Days 35 & 36 – Halifax, NS

Yesterday was a write-off because I spent the day in bed trying to recover from a nasty cold, but there’s nothing like a little salty sea air to clear the lungs, is there? (Besides a bunch of cold meds, a long nap and a whole clove of garlic.)

This morning I started my self-guided walking tour of Halifax at Citadel Hill, which is right in the middle of downtown and offers a decent view of the city. You can pay (I think about $8) to get into the fort on top and take a tour, but I wasn’t in the mood to see people dressed in period costume spewing facts about what happened back in 1749. But that’s just me, and that was just today. I’m sure it’s a great attraction for history buffs or those with more time to spend in the city. I was there, fortunately, (or perhaps unfortunately) for the 12 o’clock gun and it scared the crap out of me, along with a few other tourists who were walking around near the clock tower. It’s loud, even reverberating off the nearby buildings. Still, it was an experience.

Halifax’s waterfront and downtown is not very big, but this makes it very walkable and a nice place to hang out, especially on the harbour boardwalk that spans quite a ways and leads to the farmers’ market and Pier 21 shopping. This city also has more pubs per capita than any other in North America – or so I’ve heard from several locals – so it’s a good place to get a beer.

I didn’t do any pub crawling or brewery tours, but I did spend a lot of time on the boardwalk after discovering Segway Nova Scotia. If you’ve never ridden a Segway you’ve got to try it. These things can go anywhere (hills, gravel, etc.) and can go up to 20 km/hour. Most importantly, they’re just plain fun. My guide took me out first in the parking lot to test out the steering (you basically just lean your centre of gravity in the direction you want to go, whether forward, backward or to each side) and then we were off to glide among the pedestrians along the waterfront, passing everyone and their dog (literally).  It’s pretty impossible to tip over because there are five gyroscopes inside keeping everything in balance, and it doesn’t take long to figure out how to steer (anyone with snowboarding or surfing experience would pick it up in a heartbeat). Definitely a great way to get a tour of the best part of town.

To finish off the day, I stopped in at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (also right on the waterfront) to see the Titanic exhibit. They have a lot of maritime nautical artifacts and historical info generally, but I was most interested in the most famous sinking of the 20th century. Still heartbreaking to think that of the 2200 passengers on board the Titanic, only about 700 survived. The museum has several items pulled from the ship, including a piece of a deck chair and an intact pair of leather baby shoes from one of the youngest victims – “the unknown child,” who, as of 2010, has actually been identified, according to the museum. Many other bodies were also buried here in Halifax, so there’s a strong local connection to that ill-fated maiden voyage of 1912.

Travel tip: The Maritime Museum is listed on Trip Advisor as No. 6 of 65 attractions in Halifax, and on Tuesdays it’s free to get in after 5:30 p.m. (Lucky for me, I came on the right day!) Regular admission is $9.25 between May and October, and $5 between November and April. The museum is not nearly as impressive as the war museum in Ottawa, but if you’re into nautical history, then I’d say it’s probably worth it.

NEXT POST: Halifax to Woody Point

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