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Monday, 1 August 2016

Whale Watching in Nova Scotia - Brier Island

Whale watching has always been up there on my bucket list, as has a trip to Nova Scotia and I was lucky enough to have an experience that will stay with me forever.



If you are going to go whale watching in Nova Scotia, it HAS to be on Brier Island. Trust me. After much research I contacted Penny Graham who runs Mariner Cruises out of the tiny island, a fascinating woman who has lived on the island her whole life. Who better to stay with, and trust for my first ever trip whale watching?





Getting to Brier Island is an adventure in itself. You have to catch two ferries to get you to the tiny island, (5 minute journeys so don't worry!), and upon arriving you really do feel like you've found Canada's hidden treasure. Brier Island is completely untouched and ruggedly beautiful. With only 184 inhabitants (!) it's truly somewhere to escape the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world, and you'll be glad you did.



You can find the Mariner Cruises office straight off the ferry, it's literally just a few metres down the road. I loved how cute it is, the paint work looks lovely and it really stands out from the road. From there we were given lots of information about the island from the very helpful staff who gave us a map with all the points of interest on.


From there we were directed to the guesthouse to leave our bags, and then hurried excitedly onto the boat to meet Penny.

Penny is very special indeed. Her love of these giant, majestic creatures and wealth of experience after years on the waves really comes across when speaking to her, and she has seen some amazing sights.

She is also very fair. Mariner Cruises do their best to find whales on every trip but these are wild animals and the bay is vast so as you can understand this isn't always going to result in sightings. Penny offers a free pass for another trip if no whales are seen and you can't say fairer than that.

It was a very foggy day when we embarked on our whale watching cruise and we were given the option of not going out at all. It was made clear that the fog makes it extremely difficult to spot the imprints and therefore to track the whales. But we had faith, there was no way I was getting off that boat and so off we went.

After travelling through the fog and keeping the faith the most incredible thing happened. The sun came out as if from no where, the fog cleared and we heard the shout WHALE.
















We couldn't believe it, a humpback whale was just feet from our boat and showing above the water. Everyone was speechless. It was surprisingly emotional to witness such a massive creature in it's natural habitat, something you would never ever see in your normal life.











The experience only got better. The whale came closer, and closer. Penny told us all that humpbacks are extremely inquisitive and friendly and they often take an interest in the boats. We all watched in amazement as the whale gracefully disappeared underneath our boat and came up gently on the other side. We were so close if I'd reached my hand down I could have touched it's back.

The whale then really surprised us all by going to the very back of the boat, where we were all stood absolutely in awe, and slowly rising out of the water so it's face was touching the side of the boat. It was there for a good few minutes so we could take it in in all it's glory. It was truly one of those moments in life I will never ever forget. I didn't have my camera in my hand at that moment but I was filming so you can see this moment captured for ever on the video.



























The day was topped off beautifully with the stay at Penny's beautiful historic guesthouse. It really is like stepping back in time inside, but keeps all of the comfort of modern life. 








Everything is pristine inside, and the rooms are decorated in keeping with the history of the house. I fell in love immediately. I can honestly say I had the best nights sleep of my life in the guesthouse. Brier Island has no light pollution or noise pollution so there's nothing to distract you from a quality nights sleep. The bed was so comfy, and after a long day at sea I snuggled down and slept like a baby!



If you are visiting Nova Scotia make a trip to Brier Island absolutely top of your list. Penny is brilliant, she is an institution on the island and her whale cruises are a testament to her. To get the full experience stay in her guest house, you won't forget your time on this incredible little island, and you certainly don't come across places like this in Canada every day. It really is Canada's best kept treasure. 

You can contact Penny for more information by email -whales@novascotiawhalewatching.ca 
Or call toll free -  1-800-239-2189

For more information on Mariner Cruises you can visit their website here http://www.novascotiawhalewatching.ca/

Follow them on Facebook for their latest snaps from their daily tours - https://www.facebook.com/Mariner.Cruises

Check out their Twitter for up to date info - https://twitter.com/MarinerCruises

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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Things to do in Chicago - Untouchable Gangster Tours

Al Capone, John Dillinger, Johnny Torrio, What do all these names have in common?



They are all mega famous Chicago legends featured on the Untouchable Gangster Tour - the most thrilling tour in Chicago!

The Untouchable Tour is a 1 hour 45-minute live action gangster tour and an absolute must for any lover of gangster movies, mob stories and prohibition era fans!



You are taken all over the city on a thrill ride of all the hottest spots and gangster hang outs. For me it really brought to life all the places you imagine from the tales of Al Capone and the gangsters of the time. It's so easy to think of these places as scenes from a movie but they are real and you can visit them all!





Our guide was Slippery Sloop and he was fantastic. So entertaining and knowledgeable and made the tour come to life for us. It was hard to think of him as anything other than a legit 1920's guide!





















If you are going to be in Chicago over the summer, this is the perfect way to cool off on the all new tour bus whilst getting to see all over the city and hearing the legendary tales. It's honestly worth it just to take in the city as a whole, and you'll be on the edge of your seat with the hair raising tales of real life gangsters that prowled the streets!

You can purchase tickets here :
Untouchable Tours

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