Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Maritimes a terrific road-trip destination

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The distinctive Acadian flag that adorns homes, stores and government buildings up and down the New Brunswick coastal region give testament to the history that is still held dear to the hearts of so many of its residents.

This is a unique region of a province whose families date back 400 years and who still recall with regret how many were split apart by divided loyalties. The British at that time banished hundreds of families to various parts of American if they would not sign oaths of allegiance to the Crown.

Its history, the power of the sea, the incredible beauty of the region and the people; having spent the last week there I can only suggest it should be a must-see visit for every Canadian who cherishes this country.

Today, New Brunswick shares its allure with the other Maritime provinces: Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island.

It is easy to spend an entire summer in the region and still feel you have only experienced a part of it. After several visits, I know I still have much more to experience there.

And many travellers may be ready to begin that quest with the end of the school year next week, fulfilling their own desires to discover more of Canada's wonders.

QUESTION: We are thinking of driving to the Maritimes and wonder whether you recommend the U.S. route or the more northern roads through Canada?

Secondly, we want to know if we will be able to find reasonably priced accommodation along the way without having to resort to lowdown dive hotels to achieve our budget goals for this trip.

ANSWER: There is some amazingly beautiful scenery to be experience travelling through northwest Ontario. You will capture a different flavour of Canada for certain. But the trip will take longer, and if you want to blend in the urban experience, you will not run into many large tourist centres of any size along the way.

Though the fastest U.S. route you certainly will get into eastern Ontario more quickly, I have always found that drive extremely boring.

Rural Canada has many options for reasonably priced hotels and motels. It is in the bigger cities where the prices tend to rise. Ahead of time, you may want to check quality reviews against price from any of the interactive travel websites.

You indicated you are prepared to take the entire summer on this 'see-Canada' visit. Since your primary goal is to travel through the Maritimes, you may have to save the broader Ontario and Quebec experience for another trip.

A week in each of the Maritime provinces will hardly be enough to capture the ambiance of your surroundings and visit the unique attractions that await you in each.

What you might want to do first is check out those chains that offer free breakfasts, as well as free Internet as a part of their accommodation package.

In this way, you will not only save a few dollars each day, but you will be able to properly plan the following days, or weeks, route and stops along the way.

While I think you may be able to find suitable accommodation vacancies if you don't extend your drives too late into evening, you should perhaps make bookings a day ahead if there is any chance you will be driving later into the night.

It is summer and these properties may fill up early. As you prepare to go to Newfoundland, I would definitely book in advance.

This province is becoming an increasingly popular destination and you want to be sure you will be staying in places that suit your standards.

In the Maritimes, as well as through the other provinces you will be driving, there are excellent bed-and-breakfast opportunities. The good ones will belong to the provincial B&B associations.

This is how you can capture a genuine Canadian experience, by meeting the real down-to-earth people who have set up their homes because of a desire to serve and meet others.

These operators know they are never going to get rich from their endeavours, but take pride in meeting and greeting you with the kind of hospitality you would offer a visiting friend.

QUESTION: If we go to the Maritimes this summer, what are the chances we will be able to get fresh as opposed to frozen lobster?

ANSWER: Lobster season in Atlantic Canada is on now and extends throughout a good part of the summer depending upon the region.

You will find fresh lobster at so many restaurants that serve seafood, you will have no problem getting your fill.

In New Brunswick's Shediac tourist town, you will find many options.

On other trips, not wanting to hold off our anticipation any longer than necessary, we have flown into Moncton, and have driven straight from the airport to Shediac.

In Halifax's Five Fishermen restaurant you may need to control yourself with the all-you-can-eat mussel bar in order to save room for the larger-sized lobster you may select.

And while lobster may be your seafood of choice, always look for the local favourites such as clams and fries in most parts of Acadian New Brunswick.

Forward your travel questions to askjourneys@journeystravel.com . Ron Pradinuk is president of Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre and can be heard Sundays at noon on CJOB. Previous columns and tips can be found on www.journeystravelgear.com or read Ron's travel blog at www.thattravelguy.ca .

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 23, 2012 D2

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