October 3 Halifax

Good morning. This is our Tour de Halifax Day.(d’Halifax?) Breakfast was a plated meal in the hotel cafe. It was okay, though we were reminiscing fondly about containers of yogurt and cooked oatmeal that we’d have preferred. Some of the group went out last night for fancy dinners. I think some might have gone in search of live music. Your faithful scribe was here, working on posts. The window of my hotel room looks directly out on a busy street, and there’s a bus stop just across the street. I enjoy watching all the real live vignettes that occur as people are just getting through their day.

This post will have lots of photos, less text. Everything we saw was so visually stunning.

Our first stop of the day was Peggy’s Cove, a hour’s drive or so out of town. http://www.peggyscoveregion.com/

The area has some impressive rocks–Linda mentioned  the last glacier that scraped off all the top soil and dumped it to form Cape Cod. So I guess tourists need to be careful on the slippery rocks, especially the black ones. I just loved this warning: P1010912The editor in me wants to make one word of “sightseers” but that’s just me. Loved the rest. This was also a chance for Linda to take all our cameras for a group photo. Here we are: P1010910 I seem compelled to photograph every iconic white lighthouse and every white wooden Anglican church I find. So I did that again. The church was locked, so at least you don’t have to admire the inside: P1010913 P1010921

And I saw a bird! I’m quite sure it was a bittern. Sorry it’s not a better photo. I didn’t have the camera ready when the bird flew right by me. darn. P1010916 Peggy’s Cove is quite an artists’ colony. I just loved this sign. I looked more closely at the art work in the photo, and it’s mostly cords and yarn glued into the shapes.P1010918 A local artist, William deGarthe, was originally from Finland. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_E._deGarthe  He began carving a huge chunk of granite in his yard as a tribute to local fishermen. He died before completing the work (though it looks finished to me.) The white square in the sculpture apparently contains his ashes. And the carving on the white means something, too. What do you think? P1010919 P1010920

And just in case you still don’t have an idea how attractive Peggy’s Cove is, here’s a couple more photos: P1010914 P1010917

Our second stop of the day was the Fairview Cemetery near Halifax. It’s famous as the burial site for a number of victims of the Titanic disaster. Some have names, some don’t. Some have names that were added after the burial. The child buried in the Unknown Child monument was later identified, though his family indicated the monument is still for all the children lost in the shipwreck.  There is a tombstone bearing the name given to the DeCaprio character  in the movie. P1010923 P1010922

The cemetery was very interesting. Lots of 19th and 20th Century tombstones, but even the more recent ones looked very old fashioned. So it made the whole cemetery seem very old. Many victims of the Titanic were buried at sea, as I guess it was just impossible to bring them all back to land for burial. Some of the identified victims were shipped to their homes for burial.

Lunch was next, at the Swiss Chalet in Halifax. They tried, but were overwhelmed by so many plates to prepare at once. I ordered poutine, as I’d never had it. P1010924It was incredibly rich, and way too much for one person. Some folks with me helped work on it, but I couldn’t finish them. The veggie burger was good, though. Had a nice chat with Mary. She was so cold we decided it was a “two dog diner” as I scooched up next to her. We talked cooking, including the minutiae of making proper risotto. I think our neighbors were ready to sample some.

Sometime during our day, while we were in the bus, I was chipping at Linda so much that she gave me the microphone, and I was able to share an account of the rush to create heirs following the death of Princess Charlotte in childbirth. It was probably way more gossip about the House of Hanover than anyone really needed, but I enjoyed my two minutes in the limelight.

Our next stop was at the Halifax Public Gardens. http://www.halifaxpublicgardens.ca/

The Gardens were an amazingly enthusiastic and welcome green space in a big city. The stars of the show were the prize-winning dahlias, ridiculously showy and sumptuous, as well as geometrically perfect. Look at these!P1010935 P1010934 P1010933 And these were special gardens commemorating specific events. One has something about “the Year of Soils” and the other referred to a future destination.  I loved the symmetry and color combinations. P1010930 P1010926

And here’s a couple more photos of the garden for your refreshment and enlightenment: P1010927 P1010931 P1010932 I guess the bandstand is a popular venue for weddings. It had almost stopped drizzling by now, but there was this pervasive damp, penetrating cold. I was cold enough not to have a hot flash all afternoon, which was wonderful. But I was thinking longingly of a hot soak back at the hotel.

Joe, the driver, had a hilarious story in which he had tried to placate a bunch of women friends he was driving about who were complaining about the cold. He assured them they’d be warmer in the bus just by them all being in the same place, the same way a number of cows in a barn can warm it up. Now they moo when they see him. At least no one mentioned flatulence (until I did.)

Our next treat was the Citadel, the old hilltop fort established by the British to protect their precious harbor and city. http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/halifax/index.aspx

The fortress is staffed by Canadian parks employees, wearing the uniform of a Highland regiment. So there were lots of kilts. And because of the chill weather, this was the first day they were wearing the wool greatcoats. P1010943 We arrived in time for the Changing of the Guard, and also got to observe a soldier firing the old-fashioned rifles they used when the fort was operational. This young soldier is Barry, and he was our guide. He was funny, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and an excellent raconteur. He showed us all around the fort, including a walk through a totally dark subterranean passage with an uneven floor. We sure were glad to get through that. P1010948 P1010942 P1010939

Barry was very responsive to our questions, and I’m so glad no one asked what he wore under his kilt. Here’s the view from the wall: P1010954 The hill the Citadel was built on was actually hollowed out, and the fort constructed within the hollow, making it a much smaller target for an invading army. (It was never actually attacked in its present form.)  Here’s a couple more photos:P1010950 P1010953 P1010952

The last outing of the day was a trip to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. http://www.pier21.ca/home/

This area of the port was the chief landing and (hopefully) launching spot for immigrants to Canada from early in the 20th Century to the 1970s. By then, most immigrants were arriving by airplane, and the combination of harbor and railway for receiving and processing immigrants was no longer necessary. Our guide was Fraser, who said that his grandfather had arrived at Pier 21 as a a young man, an immigrant. It was a fascinating look at the facilities and the processes at the time. What was coolest was a series of large manila tags hanging up in one area. Visitors could write on a tag, telling their own or a family member’s immigrant tale. We read a few, and they were compelling and heart-warming. What a wonderful idea. There was also a video Fraser showed, but Alice and I skipped out and didn’t see that. Augusta stayed and watched it, and said it was very touching. It was mostly immigrants telling the stories of what brought them to Canada, and their life once here.   Alice and I had hurried to the nearby Farmers’ Market, but it was closed for the day. darn. And I didn’t take any photos

Well, I did take some photos of the Eskimo carvings in the gift shop. They were beyond fabulous. P1010956 P1010957 P1010955 The dancing bears were the best!

Joe was willing to drop of anyone who wanted to catch the Cows ice cream shop by the waterfront before it closed. I had had some in Charlottetown, and wanted more. John and Mary had missed the opportunity then, so the three of us hopped off. We were the Oregon Contingent. John led us through the labyrinth (including the piper who was busking on the plaza) to Cows. yes! We each enjoyed a cone while admiring all the non-edible merchandise. I think my favorite parody was “Moogle” for Google printed on a t-shirt. Every item had “This is a parody” in little letters on it. I wonder if that had to do with law suits? Then they led me back to the hotel. I stopped for a salad at Subway, and was done with a most enjoyable day.

Good night!

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