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St Andrews by the sea

My favourite place during my visit to New Brunswick was St Andrews by the sea, even though I did end up wearing some very unusual outfits.
It is beautiful resort with lots of charm. Part of the town is a national historic district with pretty inns, boutique shops and art galleries. It is 90 minutes from Fredericton and 1 hour from Saint John.

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We explored the natural history of the beautiful Passamaquoddy Bay by mountain bike with our guides Kurt and Tom from Off-Kilter Cycling. Kurt's father moved to Canada in the mid 1960's and set up shop in St Andrews as a tailor. With the Scottish heritage in the region it wasn't long before he was making kilts for the locals and he developed a reputation as a Master Kilt Maker. A few years ago he designed a kilt for some local mountain bikers, this gave Kurt an idea and Off Kilter Cycling was born.

I have to admit that bike helmets and kilts are not an outfit combination I would choose every day. Our specially designed bike kilts did not improve the comfort level of the bike seats especially when we went off road. Kurt guided us through the streets of St Andrews with frequent stops to talk about the history of the town. We headed through the woods and to the seashore from where we could see the coast of Maine, USA as we cycled along. We stopped at a saltwater inlet with a sandy beach where the locals swim during the summer months.

From there we went up hill and cycled through beautiful Kingsbrae Garden. The garden is worth a visit on foot as there is much to see besides the stunning flowerbeds. Every year they have a sculpture competition and the entries are displayed around the garden.
From Kingsbrae we continued uphill and stopped for a rest at the Algonquin Resort. The property is one of the oldest in Canada and originally opened in 1889. Prince Charles and Diana visited in 1983 as part of their trip to Canada. The resort closed last year for major refurbishment and will open towards the end of 2013 as the first Marriott Autograph Collection hotel in Canada. There was still a lot of work to be done when we had a sneak peek inside but from what we saw it will be stunning. I would love to go back and see it when it reopens.
St-Andrews-by-the-sea-holday003St-Andrews-by-the-sea-holday004We freewheeled down the hill back to the seafront, gave our bikes and kilts back to Kurt and got changed into our survival suits for the whale watching. The suits made us look like we were part of the cast from the film Armageddon, orange is definitely not my colour! The trip was provided by Fundy Tide Runners and is a Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) signature experience which means it is promoted on the CTC website . We were very lucky with the weather as the sun came out and there was no wind so the sea was like a millpond, ideal for spotting whales. We weaved our way through bays and channels and were lucky enough to see fin back and minke whales as well as lots of porpoises.

St-Andrews-by-the-sea-holdayI stayed at the Europa Inn. The rooms were a reasonable size and mine had a balcony. The only problem was that because of the age of the building there wasn't a lift and there were quite a few stairs up to the rooms so not ideal if you have a heavy case like I did. The Europa is in a perfect location only a few minutes' walk from the seafront, shops and restaurants. It has a popular restaurant which we didn't eat in but the breakfast was excellent.

We had dinner at Rossmount Inn which is about 15 minutes' drive from St Andrews. The inn is one of the top places to stay in the area and has one of the best restaurants in New Brunswick. Lisa, our guide recommended the salmon tartare starter and it was amazing. The chef/owner changes the menu daily and believes in sourcing all his ingredients locally and according to season. We enjoyed some wonderful foods which were complimented by local wines. It was one of the best meals we had on the trip.

 

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