Downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia
03.09.2009 - 03.09.2009 23 °C
Today I played it unsafe and arrived at the airport the recommended 90 minutes before take-off. Typically I arrive at least two hours early, but forces were against me and, in the end I would concede to their will. Because of this I only had 45 minutes in which to grab some breakfast and hop into line to board the plane. Flight itself was rather uneventful at only two hours, and on top of that I ended up falling asleep while watching a movie. So what should have felt like two hours really only felt like about 45 minutes.
One thing worth mention is that I was impressed by the Halifax airport, considering they only have one terminal I was expecting a very minimalist set-up similar to the Lihue airport. Quite the contrary; they have done extensive renovations and are still upgrading. It makes it look very modern and streamline. And honestly, the 45 minute drive from the airport to Halifax itself passed by relatively quickly.
After unloading my stuff R. and I decided to hit downtown today, grabbing some dinner while near the waterfront. We visited the harbourfront first, where there were various sailboats and ships out on the water. Docked along the shore there were even some tugboats and cruise ships. Across from the harbour you can see the St. George's Island Lighthouse, and also an oil rig. The latter of these actually surprised me since I didn't know they drilled in this area. If you look down at the rocks near the water's edge you can see you can see a black film on them. Yum. R. suggests I avoid going in the water here, unless I want to follow that up with an amputation later.
We continue down the waterfront and visit a few shops. One is called Rum Cake and specializes in (you guessed it), rum cakes. Various types in fact, and my curiosity is peaked, but not for the price they are asking. Next door is Sugar, which is a dentist's nightmare. Through the glass window near the ice cream counter you can actually see them making the candy they sell, and today there was a batch of peanut brittle cooling on the marble counter. I make a mental note to stop back for some candy before leaving for friends and family. Along the pier there is man playing bagpipes, and around this time we stop at Beaver Tails to have one of their signature products -- a beaver tail. This is a flakey pastry that is flat like a pizza and topped with icing, chocolate sauce, and skor bits. It promises to be messy and surely does not disappoint. Down the way a bit is a man playing bagpipes, and a short distance later there is a man playing the violin. It's like the local troubadours have stepped it up a notch over acoustic guitars. Also, I get my first glimpse of Theodore the Tugboat which is apparently a huge point in R.'s childhood memories. We stop by a booth to grab some pamphlets on whale watching tours (which are on R's list of things to do during my visit). We also see a booth for the Bluenose II, which is currently docked up the shore. Apparently it is near Peggy's Cove so we add it to the 'to do' list later during the weekend.
Heading back uptown we walk by various sights and storefronts. There are many gorgeous churches such as St. Michael's and St. Mary's, along with cemetaries like the Old Burying Grounds. I'm a huge fan of architecture so the fact that a large part of the downtown core still has original structures that have been maintained (or at least repaired while keeping their structural integrity and nostalgic appeal). Apparently this has to do with their heritage law which dictates that structures in certain areas are unable to be torn down and must be restored to their natural state. For someone like me, this is heaven.
The Old Burying Grounds
While downtown we visited quite a few of the local merchants. I picked up some cute bangles at the Black Market, which specializes in something that I can only describe as 'hippie wear' at very affordable prices for most of their wares. We also end up stopping in at Freak Lunchbox, which is another candy store at the downtown core that sells a variety of retro candy as well as novelty items. A friend of mine is a freak for anything bacon, and at this store they carry bacon toothpicks, bacon gumballs, bacon mints, bacon .. well, lots of options. I pick up some of the gumballs for a friend of mine, and some candies for myself (out of their expansive collection of Jelly Belly flavours). Also I end up picking up a Domo Attack! energy drink, which turns out to be rather tasty.
R took me to what has to be the most expansive used bookstore I have ever seen. The building itself didn't look very large but the entire interior is bookshelves, floor to ceiling, crammed with a book in every available inch as well as stacked along the beams from the floor up the walls. Plus there is a second floor! He put a time limit on the visit there, which I reluctantly follow and thus leave with only one book (a copy of Lolita, which I have been searching through stores for over a year to find). We stop in a few other little boutiques to find him a hat, with no success.
We decide to stop in a Victor's to get some grub. The bar is located on the second floor of a mall, and sitting on the balcony provides you of a great view of downtown. It's a new place but has quite the boom of business because of their great deals. They offer $5 cocktails all day long, in which we both indulge in three apiece. Also, we arrive around 4:30pm which is just in time for half price appetizers. R gets the mussels, shrimp, and an artichoke spinach dip that is very yum. I end up ordering spinach triangles, the potato trio, and crab cakes (which I have never had before and found delicious). For drinks we had the Electric, the Anti-Freeze, the Purple Haze, the Mackay, and the Key Lime Pie. The Mackay was my favorite.
Victor's drink menu.
After dodging bees and birds through dinner we paid the bill (a reasonable $28 each for three cocktails and three appetizers) and headed over to Pete's Frootique. There we picked up some cheese, crackers, and these massive radishes that are almost the size of my fist. The irony of the radishes is that we stopped at the seafood bar and I pointed out the jumbo scallops, stating "now those are impressive" since I have never seen any that large. The gentleman that worked there went on to show me these huge shrimp, and then told us that the biggest thing he had seen that day (insert bad porn joke here) were in fact these radishes that came in. And thus it became my goal to buy these radishes, and we did.
We grabbed a smoothie at Pete's with R's friend R, which actually makes very good smoothies. I ended up getting Jane's Love Potion which consisted of passion fruit, strawberries, orange, honey and yogurt. Very satisfying and very filling on top of all the food we just ate. We also decide to head back to the apartment, stopping along the way at one of the many NSLC stores we pass.
"You know how common Tim Horton's are in Ontario? Well that's liquor stores around here. For every Tim Horton's there is a NSLC. There are three within five minutes of my house.", says R. And it's true. It's mind boggling. But we stop at one and end up picking a bottle of pinot grigio and also a bottle of bubbly wine (aka cheap champagne). R does some work and then we watch a movie and pop open the bubbly, which is rather dry but carbonated so it makes it rather fun to drink. Later when R#2 arrives we open the wine and indulge in that bottle. We ponder more alcohol, but in the end decide to wait and just go out to a bar the next night. And then, we sleep.