Tag Archives: Halifax NS

August 15: I love, love, love Halifax, Nova Scotia

Although I do understand the climate can leave something to be desired [g].

Anyway, today I walked and museumed all day. First, I hiked up to the Citadel, an 18th century (reconstructed in the 19th) fortress in the heart of Halifax. I told you the hostel is in a great location – it was only about eight blocks, albeit most of them uphill.

The Citadel reminded me almost forcibly of Edinburgh Castle, and I don’t think it was just the bagpiper or the young men and women in uniforms including tall fuzzy things on their heads. The location, up on a hill in the heart of a bayfront city, the weather (cool and cloudy, at least in the morning), and the age of the thing (granted, not nearly as old as Edinburgh Castle, but much older than anything I’m used to at home), all made it seem similar, in a very happy-to-me way.

The very cheerful young man with a very fuzzy thing on his head who greeted me at the Citadel.
The very cheerful young man with a very fuzzy thing on his head who greeted me at the Citadel.
The inside of the Citadel.
The inside of the Citadel.
A 19th century British naval sailor's uniform.  So natty, especially the straw hat!
A 19th century British naval sailor’s uniform. So natty, especially the straw hat!
A peekaboo view of Halifax Harbor from the Citadel's ramparts (the view is mostly obscured by high-rises, which is kind of sad, if understandable).
A peekaboo view of Halifax Harbor from the Citadel’s ramparts (the view is mostly obscured by high-rises, which is kind of sad, if understandable).
Bagpiper and friend next to the flagpole on the Citadel's ramparts.
Bagpiper and friend next to the flagpole on the Citadel’s ramparts.

The museum inside was – eye-opening, yes, that’s the word. Okay, I watched Canada: A People’s History when it was on the CBC (I get the Vancouver affiliate on my cable when I’m home) a few years ago, and I knew they have a completely and utterly different perspective on the War of 1812 than we do, but it’s still odd to view exhibits talking about the U.S. invading Canada (which barely even gets mentioned south of the border, even in school). Anyway, it was fascinating. Well worth the morning I spent there.

Afterwards, on my way to the waterfront, I stopped at a little sandwich place called As You Like It for lunch, which was cute, with a mural on the wall purporting to depict a scene from the play, and tasty, with a roast beef sandwich and a brownie.

I'm pretty sure this is about as quintessentially Canadian as it gets -- seen on my way from the Citadel to the waterfront.
I’m pretty sure this is about as quintessentially Canadian as it gets — seen on my way from the Citadel to the waterfront.

At the waterfront was the other main thing I wanted to see while I was here, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which is to Canadian maritime history what the Kansas Cosmosphere was to the space race. Which has pretty much become about the highest compliment I can give to a museum.

See, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic had me when I first walked in.  This is a *first order* Fresnel lens, right in the lobby where I could adore it up close.
See, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic pretty much had me when I first walked in the door. This is a *first order* Fresnel lens, from the lighthouse at the entrance to Halifax Harbor, right in the lobby where I could adore it up close.
A miniature (about a foot long) replica of an Inuit kayak and accessories.
A miniature (about a foot long) replica of an Inuit kayak and accessories.
Yes, that label says colored guano (as in bat poop).
Yes, that label says colored guano (as in bird poop).
A deck chair from the Titanic (they re-caned the seat).  They also had a replica nearby that you could actually sit in.
An actual deck chair from the Titanic (they re-caned the seat). They also had a replica nearby that you could actually sit in.

The exhibits were all over the place – arctic exploration, the ages of sail and steam, the Titanic (Halifax was the closest port of any size to the disaster, and they sent the ships that went to recover the bodies, or as many of them as they could), and the Halifax explosion.

What, you’ve never heard of the largest pre-atomic manmade explosion in the world? Which killed almost as many people as 9/11 did in New York, and leveled most of the north end of an entire city? The sound of which was heard hundreds of miles away? On December 7, 1917, a munitions ship loaded with thousands of pounds of explosives bound for the war in Europe accidentally collided with a Belgian relief ship, caught fire, and, well, you can imagine the rest. I’d known a little about the explosion, again thanks to the CBC and a historical movie about it a few years ago, but I don’t think the scale of it all registered until this afternoon. Apparently it did more damage than the San Francisco earthquake or the Chicago fire. Oh, and then the next day they had a blizzard. Those poor people just couldn’t catch a break.

My last stop of the day (so to speak) was at the ferry terminal, where I paid $2.50 to make a round trip across the harbor on a cute little passenger ferry, and strolled along the Dartmouth waterfront, where I had a great view of the Halifax skyline. That was fun.

The Halifax skyline from the ferry to Dartmouth.
The Halifax skyline from the ferry to Dartmouth.
An interesting exhibit on the Dartmouth waterfront.  Those rocks in the exhibit case are from all over the world (including a piece of the Berlin wall from Germany).
An interesting exhibit on the Dartmouth waterfront. Those rocks in the exhibit case are from all over the world (including a piece of the Berlin wall from Germany).
The MacDonald Bridge in Halifax, from the ferry.  I can't get over how much it looks like the old (as opposed to the new, and also as opposed to Galloping Gertie) Tacoma Narrows Bridge.  It's even the same color.
The MacDonald Bridge in Halifax, from the ferry. I can’t get over how much it looks like the old (as opposed to the new, and also as opposed to Galloping Gertie) Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It’s even the same color.
Two of the lighthouses at the entrance to Halifax Harbor, taken with tons of zoom from the ferry.  I had no idea until I opened this photo on my laptop that there were *two* lighthouses in this photo.
Two of the lighthouses at the entrance to Halifax Harbor, taken with tons of zoom from the ferry. I had no idea until I opened this photo on my laptop that there were *two* lighthouses in this photo.

By the time I hoofed it the ten blocks or so back to the hostel (stopping at a needlework shop along the way) my feet hurt, but it was a great day. I enjoyed the heck out of Halifax. It was an awful lot of fun.

A mural I walked by on my way back to the hostel this evening.  I love the colors in it.
A mural I walked by on my way back to the hostel this evening. I love the colors in it.

Tomorrow, though, I’m headed to Cape Breton Island. I’ve been looking forward to that, too. And D-Day for my Newfoundland decision is getting awfully close here…

August 14: Quaint is the word, I believe

My Seahawks won their first pre-season game last night.  17-16, on a last-minute Hail Mary pass and a two-point conversion.  I can’t believe it’s football season already, but Go, ‘Hawks!  (no, I didn’t have the bandwidth at the campground to watch the game, but I did see and hear some highlights)

It was wet when I woke up this morning. Not raining hard, but the air was seriously saturated. I felt like I needed gills.

Along Highway 103 on the way to Halifax.
Along Highway 103 on the way to Halifax.

I drove north on the highway till I got to the turnoff for Peggy’s Cove. Peggy’s Cove is one of those iconic places you’ll recognize from the photos (I bet), supposedly the most-photographed lighthouse in Canada [g].

Along the road to Peggy’s Cove is a memorial to a plane crash in 1998, on a windswept bluff south of town. 229 people died in that crash, out in the Atlantic off of the coast here, and the memorial is lonesome and peaceful.

The view from the Swissair crash memorial, looking northish towards Peggy's Cove.
The view from the Swissair crash memorial, looking northish towards Peggy’s Cove.

Peggy’s Cove itself is tiny, with a visitor center (complete with composting toilets) that I suspect was built in self-defense. It’s also adorable, as is the lighthouse itself. The granite shield the town and lighthouse are built on is rather amazing, too. Anyway, it was very pretty, and very damp, and I enjoyed strolling around it very much.

Part of the Harbor at Peggy's Cove.
Part of the Harbor at Peggy’s Cove.
The lighthouse at Peggy's Cove.
The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove.
Granite field at Peggy's Cove.
Granite field at Peggy’s Cove.

I stopped at a farm stand somewhere between Peggy’s Cove and Halifax, and ate fish and chips from a food truck parked nearby. I bought blueberries and a cherry bar (a bar cookie) at the farm stand to round things out. Wow, those blueberries are good (I ate about a third of them, and put the rest in my cooler).

And so on to Halifax, where I’d called last night to make a reservation at the local hostel, so that I didn’t arrive there only to discover they were full up. It’s right downtown, within walking distance of everything I want to see in Halifax, which is great. I will be staying here two nights in order to see everything I want to see here.

The Old Burying Ground in Halifax, just down the street from the hostel.  They *stopped* burying people here in the 1840s.
The Old Burying Ground in Halifax, just down the street from the hostel. They *stopped* burying people here in the 1840s.
A statue of Winston Churchill in front of the Halifax Public Library, which I passed while walking to the public gardens.
A statue of Winston Churchill in front of the Halifax Public Library, which I passed while walking to the public gardens.

The first of which was the Public Gardens, which are about six blocks from the hostel. They’re supposedly the best example of Victorian show gardens in North America, and I’m willing to agree with that [g]. Lots of bright flowers in patterned plantings, a fancy gazebo where they sometimes have band concerts, several statues, and broad lawns dotted with huge trees. Fortunately, the air had quit being quite so soaking wet by the time I arrived in Halifax, so I didn’t get drowned wandering through them.

The entrance to the public gardens.
The entrance to the public gardens.
Gazebo/bandstand and flower beds at the public gardens.
Gazebo/bandstand and flower beds at the public gardens.
A statue of the Roman goddess Ceres at the public gardens.
A statue of the Roman goddess Ceres at the public gardens.
The facade of the municipal/court building in Halifax.
The facade of the municipal/court building in Halifax, taken on my way back to the hostel.

I haven’t been sleeping well for the last couple of nights, so I suspect I’ll be going to bed fairly early tonight. Wish me luck for a good night’s sleep!