So Halifax part two! After the whirlwind that was Nova Scotia it was nice to get back to the hostel in Halifax and just chill out. The Halifax hostel really was wonderful and the people were so friendly, also I got the same bed I had before so it felt it bit like coming home. This time I focused on the museums and Canada has got some fantastic museums.
The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic – some nice bits of history on Halifax’s important role in naval history, a stuck up parrot that refused to talk to me and a boat gallery complete with kraken. The Halifax explosions exhibit (when in 1917 a ship laden with explosives crashed into another ship in the bay, killing more people than died in the First World War) was very well put together and I loved the shipwreck treasures exhibit. The Titanic exhibit was a little terrifying, ships from Halifax brought the bodies in from the wreck and the fact that they have a replica of the promenade that you can walk on was a little too creepy for me.
The Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 – something I’m noticing about Canada, publicly at least (in terms of museums and things), is a lot more honest about its past mistakes. The immigration Museum not only highlights Canada’s previously restrictive immigration policy and exploitation and abuse of immigrant workers, but also acknowledges the importance of immigrants in making the country as successful as it is today and the many ways it still needs to continue to improve its views on immigration. I can’t help feeling that if England had this kind of attitude, we might not have ended up in the mess we are currently in. Also here’s an interesting factoid the “not wanted” sticker on immigrants luggage was not to do with their immigration status, but luggage that was stored in the hold and not wanted throughout the voyage, so you learn something new everything day.
So that’s my round of up Halifax over, it’s been one of my favourite places in Canada, partly because it’s very similar in vibe to Bristol now it’s onwards and back on the train once again!
Hello again everyone, this one’s a big one… Nova Scotia the road trip! First of all epic thanks to Viv, for being the only one of my friends mad enough to actually book a ticket to Canada and come and join me for an adventure, and now onwards with the round up!
Day 1 – Halifax
Yes, I had already done the noon gun, but Viv hadn’t and we went right up to see the cannon, meeting randomly on a hill through the mist, it was excellent. Then we posed with some soldiers and the cannon, because why not. After that we went to the Apothecary bakery, which is excellent and had butter tart (tart made of butter and sugar), Alexander Keith’s Brewery tour (a bit like live historical reenactment, the most tasters I’ve ever had on a tour, excellent study off the bar), went to a wine bar, drank Nova Scotian sparkles and then went and ate steak at The Berrington Steakhouse, which I cannot recommend enough. It was quite a start.
Day 2 – Peggy’s Cove
Peggy’s Cove has been on my bucket list for years. The lighthouse is iconic and the village the inspiration for Selkie Bay. Unfortunately our road trip began in thick fog and Peggy’s Cove was… well foggy. In a way I loved it, the atmosphere was really pretty spectacular and the waves! I have never seen waves that high or violent in my life. Afterwards we headed to the best air bnb ever. Seriously if anyone ever needs to stay in the area shout at me and I’ll send you this place. Jen, her cat George and her house are all wonderful.
Day 3 – LaHave and Lunenburg
LaHave has a bakery. Literally everyone told us to go to this bakery. It was not a disappointment. It also has a bookshop in the basement with water views, a skate park upstairs and a ceramic dragon overlooking the till: my kind of place. Then we took the ferry to Lunenburg. I loved Lunenburg, colourful, small, but with 3 bookshops. Anyone see the theme developing on day 3? All the touristy things were closed (the fishery museum, the bluenose, a lot of the restaurants) so probably our first real experience of touring Nova Scotia “off season” (soon to become the catch phrase of the trip). We went for our first hike around the town (only got lost once), found a tall ship, visited a brewery and had the most amazing dinner complete with a fish shaped platter of beer. Took the ferry home as the sunset, so all in all a great day.
Day 4 – Wolfville
The British weather hit with a vengeance. Short drive to Wolfville (small and cute, but nothing on Lunenburg) where we checked into a hotel with corridors far too reminiscent of The Shining and then went and ate crepes in town. Part of the point of coming to Wolfville was its location on the Bay of Fundy which has officially the highest tides in the world, changing 15 metres between high and low. Unfortunately my photos, due to the rain, don’t really do it justice. Despite the weather we decided to try a hike, which turned out to be more of a ramble around a man made reservoir. By the end we were soaked and cold. Went back to the hotel to drink tea and so I could have a bath! Seriously I’ve missed baths, hostel do not have baths. Dinner was at Joe’s, where the food is Canadian, Italian, Lebanese… we ate wings.
Day 5 – The Drive to Mabou
Started the day with the best French toast before a long drive. First stop was Burncoat Park, supposedly named because someone once burnt their coat there… even the information signs admitted this probably wasn’t true. Here the tidal cliffs were quite spectacular although we didn’t get up early enough for low tide so we didn’t quite get to walk on the ocean floor, still, very pretty. Through New Glasgow and then Antigonish, both of which have very little going for them, but we had Taco Bell for lunch so I was pretty happy. After crossing the causeway we carried on through beautiful scenery, road signs started being written in Gaelic as well as English until arriving in Mabou. This is where Off Season really came into its own. People had recommend The Red Shoes Pub, famous for its fiddle music, but it was closed. The Glenora Distillery (where we’d wanted to stay) was closed, the place we did stay their restaurant wasn’t open and the only place for dinner in town closed at 7… so a quick dash across town to make sure we got some dinner before crashing into bed.
Day 6 – Cape Breton to Ingonish
Amazing breakfast at the hotel in Mabou, homemade oat and molasses bread was spectacular and lovely conversation from the staff before we set off. We entered Cape Breton national park and suddenly I became very happy. Wood clad houses with coastal views. Rolling hills turning to rocky cliffs and descending into rocky beaches strewn with driftwood awash in a blue sea. Mountains covered with pine trees disappearing into the mist. I can see why people live here. We hiked the skyline trail under overcast skies, battered by a chill wind (my favourite kind of weather) to reach some truly spectacular views. Then back in the road, this is where things got interesting. 40 minutes waiting in the must at some roadworks and then town, after villager, after village where everything was close. At thus point we hadn’t eaten properly since breakfast. We finally found a convenience store and gorged on crisp. The take away pizza we finally found at the roadside is truly the best pizza I have ever eaten and not just because I was so hungry. Andrew’s Pizzeria, we thank you. We finally arrived into The Sleepy Moose for a night in a beautiful light camping cabin and the most beautiful moon rise of all time.
Day 6 – Liscombe
The Dancing Moose Cafe’s breakfast involved Panekoeken, which I will be making when I get home, then it was back on the road and leaving Cape Breton for Liscombe. We stopped for Timbits at Tim Hortons (apparently quintessential road trip food) which were actually very tasty. We briefly drove through Sherbrooke too see the old village, which was closed “Off season!” but we drove through anyway. We arrived at Liscombe Lodge, admired our river view balcony and went hiking. Firstly the hiking trail was underwater, then the second we tried had bear warnings, wasn’t really a trail and finally was also underwater. Finally we found a shorter trail and decided this one we would complete and so armed with walking sticks to cross the bogs, singing loudly to scare away the bears and with loud cries of “Off Season!” every time the trail disappeared we finally completed a trail. We stumbled home for okay steak and delicious red wine before collapsing on trail (or at times literal rock climbing) exhausted muscles.
Day 7 – Home to Halifax
The only early start unfortunately meant I couldn’t take full advantage of the breakfast buffet and only managed one helping. Then we sped back to Halifax past a few last lively views. Once back in the city an afternoon was spent wondering, drinking cocktails at 2 Doors Down (highly recommended) and finally getting a taste of Gleonra Distillery’s whiskey at The Press Gang before saying goodbye to Viv.
It was an epic week. We saw a vulture (so huge, definitely a secret dinosaur), a coyote and a moose (also huge, what is it with thus country?). Met some lovely people and saw some wonderful scenery. I also got to sit back and relax as someone else took control, which was awesome. Now it’s onwards to a few more places before I begin the epic trek back across the country. The next few weeks are going to be hectic, expect many posts. For now off season is over and it’s onwards for this traveller.
So Halifax was wonderful. I decided to forget Quebec City for the moment (don’t worry, I am going back) and just go spend a few days chilling out in Halifax instead. As I said, in Montreal I was just exhausted so, self care and all that, I needed some down time. I got it, I loved it, I am going back. Here are the highlights of Halifax part one
People – the people at Halifax Hi were just lovely and I made so many new friends. With a whole selection of different people I played pool, went skating, ate a lot of chocolate, drank tea, ate wings, observed karaoke, chatted politics, cooked, hung out on canons and just generally had a lovely time. Thank you so much all to everyone at the HI for helping me to have an excellent week of recharging my batteries
The Mist – so Halifax is beautiful in the sunlight, but the atmosphere in the mist is just wonderful. I loved the eerie feel it gave the town and the harbour. Invisible ships sounding their fog horns as they floated in the water. It was beautiful and endeared me to Halifax instantly
The Black Market Boutique – this is a shop. I guess it has a sort of ethnic hippie vibe, but it’s got so many wonderful things and so many wonderful deals. If you’re reading this and you were expecting a present, chances are I might have brought you something from here… trust me some of them are epic!
The Halifax Noon Gun – every single day in Halifax a canon is fired, at noon, by soldiers in historical uniforms. Every day. If you’re standing in the right place (or the wrong place depending on your perspective) the whole town actually shakes around you. It’s really quite something. You can even find them on Twitter @HalifaxNoonGun check is out for a Twitterized version of the canon #boom #halifax
There were also some wonderful cafes, bookshops, thrifts stores, museums and the skate park with free skate hire is my new favourite place. Now I’m off to road trip Nova Scotia, expect more from Halifax soon, after what (weather wise at least) is shaping up to be a very English week.