I don’t know why why i expected Halifax to be the New York City of Canada. It was more like the Omaha, Nebraska of Canada…
Connor and I wobbled into our cabin at the White Point Resort late Wednesday night, around 11pm Halifax time, after over eight hours of driving that day. But my itinerary was not for the faint of energy; Thursday morning we were back in action and ready to absorb as much of Nova Scotia as we could in just two short days. No seriously, the sun set around 5:30 there.
On our way from Cape Breton to White Point, we had passed a sign for the World’s Largest Outhouse Museum. Much to my chagrin, Connor gave that a big ole veto for our Thursday plans. Our first stop was Lunenburg, but truth be told I wished we had chosen Peggy’s Cove. I told myself I didn’t need to see another lighthouse and an old fishing town would be cooler, but looking back on our time restriction and budget, going to a photo spot probably would have been better.
One neat attraction was the Fishermen’s Monument naming all of the fishermen from primarily Lunenburg who had lost their lives at sea since 1890 to the present. It was sad to see how many names there were, but spoke a lot to the importance of fishing to the town’s economy.
For about an hour or two Connor and I wandered around, popping into a bookstore and a few gift shops that were open and enjoying the October sun. Many places were closed for the season or just too expensive (I think… I’m not good at mental currency conversions unless my parents are paying).
It was an hour drive to Lunenburg, and from there another hour to Halifax. And then another half hour to find parking during rush hour which holy crab cakes was hilly and disorienting. Once we finally found a meter I had to run into a store and say, “Sacré bleu! Please help me I don’t have any Canadian coins can you please assist this poor, frazzled American who isn’t going to buy anything from you?”
Finally, Connor and I made our way to the windy waterfront where we were greeted by food trucks serving fried fish dishes, but we kept looking for something not so oily. Hours and hours of driving already had us feeling like stiff grease balls. The sun was going down fast, but I did the best I could with an iPhone 7 and a boyfriend speed walking to the end of the boardwalk, or as ‘Halifornia’ called it, the Harbourwalk.
At the end of the Harbourwalk is a farmers market with hippy dippy food stands inside. However, it closed at 5 and we got there at 4:57, a theme you will see repeated throughout our trip. Everything closes early in Halifax. Had I known, I wouldn’t have left exploring for so late in the day! I didn’t get to see the Halifax Citadel or Central Library, which probably would have had excellent photo opportunities. Above is The Emmigrant Statue of a man going to Canada to start a new life, located outside the Canadian Museum of Immigration. I thought it was beautiful, but I must say he is more dressed for Georgia winters than Canadian.
Connor thought to stop into a local clothing shop and ask for food recommendations. The woman pointed us to Pizza Corner, which was really disappointing. And I’m not saying that because I’m a New York City pizza snob, it was just dry and mass-produced tasting. As I sat at the open counter glumly eating my za, I saw a donair shop across the street. I had already eaten dinner, but I realized I had seen signs all over town advertising donairs and that THIS was the local fare I needed to try. Hanging lose in Hali, the self-proclaimed Gold Coast of the East, I got a chicken donair, which is sort of like a gyro but usually with a sweet sauce.
The history of the donair has many different stories, but most are along the lines of: Turkish people go to Germany after WWII and the Doner Kabob is created. The popular dish spreads across Europe and the Greeks come out with the gyro. In the 1960’s the respective countries immigrate to Canada and Haligonians morph this dish into something more to their liking: a variety of meats and sweet sauce. Johnny K’s has a pretty good origin story on their About Page.
There is a story behind me pouting in an oversized chair.
SO, for whatever reason, everything in Halifax closes at around 5 or 6…. Prime time to get the night started! I heard of this ice cream place called Cows, locals raved about its creaminess. Google said it closed at 7pm… We arrived at 6:15 to closed doors and sweeping employees and several other people who got the times wrong. Heart=broken. I was actually so crushed (and exhausted) I wanted to cry, so Connor went into full boyfriend mode and plopped me down in an oversized chair and took my picture until I smiled. I’ll never get to try the ice cream… but I did get a picture in an oversized chair… and bought cow apparel from their online store…. so…. I’m still bummed…
We continued walking and exploring the waterfront areas, looking for trouble or really just anything that was open at 7pm. In preparation for my trip, I followed @VisitNovaScotia and @DiscoverHalifax for ideas on what to do. It was that morning that one of the accounts posted a list of free things to do in Halifax, and one of them was free admission to the Art Gallery Nova Scotia on THURSDAYS!!
I pitched a thorough argument and Connor was down to go, or at least willing to appease me since I was still sore over not getting Cows ice cream. We both have a quick museum pace of see, observe, keep walking. I enjoyed most of what was there, but a few of the exhibitions were just too abstract for us American swines to understand the depth.
The slideshow above features several pictures from the Maud Lewis gallery, a famous Nova Scotian folk artist, who is so loved the entire shack she lived in was put in the museum. Outside the gallery was a sculpture of a giant comb to which Connor ran over and said, “Look, I’m combing my hair!” Lol, okay sweetie.
While we were meandering around, we came across an exhibit of political cartoons by Bruce MacKinnon. Not understanding all of the Canadian political references, Connor asked a local couple why there was a picture with NS for Nova Scotia written on a politician’s speedo, and they explained the insider feelings of how the different provinces were treated by the government in Canada. We became friends (all you have to do in Canada to become friends with someone is say hi) and reconvened in the gift shop, where they told us we should try a popular speakeasy called The Nobles. We didn’t have the special password, but decided to try and sweet talk and jitterbug our way in at the door.
Halifax has an unexpected obsession with speakeasies, which I didn’t realize was weird until Connor pointed out the prohibition was strictly an American thing. We arrived at The Middle Spoon, the front for The Nobles, and explained our situation of being from out of town and not having the password. They pretend to be strict but really they let anybody in. Canadians are SO nice. Or maybe everyone is nice outside of New York City.
I still get the real codes sent to my email, as if I’ll happen to be in Halifax anytime soon and need to get into a hip, underground bar at a moment’s notice. The passwords are things like: “Those who wish to sing always find a song,” and “Where there’s smoke there’s fire,” and “A crown is no cure for a headache.”
Our experience was downright hotsy-totsy. I’m really glad we took the tip from the random couple from the gallery because I quite enjoyed taking an underground tunnel to a basement restaurant and sipping a fancy drink made with egg whites while making eyes at my boyfriend and splitting an ice cream sundae. We didn’t stay long, it’d been a tiresome, cold week and we were ready for our rest day, but it was a dapper way to end our evening, old sport.
Our original itinerary had a tentative plan to go to the Kejimkujik National Park, but after looking at trail reviews I realized it would have been lengthy hiking to get to the center of the park where the good stuff was at, and neither of us had the energy to drive two hours to get there. We were 20 minutes from the Kejimkujik National Seashore, and opted for Carter’s Beach, a white sand beach!!
It was beautiful, isolated, chilly, and restorative, just what we needed before the 15 hour drive back to NYC the next day. One photo above shows red waters. I couldn’t really find anything about bloody looking waters, but I’m guessing it might be an algae thing? This article was the closest explanation I came across.
The rest of Friday was for chilling and grilling. We had a fireplace in the living room, which we lit while Connor conceded to letting me watch HGTV. Our final hours there were spent utilizing the washer and dryer and commenting on how fun it was to be in a house with multiple rooms, which had an amazing mental effect on us after so many months spent living in a studio apartment.
I was still squeezing excursions in even on the drive back. Last on my corpulent itinerary was anything with the Bay of Fundy. There was so much to do at this 7th Wonder of the World that boasts the largest tidal changes, around 55 feet difference at each tide taking place in a matter of minutes. There are places you can walk on the ocean floor at low tide, or go kayaking and look for marine life and fossils, but I thought the Reversing Rapids were best for our time constraint.
Saturday morning I was up at 7am, ready to hop in the car and go home, planing on catching the tide transition around 1pm, perfectly timed on the drive from our cabin. Have I mentioned how long Connor takes to get ready in the morning? He wasn’t done until after 9, at which point I already knew we would miss the tide change, as shown in the bridge photo of still water. And, if you want a better view from the brick building, you would have to pay around $30 per person to watch the rapids created from the massive reverse in water flow. It was quite a disappointing stop, but I’m glad we gave it a go so I can at least say I’ve seen the Bay of Fundy.
Remember when I ended my last post saying I was ready to tear RCI apart? Here’s the skinny: We had booked the White Point hotel and paid prior to the trip, it was around $60 for two nights. There was a notice that said there will be a service fee of around $60. Well, because of the conversion of currencies, we thought we paid this. Upon check out, we had to pay another $60… You know what really sticks in my craw about that? You pay for a Hilton timeshare, you pay to have your expiring points saved, and then you pay to use the expiring points? What exactly is the point of saving the points then? What are Connor’s parents paying for?? I was bounced around on the RCI “customer service” if you can even call it that, for two hours while they refused to do anything about the misleading mix up. I explained that had I known there was a huge service fee we would have gone elsewhere, Airbnb’s were much cheaper, and we thought we were getting a deal. But nobody cared, they just read off of a scripted CS booklet. SO, if you have Hilton rewards and want to save expiring points, DO NOT USE RCI to redeem them. I think I just did my cardio for the day getting worked up while writing this.