Halifax, Nova Scotia Stay

Part 2 of 3 (continuation of  Nova Scotia Summer Vacation)

The drive to Nova Scotia, from Wolfville, was quite visual from the highway.  There were continuous forests and different types of waterways to view throughout our 90 minute drive into Halifax.  It was quiet and relaxing as we drove along with only occasional cars passing or being passed.

However, as we approached Halifax, the traffic changed into congestion.  I believe some construction on a bridge impacted our journey into the downtown area.  I don’t know what happened because we were totally unprepared for a bridge toll.  We found ourselves in a lane that required a transponder and cars were rolling along. Steve slightly hesitated, panicked about what to do.  I told him to drive through and we’d take our chances.  To impact the traffic behind us while awaiting someone to come over to the unmanned booth could have potentially caused a riot.  We drove through the toll.  We weren’t arrested.  We weren’t fined.  Everyone behind us was able to go on their merry ways.    All was good.

After that blunder, we drove easily to Homewood Suites in downtown Halifax.  The hotel shared a parking lot and garage with Hampton Inn on the same property.  

While we mostly vacation in timeshare units on our travels, sometimes it is necessary to stay in hotels or inns for short stays or around an extended timeshare stay,  We do try to stay in accommodations that offer more than one room.  Steve and I have opposite work schedules back at home.  He’s an early-bird and I’m a night owl.  It takes a few days for us to get on the same schedule.  It’s nice to have a separate living area away from the bedroom.  It allows us not to disturb one another until we can mesh our sleep schedules.

Homewood Suites in Halifax was very nice and we were very happy with the location, views from the room and hotel amenities.  The staff was attentive and accommodating throughout our stay.  A hot breakfast was complimentary each morning.  Monday through Thursday, there is a light evening meal served complimentary also.

 

After unpacking and settling in, we decided to take a walk through the downtown to locate the meeting point for a pub tour that afternoon.  It is “hilly” in downtown Nova Scotia.  Walking to the harbor area was all downhill, which made it an easy walk.  Halifax has a bustling downtown area.  There was lots and lots of construction going on.  We were glad that we opted to walk vs. trying to make our way through, looking for parking, while traversing the unknown.  Walking just made it easier.

When we got to the waterfront, we found ourselves at the site of the famous Alexander Keith Brewery.  Across from there, we discovered that the Halifax Jazz Festival was just getting underway.  We meandered along, checking out shops and activity in the channel, while looking for our meet-up point for the tour.

 

We made all our tour reservations for Halifax prior to our trip. They all had to be prepaid with no short-notice cancellations available. Therefore, we wanted to ensure we didn’t miss our “Drink Halifax” pub tour with Taste of Halifax Food, Beer and Wine Tours.

It was an easy-to-find spot.  We were the first to arrive.  Shortly thereafter, another couple arrived, then the tour guide, and then a group of four.  It was a great number for the tour and everyone was fun and ready to have a good time.

Our first stop was the wine shop,  Bishop’s Cellar , where we had a wine tasting served with some small snacks.  We received information on the wineries where the wines were made including a couple we had visited while staying in Wolfville.

 

Next stop, Temple Bar.  One of the bartenders greeted us, shared the history of the bar, and concocted a tasty beverage for each of us.

 

All the tours of this type (including restaurant tours) visit locations within close proximity of one another.  There’s not a tremendous amount of walking.  There’s enough time between stops that the guide is able to share history and anecdotes along the way.

Stillwell Bar was the next pub that we stopped in.  They have a large chalkboard where all the beers for the day are listed.  There’s plenty of variety for anyone’s venture into the world of craft beers.  We were served three different beers on tap, along with some great munchies to enjoy with our libations.

 

The last stop on the tour was the Auction House on Argyle Street.  It was established in a building built in 1765, just 15 years after Halifax was founded.  In the 1800’s, it was a fully functioning auction house. However, over the years, it experienced many changes in ownership. Today, the Auction House serves up great food, a wide variety of beverages, live music, wing nights, charity food auctions and more.  

Upon arrival, we were greeted and seated promptWe were each poured a generous glass of whiskey and served a couple of different appetizers.  

 

At the end of the tour, the rest of the group wanted to continue on with enjoying the many pubs and restaurants in the nearby vicinity.  We declined due to it being a long day for us and knowing we had an early morning tour booked for the following day.  We said our “good-byes” and headed back to the hotel to unwind from the day and to get a good night’s sleep to prepare for our biking tour around Halifax.

The next morning, we enjoyed a hot breakfast at Homewood Suites prior to heading out for our tour.  Like the previous day, we chose to walk to the meeting location in order to avoid construction, traffic and potential parking issues.  And, again, was an easy walk to the harbor since the going is all downhill.

Our tour, which was pre-booked, prior to our arrival, was with I Heart Bikes.  They offer City tours, as well as bike rentals.  We chose to take the “All in One 4-Hour City Tour”, which was a medium-level tour.  

It was Steve and I, and we had a young local woman that led the tour. I love biking and this was a great way to see the many sights in the area, as well as get a history lesson.  It was a really fun tour and Izzy was a great guide that made the tour quite enjoyable.  Highlights of the tour included Halifax Harbour, Point Pleasant Park, the Public Gardens, Dalhousie University, Downtown Halifax,  and the Citadel.  Midway on the tour, we stopped into a local burrito shop for lunch.  It was tasty and we enjoyed the conversation with Izzy.

 

 

I really enjoy gardens and the Halifax Public Gardens were gorgeous.  I would have loved to have had the opportunity to return and spend more time in this area.  However, timing did not allow for a return visit.

 

 

I would highly recommend this tour if you enjoy the outdoors and biking.  Keep in mind, though, that downtown Halifax and the surrounding neighborhoods are hilly and there were a couple of spots that required uphill climbs.

We headed back to the hotel to get rested and cleaned up for our evening.  We, again, had pre-booked a tour for the evening.  We enjoy restaurant tours very much when we visit a new area.   We chose the “Night Out on Quinpool Food Tour” through Local Tasting Tours.

“….a delicious evening discovering history, diverse ethnic cuisines, and sweet treats.”  The tour included five substantial food tastings at much-loved, locally-owned restaurants in the vibrant Quinpool neighborhood.  Cuisine would be shared by Lebanese, Greek, Thai and Korean restaurateurs with cheese cake as a final treat.

How could one go wrong?  Well, we did.   Poor planning and being unfamiliar with the area, we managed to miss the tour.  We could have called the guide and caught up with the tour since they provided a phone number.  We arrived at the meeting stop a few minutes late and the group had moved on.  However, our “comedy of errors” continued to  rear its ugly head.  I left my “cell” at the hotel and Steve’s phone wasn’t charged.  We drove around trying to look for  a group walking around, but were never able to locate them. This was not our first time doing this.  We once missed a food tour in Miami Beach for all the same reasons.  The first expensive lesson should have been learned, but we did it a second time.  Great precautions will be set up in the future to avoid any more of these missed tours.

It made for a crappy rest of the night.  We ended up ordering pizza for dinner from one of the recommended pizza shops provided by the bike tour guide.

We ate our meal, went to bed, and anticipated a good trip west, along the coast, to White Point Resort, the next morning.  A stop was anticipated at Peggy’s  Cove, which is one of the most photographed areas in Nova Scotia.

(To be Continued)

 

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