Saturday, 16 July 2011

Halifax, a place to chillax and relax.

Halifax is a cool place. 

I arrived, as I always do it seems on this journey of mine, sometime shortly after sunset.  It was a short drive from PEI to Nova Scotia's capital, a little over 3 hours.  The drive in was speckled with popcorn freshwater lakes, dotted with rocky shorelines.  It was tres, tres nice.

I arrived at the little apartment building off of Quinn Street and met up with my fifth couch surfing host Colleen.  As was the maritime tradition I was greeted warmly, offered food and drink, and treated with the most amiable of dispositions.  Colleen and I had a great discussion about life, travel, and society and then her roomate Ian showed up and we chatted for a bit.  Ian was coming in from one of the many Jazz shows that were taking place in Hali during the week.  Ian himself a Jazz musician would be playing in the show later in the week.  

The next day was rainy, damp but mild, a typical lazy kind of day.  Colleen made me a delicious omelette and then I gave her a lift into work.  My friend April (AKA Bon Jovi) came to pick me up for lunch and a trip to the maritime museum.  We went out and had a bowl of Pho and I was feeling pretty sleepy so I decided a nap was in order.  All the hard work in PEI had taken its toll on me and my body had put in a R and R requisition which I was more then glad to comply with.

I went back to the apartment and dozed into a dreamy haze unique to rainy days where you feel no motivation to do anything but rest and relax.  I felt a short pang of guilt for not going to the museum, but I have gotten accustomed to listening to my body.  If it wants a nap, it is tired.  I give it nap.  It says thanks you.

I got up, still half-dazed, but forced myself to get mobile.  I drove down to Quinpool Ave and found a little coffee shop with wi-fi called ``Ireland 32``.  The owner was Latvian, just kidding, he was as Irish as a shamrock, and I ordered a green chai latte.  Yes, I am a metrosexual man.  I hammered out my PEI adventures, and goofed around on the internet.  Danny McBride is the funniest man alive right now, seriously.  Having a complete loss for dates and times at this point in my adventure, I was politely informed by the owner it was 7pm and that meant closing time.  We had a quick chat, I told him about the 1GA and handed him a business card. 

Later that night, still feeling sapped of energy, I picked up Colleen from work and we watched a movie and had some delicious nachos.  Halifax is chillax.

The next day was a little more active, I felt I needed a dose of local culture so I headed out with Colleen and her friend Rich to the Maritime museum.  There were lots of boats, stuff from boats, sextons and compasses, more boats, a few articles from the Titanic, and models of boats, and models of models of boats... The most interesting and disturbing exhibit was about the Halifax explosion.  In December 1917 two ships collided in the city harbour, one of them loaded with bombs.  It was utter devastation.  Blackened wreckage, fire, mayhem and hell on Earth.  I really had no idea.

Outside was a decommissioned research vessel the SS Acadia which I solemnly boarded and contemplated what I had seen inside the museum.  The price to be a part of history is usually high, and lessons learned are paid for with the lives of those of the time.  The view from the boat was nice and I took off looking for some dinner.  I was off to the Spring Garden Library where I was told I could get a nice veggie meal from the Food Not Bombs people. 

I drove over to the Library and got a cup of veggie food with the people putting on the event.  I had a polite chat with a couple of girls who had cooked up the vegan meal that was free to anyone who wanted some.  Anytime there is food for free on this mission of mine, I am more then glad to do my part in saving it from a landfill or compost heap.  The FFBs folks were young, tatooed, dread-locked but very friendly and I tip my hat to their efforts in feeding the homeless (my self temporarily included).

After some navigational problems April and I, after multiple texts back and forth located each other and headed to a local pub to meet up with a dude named Mark, a couch-surfer from L.A. 

To briefly interject here, what is a couch-surfer really?  The image I conjured up when I first heard about it was that of an unkempt, disheveled wandering hobo, looking for a freebie.  That could not be further then the truth.  It's just people, all walks of life, all races, and nationalities, with a single unified understanding; traveling is awesome, paying for hotels or accomodations not so much.  Meeting new people is awesome, especially those who are local, you learn more, see more and spend less.  Some people love to host, some to surf, some to meet new people like my friend Mark from L.A. and some love to do it all. To sum up, couch surfing is awesome. 

New friends, well met in Halifax (Mark, Colleen and April)

 So Mark is a thirty something guy who travels a lot on business.  He is in a hotel because his company foots the bill, he is just out meeting new people in Halifax.  We are in a basement pub somewhere off Barrington Street a main drag that runs parallel to the harbour area.  We are sitting at a small table, and more couch surfers keep showing up.  Eventually there is a group of 6 and we are having a grand old time.  We talk about Canadian accents, the failing American dream and everything in between.  I had so much fun meeting all these fellow couch surfers, I can't wait to meet more of them.

So my exit from Hali was untriumphant, I said goodbye to my gracious host Colleen and her room mate Ian and headed out.  I did stop for some Dim Sum on my way out of town, as I was ahead of budget. 

Budget after Halifax (after dim sum and a tank top up): $840.  Not bad for 2 weeks of travel. 

I decided to take the scenic route out of town along the coast, and was glad for my decision, it was a picturesque drive up Nova Scotia's route 7, next stop, the western coast of Cape Breton Island...

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