Cape Breton, NS

I’ve been thinking about the frustration I often feel after travel. You can never share the profoundness of the travel experience with people who were not there, but still we try.

I was in Nova Scotia last week. Cape Breton, to be more precise—the distinction is important. We were there with Bryan’s family, celebrating his nanny’s life and reconnecting with each other. It was a week that none of us will forget. Cameras always disappoint at times like this; all of the pictures I took on the trip seem flat and empty compared to the experience.

Cape Breton is a magical island that I hope to return to soon. We spent most of our time in and around Cape Breton Highlands Nation Park, which is just insanely beautiful. The landscape was rejuvenating.

I’d like to connect this back to food, but I can’t. We had some good food on the trip: lobsters and oysters fresh from the water, a warm slice of cinnamon bread, pickle-flavored potato chips. But that all seems beside the point.

Back in Chicago it feels like we are in the home stretch of summer. We’re making the most of these last few weeks before that chill creeps into the morning air and you feel like high school.

40 comments to “Cape Breton, NS”

  1. Nova Scotia looks beautiful! What was the weather like?

  2. Hi Catherine- It was beautiful. We had sunny and warm almost every day. High 70’s, low 80’s. A little clouds and rain a couple of days. Pretty perfect.

  3. I just discovered your blog the other day and love it. And I’m from Nova Scotia so now I really love it! Cape Breton is a magical place ….your pictures are gorgeous and for anyone who’s never been, multiply that beauty by, like, a million! Hopefully the hospitality was equally as warm as the scenery was beautiful. Did you get to try Blueberry Grunt? It’s a Nova Scotian dessert and a must when blueberries are in season.

  4. I’m from Cape Breton. I actually haven’t been back sine 2001 but you’e given me the itch. Maybe next summer.

  5. WOW! so beautiful. so lovely. :-) welcome home

  6. As a Canadian, from one of the prairie provinces, I would like to thank you for the photos of Nova Scotia. I haven’t been there in many years, and this was a beautiful reminder of that special place.

  7. Anne Costello Johnson says:

    August 14th, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Your beautiful photos make my heart ache to travel to such a beautiful place.
    Anne (fellow Oak Parker!)

  8. Have traveled all over Canada since my late husband was Canadian…and LOVED Cape Breton…seemed like another country separate from Canada. Thanks for sharing these lovely photos!

  9. Great Shots! Come back another time and tour the rest of the province – great food abounds here. Thanks for sharing this important trip with us, and all that you post.

  10. Lovely photos! I am from Nova Scotia (the mainland – you’re right, an important distinction!) and heading to CB this weekend for a wedding. What a nice surprise to see them on here.

  11. Your photos aren’t flat. My husband and I have been to Cape Breton and all over Nova Scotia quite a few times. It’s very special. We’re from Pennsylvania and take three days on back roads through New England to motorcycle ride to Cape Breton. A few days there, then continue by ferry to Newfoundland. A week or so either going east to west or up the west coast of Newfoundland and then reverse the trip to return home. Seafood three times a day. :-) It’s all magical.

  12. I spent summers in Cape Breton and I know what you mean about the photos not doing it justice. That’s part of the beauty of the place, though. Kind of like it is keeping it’s own secret. If you want to see the beauty, you have to go in person!

  13. I know what you mean about travel photos… even in the light they capture they are missing the sensations, smells, skin prickles, all the sounds etc. but they aren’t flat at all and I particularly love the rope one and your hand with the sea items. It really looks beautiful there and you two look adorable. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Fellow Chicagoan here, and let me say… I am looking forward to that chill that creeps in the air with fall (my favorite season). (Just not the winter that follow it.)

    Lovely photos; thanks for sharing.

  15. I’d say you did a pretty darn good job of showing off Cape Breton in your travel photos! I have been there once myself, and long to return someday. It is a very unique and beautiful place. You did it justice.

  16. What a lovely post– I just returned from Nova Scotia myself, the Eastern Shore. Place of family and delicious salt air for me as well. And I love how you say the crisp fall air makes you “feel like high school.” Perfect.

  17. Nova Scotia is so amazing and I’m glad you got to visit! And your photos are gorgeous. I just left Halifax for Calgary after spending two years there for grad studies, and I already miss it. East Coast music in particular – e.g., Joel Plaskett, Jenn Grant, Meaghan Smith – will always have a piece of my heart.

  18. Wow! What fun to see you have been to this island I now call home! I live in Cheticamp, seven years now, and find the magic of the island hard to relay to people. (Originally from Western Canada I moved here from NYC and everyone thought I was nuts, until they visited!) What you should know is that your Blog has been an inspiration to me and an underground restaurant I started, introducing food beyond meat, potato and fried fish, to the area – with a gob-stoppingly amazing reception and overwhelming enthusiasm. You have an ever expanding fan base here….so it’s just lovely to know you’ve experienced the magic! Cheers. Harper

  19. Oh, Harper! How nice to hear from you. Next time I am there, I will be in touch and crash the supper club. Yeah, we struggled a little eating in restaurants, lots of fried everything. I found myself wanting a kitchen so we could cook for ourselves. But we also ate some pretty good fried food, so I shouldn’t complain. ; ) Magical land you call home!

  20. Welcome to Nova Scotia – you were in God’s Country for a short while. Hope you had some of the most incredible seafood in the world. Thanks for sharing pictures of our home.

  21. What a beautiful part of the country. I’ve been reading your blog for a bit now, but hadn’t left a comment. I’m from NS and happened to be home last week too. Great week on the east! Glad you enjoyed it.

  22. Hey Ryan- Thanks for FINALLY commenting. Just kidding. But Nova Scotia seems like a great place to grow up. And yeah, last week’s weather was rad.

  23. Flat and empty? No No No….really gorgeous shots…yes. It looked like an amazing visit, thanks for the deep breath of fresh air.

  24. I went to NS and Cape Breton a few years ago. I don’t think I remember the food all that much but the place is magical and I think you’ve captured it beautifully.

  25. A few years ago my boyfriend and I spent three weeks touring around Nova Scotia, including Cape Breton, to celebrate my completion of grad school. While it may be difficult to convey the experiences of travel, sharing at least allows for connections with those who have experienced the same places. Thanks for the unexpected instigation to reminisce!

  26. Tim! Like Ryan I’ve been following your blog and never commented, but when I saw this post of my homeland I had to change that. I live in Western Canada but was home in Cape Breton for two weeks this summer. If you plan to visit again I can suggest some restaurants to check out. If I had known you there, we would have invited you over for dinner. When in Cape Breton my partner and I go on an oatcake hunt. We try as many oatcakes as possible to find our favourites. I see you were in Ingonish (from your pic of the Keltic Lodge), and we get some great oatcakes from the coffee shop in that town, the Bean Barn Cafe.

    Anyway, I could go on but I will stop. Oh, and thanks so much for posting the poppy seed cake. It’s one of my favourites —

    Take care b’y!

  27. Aw, April, thanks for the great note. I was totally on an oatcake hunt of my own. I really liked the ones at the Herring Choker Deli outside of Baddeck (which had been recommended by another reader). But also liked the ones from Bean Barn Cafe! I want to come up with my own recipe this autumn. They are so good. I hope to go back to NS soon, next time I want to spend some time in PEI, too. Yay, Maritimes!

  28. I believe photographs exist in their own right, also and/or as equivalents. It’s life that has the smells, the temperatures, the moments meaning. Thanks for your sharing fine moments, intensified by love and change etc.

  29. Greeting from Belle-Ile-en mer! It’s a little island off the coast of Brittany. Along with excellently soft sand beaches and discovering the birthplace of crepes, it’s highly recommendable if you make it across the pond.

    Bonnes vacances,

  30. Glad you enjoyed your trip. Too bad you couldn’t make it to the restaurant, we’ll have to meet up next time!

  31. I can almost smell that ocean air. LOVE these photos.

  32. Photographs are pure beauty…believe me, your words bring the rest of your experience to life.

  33. I really want to go travel to Nova Scotia now! It looks so peaceful and serene. Beautiful pictures!

  34. Tim, I am smitten with that shot of you and Bryan in front of that adorable house. It’s like American Gothic goes to Canada or something. I dig.

  35. I just want to say I am happy to find this blog – so much inspiration and beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing!! I will try the tomatosoup for sure, and the chocolate-caramel tart.

  36. I spent many happy years in Canada, working and travelling, can’t beat the scenery. Have been back in the UK over 15 years now but seeing these pics makes my feet itchy again! Love your recipes and blog.

  37. I stumbled over here via Ashlee English’s blog, Small Measure. I live at the opposite end of NS in Yarmouth, and visited *almost* all the way to CB this summer for the first time since I was a kid. (We were actually looking across St George’s Bay at Judique.) So glad that you had a lovely visit – I’m so happy to be living here, and I love seeing other people’s impressions. Especially ones so beautifully captured! Come back soon! :)

  38. Condolences on you beloved Nana. The ‘bent’ walls (like in my late Nana’s house) prompted me to comment. The slanted walls were something (for whatever reason) I was obsessed with when I stayed there as a youngster. Funny the things you remember forever.
    You’ve got to go again when all the local berries are in season (Maritimers are also blessed when it comes to all sorts of berries – forget all the cultivated rubbish you’ve ever had.), score some fresh dive collected (not dredged) scallops (cook them yourself – we can overdo the deep fryer at most takeaways/take-outs, sorry) and breathe! There is something about that air. It doesn’t get any better than that.
    Thank you for the pictures. I can taste Ma’s tea now.

  39. sooooooooooooo beautiful I can’t handle it.

  40. Photo’s great left Cape Breton early 60’s great trip down memory lane – thanks.

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