EVERY once in a while you stumble across a rare gem, hidden amid a jam-packed travel itinerary.
For me, that was Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The beautiful nautical province on the east coast of Canada captured my heart with its postcard perfect lighthouses, steep hills, delicious seafood and the sound of bagpipes carried on the soft sea breeze.
I ended up in the province as I went to visit a friend, whom I had met on my Euro Trip '07.
But five days before I arrived in Nova Scotia he messaged me on Facebook to say he had moved 1436kms west to Ottawa, Ontario.
To say I was devastated was an understatement of the year, but I have always been one to take advantage of every opportunity.
I took the disappointment in my stride and decided to explore the city of Halifax, which was when I met Ravi Fernandez from England.
The way I met him was embarrassing to say the least and shows why you should make sure you are fit when you decide to go travelling.
I won't make a point to hide the fact I hate hills and I am terrible at making my way up them.
And Halifax is full of steep inclines that seem to go on forever, so to get them over and done with - I run up them - which was the reason I met Ravi.
He was admiring the view over the city, as I came running up the hill, panting like an overweight canine with stubby legs.
As I got to the top of a hill, which featured a cute maritime monument, I practically fell over from exhaustion.
He gave a chuckle as through breathlessness I said "damn bloody hills".
As a solo backpacker, every person you meet can mean a new adventure or, in some cases, being butchered by a psychopath.
Turns out Ravi was a lovely person, and he invited me to join him and his business colleague, David, on a trip to the Bluenose Coast, which was home to Peggy's Cove.
This iconic place was on my to-do list, but I had no idea how to get there - so I happily accepted a ride.
Nova Scotia is great for road trips; there is a new adventure around every corner and in every town.
Although many prefer to throw away the map and give over to whatever comes next, some prefer a bit more guidance on their journey.
It was meant to be a 30-minute drive from downtown Halifax to Peggy's Cove, but it took more than an hour because we got lost, but that was all part of the fun.
Peggy's Cove, which is located in the province of South Shore, is home to the famously photographed lighthouse, where waves crash upon the granite stone surround, as it stands guard over a charming fishing village and its people.
Exploring the quaint seaside spot slowed the pace of my backpacking trip (which I was glad about), as we learnt about the rich history of the area and Nova Scotians.
There are seven regions of Nova Scotia - Cape Breton Island, Eastern Shore, Bay of Fundy and Annapolis Valley, Halifax Metro, Northumberland Shore, South Shore and Yarmouth and Acadian Shores.
I chose to spend my short amount of time in Halifax Metro and South Shore.
The Halifax Metro region offers the best of land and sea, with its cosmopolitan blend of cafes and shops, galleries and streetscapes, combined with views of Halifax's historic harbour.
Nova Scotia's picturesque South Shore is renowned for its special mixture of coastal beauty and historic treasures, such as the stark beauty of its lighthouses, UNESCO World Heritage site Lunenburg Old Town, and the Black Loyalist Heritage Museum.
The area has everything you need for the perfect holiday; a colourful history, beautiful scenery, fantastic food, cosmopolitan shopping, outdoor activities, music festivals, pristine beaches, and arts and crafts.
Make sure you put it on your travel to-do list today.