Leave Room in Your Take-on for a Lobster

We just returned from a ten day trip and so now I am a travel expert. I could write a book and charge you money for my expertise but heck, I’m a generous sort of gal so you’re getting my top five or so tips free of charge. 

Tip Number One: After checking in to your hotel, Airbub, VRBO or friend’s couch, locate the nearest liquor store.  This is not as easy as it sounds. In Canada, where where we spent most of our vacation, liquor and wine are sold in well-guarded holes in the wall that are often hard to find. However, these shops only sell alcoholic beverages so if your nightly poison is a gin and tonic, you will have to find a separate grocery to purchase the tonic. Oddly, beer and hard cider are not considered alcoholic so they’re sold just about anywhere food is.

I’m not saying you should avoid the local bars and hole yourself up in your room to get sloshed. God no. Good bartenders are true artistes and it’s always fun to see what regional spin they’ll invent to liven up a standard. But, if you consume more than one Hop, Skip and Go Naked, you might just hop, skip and go naked.  So, it’s best to wait until you’re back in your room to get wobbly sloshy (the only way to watch the evening news in a country where the citizens think your president is a sick and perverted joke.)

Tip Number Two: If you can, splurge on a centrally located hotel so you can walk everywhere you want to go. Do not assume ride sharing services such as Lyft or Uber will be there for you. The two cities where we stayed, Montreal and Halifax, have outlawed them. Of course, there’s the Metro and bus service which I’m sure are absolutely wonderful but I’d rather march the old goat I’m married to all over town and listen him to complain for the next three days (another reason why locating the liquor store first is smart thinking).  Besides, a wrong turn every now and then can lead to new and fun adventures. Here is Joel on an overlook that overlooks nothing. Now, that’s not in the guidebooks!

Tip Number Three: If your hotel has one of those obnoxious turn down services, put the Do Not Disturb sign on your door and leave it there for the duration of your stay.  I don’t know about y’all but once I return from marching the old goat all over town, there ain’t no one gonna pry me from bed for a chocolate mint. A chocolate martini perhaps. Heck, if we’re staying at a hotel for more than one night, we put out the Down Not Disturb sign and never take it down. I’m one of those women who can’t stand to have people see my mess and so I will scour and scrub a hotel room if I think a maid might be coming in while I’m gone which kind of negates the idea of a vacation.

Tip Number Four: If you’re staying at a popular tourist destination, such as Halifax Nova Scotia, and you look out your hotel window in the morning and see five super gigantic cruise ships docked in the harbor, adjust your plans to visit all the must-see places.  I can assure you that the mile long line of buses parked at the wharf are waiting to shuttle three hundred thousand retirees out for a delicious lobster feast at Peggy’s Cove. Getting that perfect shot of the most iconic lighthouse in the world, well, is it worth trailing a line of tour buses for thirty five miles? Nay.  Trust me, there are other picturesque lighthouses in Nova Scotia. (Below Baddeck’s lighthouse)

Tip Number Five:  If you’re planning to take the famous Adirondack train from Montreal to Manhattan and are worried about passing through customs at the US border, keep two things in mind. First,  you will be leaving from Gare Centrale which is a cavernous station filled with shops, cafes, and the most heavenly bakeries in the world.  For crying out loud, unless you prefer microwaved hamburgers and three dollar bottles of water, purchase food and drink at the station.  It’s an eight hour trip and the tiny snack bar on the train runs out of everything by the time you reach Albany.

 The second thing to keep in mind is to rehearse your story.  You will be questioned at least three times by armed customs agents who stop the train out in the middle of nowhere.  They stand over you and, after asking the usual “Are you carrying explosive devices?” will ask gotcha questions such as: “When did you have your wisdom teeth removed?” “Are there any left-handed people in your family?” “Are you currently or have you ever eaten a rutabaga?”

And you better give the same answer every time they ask or they’ll pull you from the train and you’ll never be seen again.

Last tip: Always make room in your take on bag for a lobster. I didn’t and so we had to leave Halifax lobster-less.  Ah well, live and learn.

What are your favorite travel tips?

24 thoughts on “Leave Room in Your Take-on for a Lobster

  1. Hah! That’s super interesting about the gin and tonic. I definitely prefer our versions of liquor stores, with all the fixins!
    I do not like housekeeping when I stay in hotels. It creeps me out. Similarly, I could not have someone come into my house and clean. I’m tidy. I can afford my own chocolate. I’m fine, thank you, but no thank you.
    Scenery fabulous, pastry shot, DIVINE!

    • They have similar liquor laws in New York and much of the east coast. Finding a liquor store in Queens was quite an experience.

      Those pastries were to die for but they were so rich I could just barely make it through half of one!

    • Baddeck is a very charming town. Luckily its port is not large or deep enough for the cruise ships so it has retained its rusticity. Tour groups do come through but not that frequently as it is hours away from any of the major ports.

    • Oh golly – long ago. I don’t think the custom’s agents cared what your story was as long as you didn’t change it. I think they’re trained to look for inconsistencies and in how you react to being asked the same questions again and again.

  2. Wonderful + wise travel tips. Thanks for sharing them here. Having eaten a rutabaga I fear going to Canada now. 😉 Hop, Skip & Go Nakeds were our house drink when we first were married and had big parties, although our recipe used Gin not Whiskey. Still… tipsy is tipsy.

    • Thanks Ally. I watched a Youtube video of these two crazy gals making Hop, Skip and Go Naked punch in their bathtub! It kind of reminded me of a drink called Suicide which basically contained anything you had in the liquor cabinet.

  3. This was a 2 snort post 😆 … yeah, Canadian liquor laws, depending on the province, are a little archaic. I don’t know how long it takes a visitor to figure out that SAQ (Quebec) or LCBO (in Ontario) refers to a liquor store. At least in Nova Scotia, the signs actually say “Beer, Wine, Spirits”. What does it say about us that finding the local liquor store is also our #1 activity after we check in? 😏

    I love the lookout that doesn’t look out over anything 😆

    • I think after a long flight and changing time zones, crawling into bed with a good bottle of wine is the only way to go. I guess that means we’re creatures of comfort!

  4. I laughed so much while I read this, Jan, and I’m still laughing. You present a most amusing angle to travel writing. Here are my favorite lines: “a country where the citizens think your president is a sick and perverted joke; I’d rather march the old goat I’m married to all over town; an overlook that overlooks nothing; I can assure you that the mile long line of buses parked at the wharf are waiting to shuttle three hundred thousand retirees out for a delicious lobster feast.” It’s possible you have a future in travel writing. 😉 Thanks for making me laugh so much.

  5. Jan, this sounded like Jean Kerr and Erma Bombeck rolled into a riotously funny friend! This was absolutely my favorite post in a long time.
    I liked the way you went straight to the need for booze, bed and no maid intervention for your stay.
    I loved my days when I could run down Bear Skin Neck in Rockport and eat lobster for $5 as a teenager living in an apt above their shop. (1972 memories; no spiked beverages nor nudity except a skinny dipping moment in a deep azure quarry!!) No under the sheets hiding or sleeping in either! 😉)
    Jet is right as a few indicate: you have found your calling!! “Travel Guide for Real People.”

    • Thanks Robin! I don’t travel enough to write travel guides. I love both Kerr and Bombeck so I’m tickled pink to be compared to them. I didn’t think I would but I did get tired of lobster!

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