Wednesday, January 08, 2014

gelid, welcoming, colourful New Scotland - I

view from the plane of Quebec Province, with strange effect from iPhone camera

I had a few days off starting January, and no plans, so my husband decided to surprise me and offered to take me on a trip!  Now, flying from Toronto, the obvious choices for a quick, interesting 4-5 day trip were Chicago, New York, Boston...  Me being me, of course, something more adventurous was required, so instead I chose to travel... to Nova Scotia!  And what did my marvellous husband say to that unusual winter choice?  YES!  And so we headed to explore my 7th (his 5th) Canadian province!  I'll be saying this over and over, and I'll post the pictures to prove it:  this was one very pretty trip.   The places I saw excited my imagination, were almost too quaint to be true, and were practically for our eyes only as there were little, if any, other tourists around.  It was truly a trip to remember... 


I'll be honest - I expected little, if anything, from Nova Scotia's capital.  For me, it was mostly the place we had to fly to so we could get to the good stuff later.  But, since we had to stay there for a night, I tried to make the best of it by booking a room at the Waverley Inn.  And not just any room, but the room Oscar Wilde stayed at in 1882!  I don't usually write about inns and Bed & Breakfasts, but this place was super pretty!  It's an old heritage house, the room we got was incredibly cozy, there was a lounge with lots of Christmas decorations still on, and the place was right downtown.  Loved it!   In fact, the feel of the inn and room, as well as Oscar Wilde's photo, plus some impromptu nudging from a beloved friend, inspired the huz to do some Butoh in the room!  I love it when these things happen unannounced.

Anyhow, that first night was January 1st and, while we did go out for an evening stroll to get a sense of the town, it was totally freezing.  In fact, most of our trip was like that, with a windchill of -23 °C to -26 °C thanks to a crazy weather system all over eastern Canada.  And yet, the cold and the snow did provide for a rather special light and setting for the trip...

So... before our fingers and toes froze off, and with very limited food options (I mean, it was Jan 1st, right?), we decided to take refuge at Bearly's House of Blues and Ribs, just across the street from our inn.   And what did we find there?  Awesomeness!  (yes, go ahead, declare my awesomeness threshold as pitiable) First, we asked for a local beer, only to find out that Alexander Keith's (which has a nice, red brew) was actually from Halifax!  Second, the place had not one but TWO kinds of vegan burgers!  Hell, not even Toronto's pubs!  Finally, there was what they called the Annual Levée and there was a very festive atmosphere and numerous amateurs taking turns singing and playing blues - in fact, amateur is an understatement, as most of them were incredible!   What a fun surprise and a special welcome to Halifax!

Next day we were going to leave for Peggys Cove.  You may not recognize the name, but you might recognize the lighthouse when I post the pics in my next post.  The day was clear (if frigid) and we decided to take a last look around town before leaving.  And it was worth freezing over (literally - my beard was accumulating bits of ice that formed from my breath!).   There were plenty of old buildings and churches, some with a slight touch of Irish or Scottish in them.  And, on top of that, it was so cold we were lucky to see a phenomenon called sea smoke!  I can't explain the physics of it, but what matters is the look of it, like steam coming straight from the sea!

We even came across a very interesting sex shop, Venus Envy.  An award winning sex shop (so we read), it had plenty of interesting toys and literature, was very welcoming (oh, especially in that super cold weather!) and was heavy on trans, feminist and alternative material.  Fun!

So, having had Oscar Wilde, blues, heritage architecture, sea smoke and progressive sex shopping, we headed to Peggys Cove.  On the way we spotted numerous lakes that had frozen in a strange way, with jutting chucks of ice here and there, probably an effect of the tides pushing the ice around?    

Next post:  Peggys Cove!  Where I had a strange feeling of being at the end of the earth...

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