1-5 August 2016 Halifax - Lunenburg - Blue Rocks
Our arrival in Nova Scotia occurred the end of July but we’re still here—and lovin’ it—so bear with me if I repeat. We fancy ourselves to be ‘active travelers’ because we plunge into the entire experience of the culture, people, and settings of the places we visit. We chat with local people, take in their festivals, and go off the beaten track to discover how citizens of each area truly live. In Nova Scotia, the tides have shaped not only their coastline but also the cultures and traditions of those who live here. This little part of our world is blessed by geography. Nowhere in the province are you ever far from the ocean so choice seafood abounds everywhere.
By far, my favorite village is Old Town Lunenburg, UNESCO World Heritage Site, established in 1753, is an ideal example of a British planned colonial settlement in North America. I love its colorful waterfront, red wooden warehouses, narrow streets, charming architecture and nautical history. It continues to be a working waterfront. The heritage homes used to be white, then pastel, and now they’re painted very bright, almost glow-in-the-dark colors—-like bright purple trimmed in a bright green—loved that color combo. With all the bright contrasting colors set off by the crystal blue water, in my imagination I see the Lunenburg waterfront as a piece of jewel-toned tapestry.
Lunenburg, was settled by “foreign protestants” who were mainly german-speaking Lutherans with a strong work ethic. They survived then thrived, moving from farming to the fishing. Some of the last names have changed but 10 generations later, many of these folk still live here.
We felt we’d come to the watery edge of the earth when we wandered a bit down the road from Lunenburg to Blue Rocks, a micro-village of fishermen and truly a step back in time. It’s a ruggedly quaint paradise trimmed in little fish shacks that carry so much natural charm. They are still alive with the work of the inshore fishermen and salty breezes reeking of a natural beauty that's indisputable. It is truly a place out of time. The name, Blue Rocks, comes for the bluish tint (sort of) of the slate lining the shore. This is an artist’s paradise and is inspiring enough to make the unartistic want to pick up a brush and paint. Inhale clean salt air, dip your toes in the cold Atlantic, relax, and take pleasure in the knowledge that, thankfully, places like this still exist.
I’ve heard of Peggy’s Cove quite a bit and even though Bill had been there several time, this was my first. He often traveled to N.S before his retirement from Michelin. There were Michelin plants in that area that were his destination. We walked over to the bas-relief sculpture chiseled from the granite of a 98 foot rock face. This is a William E. deGarthe creation showing the lives and legends of local fishermen.
|deGarth's carving on a 98 foot wall of granite|
The light at Peggy’s Cove is probably the most photographed light house. But no wonder—it’s picture perfect, perched atop massive granite, polished by the pounding waves. It’s been guiding sailors and fishermen home since 1868. When you go, don’t be in a rush so that you can sit on the rocks and watch the sea crash against those boulders. The sight and sound is hypnotic.
In Halifax, founded in 1749, we dived head first into their maritime and military heritage. We climbed the grassy knoll (not to be confused with Cadillac Mountain!) to visit the star-shaped fortress, the Halifax Citadel. It has stood watch over the city since the mid-1800’s. We were in trenches which totally changed the mental image that I had of battlefield trenches. For summer jobs, college students dress in period soldier costumes and provide tours both in French and English. The kilts and jackets they wear are 100% scratchy wool but it was a cool day when we toured so the outfits were probably very comfortable except for the itchiness.
|There were fewer of this uniform than the kilts. They remind me of Little Johnny, the Phillip Morris man. You'd know him only if you were born before 1950.|
Many friends told us to not miss the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax. Besides the exhibits, we went into the chandlery which is in the original location and looks exactly like I imagined that it did “back then”. They had a huge inventory of nautical hardware. The museum’s collections include over 24,000 artifacts relating to the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian merchant marine, Nova Scotia small craft, and shipwrecks, and over 20,000 photos and artifacts from the Titanic disaster. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of diving a wreck but their videos didn’t reinforce my beliefs of what they would look like. Generally, by the time they’re found, things are covered with sand, silt, marine growth, and have corroded beyond recognition by the untrained eye so that’s one thing I can remove from my bucket list.
|Fresnel Lens in Maritime Museum|
Also, displayed in that museum are photos and recounts of several Halifax fires. One was caused when 2 ships collided in the harbor in broad open daylight and one was carrying tons of ammo, gasses, and other explosives which pretty much wiped out the city, killing 1600 people. Another was a fire on a jetty where ammo was stored and after the fire began, it took 24 hours for all them explosives to finish firing. Halifax was closest to the Titanic catastrophe so were first to reach the site and that was re-told and photographed in great detail.
Hugging Halifax’s downtown waterfront is a 10 block boardwalk that provides access to shops, restaurants, and historic sites. It makes for a pleasant stroll we were always kept comfortable by the oceans cooling breeze.
The Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market is billed as the longest continuously running market in North America. More than 250 vendors sell fresh produce, baked goods, cheeses, wines, and hand-crafted items. There’s a roof-top patio where you can eat your purchased lunch while enjoying the harbor view.
Just leaving Halifax for a week's stay on Cape Breton. Stay tuned.
Bill and Laura