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See where the wind takes you

Travelling is, of course, a pastime many of us enjoy. One way to get the most out of your adventure is to plan many of the details well in advance. I try to cover all the bases, including possible mishaps, and for the most part, I do. Sometimes, however, things just go awry.

I took a road trip (it seems that is what people are doing everywhere) to Canada’s east coast. I have had the pleasure of visiting Atlantic Canada numerous times, and each visit is a new experience. There are always exciting things to see and do, no matter how often you visit a place. While driving through New Brunswick, I saw something I had not seen before.

I was driving leisurely from Bathurst, south through Miramichi toward Moncton, when I came upon a sign which read ‘Charlottetown, 80 km.’ I had not planned to visit the capital of Confederation but had only been there once before, in the early eighties. I thought about it for a moment and decided to venture forth. It would also be my first time travelling across Confederation Bridge.

It was an easy and extremely picturesque ride along New Brunswick’s beautiful eastern shore. When I finally arrived at the Trans Canada Highway, I turned east toward the bridge.

I know the Confederation Bridge project cost taxpayers around 1.3 billion dollars, and I was ready to pay a hefty toll charge to cross the bridge. Well, was I in for a surprise. There was no charge at all, and I happily ventured forth, taking in all the sights of the Northumberland Straight and picturesque Jourimain Island.

I also enjoyed travelling without a plan and looked forward to where the road would take me. I love this country, where they do not charge a toll to visit Canada’s smallest province, and exploring it was quite a treat. I remember a tourist, from south of the border, asking how long Anne lived at Green Gables. The guide explained she was a fictitious character, created from the creativity of Lucy Maude Montgomery. Well, that nearly knocked him over.

Charlottetown (named for Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III) is one of the prettiest towns in Canada, and exploring it on foot is a treat. The colourful houses, with their neat and well-manicured gardens, were amazing, and it was as if I had been transported back in history.

I had to return to the mainland and set forth to Borden Carleton, the town at the foot of the bridge. I stopped at a kiosk and had quite a chuckle when I learned there was a $50 toll charge to cross back over the bridge. So much for it being free; however, it was still cheaper than the ferry and much faster. I guess once you are on the island, you have little choice but to take the bridge back.

Planning your trip is important, in order to avoid costly surprises, but every now and again, you just have to let it go and see where the wind takes you.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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