Ed’s Cruise from London to New York on the Silversea Whisper – Part 6

Halifax – Oct 8

Named one of the Top 10 Global DESTINATIONS ON THE RISE in TripAdvisor’s 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards – everyone’s talking about Halifax.  There’s just something perfectly endearing about Halifax.

I think it’s the bustling waterfront and the fact that the city is steeped in history at every turn. Whatever it is, Halifax has come a long way since its early days as a trading hub on the Atlantic, and has been charming visitors with its east coast hospitality ever since.  There are craft breweries and trendy restaurants and bistros galore, especially around the harbor area.

We honeymooned in Halifax and Nova Scotia 39 years ago and it has really changed.  We started our visit with a walk down the lengthy boardwalk along the harbor.  It reminded us a lot of Vancouver’s waterfront with it’s plethora of sailboats, restaurants and bars.  We were lucky to have a warm sunny day which made the walk most enjoyable.  The only issue we had was that Karen was stung by a wasp on the neck which proved to be very painful.  Thankfully she is not allergic, and we continued our walk.

The last steps portal is in memory of over 350,00 of troops called to action during the course of WWI that sailed away from this port.  Some 67,000 never returned.  For these heroes, these would have been the last steps on Canadian soil before they sailed away and watched the Port of Halifax disappear behind them.

Then up the hill and there perched atop the grassy hillock looming over town, is this star-shaped fort that played a key role in Halifax’s founding. Construction on the Citadel Hill National Historic began in 1749; the current citadel is the fourth, built from 1818 to 1861. The grounds and battlements inside the fort are open year-round, and we could visit the barracks, the guards’ room, the signal post, the engineer’s store and the gunpowder magazines.   The view from the top is amazing but the landscape has certainly changed as I remember.

At the pier is housed the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market.  Although it has operated in several locations since its inception in 1750, what’s now known as the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market (in its present location since 2010) is North America’s longest continuously operating market. With more than 250 local vendors from a province that prides itself on strong farm-to-table and maritime traditions.

Next stop was the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. There’s an argument that this dockside museum is Canada’s most important institution. Between 1928 and 1971, Pier 21 was the Canadian version of the USA’s Ellis Island, where all prospective immigrants arrived. More than a million people passed through these red-brick halls, and it’s an emotional experience to walk through the very same doorways where refugees from across the globe began new lives.

Our hope was to get some information on the immigration of Karen’s Grandparents on her father’s side.  With the help of their wonderful and knowledgeable staff, we were able to locate the date of departure July 29, 1927 from Liverpool on a ship called the Megantic.  We were able to get a copy of the page of the ship’s passenger’s list showing their information as well as a picture of their ship and port of arrival information.  I think that actually made our stop in Halifax very special!  In looking at the information, their ship was half the Gross Tonnage of our ship and while our ship holds a mere 382 passengers, their ship held 1660 passengers!

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Our final stop of the day was at the Alexander Keith’s Brewery.  I had expected a chance to sit and sample some of their wares (for the appropriate cost) but their store front was very anticlimactic.  They wanted approximately $26 per person for a tour and perhaps that included some sampling, but I just wasn’t that interested.

That’s it for our stop in Halifax.  Thanks for reading along.  Our next port is Boston and we are looking forward to experiencing at least a small part of BeanTown.

Uniglobe Basebar

Ed’s Cruise from London to New York on the Silversea Whisper – Part 5

 Sydney, Nova Scotia – Oct 7, 2019

Small, but with plenty of character, Sydney is best known as the gateway to Cape Breton Island, in north-eastern Nova Scotia.  We docked right on the waterfront at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion offering shopping boutiques, art gallery, craft market and a bar.  Right outside quayside is a giant sculpture of a fiddle.

We opted for a lovely walk along their boardwalk before going to the historic part of Sydney.  This was founded by the Loyalists during the American Revolution and still contains six buildings that are still standing built in the late 1700’s and a couple in the turn of the 19th century.

We did go into the Jost House Museum, one of the buildings built in the late 1700’s.  Thomas Jost, a Halifax merchant bought the property in 1836 and his descendants remained there until 1971.  In the early 1900’s the roof was raised, and the second floor extended to include bedrooms and a bath.

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Since we only had a few hours in Sydney (all we really needed), we walked back to the ship, again on the boardwalk in time for lunch and sail away.

Next stop…Halifax, Nova Scotia!

Maritimes Adventure Wrap up – days 7-8

Our last day in Halifax was amazing.  The weather (one day prior to Tropical Storm Irene making her arrival) was perfect – 28 degrees and sunny with not a breath of wind.  We had another delicious breakfast in the restaurant at the Courtyard Marriott and did a bit of shopping for souvenirs along the harbor.

Sydney and I signed up for the 12:30 departure on the Theordore Too Tugboat.  Sydney was very excited to go for a ride and it was $15 for me and $10 for her to go on the 45 minute adventure.  The staff were great with kids – they gave them a picture to color that had all of Theodore’s “friends” that we would see in the harbor and gave all the kids a “crew” certificate at the end.  It was well worth it!

When we got off, we had another lunch from the stands along the harbor – there is lots of choices from fish and chips to hot dogs to wraps, plus donuts, ice cream, etc for desert.  It’s was great to eat outside on a nice day.  There were some very nice sailboats and yahts in Halifax Harbor as they were expecting the hurricane to hit the next day and the ships were docking there until the storm was over.  We wandered around looking at the beautiful boats and enjoying the day.

We had planned to take a tour of Alexander Keiths, which was beside our hotel, but when we showed up for their 5pm tour, they informed us they had stopped tours at 4pm that day, due to a private event.  Shoot!  Next time!

Our flight home on Sunday morning was early – at 7:25am.  Halifax airport is about 30-45 minutes drive from downtown, so we left our hotel at 5:30am – ouch!  We were given a wrong exit by the hotel front desk, but after a 3 minute detour, were back on our way and made it to the airport in lots of time.  The check in lineup was a little long, but be breezed through security with no delays.

Our flight from Halifax to Calgary was slightly delayed due to headwinds, but we had quite a long layover, so it was no problem for us. Our flight from Calgary to Saskatoon was on time and overall everything went perfectly.  It was one of the best holidays I’ve taken in a long time and the Maritimes should definitely be on your list of places to see, if you haven’t made it there yourself!

Maritimes Day 4

Wow, another great day!  Yesterday found us hiking through some of the trails on the hotel property, which were awesome and perfect for anyone, even young kids.  Then we went to the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, which was about $7.50 per adult, with Sydney being free.  It was great for younger kids – lots of interactive things for them to do – making hats, coloring pictures, making kites, etc.  Sydney had the BEST time flying her kite outside after we were done and it was a great way to spend a couple hours in the afternoon (plus the bakery there had the best cupcakes for $1.50 :))

We stopped at the famous “Red Barn” on the highway beside Baddeck for an early supper of fried shrimp and seafood chowder – delicious!  Then it was off to visit a friend in Margaree Center (or was it Margaree Valley, East Margaree, etc, etc – a LOT of Margarees!).  We got a little lost, before a nice local lady informed us everything on the island goes in circles – no kidding!  Eventually we found her place and had a nice evening over a bottle of local wine and good company.

Today was a very full day spent on the Cabot Trail – 10am – 7pm.  It is a gorgeous drive and despite my initial apprehensions over travelling such a long day with a 3 year old, we had a great time.  We stopped lots for pictures and to stretch our legs, had a nice lunch at Giselle’s in Cheticamp, went on the Bog hike, which is nice for little guys as it’s all on a boardwalk over a bog on the top of a mountain, then stopped to do some fishing at a local’s stocked trout pond.  Sydney helped catch her first fish and had so much fun.

We just made it back to our comfy cottage and have our fish cooking on the BBQ!  Tomorrow, we’re off to PEI for a couple of nights via the Ferry.

Maritimes Adventure days 2-3

After a good first night in Halifax, we had a bit of a sleep in and relaxing breakfast in the hotel restaurant, the Courtyard Cafe.  The food was good, reasonable and they had a nice, extensive kids menu.  The Courtyard by Marriott is definitely on my recommend list for being in an excellent location, comfortable, great service and family friendly.  They have valet parking for $20 or self parking downtown Halifax is about $2.50 an hour.  We did the valet parking and they were very quick and efficient at picking up and dropping off the car.

 

We drove to our next home on Sunday – the Hunters Mountain Chalet’s about 10 minutes from the charming town of Baddeck – which is at the beginning of the Cabot Trail.  The drive took us just under 5 hours, including one stop for lunch and one stop for gas.  It’s an easy, scenic drive and another bright, sunny day.

When we arrived at the Hunters Mountain Chalet’s, we were pleasantly surprised.  Our chalet has two big bedrooms, a living room with electric fireplace, dining table, small kitchen and private bathroom.  There is also a big deck with table, chairs and BBQ out front.  The property isn’t lakefront, but has a small view of the water in the distance.  The chalet’s are partway up Hunter Mountain, have rolling green lawns and a play structure, which is perfect for Sydney to run around after being cooped up in the car.  There are also about a half a dozen hiking trails on the property – anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours and varying in difficulty.  We plan to check out a few before we go.  The chalets are quaint and comfortable and EXCEPTIONALLY clean (this means a lot coming from someone who is a little OCD in the clean department!).

After unpacking a bit, we drove the few minutes into town for a few groceries, as we would like to have breakfast at our chalet so we don’t have to rush out in the morning.  We took a quick tour around town and enjoyed the scenery, then had a pizza at Tom’s pizza place on the main street – all fresh and home made to order – delicious!  We had a nice leisurely stroll around town after – lots of nice little shops and a great marina/boardwalk for walking around. 

 

The chalets were a delight in the evening – no traffic, no noise, no street lights – a great sleep for everyone and the second morning in a row that Sydney has slept till 9am!!!