Two weeks ago I headed to Halifax after a 20-year absence. During my last visit my son’s father and I met up with his brother and girlfriend and I showed them some of the places I’d discovered during time spent doing a one-year degree in journalism at the University of King’s College. I stuck around after graduation, finally leaving the city for good about nine months afterwards.
This time I had a taste of a King’s dorm experience when my partner and I spent a night at Alex Hall, the dorm I likely would have lived in had I lived in residence. We spent the next night in a room we’d rented through Airbnb in a charming house located in another part of town.
Halifax is one of my favourite cities. I love its walkability and joie de vivre. I love the whimsical names you see everywhere. I love that its Public Gardens offers free admission, so unlike Montreal’s Jardin Botanique, where most of the year you pay to access that park.
The food is amazing too and at the risk of sounding like I work for Tourism Nova Scotia, I don’t think we had one bad meal as we chowed down on breakfast sandwiches at Just Us! Café, I enjoyed a brie and tomato sandwich, Inka latte and mix of salt caramel/mint chocolate chip gelato at Humati-T Café, the chickpea burger at the Stubborn Goat’s beer garden on the Waterfront was very tasty, I loved the latte and brownie we shared at Choco Café.
I had a fun birthday dinner with my partner, my dad, my sister and her boyfriend. I searched Twitter for an interesting restaurant and learned a food truck called The Food Wolf was serving meals at a bar called the Timber Lounge. I read something about the Timber Lounge and axe throwing but I thought it was a joke.
It wasn’t at all! While we sat indoors at tables hewn from huge logs we got to watch an employee group do their team-building exercise, hurling axes at log slices painted with colourful bull’s eyes in a room at the back of the bar. It just like a dart game but with axes instead of darts and a coach accompanying players, making sure everyone was safe. My family told the waitress it was my birthday though I think she understood it was my dad’s birthday and there was some joking that we could try our hand at this lumberjack sport. I was too chicken to even go near the axes but what a rush seeing these men and women enthusiastically throw largish axes across the room. It seemed primal and dangerous but fun too.
As for the food, everyone at our table except me ordered a “Piggy Bun” pulled pork sandwich, which they raved about. I enjoyed “Charred Scallion Noodles,”an Asian-style tofu and vegetable dish. The beer was good – I tried a local English brown ale craft beer while my sister and partner drank a locally crafted pale ale. She had to wait for the pale ale on tap to finish before getting a chance to try the amber ale she wanted.
Afterwards we headed to DeeDee’s Ice Cream, where again our food experience was excellent. I was pleasantly surprised by their spicy Mexican chocolate ice cream.
- I had no idea Theodore Tugboat (Theodore Too) was at the Halifax Waterfront and that someone had put him to work giving tours to tourists. Actually he’s not the original fictional tugboat from the children’s TV show that aired for years on CBC but an imitation tugboat that looks just like Theodore.
© Andrew Belding
- We spotted the Bluenose II, a replica of the famous fishing and racing schooner you see on the Canadian dime, to the left of Theodore Too and noticed it was also offering (pricey to us) tours.
- I was sad to see few ducks at the Halifax Public Gardens. It might have something to do with rules banning people from feeding the ducks. I have happy memories of the place being overrun with ducks and I remember seeing swans at the Gardens. No swans this time, a few ducks and some seagulls mimicking ducks, I guess.
- I think it was Grad Week in Halifax. It seemed everywhere we went we stumbled on dressed-up couples or singles, sometimes accompanied by parents and family members, having their photos taken as their limos or buses waited. We saw grads on a Wednesday evening and Thursday during the day and heading into evening. A waiting limo driver said all week 14 high schools were holding events around Halifax but June 23rd was the biggest day/evening for the grads. I asked if drunken grads were a problem but the limo driver said he doesn’t see the grads when they get drunk, which happens afterwards. I think his exact words were he doesn’t see them when “they get ugly.”