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A Taste of Halifax, Nova Scotia

I had a wonderful time on Prince Edward Island but was looking forward to seeing Halifax as I have not visited the city before. The driving time from the Confederation Bridge to Halifax is just over 2 ½ hours mainly on motorways. We arrived late afternoon and checked into the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel which as the name suggests is located right on the waterfront, seconds from the shops, bars and restaurants along the broadwalk.

Halifax-Nova-Scotia-Holiday-001After a hearty breakfast we went on a coach tour of the city with Ken (complete with Scottish kilt) as our guide. We passed by historic houses and buildings including the 1802 Old Town Clock before stopping to stretch our legs at the Victorian Public Gardens. Back on the coach we learnt about how ships from Halifax were sent to aid the Titanic and of the destruction caused by the Halifax explosion of 1917. The tour finished at the star shaped historic fort, the Halifax Citadel.

Halifax-Nova-Scotia-Holiday-002We were taken on a tour of the Citadel by a handsome student dressed in the uniform of the 78th Highlanders. We learnt some of the history of the garrison and saw where the soldiers ate and slept. We watched a rifle firing demonstration and saw Noon announced by the firing of the Noon Gun, a Halifax tradition since 1856. I would definitely recommend a visit as you get a fabulous view of the city and harbour from the walls of the Citadel. There is much to see for all ages and activities including enlisting as a soldier for the day, ghost tours and even learning to play the bagpipes.

From the Citadel our journey to Lunenburg was 90 minutes as we had a quick photo stop in Mahone Bay, famous for its' beautiful churches. Unfortunately we didn't have time for a tour of the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic but we did enjoy a very interesting guided walking tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site with Ashlee a local guide. Born and raised in the town, she really brought the history of this pretty town to life as she talked about when the villagers started painting their houses in bright colour and explained what the distinctive Lunenburg 'bump' is (a dormer window) as we walked through the town. She showed us photos of the fire and rebuilding of St John's Anglican Church in 2001 before taking us up the top of Gallows Hill to see Lunenburg Academy, the old Victorian school building. Then it was back on the coach for the return trip to Halifax.

After a very quick change we had a 5 minute coach ride to the newly re-opened and impressive Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 for a 'Taste of Nova Scotia' Reception. We tasted food including soup, mussels and mini burgers from restaurants around Halifax washed down with local craft beers and Nova Scotian wine.

Immigration helped to shape Canada and the museum tells the individual stories of early immigrants from 100 countries, their early struggles and perseverance to start a new life are very moving. We had time for a quick look round before sitting down for yet another lobster supper. It was not quite as nice as the ones we had in PEI as it had been presented the wrong way round. When you are served a whole lobster it should be lying on its back so all the juices keep the meat really moist otherwise it can be quite chewy.Halifax-Nova-Scotia-Holiday-003

It was lovely evening so after dinner we walked back along the broadwalk to the hotel, it took about 20 minutes. The following morning we watched the GoPro videos made by each group about the different provinces they visited. Look out for the links to the videos on our Facebook page next year as they give a great impression of what each province has to offer.

Halifax-Nova-Scotia-Holiday-004After a fantastic farewell lunch at Murphy's The Cable Wharf which is set right on the waterfront and has amazing views, we had some free time to explore Halifax for ourselves. We'd watched the ferry going back and forth across the harbour from the restaurant and as it was only a few dollars for the return crossing, we bought tickets. It only took half an hour in total and I would highly recommend it as a different way to view the city.

The London flight does not leave Halifax until just before midnight so there is plenty of time for last minute souvenir hunting or indeed to take another excursion out of the city before you fly home. We walked uphill from the waterfront to visit some of the shopping streets before spending our last few hours people watching and enjoying the sunshine on the patio of a harbourfront cafe.

I only got to experience a 'taste' of what Nova Scotia has to offer and would love to go back and tour the whole province. Halifax is smaller than other Canadian cities but is in an equally stunning setting it is very walkable and has a great selection of amenities. The Canadian people are a very friendly bunch but I found those I have met in my last two visits to the Maritime Provinces particularly welcoming. I am very much looking forward to a return visit but will have to bring clothes a size larger because of all the delicious food!

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