A few years ago my college friend called me and said, “Hey! My sisters and I are planning a trip to Prince Edward Island this summer. You know, Anne of Green Gables? Want to come?”
This was an invitation I couldn’t resist.
Looking back I have a few pointers on what to bring to Prince Edward Island (PEI)!
1. Bring Bosom Friends
This is the only international trip to date that I’ve ever navigated alone. I landed on the island late at night to meet the three sisters. The airport was tiny. And to my concern, the only familiar face in the crowd was a cardboard cutout of Anne Shirley. My flesh-and-blood bosom friends were nowhere to be seen.
I begged a phone call from a car rental booth because my phone was equipped only for the US. My friend’s voice over the phone brought some relief. “Abi? Oh, we’ve been so worried because we couldn’t get ahold of you. We’re stranded on the mainland of Canada, and we can’t fly in until tomorrow. You’ll have to take a taxi to Georgetown an hour away. I can give you the instructions to get into the rental house, but they’re kind of tricky.”
I opted to stay in Charlottetown at a nearby motel. I asked a perfect stranger to take me there (a mom) and booked the very last room available. The kind Chinese family who ran the motel drove me to the airport the next day to meet the girls. I was so happy to see my adventure buddies!
“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
2. Bring a Credit Card
I know — not very romantic, right? But none of us had a credit card at that time and so, when our Taxi dropped us off, we were stuck in Georgetown until we found another solution. Our rental car had been paid for with a debit card online but they refused to give it to us in person.
The main issue was Green Gables was 58 miles away.
The islanders from Georgetown felt sorry for us and were confused why we were staying on the eastern side of the island — trapped in their town of 640 people.
I was confused why they felt sorry for us. The historic boardwalks of Georgetown had plenty to offer us:
sea glass jewelry shops
docks with seagulls and washed up starfish
a little Baptist church and old theater
the Maroon Pig Bakery (which we frequented daily)
The kitchen of our rental
Rainy day on PEI? Watch the Anne movies!
The dining room where we drank coffee each day
Our home away from home! The gables weren’t green, but the shutters were!
One of the cute bedrooms
Day one – it rained. So we kicked back in our beach cottage and watched the Anne movies. Day two? We memorized the town, and I prayed about still seeing Green Gables. To come all this way and not see the legendary house that Lucy Montgomery grew up in would be a “perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”
3. Bring a Hopeless Amount of Optimism
“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” ― Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
On day three of our trip, we were were still stranded. The four of us meandered into an old house with a sign on the door that said, “Museum: open by chance or by appointment.” It belonged to one of the only two teachers in the town. She owned a massive amount of heirlooms and a huge heart of compassion.
I think that day the museum was open by appointment not chance. God answers prayers of all kinds.
The teacher gave us a tour and then when she heard our predicament, she vowed to help us explore PEI! I really think she would have scoured the town until she found solutions, but she ended up letting one of us ride along with her to Charlottetown the next day and let us put the car on her credit card. By lunchtime we had a set of wheels, and we lost no time packing up and heading to the East Point of the island, home of a beautiful lighthouse, the spot where you can see the oceans meet but not mix, seals, a pirate cafe, and Singing Sands beach (where they say the sand sings).
View from the lighthouse
Canola field…and one lone Lupin flower
4. Don’t Bring Expectations to See Gilbert
“…far up under the maples of Lover’s Lane Anne stood under the willows, tasting the poignant sweetness of life…”
–Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
FINALLY. Day four. We had a car and a whole day planned to visit the very house that inspired Lucy to write the Anne series!
Inside Green Gables
A piece of reality — the movie was not filmed on PEI. Don’t expect to see the movie set, the dress with puffed sleeves, or Gilbert walking around. Also, just be prepared, the Anne actor that strolls around the barn doesn’t look like Megan Follows.
“Has anyone seen Gilbert Blythe?”
PEI is full of tourism stops, like Avonlea Village, the home of all things Anne.
It’s where you can see the church where Lucy Montgomery attended and buy Raspberry Cordial by the bottle.
I wonder what Lucy would think of all the Anne products. There is literally Anne potato chips and an Anne chocolate shop.
Feeling a little tourist-ed out, we brought our Raspberry Cordial to the the sand-dune dotted beach (which DOES look like the movie).
Raspberry Cordial by the ocean
“Look at that sea, girls..we couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.” –L. M. Montgomery
5. Bring a Big Imagination
“You may tire of reality but you never tire of dreams.” ― Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Road to Yesterday
The last day we drove to Charlottetown (the town we flew into) to enjoy the shops and a second round of Cow’s Ice Cream. The countryside driving is what really made the trip. Almost every house looks like a version of Green Gables, and I expected to see Matthew walking through the pastures of black and white cows at any moment. But, again, he didn’t, and neither did Gilbert, because this wasn’t the movie.
You’ll do better to be more like Anne and less like Marilla Cuthbert as you explore this whimsical place.
If you travel to PEI, bring bosom friends, a credit card, (oh and a copy of the book Anne of the Island), and a hopeless amount of optimism (and prayer) in case the depths of despair encompass you.