Halifax Public Gardens, Nova Scotia

A colorful urban oasis in the heart of downtown, the Halifax Public Gardens [5665 Spring Garden Rd, Halifax, NS B3J 3S9, Canada] is one of the best examples of a Victorian Garden in North America. It is a lovely place for a stroll on a sunny day, the entrance point is grand ornate wrought iron gate.

The park is a perfect size, spacious – but not too big where you have to worry about getting lost. Meander beside a flower flanked stream and spy a treasure of a whimsical little home.

More classical flowerbeds commemorate the countries 150th celebration.

The bandstand gazebo reminds of days gone by, there are shows on summer Sunday afternoons.

If you are musical yourself you can play a tune on the piano nearby, you can find more of these around the city.

The dazzling dahlia garden pops vibrantly,

but don’t forget about the trees. One oak stands tall above the rest, which was planted by King George VI in 1939.

Find fountains and sculptures scattered about.

Someone certainly has a sense of humor and I couldn’t help but giggle myself when I discovered topiary snakes made of flowers.

There is also a model of the titanic inside the duck pond. If you’d like to stay for lunch there is a café within the garden.

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Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, Nova Scotia

Fortified the same year the city was founded, Halifax Citadel National Historic Site [5425 Sackville Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada] has defended the area for hundreds of years.

The fort has seen many changes throughout the centuries and is currently restored to the Victorian Period.

Watch the 78th Highland Regiment demonstrate drills.

Listen to the pipe band. Get ready for the noon gun. See the changing of the sentry every hour at the front gate. History comes alive at the fort. Peruse the Army Museums collection of weapons and uniforms. Enter the barracks, tailor shop, or school within the walls. Climb up on the ramparts and size up the cannons.

The views across the fort and the city are phenomenal from up here.

There are great programs such as ghost tours and the chance to ‘become a soldier for a day’. While parking is paid, you can enter the fort for free in 2017 during the celebration of Canada Year.

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King of Donair, Halifax Nova Scotia

If you eat one thing in Halifax, make sure it’s a donair, a regional dish the city is proud of. The first place to serve it up was King of Donair opened in 1973, still ever as popular today.

There are multiple locations throughout the city. This is a no-frills kind of place, similar to a pizza parlor. Actually, they sell that too – but keep your eyes on the prize. So, what exactly is a donair?

It’s similar to a gyro, but tweaked with a controversial sweet sauce. Love it or hate it, you simply have to try it. The pita is warm, donair meat cut hot, onions, tomatoes are fresh, and the sweet sauce is suit the dish just right.

Hooked? The restaurant also prepares donair sub, donair egg rolls, and donair poutine. Another regional dish you can sample here are garlic fingers.

A doughy base with garlic spread and mozzarella cheese, it comes with donair sauce. The sweet and savory combo is supreme, a perfect way for people to enjoy the donair craze who don’t eat meat. This is a popular take out place, but there are seats to enjoy your meal in house as well.

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Experience The Halifax Waterfront, Nova Scotia

The Halifax Waterfront is a must see when visiting the city, better crafted and more entertaining than most.

The boardwalk is long, 2 ½ miles or 10 city blocks, brimming with restaurants, galleries, shops, farmers market, and casino.

+Spy a lighthouse

Georges Island sits in the middle of the harbor, it was a part of the Halifax defense complex. It’s cheerful lighthouse is a lovely sight from the boardwalk. The island is not open to the public at this time.

+Swing in a hammock

There are few and they are coveted. If you snag one of the merry orange hammocks consider yourself lucky.

+Spot Theodore Too

An imitation tugboat based on a TV character gives tours of the harbor. Just seeing it underway is enough to crack a smile.

+Eat Cow’s ice cream

A small Canadian franchise that makes utterly delicious ice cream. As soon as you walk in you are hit with the intoxicating smell of freshly baked waffles. Watch as the cones are shaped before your eyes. Picking from the flavors is the hardest part, we wanted to stay as Canadian as possible going for Cownadian Maple and PEI Strawberry.

Really superb, and the memories are even sweeter eating overlooking the water. There are multiple locations in the city.

Art

+Find the lopsided lamp posts

Named ‘The Way Things Are’ by Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg who excel at transforming familiar objects in unfamiliar ways.

+Locate a painting by Maud Lewis

There are many framed paintings along the boardwalk, my favorite was of a pair of cows by local folk artist.

+Climb the wave

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I know it says not to, but rules are meant to be broken – right? Plus all the cool kids were doing it. The surface is surprisingly grippy, even if you loose your momentum. After you make it to the top, slide on down!

Museums

+Canadian Museum of Immigration

From 1928 to 1971 many immigrants entered Canada through Pier 21, follow the stories of new comers to Halifax.

+Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

Learn about the marine culture of Nova Scotia from steamships to WWII convoys, and the cities link to the Titanic.

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Visiting Lunnenburg, Nova Scotia

A very popular and bustling fishing village in Nova Scotia filled with character and tourist buses. I spent an hour walking the town to see what one of the two UNESCO World Heritage Site in North America had to offer. Established in 1753 as a British colony the town still holds its initial layout and seventy percent of the buildings are still in tact, from the 18th and 19th centuries.

+Lunenburg

Bright houses and storefronts line the busy streets closest to the waterfront. You can find restaurants, coffee houses, and gift shops. Each dwelling seems to have some quirky little detail making it unique, walking around observing the buildings was one of the highlights of my time spent in town.

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Even the streets have their own fish to decorate the corners so you can say to your friends, meet me on mackerel street.

Walk out to the docks of the lively waterfront where the industry that sustains the town sets off and you’re sure to see a gathering of dingys.

Visit the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic [68 Bluenose Dr, Lunenburg, NS B0J 2C0, Canada] to learn about the heritage of fishermen in Nova Scotia. Or, you can check out their dockside displays for a quick and free lesson. You’ll find a whale harpoon gun,

whale skull, whale jawbone,

touch tank, vessels, and even a human sized lobster trap that you can climb your way into.

Consider signing up to be a deckhand for the day on the Bluenose II a replica of the fast and famous fishing schooner on the back of the Canadian dime, whose homeport is Lunenburg.

+Blue Rocks

A few quick minutes from town the world gets a lot quieter. Drive out on the Point Road until you reach the water and pull off to admire the geology.

The rocks are blue slate and they have interesting patterns, pockets, and stripes.

On a sunny day the bright blue water spectacularly contrasts with the yellow seaweed. Explore every tide pool. You can set out on the water and get a closer look at all of the islands by renting a kayak with Pleasant Paddling [245 The Point Rd, Lunenburg, NS B0J 2C0, Canada]. You might even see a seagull chasing a bald eagle.

Admire the little shacks in this sleepy fishing village that look like a bucolic painting.

One adorably tiny shop exists, The Point General [245 The Point Road Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia] which sells some local art, home goods, and snacks including made-for-you picnic baskets.

+Seaside Shanty, 5315 Hwy 3, Chester Basin, NS B0J 1K0, Canada

Not in Lunenburg, but 20 minutes away gently tucked on the side of the road is a restaurant which had all of the local specialties I was interested in trying. Sit dockside, on the open air patio, or inside. I was so happy to order solomon gundy, which is marinated herring with sweet onions.

The fish was as fresh as can be and I enjoyed this local favorite. Fishcakes are another specialty in the region, they were made up of salt cod and lightly fried, served with fresh veggies and addictive baked beans.

Last but no least came the blueberry grunt, an Acadian dumpling dessert with wild berries, vanilla ice cream, and a heap of whipped cream.

If you are interested in eating dishes true to Nova Scotia tradition – this is your spot.

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Get off the beaten path in Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

Peggy’s Cove is a small idyllic fishing community that made it big with the tourists.

Now crowded and frequented by tour buses, the area is touted as a ‘must-see’ when in Nova Scotia. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much from this area, but I was pleasantly surprised by the quiet areas nearby, off the beaten path.

+Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse

This is the main event. It’s really nice that parking is free, along with a visitor’s center and restrooms. When I visited there was live musical entertainment in the form of bag pipers. The lighthouse is in great condition, though no more spectacular than any other. It is closed off to the public, so no climbing to the top. What is truly impeccable is the setting – the unique geological formation of bubbly rocks formed by molten lava – known as a batholith.

As you climb out onto the rocks take in the crashing of the waves in this glorious setting, yet play it smart. There are multiple big yellow and red signs warning tourists to stay off of the black rocks.

The black rocks are slippery, because they are wet. Because that is where the treacherous waves smash onto the rocks. Multiple deaths have occurred on account of tourists ignoring this safety advisory.

Stay on the dry rocks and walk away from the crowds to be rewarded with splendid views.

+Peggy’s Cove Town

Away from the lighthouse you can peruse galleries filled with artisanal works. It is a colorful town and just walking around snapping pictures or simply reveling in the sight of the fishing supplies and brightly painted homes is enjoyable.

Don’t miss the 100’ long fishermen’s monument by sculptor William DeGarthe composed of granite, not an easy stone to work with.

Even glaciers couldn’t turn the bedrock in Peggy’s Cove to a sandy beach.

+Polly’s Cove Hiking Trail

When you’ve had enough of the crowds, strap on your hiking boots and take a walk at this hidden gem of a trail. Just two miles down the road from the lighthouse, there is no blinking sing pointing to this trailhead. There isn’t even a trailhead. There is a small unmarked gravel pull off, Google maps recognizes the name and will direct you there. An easy to follow trail takes you past a field of glacial erratics.

After a short walk pop out by an old concrete structure covered in graffiti. This will be your landmark as you wander away around the series of herd paths.

Marvel at the scene before you, a glittering ocean, grass, and granite as far as the eye can see.

Vibrant carnivorous plants are thriving here.

The only company I had was a group of quiet local painters, finding their own quiet nooks in the rocks. After wandering about, head back towards the bunker and down the trail you entered upon. In this direction I was able to notice the crowded lighthouse landscape in the distance, a world away.

Also, a lone large pellet and table on top of a hill across the way – I felt compelled to climb up and reach them.

+Unnamed Pellet Hike, 7150 Prospect Rd West Dover, Nova Scotia

Half a mile from Polly’s there is a large unmarked gravel parking lot across from a playing field. Adjacent to the lot is lovely little long lake.

There is no signage and many different trails leading in different directions, in some spots the trail is not entirely obvious. Using the lake, road, and elevation as a guide I traversed up towards where I knew the pellet was. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you are navigationally confident. The scenery is not quite as glamorous, but reaching the pellet was a fun adventure all the same – and totally spur of the moment.

The whitewashed table makes for a perfect picnic destination, and not another sole was in this area.

+Mabel’s Farm Market, 3303 Prospect Rd, Whites Lake, NS B3T 1W3, Canada

If you’re coming from the east stop by the market for some fresh produce, pie, or a homemade loaf of bread.

+The Drive

The road to Peggy’s Cove is scenic, enjoy the ride. There are many spots to pull off and take a picture, just be mindful of traffic behind you and maintain the speed limit.

Peggy’s Cove is a magical little slice of the planet, and the adventure is what you make of it.

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Carters Beach, Nova Scotia

What surprised me the most about Nova Scotia? I never thought a visit to the beach would have been one of my favorite memories.

Carters Beach [Carters Beach Rd, Port Mouton, Nova Scotia B0T 1T0, Canada] is a true hidden gem. At the end of a quiet residential road there is a small parking lot, when filled the cars line up the street. There are no facilities. It’s worth roughing it for the crystal clear water and scenery.

Walk away from the little crowd right in front of the entrance and out to explore mini forested peninsulas that jut out into the water.

It may look like a picture perfect Caribbean beach, white sand and turquoise water, but dip one toe in and you’ll soon remember you are much farther north. It is biting cold, but frightfully refreshing. On a hot summer day there is no better way to cool down than a polar bear plunge. Some hardy young boys were climbing out to the rock and jumping in.

Just watch for seals.

Respect this beautiful local treasure. Carry in and carry out.

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