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A Whirlwind Visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia

Our journey to Halifax, Nova Scotia continued on Sunday, July 9. The drive from Truro to Halifax took about an hour. We traveled with our E-bikes on the back hitch of our truck to Point Pleasant Park situated in the south end of the Halifax peninsula. It is a historic 75-hectare wooded park crisscrossed with 39 km of easy winding trails and wide paths, many wheelchair-accessible. We parked on the side street outside the western entrance on Tower Road at Point Pleasant Drive. Visitors can experience preserved ruins of early fortifications, coastal ecosystems, as well as cultural resources.

From the top of the park we rode our bikes down to the oceanfront then along the bike path to the cruise ship terminal. On Sunday they hold a local farmer's market so we took time to take in the experience. It was more of a craft type venue than a produce market but we walked around and looked at the different booths. Continuing on we traveled to the beautiful waterfront area with restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions.

The Halifax Waterfront is a bustling hotspot in the city. With one of the world’s longest urban boardwalks spanning the length of the waterfront - 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) from Pier 21 at the Halifax Seaport to Casino Nova Scotia - it is easy to spend a day exploring here. Since our time was limited, we rode it's length then headed uphill to the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site.

It’s not an exaggeration to say Halifax, a city on the sea, owes its existence to the Citadel. It was the large hill overlooking the easily defended harbor below that led the British military to found the town there in 1749. Among the first buildings constructed was a wooden guardhouse on top of what would eventually be called Citadel Hill, with Halifax’s first settlers building their homes at the base of the hill closer to the water. Over the years as the fort grew so did the town with much of Halifax dedicated to supplying the soldiers with both essential supplies and off-duty entertainment.

Today, the Halifax Citadel continues to watch over the city’s downtown core, although now its role is a reminder of Halifax’s past and not as a military fortification. The present Citadel, completed in 1856, is officially called Fort George, named after Britain’s King George II, and is actually the fourth in a series of forts to sit atop what is now known as Citadel Hill. Its distinctive star shape is typical of many 19th century forts built by the British military and gave the garrison sweeping arcs of fire. From its deep defensive ditch, soldiers pointed muskets from every angle of its stout walls and large cannons lined its ramparts. It’s easy to see why no enemy force ever dared to attack the Halifax Citadel.

The Halifax Citadel is anything but a simple museum. Every day the Citadel comes to life with the sounds and colors of its military interpreters, the 78th Highlanders and the Royal Artillery. Dressed in the same uniforms that their respective regiments wore in the mid-1800s, the 78th Highlanders guard the Citadel’s entrance and conduct marching and band drills on the parade grounds.

From the Citadel we rode back to the truck to put the bikes back on the carrier and start our return trip back to Maine. There are so many more places we wanted to visit, but we would really need at least two more days so we decided it will have to wait for a return trip to Nova Scotia in the future. Stopping for lunch on the return trip, we ordered a Donair. Generally they are available at pizza shops and we found one on the way out of Halifax.

What is a Donair? Halifax Donair is a Canadian Treasure and the official food of Halifax. Donairs are a culturally-mixed street food with origins in the Middle East. It generally consists of seasoned beef shaved from a meat cone cooked on a vertical rotisserie, wrapped in a pita and topped with a sweet sauce and condiments. It was a delicious treat we had to try!

It took us over 4 hours to backtrack to Maine so we traded the driving responsibilities. We stopped in St. John for dinner at Grannan's restaurant. I had Shrimp Scampi Spaghetti with 10 jumbo shrimp, garlic, fine sliced onion, dry white wine, butter, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, al dente spaghetti, roasted garlic toastie. Karen had the Maple Ginger Soy Salmon made with St. Andrew’s salmon, Québec maple syrup, garlic, ginger, stir-fried rice noodles, seasonal vegetables. Umm, umm good!

Honestly. I think we really needed a week to see this area adequately without feeling rushed. There is so much to see in this part of the world and we just scratched the surface, but at least we know how to plan for a future. Karen and I are really enjoying this part of Maine. The coastline is stunning, there is so much history, the locals are very friendly and of course the seafood variety is simply amazing!

Our bottom line conclusion: we need to stay in the area longer before moving on to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park on Thursday, July 13. We still want to go to see more of Eastport and Lubec, Maine, the Chocolate factory in St. Stephen across the river, bike riding and golf in St. Andrews (the Canadian version), and a visit to Roosevelt Historical Cottage in Campobello Island, New Brunswick.


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