Save & Splurge: Here's to Halifax
By Anita Draycott
Nova Scotia’s vibrant capital city is both hip and historic. It’s natural harbour, the second largest in the world after Sydney, Australia, first drew the British here in 1749. Halifax, dubbed Canada’s Front Door, was also the entry point for nearly a million immigrants between 1928 and 1971. Today Halifax Harbour doubles as a commercial port and playground. Container ships, ferries and cruise ships vie for mooring space with fishing vessels and sleek yachts. On the ground, there are plenty of historic monuments and well-preserved landmark architecture, but a youthful vibe from five local universities infuses the city with a vibrant energy.
Halifax may have more pubs per capita than any other Canadian metropolis. And you’re never far away from a delicious feed of the freshest seafood.
The “Cheap Thrills” Save List
Join local chefs and foodies on Saturdays at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market. Fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, Nova Scotia wines, baked goods are more will tempt.
Start your gastronomic romp with a lobster roll.
Spend Time at the Bishop’s
Overlooking Halifax Harbour, The Plaza at Bishop’s Landing is full of terrific eateries.
Start your day with a java jolt from The Smiling Goat. Their fair trade/organic house espresso from Java Blend Coffee Roasters tastes smooth, smoky and sweet with chocolate, brown sugar and cherry notes. And they get the foam just right on the lattes.
The Bicycle Thief’s menu fuses North American Food with Italian Soul. The calamari served with garlic and sundried tomato aioli is flash-fried to perfection. Freshest local oysters come with homemade red onion/jalapeno cocktail sauce. The wine bar offers an outstanding selection of bubbles by the glass or bottle, plus an extensive selection of reds and whites. www.bicyclethief.ca
The Juice Press Inc’s two-day Party Animal Cleanse ($65) is formulated to nourish your body if you’re planning a night on the town. You imbibe four different juices on the day you plan to partake in alcohol and four other detoxifying juices the morning after. One of their best selling juices, called Sweet Potato Pie, is a combo of orange, apple, lemon, carrot and sweet potato. About $6 a glass. www.juicepressinc.com
For History Buffs
Explore The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, known as the Gateway to Canada. Between 1928 and 1971, the ocean liner terminal and immigration shed welcomed over one million immigrants to Canada, mostly from Europe. The Pier was also the primary departure point for almost half a million Canadian military personnel during World War II.
In 1996, the Canadian government recognized Pier 21’s important role in the lives of so many immigrants and their descendants by naming it a National Historic Site of Canada. It is also the last immigration shed still standing in the country, making its preservation even more important. The newly renovated and expanded museum gives visitors a true sense of what it must have been like to arrive by ship through interactive exhibits, first-person stories and artifacts such as trunks and the personal belongings that different folks chose to take.
Take the multimedia Customs Challenge to see what items you packed might be allowed or confiscated. Try your luck at the Citizenship Test Table. For anyone with an ancestor that entered Canada through Halifax, this is a must-visit destination that offers the opportunity to connect with your family’s past and to gain insight into what it was like as an immigrant arriving in Canada for the very first time.
Adult tickets cost $10; children under five get free admission.
The “You Only Live Once” Splurge List
The Halliburton boutique hotel is ideally situated on Morris Street, close to the harbour and the Halifax Seaport. The hotel is actually comprised of three heritage houses with a quiet garden in the back. Some rooms have kitchen facilities but you’ll want to dine in Stories, The Halliburton’s acclaimed restaurant. The Epicurious Adventure, starting at $349 for two, includes a six-course blind tasting menu, one night in a Queen room, complimentary breakfast and WIFI. There are no elevators so you might want to request a ground floor room if stairs are a problem. www.thehalliburton.com
Bring your Camera to Peggy’s Cove
Join Murphy’s Cable Wharf for a bus and boat tour of Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia’s postcard perfect seaside village best know for its iconic lighthouse, the most photographed in the world. About $100 per adult for the 6.5 hour trip. www.store.mtcw.ca Ah Shucks For a feast of freshly shucked oysters (about $3 each), head to the Waterfront Warehouse. The bi-valves, from Nova Scotia and neighbouring New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are so fresh you can taste the sea. Or indulge in the Warehouse Seafood Tower ($69). You get a cracked lobster, oysters, shrimp cocktails, snow crab, smocked oyster dip, house-made chutneys and a vodka-infused cocktail sauce, all served on a bed of crushed ice. www.waterfrontwarehouse.ca