How I spent my summer vacation: three days driving from Maryland to Prince Edward Island, a day driving from Prince Edward Island to Quebec City, and then two days driving back to Maryland.
In recent years Prince Edward Island has gone from being an isolated backwater in a remote corner of Canada to a backwater with a substantial tourist trade. I think this change is due to two main factors. One is the opening of the Confederation bridge connecting the island to the mainland.
The other is the series of early 20th-century Anne of Green Gables books, which take the island as a setting and feature the plucky but somewhat mishap-prone Anne as heroine. Unaccountably I missed out on reading these books as an child but even as an adult I found them entertaining--provided one can recalibrate one's sense of humor to something considerably more subtle than the body-function jokes prevalent today.
I found Prince Edward island to be charmingly relaxed. I encountered the bizarre phenomenon of people actually driving below the speed limit. The primary city of Charlottetown played a historic role in the confederation of Canada as an independent nation. Between this, and the existence of the big bridge, and the general atmosphere, Charlottetown seemed like a weird mirror image of Annapolis. I like to imagine that while we were driving northward for three days a Charlottetown couple was likewise driving south to Annapolis, so they could exclaim over how quaint and atmospheric everything was.
This is the Green Gables house, where the fictional Anne grew up. This is possible because the author Lucy Maud Montgomery was apparently inspired by a real house. Somehow none of the books mentioned that Anne grew up a stone's throw from a golf course. Not to mention the nearby Anne of Green Gables Bungee Jumping Experience and the Anne of Green Gables Casino and Floorshow. Okay, I made those up, but there really is an Anne of Green Gables Museum of Oddities and an Anne of Green Gables Tattoo Parlor.
This picture and the next, from the interior of the house, prove that Op-Art was not invented in the 60's.
In the unlikely event that you find yourself in the neighborhood of New London (a very small town—on Prince Edward Island, two buildings next to each other apparently constitute a "town") around lunchtime, I highly recommend you try out the Kitchen Witch restaurant in this old farmhouse here. For all that I describe Prince Edward Island as a "backwater", I found it to be in an advanced state of civilization for people (like me) on gluten-free diets, or vegetarian, or whatever. The Kitchen Witch maintains a separate kitchen for baking gluten-free bread, cake, etc. (baked goods being the rarest of gluten-free items). The proprietress—a proud immigrant from Texas—embodies every cliché about country warmth and hospitality.
SPOILER ALERT: The Kitchen Witch is the kind of place chock-full of bric-a-brac, old license plates, and puzzles improvised from household items. One of these last was a challenge to balance six nails on the head of a seventh. I managed to do so using the configuration shown here. The proprietress said I was the first customer ever to figure it out. Suck it, Canadians!
This is what downtown Charlottetown looks like. Amazing what you can do with a few trees, umbrellas and tables on the sidewalk.
And now on to old-town Quebec, which I'm pretty sure is the most picturesque spot on the North American continent. Several shots here are included on the basis of general picturesquositude.
I wanted to buy all our friends gifts at this boutique, but Mrs. Gorodish unaccountably vetoed that idea.
A shot from the lower town, with the hotel Château Frontenac in the background.
The Rue Sous-le-Cap may be the narrowest street I've seen anywhere—certainly within North America. If you plan on strolling here, make sure not to bring any obese friends along.
Quebec again. If memory serves, the building with the red roof is the oldest in town still standing (1677).