a car instead of driving through UFO-infested Maine.

Where to Stay

While you might want to stay in Bed and Breakfasts, there are a few concerns with booking ahead, though it is the only way to guarantee a room. My wife wanted to plan our honeymoon to the hour, but she was only in charge of Prince Edward Island, so we mostly stayed in last-minute or booked-the-night-before hotels. On Prince Edward Island, however, we stayed in all bed and breakfasts. While you do get a cozy feeling, you might run into some problems as well, like the owner who cleans up your living quarters and arranges your shoes neatly each time you leave, or not having a bathroom door (kinda weird for two newlyweds). While you may not think to ask some of these questions, you might be able to find reviews on some of our online booking sites. If not, talk to the owner to see if you can identify any out-of-the-ordinary tendancies. Stay in the towns near your destinations if you like change, or choose a central location and drive each day.

Since my wife booked everything ahead of time using the internet and phone calls, our four b and b experiences on the island were quite varied. We stayed in what was more of a hotel in Summerside. The building was used in the Anne movies, at least for exterior shots. Actually, we both liked it just fine. It was probably really pricey, however, so we had to stay in more modest rooms later in the week.

We also stayed in a b and b that was a couple blocks from a private-ish beach, with owners who cooked specialty meals for the people who stayed the night before we were there. Food was OK for us, too, just not something to die for. This is the place where we spent the Fourth of July... you know Canadians don't celebrate the Fourth? I got a few Budweisers at a local beer depot and watched Anne of Green Gables from the b and b's movie collection after my wife went to bed. At least they have television in Canada.

The last two rooms we had were a bit strange. One was run by two teachers in Georgetown (I believe), and we basically stayed across the hall from them in their ranch-style house. The room was large and nicely decorated, but they forgot to add a bathroom door. Also, the advertised internet access was on their personal computer in the basement. The last place we booked was the walk out basement level of a house in the Charlottetown area. Not too scenic, unless you like to look at suburban homes, but we had free run of the lower story. This is the place where our room was contantly being arranged and cleaned for us, which seems nice, but my wife was a little weirded out by the compulsiveness of it. I just felt like I was back at home living with my mom.

What to See

If your daughter is between the ages of six and sixteen, she'll appreciate all of the Anne of Green Gables attractions. If you have a son, as well, be sure to stop at Cooperstown, Gettysburg, or a Boston Red Sox game before coming to PEI.

What to Eat

My wife had to have lobster, so I made her wear the bib they gave her and pose in silly pictures. Honestly, I don't know if the lobster was any better than the kind you can buy out of aquariums at the local seafood chain restaurant, but you're there, anyhow, so as long as you want it to taste better, it surely will.

DSM Gem

Even if it's cold Atlantic Ocean water, don't miss the beaches. Some beaches have paths to follow and you might even find yourself completely alone on some, which might be just what you're looking for. The ocean causes a few meters of erosion each year, which is being multiplied by global warming, so get to PEI before it's completely gone. Granted, you still have a few thousand years.

What to Avoid

Yes, a horseback ride on the beach seems romantic, but when the beach is more of a trail next to a bog, and a local guy riding in your group wants to talk politics, the expensive endeavor becomes avoidable. My wife was not very happy with the ride after dragging me out to do it. I got pretty much what I expected, but she wanted some sort of Fabio on the beach scene. I grew up riding horses, and this sort of controlled group ride is not very thrilling, but it does give you a chance to see the scenery from one more angle. I suggest walking around on some trails instead of renting a horse.

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