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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Week in Nova Scotia - Part 1 - Introduction

When I told friends about our plans for a Spring vacation trip this year, I generally got one of three responses.

Several people replied "Where?"  Well, I may not be the most geographically literate person in the world, but at least I do know where (and what) Nova Scotia is.  

Even more people replied with "Why?".  Not the kind of "Why?" that means "Oh, tell me more about all the fun and interesting things you expect to find there", but rather, the sort of "Why?" that really sounds like "Why would you want to go there, of all places?".

Heather, on the other hand, said "Why not?"; and we were off for a week in mid-May to Halifax, Nova Scotia, the metropolitan area that is about the farthest you can get from San Diego and still be in North America.

For this, our first visit to the area, we opted to stay in downtown Halifax each night, and day trip out from there to see other parts of the province.  We had a rough idea of some of the things and places we wanted to see, and figured we would make it up as we went along, depending on the weather.  Since we knew it was early in the season, and many things would still be closed, we decided that this would be a great time to get to really know the city of Halifax, and save the other areas for another trip.  We'll definitely go back.

Getting to and from Nova Scotia from San Diego was actually easier than it sounds when looking at the flight schedules, as long as you don't mind arriving and departing at odd hours.  Air Canada has a non-stop from San Diego to Toronto that connects, after a short lay-over, to a flight that arrives in Halifax at midnight.  That was the plan.  

We caught a great sunset in Toronto, but unfortunately, that wasn't our outbound aircraft parked at the gate.  Eventually, a few hours later than originally scheduled, they did find a plane, and we arrived in Halifax at almost 2:30am.  It wasn't too bad though, as that did allow us enough time to have a very nice dinner at one of the restaurants in the terminal at Toronto. By the time we got to the hotel it was a bit after 3:00am on Sunday morning.  We left the hotel a week later, on Sunday morning at 4:00am to catch the 5:30am flight back to Toronto and then on to San Diego.  Thanks to the time zones, we were back at home by 11:30am that same morning.

Our hotel, The Hollis Hotel, a Hilton DoubleTree, is in an excellent location, walking distance from all of the things you would want to see downtown.  The interior is a recent renovation, very nicely done, and the hotel has a great staff as well.  

There is no shortage of good restaurants in Halifax, and the city is said to have the most pubs per capita of any city in Canada.  We found a great Irish pub called the Old Triangle Irish Alehouse, which was conveniently located on the opposite end of the same block as the hotel.  The braised lamb shank was excellent, as was the Dublin Pastie (chicken, ham, leeks and mushrooms baked in puff pastry). 

We went to the Old Triangle several times, as they also have a great dessert menu, and we felt it was important to determine which was better, the Guinness gingerbread with warm whiskey-caramel sauce, or the chocolate torte.  

We hit a combination of sunny and rainy days, with temperatures in the 60's on sunny days, and 40's to 50's on the grayer days; colder at night.  Walking around downtown and the Waterfront on Sunday evening in a light drizzle, we could certainly tell we were there off-season.  I have a feeling this place can get jammed with people during the summer.

There is a lot to do and see in Nova Scotia, especially if you like to bicycle, kayak, bird watch, whale watch and hike.  The motto on the Nova Scotia license plate is "Canada's Ocean Playground", and they mean it.  Just don't get there before mid-June.  We spent most of our time wandering on foot around Halifax, getting to know the city, its people, its history and its food.  There is a lot of history here.  We did drive out along the south coast on one day, along a route known as the Lighthouse Route, to check out the fishing village at Peggy's Cove, and the towns of Chester and Lunenburg.  Another day we drove across to the Bay of Fundy and the Annapolis Valley, to check out the huge tidal changes in the Bay and to try some fresh scallops at Digby, the "scallop capital of the world".   So, now might be a good time to grab a cup of coffee and join us for more pictures from our trip to Nova Scotia.


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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage. You can also see more on my Instagram page @frankbaiamonte.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.