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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Nova Scotia Week, Finding the Heart of Cape Breton

Once on Cape Breton, most travelers make a beeline for the headlands of the National Park or the rugged coastline that drops precipitously into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. But don’t make the mistake of missing the interior or what locals call the Highlands. Head to a sweet spot like Margaree River Valley and you’ll find a ring of rounded summits peering down on verdant pastures dotted with sheep, cattle, and sleek, dark French Canadian horses. You’ll also find the rolling waters of that legendary salmon fishing river, the Margaree, snaking though the spectacular scenery. This is the authentic Cape Breton, where you can spend a night at the classic Normaway Inn, have dinner from a chef who taught alongside Jacques Pepin at Manhattan’s French Culinary Institute, and then be treated to a foot-stomping fiddler concert every night from June through October. Last night in the Normaway’s library, I was fortunate enough to listen to a father and daughter play fiddle and guitar, while on piano, was the hotel’s housekeeper, who’s toured with Natalie MacMaster and Waylon Jennings. Here, in the heart of Ceilidh “kay-lee” country, it’s a good bet that your waiter or bellhop has played to a packed crowd and can dance the two-step, either in a nearby barn or in a packed concert hall. Seeing this threesome play last night in an intimate setting, stomping my foot and clapping my hands to the fast-moving fiddle, is one of those authentic travel experiences that I’ll remember years from now, when those rugged cliffs of Cape Breton have faded into the sea. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/02/12 at 10:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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