Halifax, Nova Scotia stretches up a hillside overlooking a spacious harbor and capped by the Citadel, the highest point in the city and home to a 19th century fortress. The city is small enough to be easy navigable on foot, but large enough to host a plethora of restaurants and retail establishments, ranging from international news storefronts to the most elegant of dress shops.
My daughter and I began and ended our August Prince Edward Island trip in Halifax. The first layover was a something of a disappointment -- we had dinner in a harborfront restaurant where we were encouraged to "get with" the relaxed atmosphere of the Maritimes, which meant that we had a two-hour wait for service after a long day of travel, and then had only the next rainy morning left to see the city. I hiked up to the Citadel, only to learn that it doesn't open until 10:00, so we decided to go ahead and make the trip across the province to catch the ferry to the Island. We had better luck on the way home. We had a great dinner in a little Italian restaurant and disovered the various passageways that make trekking up and down the steep city somewhat easier as we finished our shopping for family and friends. We visited the Citadel, checked out its detailed and beautifully presented historical exhibit, and watched the Regimental Association perform.
Halifax has always been a significant port for its inhabitants; it was THE port of embarkation and arrival for Canadian troops during World War II. It was also the site of a devastating World War I explosion when two ships collided in 1917, levelling much of the city, killing over 2,000 people, and injuring 9,000 more. (New Orleans, take note: Halifax today is charged with vibrant energy.) Halifax history is fascinating, especially for us Americans who tend to be oblivious to the stories of our neighbor to the north, and Halifax streets are definitely hopping at night.
It's a great city -- it's easy to imagine building a life there.
For us, however, it was the end of a spectactular trip. This entry originally appeared in Midlife Matters on September 11, 2005, when I had calmed down enough from the real last day (planes and storms and airports oh my!) of our trip to write about its many pleasures. And I would just as soon leave it that way. My daughter and I never would have taken our trip to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island if we had had a crystal ball that would have enabled us to see the not insignificant expenses of Katrina and to know that, after several extra days in Louisiana, she and I would be making a completely unanticipated trip to Oregon. It's often just as well that the future is a mystery.
As it was, we had a week to embrace a new and invigorating piece of the planet, and embrace it we did.