Sunday, August 10, 2014

2014 - Tobermory (Day 1)

After some planning, our first trip of the summer is here and we are off to Tobermory!  Tobermory is on the tip of the Bruce Peninsula roughly 4 hours north of Toronto.  We will be going for 2 nights (leaving Saturday morning and returning on Monday) and there were 5 of us on this trip, Sunny, Sharon, Nancy, Allison, and myself.

Our initial itinerary is as follows:

Day 1 - Flowerpot Island
Day 2 - Cyprus Lake / Singing Sands Beach
Day 3 - Lion's Head

For Flowerpot Island, based on Sharon and Nancy's previous experience, it was decided that we go there for roughly 6 hours.  With a 11:15 AM boat departure time, we decided to head out at 5:00 AM giving us some time to grab breakfast and check-in early if possible.

Our first stop was Sidekick Cafe for breakfast, which is in Markdale, roughly 2 hours into our trip which I thought would be a good stopping point for rest and breakfast.

The servers were really friendly at this breakfast spot, gladly provided us some information (and a map) on how to go to Tobermory and what we can do based on our schedule.  The breakfast there was okay, your typical breakfast food, nothing to write home about.  But they were very curious about how we found out about the place and thought we found it through Facebook since we were younger and foreign (all other patrons were older white folk and we were a group of 5 Asians in our 30s).  Your usual breakfast (eggs, meat, toast and home fries for $6, coffee extra).  I've had better breakfasts (the bacon and sausage looked like they came from cheap frozen packages and the ham was luncheon meat), so, unless you need some information or some hospitality, you can look elsewhere.

After breakfast, we headed to the motel to see if we could check in.  For this trip, we decided on Adventure in the Bruce Inn, located just a short 10 minute walk away from the downtown area.  Unfortunately, we arrived too early for check out, so we headed downtown to walk around the area.

We stopped at the Visitor Information Centre and got some maps and things to do for our weekend.  We already had a rough idea of what we would be doing, but it was good to learn about some extra places to visit and what times we should head to certain places.  As a bonus, you can park here all day (as long as you move your car at night).  It is a 5 minute walk from the downtown area.

The downtown area is pretty small (you can walk it all in 5-10 minutes), it is just shops, restaurants and boat cruise stores.  The area is nice and quaint with it being a dock/marina where you see a number of ships and boats and as a bonus you can see the sunset from this location.  Unfortunately, it was too hazy/cloudy every night we were here to catch the sunset.

At 11:15 AM, we board the Bruce Anchor Cruises' Crusader and we were on our way!  The first two stops were two shipwrecks which you could see from the glass bottom of the boat that we were on as well as from just looking over the side of the boat (it is very shallow here).  It was cool to see, although I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought it would.  Afterwards, it was off to Flowerpot island.  The total time from coast, shipwrecks to Flowerpot was probably 35 minutes, the boat is really quick (they said it can reach 45km/h).

Flowerpot Island is very pretty.  There is one main loop on this island, estimated time is 4-5 hours to do the complete loop which covers all of the island's sights (small flowerpot, big flowerpot, lighthouse station, marl beds), since we are on the island for 6 hours, that should be more than enough if we stopped for lunch and took our time wandering around.  The island itself has no restaurants, so be sure to pack a lunch.  Also, as a national park, it has a 'leave no trace' rule where whatever you bring with you, be sure to bring back with you.  There are no garbage bins or recycling bins (except at the dock), so be sure to bring a bag to pack everything back with you.  We had more than enough time to visit everything.  By the time we were done, we still had an hour to spare.  I think you can do everything within 4 hours, (flowerpots and lighthouse station, you can skip Marl Bed, there isn't much there).

Overall, I enjoyed Flowerpot Island, although I think the price of admission is pretty steep.  It cost us $45 each to do the boat cruise and go on the island (you actually need to pay to go on the island, otherwise they just loop around it and return back to the dock).  Look at the pictures to see if you think it is worth it.  My issue is that it is a HUGE tourist spot (I know it sounds silly as a tourist).  It may be because we went during the long weekend, but the amount of tourists there was ridiculous.  When you see people with Chinese tour company stickers, you know it's a big tourist spot.

After Flowerpot Island, we went to the Bruce Peninsula National Park Visitor Centre.  If you go on a boat cruise, bring your ticket to here and you will be able to go to the visitor area (it contains information on the Bruce Peninsula).  If you are brave, there is a nice observation tower that you can climb up for a nice view of the area.  The tower is 20 meters high, which is constructed from wood and steel.  When you get to the top, if there is a breeze, you will feel the entire structure move.  As a person who is afraid of heights, this feeling sucks.  I do admit though, this is a very nice place, as a plus, the observation tower is free!  Just make sure you don't look down.

For dinner we went to Shipwreck Lee's which is right by the downtown area.  We went based on suggestions but in my opinion, just walk further.  This place is a tourist trap.  Servers clad in pirate clothing with expensive fish and chips.  $20 for 2 pieces of fish with chips.  I'm glad we weren't overly hungry and didn't order much more.  The only plus (depends on if you are into this), the server we got was really friendly and provided us with pirate hats and posed for pictures with us.  I wouldn't suggest it.

After Shipwreck Lee's we went to The Fish & Chips Place for a fish taco, ya, I question why we didn't eat here first either, but someone in the group wanted some fish tacos and went here.  We looked at the menu, low and behold, 2 pieces of fish with chips for $12 and this is not even a 5 minute walk away.  The fish taco was okay, nothing special in my opinion, but I am not a big seafood fan.  If you like fishy-fish (fish that taste fishy or oceany), this is your place though.

Ice Cream!  We stopped at Ice Cream & Treats for an ice cream before we head back to the motel.  I forgot what we ordered, but the ice cream was okay.  We did a stroll down the marina to see what was there while we had the ice cream.

Allison and I headed back early and called it a night since we would have an early morning tomorrow while the others stayed to catch the sunset.  I thought that since there were 5 of us in a room, it would be better if we headed back to shower and clean up because the wait would be long since there is only one washroom.

Tomorrow, we head to Cyprus Lake to see the Grotto!