After spending some time in Halifax, I hopped Via Rail and headed up to Moncton. The trip through the maritimes is called “Ocean View.” My only view of the ocean was the Halifax harbour on the way out, so I felt the name to be more than a little misleading, but the vegetation was lush and the trip passed peacefully. Once in Moncton, I caught a bus the rest of the way to Fredericton. Aside from having to ask directions to the bus station from a woman on the street, it was an easy transition. It was in Moncton that I was really struck by the concept of maritime hospitality. The lady I stopped to ask me for directions offered to walk me to the station, which was completely out of her way, and we chatted along the way. I didn’t make her go the whole way with me. Once I got my bearings, I assured her I’d be fine and she went on her way again. She was delightful, although I don’t remember what we talked about. Probably where I was from and the weather. Those seem to be popular topics with strangers. As I walked the rest of the way to the bus station, I started reflecting on how helpful people had been so far on my trip and came to the conclusion that maritime hospitality was indeed a reality.
The trip into Fredericton was uneventful, and I spent most of it listening to Leeland’s “Love Is On the Move” CD, which I’d picked up the previous week at YC. The bus pulled into the outskirts of Fredericton and I disembarked only to find that I’d missed the bus heading downtown and the next one was not for another two and a half hours. It was only 7pm, so I decided to hoof it– at least I’d get to see a lot of Fredericton. Turns out it was about 8km to get to downtown, so that took a bit and I was exhausted by the time I found my hostel. But the walk along the riverfront and the gorgeous old houses made it all worth it. I’m just sad that I don’t have any pictures to share with you.
I spent the next four days at a conference and won’t bore you with the details here, but the evenings allowed for some walking and dining out. I also got a chance to watch a Blackhawks vs. Flyers game, with a new friend over a pint and some nachos at the Lunar Rogue. The other pub I frequented was the Snooty Fox, which is as great as it’s name. Beyond that, I took a microbrewery tour of Picaroons that included a beer tasting afterwards. Some of the people I went with were a little happy by the time was left, and I was glad we’d taken cabs. My last night in Fredericton I went with the hostel manager, a 31 year old Indian who had a degree from MIT and decided that he wanted to travel instead, to the Capital, which is apparently ranked as one of the best live music joints in Canada. It was open mic night, and the inital act left alot to be desired, but the atmosphere was amazing, and the second person to come on made a significantly better impression than the first. Even so, I didn’t stay much longer than an hour, as I was tired and had to leave the next morning.
On my morning heading out from Fredericton, I went to the library to check my e-mail but got there before it opened. I ran into an older gentleman who also got there early, and we started chatting about life, and once again I was struck by the openness of maritimers. It’s brilliant really. They’re very easy going and friendly. Anyway, I headed off to find a coffee, as I had a half hour before the library opened. An hour and a half later I was on the bus out of town and heading back to Moncton. Rather than walking the 8km back to the bus station, I vouched for a taxi, which I shared with Claudia, a girl I’d met at my hostel. When she heard I’d be heading back to Halifax she said, “Are you staying at the backpackers?” When I told her I was she said, ” Make sure you say hi to Lenny and Marc for me.” I already knew Lenny and Marc from my previous stay in Halifax and was amazed once again at how small the hostelling community can seem, and what an impression they can leave on you.