The Cabot Trail's "Sunset Side"

My tags and the fact that I'm in the middle of a trip series kind of spoils the surprise, but if you saw the above picture out of context, where would you imagine it to be? Scotland? Ireland? Brittany? I certainly had no idea that Canada had such a place in Cape Breton.

The large island at the northeastern tip of Nova Scotia's crab claw felt like home for many European settlers, from the French to the Scots. Centuries after the first Europeans sailed over, Alexander Graham Bell named the area as his favorite place. "I have travelled the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps and the highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all," he wrote.

The roads gently curving along the coastline and small houses with sharply peaked roofs transported me. What continent was I on, again? We pulled over by a mailbox to take pictures and the owner stepped outside. She simply wanted to say hi and ask if we were going to be around for the sunset - they'd had a glorious one the previous night.

Sadly, we had to be on our way, as we wanted to complete the loop in a day and would be on the eastern side by nightfall. We hadn't even reached Cape Breton National Park yet, and the scenery was already incredible. Indeed, we didn't see anything quite like the area from Margaree to Cheticamp on the eastern side of the loop. And while I like that we did the trail clockwise, I can see why people like to try driving it both ways.

We stopped in Cheticamp, a fishing community with Acadian heritage, for lunch. Being a horrible person, I joked that I could feel the French influence in the fact that this seems to be one place in Canada where cars don't yield to pedestrians. However, we also had some amazing seafood in nearby Petit Etang, succumbing to the gimmick of lobster poutine in one of the few places it feels like it could actually pass as authentic.


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