Maritimes Road Trip, Part 3

Back to city life!

Day 10: Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia to Halifax, Nova Scotia

Next stop on this trip: Halifax! As I was plotting out my route the night before, Google had an interesting suggestion.

There isn’t even a road from Blanc-Sablon to Sept-Iles!

The drive back on the Cabot Trail was uneventful, given it was early on a Sunday morning. The ride was beautiful, though, and I decided to put my dashcam to good use to show a sped-up drive through the park.

On my way off the island, I stopped for breakfast at The Dancing Goat Cafe and Bakery. As I enjoyed my breakfast sandwich and latte, I got into a lovely conversation with two women from northern Virginia who were biking their way through the park. We chatted for about twenty minutes before they had to get back on the road. I passed them on the road as I drove out and we shared a friendly wave. It was a really nice way to start the day.

The drive to Halifax was uneventful, and I got there right at the check-in time for my AirBnB, home fore the next few days. It was a really nice place, with two bedrooms, a big kitchen (that I never used), and a washer/dryer. I closed off one of the bedrooms (less places for Charlie to get lost in) and took some time to decompress.

The location was simply perfect. It was on the outskirts of Dalhousie University, so there were lots of walkable, interesting places to check out. Heck, there was even a bodega and a Korean fried chicken takeout place right across the street.

(Not shown: Huge provincial liquor store on the corner opposite this one)

Once I was settled in Charlie and I walked the six blocks down to the Waterfront. Comments I had seen were right: it’s a bit of a tourist trap, as verified by the cruise ships docked there.

Right down by the cruise ship docks, though, was my next destination: Garrison Brewing. They had a bustling bar inside, but a fabulous patio with lots of different seating. I grabbed a flight and sat down outside to watch the people go by.

The seating gradually filled up as I sat there. Since I was the only person sitting at a four-person table, when a couple came out and clearly were having problems finding a place to sit, I offered to share my table. I’m glad I did. After ooh-ing and aah-ing over Charlie, we got to chatting. The man and his wife were from Baltimore, in port for a stop on their Royal Caribbean cruise. We talked for an hour, swapping cruise stories and experiences. They had done all of the big tourist stops in Halifax, and were able to suggest places that I might want to check out. It was one of those serendipitous moments that made me really glad I had Charlie along to help start conversations.

After they left, Charlie and I wandered around town a bit more. Halifax seems to have a great culture of public art, so it was great to see some of that, as well as random local landmarks.

Dinner was at East of Grafton. The burger was OK, though the Bob “Dill”an cocktail (Local Gin, St Germaine, muddled cucumber & dill, fresh citrus) was quite good. For dessert I checked out a local institution, Eva’s Original Chimneys. The chimneys (also called Kürtöskalács in Hungarian or Trdelník in Czech) are a rolled pastry that doubles nicely as an ice cream cone. I got the “Mango Coconut” – Vanilla soft serve ice cream in a coconut cone, with mango coulis, shredded coconut, and dried mango garnish.

As I finished the chimney, I saw that there was a full-sized marshmallow in the bottom to prevent leaking. I gave it to Charlie to see how he’d eat it. The answer was…quickly!

After that we retired back to the AirBnB for a quiet night in.

Day 11: Halifax, Nova Scotia

My hopes were not high for today, as Weather Canada was predicting heavy rainfall the entire day. No sign of rain in the morning, so I walked down to get breakfast.

I spent the morning working remotely, but when lunch came around the rain still hadn’t shown up. There was an interesting restaurant at the end of the block, The Garden, that I wanted to check out, so I grabbed a table on their semi-covered patio. Lunch was a delicious salad and a very good cocktail, The Painted High Rise (‘A Mojito inspired tribute to the Bolivian artist Roberto Mamani Mamani: Lillet Aromatized Wine, Leblon Cachaça & Ginger, Green Juice, Lime, Absinthe).

It was a delightful lunch, and I had just finished up when…

We ran through the rain back the our AirBnB, where I worked for a couple more hours. I threw in the towel around 4 PM and decided to go for a walk. The skies had turned to occasional misting, so I put on my windbreaker and we set off across the city. Our first stop was Tusket Falls Brewing Company‘s Halifax taproom, where Charlie made friends with the British couple sitting next to us on the patio. From there it was over to Good Robot Brewing Company. It was just us and the bartender, so we had a good chat, and she recommended various places in the city to check out. I loved the heck out of this place – they were clearly tied into the community and involved in a lot of great causes. Plus, when a brief downpour came through, the bartender allowed Charlie and I to relocate just inside until it passed.

We stayed mostly dry on the walk back, and later that evening I walked down to a local place and got some ramen to go for dinner. It was a really good day. I am now officially a fan of Halifax!

Day 12: Halifax, Nova Scotia

This was my last day in Halifax, and I was sad. I really loved this city, and I look forward to returning sometime soon.

After spending the morning working remotely (and doing laundry), I was feeling cooped up. It was a beautiful day out, around 20 C (68 F) so I took a break from work at lunchtime and walked a couple of blocks to a place that the bartender at Good Robot Brewing had recommended to me: Stillwell Beer Garden.

Wow, I loved the heck out of this place. It’s a beer patio writ large, very dog-friendly. (The number of places that are dog-friendly in Halifax was staggering. I love it!) I grabbed a flight and ordered the Donair Dog.

Now, when I travel I like to look up the local culinary specialty so I can be sure to try it. All of the sources I read said that the must-try food in Halifax is the donair. I was a little mystified – it looked like a gyro, basically. What was the big deal? A friend told me that the secret is in the sauce. I was skeptical. After getting the Donair Dog…I understand now. And yes, it was really, really good. Donair is like gyros, cooked on a vertical rotating spit like gyros, but made with beef and different spices. I hadn’t looked up the sauce until I was writing this, but if I had I think I would have been even more skeptical. It has three ingredients: Sweetened condensed milk, vinegar, and garlic powder. But put it all together, add some diced tomatoes and onions, and it’s delicious!

Suitably fortified, I went back to work for a couple of meetings. When I wrapped up for the day, I decided to go back to Stillwell Beer Garden because I loved the vibe so much. This short video gives you a good feel for the place (audio removed because the people at the next table were evidently getting married. Right there. So OK then).

This time around I went with the “Icelandic Dog”: Peasant’s Pantry hot dog, onions, crispy onions, ketchup, remoulade, and Pysusinnep (Icelandic spicy brown hot dog mustard). It was pretty good, but the donair dog was better! I followed this up with blueberry-basil ice cream topped with lemon curd. That was delicious!

And Charlie got to enjoy another Pup Cup, on the house.

After that it was another quiet night in (I’m sensing a theme here), packing up to leave the next day.

Day 13: Halifax, Nova Scotia to Lubec, Maine

I got an early start, but before I left I grabbed breakfast at a lovely Italian bakery/coffee shop/deli that was just two blocks from my AirBnb. I was cranky I wasn’t aware of it earlier! A latte, a breakfast panini, and a pistachio-and-chocolate-filled croissant were just what I needed to cap off my stay in Halifax.

The drive back up to Moncton was uneventful. I make a good dent in my next audiobook, Blank Spaces – a terrific romance with an asexual main character. I got to St. John, New Brunswick just in time for lunch. After getting a bit lost downtown (Waze got confused) I found a great Irish pub/nanobrewery with a deck out front. I liked their cider!

After lunch, Charlie and I took was walk around Wolastoq Park, which had some great views of Reversing Falls (the flow of water through the rapids reverses with the tides) and downtown St. John.

Then it was more driving and more driving until we made out way to L’Etete, New Brunswick. There we waited for about a half-hour for the Deer Island Ferry, the first of two ferries for the day.

The seas were calm and it was a beautiful day, so it was nice to get out and walk around a bit during the 20-minute ride and take a short video of the crossing.

Once on Deer Island, we drove about 20 minutes to the next ferry, this one to Campobello Island. We had to wait about 45 minutes for this one, so Charlie and I took a walk around to admire the views until our ferry arrived.

Someone on Twitter asked how Charlie was doing with the rocking motion of the ferry. I think its safe to say that it didn’t bother him one bit.

Once on Campbello Island (yes, that Campobello), it was a short drive to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Bridge, which is a glorious name that may take as long to say as it takes to cross the small bridge. Right at the end, though, is the US border. It’s a tiny little border crossing, and we were through in less than five minutes without any problems and then I was in Lubec, Maine.

Siegfried was kind enough to offer to host me for a couple of days at him home in Lubec. It’s a lovely older house with a gorgeous view of the Quoddy Narrows and Campobello Island.

We sat and chatted for a while, then went into downtown Lubec. You know, both blocks of downtown Lubec. Really, it’s a charming little town. Its roots are clearly in the fishing industry, though with that waning the focus has turned to tourism. Siegfried took me to Cohill’s Inn for dinner, and I really loved the place. The bartender was amazing. I always am impressed when someone is turning out quality cocktails with excellent ingredients and technique. In this case, he was using bottles I have in my liquor cabinet, so hell yeah I approve! The food was top-notch too: maple-glazed chicken breast and a waffle on a bed of polenta. Overall a wonderful night with excellent company.

Next: More Lubec, Boston, and homeward bound!