The room is dimly lit, accented by candles that softly flicker. A gentle Zen-like tone emerges from a hidden speaker. Meigan smiles radiantly. She is young and fit, her body strong yet lithe like that of an accomplished athlete, perhaps a distance runner.
"Do I take off my undies or leave them on?" I meekly ask.
"It's up to you, whatever you prefer," she says still smiling.
I am puzzled, torn between what is right and wrong, and who knows for sure? May I call a friend or buy a vowel? I suppose that it's really just between the two of us. Nobody will find out, but I'm sure people will ask.
"Okay," I meekly demure.
"I'm going to leave the room, and when I return, you should be on the table between the sheets." It's all so matter-of-fact here at Oceanstone in Indian Harbour, Nova Scotia where I am about to experience my first upper body massage from a professional.
Like a nervous nerd, I ramble on about origin and insertions of muscles, trying to impress Meigan with my undergraduate stockpile of vast yet irrelevant knowledge. She massages away and soon my chatter stops and I am putty in her hands, strong hands at that, hands that vigorously work the muscle groups on both sides of my back and leave me in a contented state of bliss.
I'm telling you fellow retirees, run, don't walk to your nearest massage parlour.
Oceanstone is a quiet, comfortable oasis set in an old fishing village on the Atlantic shore close to Halifax, a member of the Nova Scotia Association of Unique Country Inns. Unique is the word! With fireplaces inside and out, a spa and fine dining, canoes and kayaks, pounding surf, great sunsets, hiking trails and good books in the library, it's an idyllic setting. Up for adventure, I decided to try a paddle in a canoe with another guest, waves rolling in and bouncing off rocks that dotted the shore. It was a
blast, but I was happy to return to terra firma and glad that they supplied a PFD as the waves were rough.
The cottages offer unparalleled, beautiful views of the ocean during the day and the stars at night. I could sit and read or write here forever.
I did visit Peggy's Cove and the adjacent memorial to the Swiss flight passengers, a mere 800 metres away from the cottages. It was quite a contrast. The memorial is a solemn area for reflection. There was a small votive candle and a few flowers that lay at the base of the unadorned stone, whereas at Peggy's, tourists scramble all over the rocks without falling into the ocean trying to take the best pictures with the lighthouse in the foreground. This is an area of Nova Scotia where I would like to return, and the "unique" inns guarantee quality control, insisting for example, that the owner-operators remain on site.
By the way, for those of you who are unabashedly curious, I left my undies on; that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.
Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/