2012 – Halifax, Nova Scotia
Here we are – in Halifax, Nova Scotia!! We arrived in Halifax yesterday afternoon, to everyone's immense glee. We have just finished 7 days straight at sea, and it's safe to say we were all itching to get off the Balmoral for a while! The entry to Halifax is very picturesque, with the inlet lined with massive homes – however this soon gave way to a very commercial shipping area. It didn't matter, we were so glad to be here! A small pipe band was there to greet the ship, which was lots of fun.
Disembarking the ship with our new friends Ian & Jen (from Canberra) and Don & Joc, we entered Pier 21 which is a mass of market-style shops which were open late especially for us. We had a quick look around, then shot off down the boardwalk like geese with diarrhea to find a proper restaurant with real food. Ship food, whilst initially very nice, has lost all it's attraction.
About 500 metres down the boardwalk, we came across a restaurant called the Hamachi Steakhouse – a Japanese style restaurant which we all agreed looked like a
winner. Our group snuggled into a big booth, and we were treated to some good Canadian hospitality. Starting with a complimentary Miso soup, we ordered locally brewed beer to wash down what we all agreed was the best meal we have enjoyed for a long long time. The steaks were cooked to perfection (nicely accompanied by seared fresh scallops), we laughed and talked and enjoyed a couple of Garrison Amber Ales. Fantastic!!
On our way back to the ship for the night, we passed a man walking his dog – and as I'm missing my darling Ana desperately I asked him if I could pat his dog. She was only a pup – an American Pitball cross Boxer – and she was gorgeous. After cuddles and many kisses from her, her owner stopped for a long chat and kindly gave us some excellent tips about what to do and see in Halifax. This, we found, typifies the people of Halifax – everyone we met is so friendly, so chatty and so helpful to us tourists. Such warm welcomes, wherever we have travelled so far.
Today we had an entire day in Halifax. We were supposed to have a
guided tour of the Titanic sites around the town, but unfortunately we missed out on the organised tours due to the numbers booked. No matter! Our little group of us, Don & Joc and Ian & Jen all decided to spend the day exploring Halifax on our own. After a little wander around the downtown & wharf area, we caught a cab out to the Fairview Cemetery, which is where 120 or so of Titanic's victims are buried. This includes the memorial of “The Unknown Child” who has actually now been identified but remains in place to represent all of the children lost on the Titanic. The gravesites are quite thought-provoking – as many of the victims remain unidentified. Some bodies have since been identified (and some only recently via DNA matching such as the Unknown Child) but many headstones remain recorded with only the date of death (15 April 1912) and the number which was assigned to the body following retrieval from the sea.
From here we caught a cab back to town, and visited the Maritime Museum – which is a veritable treasure trove of maritime history from the region. This Museum also houses a comprehensive collection
of artifacts from the Titanic which were largely retrieved from the ocean as the search for bodies was underway – the collection includes a First Class deckchair, and the shoes from the Unknown Child. There are also sections of wood panelling from the Titanic's interior – a part of an ornately carved door archway from the First Class Lounge and ballustrading from the Grand Staircase. It's just amazing to see actual artifacts from the Titanic – we enjoyed our tour of the Museum very much.
By this time, we were all hungry as hunters, so it was off back along the boardwalk looking for a suitable restaurant/pub/whatever we could find. We came across Tug's Pub – which was a cosy restaurant fronting the Harbour. We couldn't believe our ears when the waitress said that the special of the day was a 1.5 pound freshly-cooked lobster, with a salad of choice on the side, for $22. Canadian Dollars are pretty much on parity at the moment, so for $20 or so each we tucked into what had to be the freshest, most delicious lobsters you could ever want. Add another couple of local ales (we ended up buying it in
a jug this time) and it was another delightful Canadian meal. I needed a bath afterwards, but rest assured that lobster was a hollow shell by the time I was done with it!!
After lunch, Ian, Jen & Joc went off to explore some of the amazing bridges which feature in Halifax, and Don, Damian & I set off to explore more of the town and some of the shops situated in the Pier 21 complex. After some light shopping, it was time to reboard the Balmoral for our departure to New York. We trailed back onboard ship with heavy hearts – sad to leave the amazing restaurants and wonderful Canadian people for another day or two of incarceration onboard Balmoral with only mass-produced ship food.
Actually, this bears a little more explanation. The restaurants onboard (the Avon, the Spey & Ballindalloch restaurants) are okay, but the dining times are quite restricted. So the only other option is the Palms Cafe, which has slightly longer dining times. Consequently, this is very well patronised by everyone onboard, and is a buffet-style restaurant. However, the food on offer is very much “cooked for the masses” and as so many people
are dining there – it somewhat resembles a pig-trough at feeding time. Despite the bland food, and the godawful coffee, we seem to always be saying “See you at the Trough at 7” LOL
We really loved visiting Halifax, and along with Ireland, Canada has gone onto our list of places that we will return to for longer visits in the future.
You may be guessing that we are sort of glad that the cruise is nearly at an end – unless you're of the older generation there's not a lot to do onboard, and now that we've slept our fill and eaten too much crappy food, we're ready for the next adventure.
New York - here we come!
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