Nova Scotia still as charming as ever

Road Diary update from Nova Scotia, Canada. Click here to read my previous Road Diary update from this road trip around Maritime Canada.

It has been well over 20 years since I was last in Nova Scotia and it seems more charming than ever. The last time I was in this part of Canada, my girlfriend at the time and I visited her parents who had a home in Chester, not far from Halifax. The home was located on the water in a small bay, or perhaps a cove, with a private dock which accompanied a small sailboat.

We spent three glorious weeks that summer in Nova Scotia, sailing, exploring, playing golf, reading and just relaxing. I have so many fond memories of that trip that I was excited to revisit some of the sights I had visited so many years earlier.

I flew in a couple days ago, and yesterday, I picked up Chris, my videographer and sidekick for the next few weeks as we road trip around Maritime Canada.

Our first stop was to visit the famed Peggy’s Cove, which might just be the most iconic scene in Nova Scotia. This idyllic village did not appear to change one bit from my visit many years earlier—it’s still as popular as ever, and, still just as charming. Every detail I remembered, down to the bagpiper playing in Scottish kilt attire, was still the same. En route to Peggy’s Cove the weather/light was not looking favorable for photos, but once we arrived, it was utterly perfect.

It wasn’t long before hunger pangs set in, so we decided to look for a place to eat. It was peak lunch hour and everywhere we considered was quite busy, so we decided to drive down the road a bit where we found a charming little cafe that served some fantastic seafood chowder.

With our appetites satisfied, we headed back toward Halifax so Chris could check into the hotel. We stayed at the Westin Nova Scotian, which was conveniently located right in downtown, across the street from the oldest farmers market in north America, which dates back to 1750. We ended up spending the afternoon strolling down the the waterfront pier taking in the sights. It was a stunning afternoon, unfortunately the day came to an end much too quickly.

Westin in downtown Halifax aerial shot by MikesroadTrip.com

Halifax Day Three

The next morning we headed across the street to check out the the farmers market, which we found to be quite lively. The market is as fresh as the fruits and vegetables on display. There were arts and crafts people tending to their booths, as well as a several restaurants open. What I found quite enchanting was the coffee shop located on the second level where you could grab a cup of joe and then enjoy it on a long by narrow deck in order to take in the harbor views.

The Halifax Waterfront was still waking up, so we hopped in the car and went to explore a bit. I have a particular fascination with cemeteries, so we stopped at one that looked intriguing and sure enough, it was. Apparently Halifax has a close tie to the Titanic, in this cemetery lay several hundred people who perished that faithful day. Most of the people laid to rest were 3rd class passengers whose kin did not have the money to ship their bodies home. The really interesting part is that one of the headstones has the name, J. Dawson, which if you will recall, the main character in the Titanic Movie was Jack Dawson, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Every time the movie has a spike in the media, this headstone is adorned with lost of flowers and other mementos from those who think J. Dawson was the individual portrayed in the movie. What they don’t know is that Jack Dawson was a fictional character, and this J. Dawson’s first name was actually “John.” All of this and more can be found in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic down at the Halifax Waterfront.’

Our next stop of the day was to a small fishing village known as Blue Rocks, which is off the beaten path, and where many tourist would likely not happen upon. As a seasoned road tripper, this is what I love to discover. Blue Rocks is only about 5-10 minutes from the very well known Town of Lunenburg, but most people don’t venture past this UNESCO site. Some might say that “Blue Rocks” is Lunenburg’s answer to Peggy’s Cove. While very cool, visitors still need to see Peggy’s Cove. 

Of course, we could not pass by Lunenburg without stopping. As I mentioned, this is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The community is a dense cluster of colorful homes, where I found the best views to be across the harbor. One of the things that makes Luneburg special is that is is one of only two urban communities in North America designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Seventy percent of the original colonial buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries continue to greet visitors with their colorful facades. Lunenburg mingles the past with the present, with the occasional tall ship being moored in the harbor.

Lunenburg UNESCO site aerail photo by MikesRoadTrip.com

I have yet another Titanic connection to share in a moment. After exploring Halifax for a good part of the day, Chris and I headed back to our hotel to freshen up and get ready for dinner. Along the way we strolled down the waterfront area again. The late afternoon sun was shining bright, getting close to the golden hour for photos. We came across this yacht that was docked. From a distance it looked like a large ship, but as we got closer, we discovered it was enourmous. I have a lot of experience around yachts as I used to head the marketing for a large dealer out of San Diego, but I have never seen a personal yacht this large. I’m only guessing, but it must have been near 175′.  It was a really good-looking craft too, and so impeccably maintained.

Street performers and other vendors were in full swing. We ventured off of the waterfront area, up the hill a couple of blocks where we ran into another cool cemetery. It was getting late and we really needed to make our way toward the Five Fishermen Restaurant where we had a dinner reservations. As it happened, we kept getting distracted by cool stuff. Earlier in the day we saw something of interest on a hill overlooking Halifax, so we decided to quickly check it out since the restaurant was not far from it. Come to find out this dominating hill in the middle of downtown Halifax is the Citadel National Historic Site. It was quite a steep walk to get to the top, but the views were worth it.

Just a few minutes late, we made it to the Five Fishermen Restaurant, where the other Titanic tie-in takes place. In 1912, when the Titanic went down off the coast of Newfoundland, rescue operations took place out of the nearest mainland port, which was Halifax. Some of the wealthier victims were brought to Snows Funeral Home so arrangements could be made, this building is now known as the Five Fishermen Restaurant. Needless to say, Titanic enthusiasts tend to flock to Halifax for all of this history.

We ended our evening having a fantastic meal at the Five Fishermen. The warm contemporary ambiance, great service and fresh/creative dishes provided an exceptional dining experience.

Tomorrow, we leave Halifax and will spend the day making our way to Digby, which is on the western part of the Province. The next week will be spent road tripping around New Brunswick and in a couple weeks we’ll return to do some more exploring of Nova Scotia. Click here to read the next Road Diary update from my road trip around Maritime Canada. Or, click here to read the next Road Diary update from Nova Scotia.

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Mike Shubic

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Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.

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