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Exploring Cape Breton Island

Getting to Nova Scotia is half the fun if you book passage for yourself and car on the CAT, a Bay Ferry catamaran that departs from Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine and arrives in Yarmouth a few hours later. It’s quick and efficient and has enough entertainment (casino, movies, gift shop) to keep anyone entertained, adults and kids alike. Any storms in the Bay of Fundy pass quickly, so sit back and enjoy the ride. And every now and then take a look out the window. You never know when you might get a glimpse of a whale straight out of “Moby Dick.”

Once in Yarmouth, head for the Sunrise Trail. The Fox Harb’r Golf Resort & Spa in Wallace is the place to stay. Better book ahead, though. You don’t want to miss out on these Fodor-worthy accommodations.

The resort has a gorgeous golf course similar to what you might find in Scotland and faces Prince Edward Island with the Northumberland Straight running between the two provinces. The condominium-style accommodations, two restaurants, high-speed Internet access, gift shop, small marina and private runway for guests who arrive in their own planes is a natural for celebrities and sports figures. [img_assist|nid=1123|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=188]

In fact, in July, Tiger Woods was at Fox Harb’r for the Nike Golf Invitational, a fundraiser for the Tiger Woods Foundation and the Canadian Junior Golf Association. A suite of rooms here is apt to include a spacious, beautifully decorated living room, king-sized bedroom with lots of storage room and a huge bathroom with his and her sinks and heated floor. Luxury permeates the resort and begs a repeat visit.

A morning’s drive brings Sunrise Trail visitors to the Canso Causeway, which links to Cape Breton Island and Baddeck, a tourist town famous for the Inverary Resort, Alexander Graham Bell Museum, charter sails with Amoeba Sailing Tours on Lake Bras D’Or and ceilidh (kaylee) concerts.

The small Alexander Graham Bell Museum sits on a 25-acre scenic park overlooking the lake. Said Bell when he chose the area for the site of his 27-room summer home, “I have traveled the globe. I have seen the American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps and the Highlands of Scotland, but for its simple beauty Cape Breton outrivals them all.”

Inside, the collection contains three exhibit halls and the largest display of Bell’s artifacts and inventions, including replicas of the first telephones and a full-scale model of the HD-4 hydrofoil craft.

After lunch at the Lakeside Restaurant on the grounds of the Inverary Resort, a sail with Capt. John Bryson is in order around the inky blue Lake Bras D’Or. His 65-foot sailboat takes tourists on a two-hour sail right past Bell’s 37-room mansion “Beinn Bhreagh” (beautiful mountain). But before getting under sail, Alex and Mabel, a pair of bald eagles named for Bell and his wife, must be fed. Capt. Bryson reaches into his ice chest below deck and returns with frozen fish, which he tosses overboard. Sure enough, Alex and Mabel swoop down, their wingspan reaching eight feet across, to snatch their gourmet dinner.

A few hours should be set aside for a drive along the Cabot Trail. The stunning scenery demands frequent stops for capturing on film including the winding roadways viewed from atop the ultra-green Highlands, pink-red sand beaches and crisp colors of wildflowers against a backdrop of blue sea. A good place to stop for dinner is the Keltic Lodge where the seafood is fresh and delicious.

Arrive back in Baddeck in time for a ceilidh (kaylee) concert at tiny St. Michael’s Parish Hall. Baddeck resident Nancy MacLean started the Baddeck Gathering Ceilidh’s on a trial basis ten years ago with the help of the Highland Gaelic Society. She rents the hall every summer, hires all the musicians and promotes concerts throughout the province and beyond.

Fiddler Jennifer Bowman, a favorite of Ceilidh fans, started playing classical violin when she was 14 and switched over to fiddling when she was 17. A resident of Monastery, Nova Scotia, Bowman makes the one-and-a-half-hour drive each way twice a week to Baddeck to entertain with pianist Marion Dewer. Once the joyful music begins, you won’t be able to sit still. In fact, you might even feel like dancing a jig.

What & Where:
(877-359-3760 or visit www.catferry.com)
Fox Harb’r Golf Resort & Spa(1337 Fox Harbour Rd, Wallace; 866-257-1801; www.foxharbr.com)
Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site (P.O. Box 159, Baddeck; 902-295-2069)
Lakeside Restaurant at The Inverary Resort (368 Shore Road-Box 190, Baddeck; 800-565-5660)
Amoeba Sailing Tours (902-295-2481; www.amoebasailingtours.com)
Keltic Lodge (Middle Head Peninsula, Ingonish Beach,; 800-565-0444; www.kelticlodge.ca)
Baddeck Gathering Ceilidhs
(St. Michael’s Parish Hall on Main Street, Baddeck; 902-295-2794; www.baddeckgathering.com)


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