After we left PEI, we discussed driving up through Cape Breton because I hadn't seen a moose, and my days of seeing one were definitely numbered since there are no moose to speak of in the area of Nova Scotia we were going to. Due to the amount of driving CH had already done and the amount left ahead, we decided to save it for another trip. Our original plan had been to travel to the Magdalene Islands, but we decided we were being overzealous with our plan for my initial Canadian trip. Next time...or maybe the next!
Anyway...our destination was Dartmouth, which is just across the harbor from Halifax. We stayed in an Airbnb for the first time. The condo was right on the harbor and the pictures promised wonderful views. They were but you just had to get in the correct direction to see it.
Not exactly the view we were expecting from the windows at the Airbnb
This condo was nice and modern but came with quite a bit of rules. We weren't very comfortable because we were afraid we would break one of them and get charged! Plus, we were under the impression that the host would be there at night so we kept our bedroom door closed. NS was under a "heatwave" (meaning it was around 70 degrees) and the windows were very small...we weren't sure if we were allowed to open them, so it was quite warm that first night. In fairness, when I contacted the host to see about the air conditioner, he came by during the day while we were out and turned it on for us.
One night we decided to turn in early and maybe sit and watch a movie. (We're party animals like that!) The problem we had was the tv was a Roku and we aren't familiar with it. We couldn't figure out how to turn it on to watch it and there were no directions. So, we weren't even sure we were allowed to use it.
When we pulled up to park, the area looked a little sketchy. CH wasn't sure about leaving the truck there, but we were assured that it was safe. There was parking behind the building but the truck has a rack on the top and had our tent, so CH wasn't sure if he would be able to clear the deck if we parked in the parking garage. It turned out alright, though.
View of Halifax Harbor from Dartmouth
Our first order of business was finding dinner. We found a place that reminded us of a neighborhood pizza joint that may be found in NYC. It is obviously family-owned, and it was so cool to see people pop in and hear the conversations between the employees and customers. Definitely a neighborhood atmosphere! The pizza was absolutely wonderful as well. So if you find yourself in Dartmouth and want pizza, remember The Hungry Hut
Just across the street from The Hungry Hut is a bit of history: a huge sculpture of a school chair in front of a brick building. The building is/was called "Greenvale School
". Built in 1915, it survived the Explosion of 1917 and served as an infirmary, morgue, and a "place of refuge" by those who found themselves homeless following the explosion. Canada's first Kindergarten was in this building; it eventually became a high school but then was reverted back to an elementary school. Most structures at the time when it was built were made from wood, so this building was a diversion from the traditional buildings in the area. It is now a residential building.
Since it was Sunday, next on the agenda was Mass. I've been to Mass in 3 other countries (besides the USA): England, Ireland, and Denmark. Even though this Mass was in English, a few of the responses were a little different. We found a church that is just down the street from where we ate dinner: St. Peter's. It is the 2nd oldest Catholic Church in the Halifax-Dartmouth area.
The next day we hit the ground running. We found our way to catch the harbor taxi after a short walk through a park. Apparently, this is the main commute for a lot of people who live in Dartmouth but work across the harbor. Usually, when we visit a city, we'll take the hop-on/hop-off bus so we can learn some of the history of where we are. We also use it as a form of transportation. In addition, we also took the Harbour Hopper tour. This not only took us on a land tour but also did a tour from the harbor.
Here's my tip: Skip the Hop-on/Hop-off and only do the Harbour Hopper. The land bus stops running around 3:00 in the afternoon, so we found that we were going to be stranded someplace if we didn't leave then. In 2019 Halifax did not have Lyft or Uber so we would have had to take a taxi to get back to the harbor taxi.
Okay, back to Halifax! The big draw history-wise is the Explosion of 1917, The Citadel, and the Titanic. The architecture was beautiful, and the reflections on the glass buildings made for some great pictures.
We timed our visit to Halifax just right: We were able to tour the Government House and watch the changing of the guards. This is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. Royals who have been in residence here include King Edward VII (when he was Prince of Wales), King George V, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother), Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, and Princes Andrew, Edward, and Charles (along with Princess Diana). With the exception of Queen Elizabeth II, all of the kings and queens were Princes and Princesses when they were in residence. Visiting dignitaries and members of the Canadian Royal Family stay here while visiting Halifax.
We considered this quite a find, as we were just walking by the residence and saw the banner announcing free tours. We thought it was sad that there were no lines and only a few other people were in our tour group. It was a wonderful tour and very insightful.
Another place of interest is St. Mary's Basilica. The tallest granite spire in North America can be found on the building.
The altar in the BasilicaDuring the Explosion, the stained glass windows were shattered, then snow damaged the murals. White paint covered the murals, and when we were there you could see the scaffolding where attempts were being made to chip away the paint to uncover the murals.
Close up of the ceiling of the altar
Always look up in a church!
And always look at the choir loft!Holy Door from the Year of Mercy-2015. The Holy Door during Jubilee Years is a door "for the purposes of the jubilee year to accommodate its parishioners who do not intend to visit Rome for the occasion. "
Stained glass window in the Basilica
Since CH has a military background, we visited The Citadel. Set high on a hilltop overlooking the city, the views were fantastic. The Halifax Town Clock is predominant, with clocks on all 4 sides so that the soldiers had no excuse for not knowing what time it was.
The tower was built in 1803
The present-day Citadel houses the Halifax Army MuseumThe Citadel had the purpose of defending Halifax from attacks from the USARe-enactors are staged throughout the property
Unfortunately, we didn't get to spend as much time as CH would have liked since we had to catch the bus. It would be worth spending more than just a couple of hours there.
While looking at things of interest in Halifax, CH discovered the library. Yes, the library. Take a look at this picture and you'll see why:The building is designed to look like a stack of booksThe library incorporates many energy and water saving design features such as rainwater harvesting for flushing water, computerized building management, use of local species in landscape design, and automatic lighting control.The staircase is a main feature inside.
While we were in an elevator, a woman stepped inside with us and must have heard us say something because she immediately identified us as being from the USA. (Must've been the southern accents, which were commented-positively-on throughout our trip.) She immediately wanted to talk politics. I haven't traveled outside of the USA extensively, but this is the only time I've had a stranger be bold enough to ask my political views or views on the President. Whether or not I like him or have strong opinions, I know that when I'm not in my own country to keep my views to myself. (I'm not going to get on my soapbox about people from the USA dissin' the government or the President-whoever he happens to be- when visiting another country...that has to be another post!) She tried to engage me, so I was relieved when the door opened and we could get out of there. I think I was partly in shock that a stranger had the gall to drill me.
Okay, back to the trip. Here are some other cool things we saw in Halifax.
Cool architecture:I have no idea where or what this building is. I just think round buildings are cool. Celtic cross grave
The Halifax Public Gardens was a nice place to relax and just stroll. It was amazingly quiet, especially since it's located right in the middle of Halifax (I think!).The gate to the gardens
The bandstandA model of the Titanic
The Old Burying Ground is as old as the settlement of Halifax. The sign indicates that the cemetery had 1200 gravesites for 12,000 people. The Sebastopol Monument is the 4th oldest war monument in Canada and the only monument to the Crimean War in North America. It is located at the Old Burying Ground.
We scheduled 2 days to be in Halifax, but after the day touring (we did all of the above in 1 day) we decided we'd seen enough. Since we had been on the go the whole time since we left our house, we decided to take the next day easy and explore Dartmouth. We were very pleasantly surprised! You won't want to miss my next post!