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The Long Drive: From Quebec City to Nova Scotia

After a good night’s rest, I was ready to hit the road.  Quebec City is such an awesome place to explore that it quickly grows on you.  It was a shame I was only able to spend 48 hours there.  There are so many things to see I could’ve justified spending more time there.  Unfortunately, I needed to moving if I wanted to actually complete the trip as I originally envisioned.  According to Google Maps, I’d have to drive about 11 hours straight, without accounting for scheduled stops along the way, just to get into Truro, Nova Scotia, my destination that day, .


I took one last, short walk around town.  The sun was shining and the place was picture perfect.



I walked into a nearby tourist center to browse some maps and brochures and find out if there were any worthwhile attractions along the way.  I found a map with bike routes which took you parallel to the main highway, Autoroute 20.   I decided then to go for the scenic road, Autoroute 132, for as long as I could until I needed to jump on the main highway.


I set my GPS and drove off, expecting to have to double back south of the city, almost 10 miles, to Autoroute 73. where I’d cross over the river and head north again on Autoroute 132.  I drove by Old Quebec’s Lower Town one more time.



A couple miles down the road the GPS started complaining.  “Make U-Turn!“, the GPS lady screamed in a British accent.  I was baffled, as it made no sense to turn around.  I knew for a fact that the bridge I was looking for was further south and the bridge up north was way farther than I wanted to go, an unnecessary detour.


I pull over and fiddle with the GPS again, thinking I might have entered the wrong address.  Once it is set up properly, I think, I start driving again.  “Make U-Turn!” says the lady again, just as forcefully.  Now, I’ve known my Google-phone’s GPS to act up in the past, but not this Garmin model.  It is usually fairly accurate and dependable.


I pull over again, check the address, and sure enough it is right.  What the…?  I hesitated for a moment, but decided to give the GPS the benefit of the doubt.  I turn around and head back to the city, just as GPS lady asks.  This seems to please her (I hope).  I figure maybe there’s another bridge up north I missed on the map.


Turn right!” she barks again, a couple minutes later.  Now I’m confused.  To my left, there’s the beautiful city of Quebec.  To the right… the pretty big, and deep, St Lawrence river.  There is not a bridge in sight, so immediately have a flashback to the scene from “The Office”, where Michael drives straight into a lake.  I cautiously turn right, wondering where the heck am I going.  Soon enough, the signs in French start making a little more sense.  As I pull up behind a line of cars, I see a toll fee schedule.


It’s a car ferry!  I’m psyched, as I have never gotten one one with my vehicle.  I forgive GPS lady, who obviously wanted to take me across the river in a much cooler fashion I had envisioned.



Crossing via ferry was great and gave me the best view yet of the city.  A steal at only C$3.00 [worldcurrency curr=”CAD” value=”3.00″] for a one way ticket.  I couldn’t have asked for a better sendoff.




The town across the river, Levis, was charming.  Fairly quiet neighborhoods and streets lined with big trees.


I soon found Autoroute 132 and started a pleasant drive through quaint little towns and interesting roadside landmarks.  This would’ve been a great road to ride in a motorcycle.


I kept an eye on the clock, as I did not want to arrive too late at night, but it wasn’t hard to slow down a bit and admire the scenery.




I passed a historic church I learned later was famous for its woodcarvings, Eglise St. Jean-Port-Joli.   A shame I didn’t have time to stop and take a look inside.


Below is the church at Saint Roch des Aulnaies, another small town popular with tourists.



Soon enough I was back on the main road, Autoroute 20, to begin the long drive through New Brunswick and into Nova Scotia.


New Brunswick was not particularly picturesque, but it was by far more pleasing to the eye and more interesting than the usual highway corridors I’m accustomed to seeing in the US, which are tree-lined most of the way on both sides of the road.




After seeing rolling hills come and go for a few hours, I was starting to get tired.  Soon enough, I saw signs advertising the magnificent falls of the town of Grand Falls.  I decided I’d give it a shot and go take a look, since waterfalls had been a staple of the trip so far.


Finding the waterfalls was super easy once I took the exit for Grand Falls gorge.  They were, thankfully, very close to the highway.  The best part is they appeared to be an attraction offering free admission!  I saw ads for zip lines, which raised my excitement level.


As I pulled into the parking lot, I was somewhat confused.  These were the “Grand” falls?  Talk about under-delivering!  Granted, I had just been to Niagara Falls and even higher Montmorency Falls almost back to back before seeing this one.



I must say, the park was pretty well-kept and a nice place to have a sandwich.  I later did find out that these falls are much mightier and on that particular day, the water was being diverted upstream to power electrical generators for the city.  I could live with that.  After a couple pics and stretching my legs, it was time to take the highway.


I arrived into Truro, Nova Scotia, pretty late at night.  Arriving into Nova Scotia was magical, as the foggy air and the smell of sea salt announced I was not in New Brunswick anymore.  And out of the fog appeared the sign for Nova Scotia, a moment which I’ll never forget.


via Flickr @ archer10


I crashed into bed, but pretty excited to be closer to the northernmost point in my trip.

About Rich Polanco

Fan of dogs + all things tech. Love a great pizza. My goal is not to travel to every country in the world. I only want to get to know my favorite ones REALLY well. Check out the big bio here. Follow @RichPolanco and connect on Facebook.
Currently exploring: Guatemala.


  1. 11 hours inside a car is a lot! You can probably drive all the way through Israel and have some time left in 11 hours. The distances in the Americas are enormous! Glad you got such great surprises along the way. Way to go, GPS lady :)

  2. Yes… the US is huuuuuuuuuuuge! One can drive for hours and not leave a state. It helps that there’s an excellent road system, and it’s easy to cross what could be considered small countries elsewhere.

    And GPS lady did save the day :)



  1. bogota says:


    […]UnwireMe: Location Independence & The Art of Slow Travel » The Long Drive: From Quebec City to Nova Scotia[…]…

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