In the travel industry, the “bucket list” is now synonymous with your must-dos or best experiences. Veteran travel writer Robin Esrock has compiled both the Central and Western Canada bucket list books and has now published the Great Atlantic Canada Bucket List project.
Esrock’s travel guide is categorized by provinces and devotes much of the book to traveling in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. Thankfully he includes Labrador, a place often overlooked by travel writers due to the sheer remoteness of that northern region. His recommended list of things to do and see leans heavily towards active experiences but not extreme adventures. For instances, Esrock recommends hiking the 41-km Fundy Footpath along New Brunswick’s Fundy shore but cautions that only experienced hikers should attempt the trail. Esrock rules himself out of that demanding adventure but relishes the hair-raising zip line over New Brunswick’s Grand Falls.
Not all of the recommended activities are strenuous. Local food and drink play a big role in the bucket list book including tasting a potato smoothie in Florenceville, NB; oysters and lobsters in PEI; a brewery and tasting tour in Halifax; and Newfoundland and Labrador’s iceberg vodka, iceberg beer and the infamous Newfoundland Screech. And no deep fryers please, as the author is elegantly served the whole raw, but delicious scallop, at a Quebec scallop farm near the Labrador border.
The beauty of being of travel writer comes straight through in this engaging book as unique, even quirky adventures, are endorsed along with the more standard fare such as Moncton’s Magnetic Hill, Halifax’s Citadel and Cavendish’s Anne of Green Gables Home. The more unique experiences highlighted in the bucket list include getting Screeched-In in St. John’s, contemplating one of Salvador Dali’s most famous surreal paintings in Fredericton and running a race ankle-deep in the red Fundy mud.
Esrock’s bucket list for Atlantic Canada is not your usual travel guidebook since he avoids prices and restaurant endorsements because these things often change before the book is even released. Indeed even the recommended adventures can go out of date such as the Reversing Falls Jet-boat operation that is now closed. Yet, the internet saves the day as the author’s web site — Canadianbucketlist.com — features updated information and even occasionally adds new experiences.
Some quibbling could perhaps point out that no vineyard-wine tasting, beach-going, winter adventures or visiting Peggy’s Cove tarnish the otherwise excellent travel guide but above all, good travel writers deserve the freedom to select and recommend what they personally judge to be their best, most authentic experiences.
The Great Atlantic Canada Bucket List: One of a Kind Travel Experiences
By Robin Esrock
$19.99, paperback, 144 pp.
Dundurn Press, February 2015