I’m A Broken Man On A Halifax Pier
After a year with two international travel trips, and with another very big international trip planned in the future, we thought that we would stay local for this year to take in the wonderful surroundings of our own beautiful country. For all the international travelling that we do (and are planning to do) it’s amazing that we have not seen the entirety of our own country. Canada is one large country, so I don’t think it is an easy task to cross all major Canadian cities off the list.I have an old roommate, a friend from residence and another very close friend from university that both live out on the East Coast. Both of these friends have been to Toronto a few times since they left university to return to the East Coast, so we thought it was about due time to visit them. We wanted to focus less on making sure we hit every tourist destination and make it more about catching up with these amazing friends. And since locals are the best tour guides, we knew that we would be in great hands with our friends. And boy, are the people on the East Coast ever kind! The Maritimes hospitality is no joke – absolutely everyone on the East Coast is a ray of sunshine! They will always go completely out of their way to show you kindness and offer you anything you need to make your stay there amazing. It is no wonder that people from the East Coast make the best of friends. My old roommate, Rob, and my friend from residence, Victoria, both live in Saint John, New Brunswick (not to be confused with St. John’s, Newfoundland! The two are very different places!). My close friend, Raf, lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. My best friend, Elle, currently lives in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, so we initially wanted to visit all 3 friends over the course of the week, but Canadian flights are expensive so we could only justify seeing 2 of the 3, so we decided to save Newfoundland for another trip so we could focus on New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. We decided to start in Saint John, New Brunswick and spend a day driving down to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Since the trip was mainly for the purpose of catching up with old friends, we didn’t plan it too much, but below is a summary of the activities we managed to accomplish over our 11-day stay in the Maritimes:
Flight from YYZ to YSJ (again, NOT to be confused with St John’s which is YYT). Spent the night catching up with the old roommate Rob over some dinner and late into the night.
Rob had to work, so he dropped us off in the morning in Uptown Saint John so we could spend the day exploring the area at our own pace. We managed to connect with Tor, who joined us in the afternoon and took us on a little tour of the area and drove us out to see the “Reversing Rapids“. We had dinner downtown and reconnected again with Rob in the evening to go and watch the movie Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (did I mention yet that I am a super huge Harry Potter fan? Well, this was the first screening so I had to go!)
Rob had work again, but our other host was kind enough to drive us out to her favourite places in Saint John and gave us a guided tour of the Bay of Fundy, the St Martins Sea Caves and we also walked a trail in the Irving Nature Park. Once Rob was finished with work we headed to Uptown Saint John again for dinner and we went to a James Mullinger comedy show and spent the night in Uptown Saint John.
We said our goodbyes and picked up a rental car and drove to Halifax. We took the long way and drove along the shores of the Bay of Fundy and stopped to see the Hopewell Rocks (a must-see in New Brunswick). We took a pit stop in Moncton, New Brunswick for some food before continuing on to Truro, Nova Scotia where it absolutely started pouring. The rest of the journey was driving bumper-to-bumper (because that was the only way you could see) slowly to Halifax where we spent the night catching up with Raf and his girlfriend, Maeve.
We took to the streets of Halifax and walked around the North End of the city. We got a tour of NSCAD (where Raf is on the students’ union) and spent the evening having a home-cooked dinner with Raf and Maeve. Raf made a minestrone soup from scratch using ingredients from the local Farmer’s Market. I still dream of this soup today, it was absolute perfection! ?
Another day spent exploring Halifax, this time the downtown area of Halifax. We had an amazing time checking out the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market and tasting all the food at various restaurants. Raf and some friends were getting together for some karaoke that night so we joined in.
Raf drove us all the way out to Peggy’s Cove so we could catch a glimpse at one of Nova Scotia’s top tourist destinations. The winding roads were a little too much for some of us who got car sick, but in the evening we were able to pick up Maeve and have dinner with Raf’s mom out near MicMac Village. I can not even put into words how absolutely amazing Raf’s mom, Cam, is! She has got to be one of the warmest and most loving people I have ever met! She is a true gem.
We connected with an old friend friend, Grant, who used to live in Brampton and is now living out in Dartmouth. Grant picked us up and took us on a lovely driving tour all across Dartmouth and Halifax it was great getting the chance to connect with him and he gave us a wonderful historical tour of all the areas. I don’t think a professional tour guide knows as much as Grant does.
Another day spent exploring the other corners of downtown Halifax we had yet to see, we met up with Raf and some friends again in the evening for an Escape Room challenge! Unfortunately this brings my score up to 3 of rooms that have defeated me to the 0 that I have won. But it was a ball of a time!We hung out in the North End afterwards with some friends.
With our last full day in Halifax, we decided to take advantage of the Museums in Halifax and learn more about the Halifax Explosion and the seafaring life of
Halifaxians (Hali-ites? Halifaxicans? Halifaxers…?) Halifaxers through history. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic offered a great exhibit on the history of Halifax and the Maritimes. On the recommendation of several friends and family we had dinner at the Bicycle Thief restaurant. I definitely do not regret a single pound that I gained that day – the food was absolutely amazing!
Raf had agreed to drive us to the airport for our flight in the late afternoon, so we spent the morning checking out a NSCAD students’ year-end exhibition at the university with Raf and Maeve. Raf had some students union things to attend to so we took a tour at the Alexander Keith’s brewery tour to learn all about the brewing process. Once we finished that Raf and Maeve dropped us off to the airport for our flight back to YYZ.
It was amazing getting the chance to spend that quality time with my old university friends in their homes they spent years telling me so much about! It was an absolute blast to see Rob in New Brunswick and get the chance to meet some of his family while we were there. We had a good hoot over some of the New Brunswick folks we met referring to us as “Upper Canadians” because of us being from Ontario. New Brunswick is a great place and full of lots of outdoorsy things to do and see. It was also a real treat to be able to see the next movie in the Harry Potter wizarding world with my friend who I spent so many times discussing Harry Potter theories with in university. Our time spent in Halifax was absolutely phenomenal! It is such a vibrant city! Being someone who was born in a small town who always knew they were destined for the big city life, I never thought I would consider living in a city smaller than Toronto ever again. But I can definitely see the appeal of Halifax. The arts scene in Halifax is huge! There is so much in the arts culture there that it is enough of a reason for me to want to live there. But pack in the amazing food options and the lovely people that live out there, it is the perfect city! Of course, it doesn’t hurt that our amazing friends live there too.
Our trip out to Peggy’s Cove was definitely the highlight of the trip. It is amazing that we have these Canadian gems to call our own. Our country is truly astonishing! I fell completely head over heels for Canada all over again seeing and experiencing the sights and sounds of the East Coast. There is truly no other place like it. I’m so proud to be Canadian-born and to live in this country! What a wonderful place, we get to call home. If you haven’t had the chance yet to visit the East Coast, I highly recommend it! Now I just need to knock Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island off the list before I can truly say I have seen the East Coast. All in due time.