Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Prince Edward Island: the Excellent, the Not-so-Excellent, and the Ugly

Well. we left PEI for 5 days ago and I've been thinking a lot about our visit there. Between a disastrous start and a dramatic return we had a grand time. PEI really is one of nature's great playgrounds with fabulous golf courses, beautiful beaches, wonderful natural beauty and excellent food sources. It did rain a lot while we were there, as it did in Nova Scotia. I understand it was one of the rainiest Septembers on record - just making up for a dry summer I guess. Ah well! You can't have everything.

The Excellent:
It is beautiful, a feast for the eyes! PEI is so neat and tidy Arch figures they have a patrol of clean-up police and people are publicly flogged if they litter or do not mow the grass and keep beautiful gardens.

The information for visitors is terrific and guides you through everything there is to do in PEI. If you get bored it is not their fault. And the directional signage is beyond compare - with a map there is no way you can get lost there.

The roads are fantastic, straight and very well maintained and, did I say clean? Not a piece of roadside litter to be found anywhere.

The food! PEI used to bill itself "the Garden of the Gulf"  and, with the warm gulf waters and red sandy soil it truly has some of the best food around. Farm stands are everywhere, fresh seafood is readily available and a Saturday farmer's market in Charlottetown is a centre of local activity.

The Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown presents an amazing and entertaining theatre experience. In addition to the regular, year-around schedule of entertainment, the Charlottetown Festival runs all summer and includes "Anne of Green Gables, the Musical" every year (I think) as well as a variety of other shows. This year we went to see "Ring of Fire" the Johnny Cash Story" and loved it.

The golf, of course. That is the main reason we go to PEI.

The Not-so-Excellent:
We were there in mid-September and many businesses catering to tourists were closed. That was a disappointment as we were really looking forward to spending time in the parks, small restaurants and businesses serve visitors. In Souris, even the ferry terminal was closed.

The service was good but not great. Again, I think that this was related to the time of year. Everyone just seemed tired and waiting for the tourist season to be over.

The Ugly:
The Gateway Village at the end of the Confederation Bridge in PEI. With the exception of the Tourist Information Centre and Cows Ice Cream this is nothing more than a tourist trap selling imported junk and bad food. And many of the stores are empty. We were only able to get a good cup of coffee because some buses with visitors from cruise ships docked in Charlottetown were arriving and coffee had been made just for them. I am not sure why this is so. Perhaps the rent is too high for small independent businesses that sell local goods. Who knows. So stop there because the Tourism Centre is excellent and will provide you with all the information you need to plan your visit, grab a Cows ice cream - that is one of the best reasons for coming to PEI - and leave.

The road between Aulac, New Brunswick and the Confederation Bridge. I know this is not PEI's fault, it is New Brunswick's road. But it is beyond awful and you should be prepared for it. Especially if you are in a RV. Everything will be shaken loose by the time you get off it!

All in all PEI is a great spot to visit. The Island is small and easy to get around, you are never far from the ocean and There is lots to do and see. But we recommend you go in July or August when everything is up and running.


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