Admittedly, when I arrived at my airbnb- a private duplex just for me, I walked through the living room, the kitchen, the bathroom, dashed up the stairs into the bedroom, and then into the half bathroom. All for me! This was all for me. This duplex was way too gorgeous to stay for one night. The sun was beaming unusually bright compared to how it had been for the last couple days. My friend, who had been so intricately involved with the planning of activities, organizing my itinerary on the travefy app, and keeping me motivated to get through my itinerary, certainly didn’t want me to spend an evening indoors. Go into town, he encouraged. I had already been up since 6 o’clock in the morning. I had to check out of my airbnb in Halifax, and drive to Prince Edward Island. Well thanks to my GPS, I took the ferry for part of the journey, but it was still about three hours drive, half of it in Nova Scotia, and the other half in PEI. In total I had been travelling since 9:30 am and now that I was settled again, it was 4 o’clock. Nonetheless, it would serve no-one any good, if I were to stay in and cozy up on the bed, which was what I really wanted to do. Spending a few minutes to see what restaurants were downtown, I then set my GPS; and off to downtown Charlottetown I went.
I donned my sunglasses to avoid some of the glare, and took off up the road. My facial muscles started to flinch, a smile was coming on. No, a grin. This was too good to be true. The realization that I was in PEI, driving on my own in a Sports vehicle, suddenly dawned on me. The music was bumping in the vehicle and my head bobbed to the rhythm. I drove on University street, and could see the University of Prince Edward Island on my left side. Down the street, and then up another one, and within 15 minutes I was downtown.
Without any effort searching for parking, I turned into a parking spot in front of the stores. I took out my wallet and looked at the oddly shaped alien eye ball for a parking meter, trying to figure out how to use it. A yell distracted me, but I could not make out what the stranger was saying, or whether he was talking to me. At the same time, I was gazing at a young black man who was walking towards me. The stranger came closer and yelled, You don’t pay. The young man walked passed both me and the stranger. He helped me answer the question I was wondering ever since I got here. Do black people live here? I didn’t want to be the only one of my kind on this entire island. Though I was prepared to be. It wouldn’t have been the first time.
Don’t waste your money, you don’t have to pay, the stranger repeated. My attention shifted back to this man standing in front of me. Hi sir. It’s my first time here, you don’t have to pay for parking? He looked at his watch. Yea, don’t waste your money. You don’t have to pay in the evenings. He and I were shoulder to shoulder now, and he wanted it to be clear that I don’t pay to park. He walked across the street, after the lights changed colour. My first experience speaking with a local. I looked back to see where the young man went. He was long gone. I smiled, knowing that I wasn’t the only one. And that, strangers were not shocked and wondering what I was doing in their town.
I proceeded down the street giddily, not certain where I was going, but was going to figure things out. I walked into the Anne of Green Gables Store. It was the activity I should have been doing today, but didn’t feel like driving another hour to get to the Museum. In case I don’t get to go to the Museum, maybe this store would give me some consolidation. I stepped inside directly in front of a young girl cleaning the glass door. I’m new to town, and I’m curious: How far is the Anne of Green Gables Museum? I think it’s about 30 minutes from downtown. You take Route 2 to get there. It’s on Cavendish Road. What’s the cost of it? I was looking at the website and it quoted different prices. I don’t think it’s that expensive. Do I have to pay for parking? You shouldn’t have to, it’s been a long time since I’ve been there. I saw her walking off to attend to other customers. One more question, if you don’t mind. What is the best road to walk on to get a feel of downtown? I used my shoulders and my hands to gesture what I meant. She pointed to both intersection that the store was on. Both of these streets should be fine. Queen Street takes you to the harbour, but you can turn off on any of the streets. What restaurant would you recommend? The one next to us is pretty good. I saw that I had interrogated her long enough. Thank you Olivia for answering my questions. She smiled and disappeared behind the counter. Leaving me to roam the store. There was a chair with Anne’s hat and red hair, hanging there, waiting for someone to take a picture. I glanced at it, and stepped out of the store.
Down Queen street I went, and the closer I got the more amazed I was. What a beautiful harbour. A handful of people circulated, snapping pictures and continuing on the boardwalk. I sat on the lawn chair, where another woman was sitting only a few steps from me, taking in as much of the sunset, glistening water, and perfect view as we could. It was a quintessential Autumn day. After a few minutes, I decided to walk along the boardwalk. So surreal. Compared to Toronto this was quaint and charming; and without the crowd, it felt so much better. The sun was going down though, and I needed to eat. At least, in Toronto I wouldn’t have to be worrying about when restaurants closed, but here, who knows if they hadn’t closed already. It scared me too when I walked into a cute shop and saw no one. After inquiring about time, the waitress informed me that she closed at 5 o’clock. Realizing that it wasn’t even a dinner setting, I made my way up the stairs to a deck. I tried all the doors of the restaurant, but no one was there either. This wasn’t looking good.
I resumed walking further up the street, until I passed The Brickhouse. I examined their menu on the outside, and decided I would treat myself to a delicious Salmon. I sat at a small table for two, alone, near the cashier’s register. The waitress presented the menu to me, and then served me water. I decided I would have my favourite drink, a mojito. Except this one had ginger. Yes I will still try it. I asked for the Salmon dish, and potato on the side.
Yea, it’s always awkward to do certain things alone, and dinner is one of them. It’s an empowering experience though. You have to be confident. To be absorbed in your own world, and not care what others may or may not be thinking. It also takes even more boldness to be alone and not look at your phone, pretending someone is texting you. I used my spare time while waiting for the food, to scribble a few things on a piece of paper. I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant at the time and had to ask the waitress. Olivia was especially kind to me in a subtle way; with her eyes and smile, coming back every so often to inquire whether I liked my Mojito, with the ginger in it. It helped remove the ounce of discomfort. Like I had one friend here that was too busy to sit with me.
Within minutes, my meal arrived. I savoured every bite, because it was just that good. Initially, I thought I had ordered mashed potatoes, but they were diced, or at least cut on an angle. The salmon melted in my mouth, carrying with it a bit of the sea with every taste. The potatoes too were scrumptious, maybe even the best I’ve had. Nothing was left on my plate, except for the garnishes. There goes the end of my day’s adventure. The sun had almost disappeared. These are the days that makes you want to live forever. I made it back to my car, and decided to do a bit of grocery shopping.
I took special notice of this dessert place called, Cows. I passed one down at the Harbour and another closer to where I’d parked. I didn’t know it was there until after I purchased a bubble tea in place of desert. Maybe next time. Later on, I was informed by my tour guide that Cows is the best ice cream in Canada. I’ll just have to come back to taste it for myself.