Tag Archives: Harbour

Not Bored Walker

Saturday 1 October 2022 – Warning – lots of photos for you to wade through today!

Pinch, punch, first of the munch. (I hate assonance.) One week to go before we head back to the UK and we start our penultimate adventure, our time in Nova Scotia. As expected, yesterday, spent as it was in travelling two time zones eastwards from Winnipeg to Halifax, was entirely devoid of anything worth telling you about with the possible exception of the taxi ride from Halifax airport to our hotel. The (somewhat elderly) taxi driver started out being courteous and interesting and ended up ranting about the incompetence of government and the unfairness of taxes. He also delivered us to the wrong hotel, but was good enough to apologise and drive us to the right one.

So, today we found ourselves in the capital city of Nova Scotia with reasonable weather in prospect, so there was only one thing for it, which was to go for a walk. Obviously.

We had a chat with a very nice chap at the concierge desk, Tim. One thing we wanted to understand was whether there was a tall building which would give us a view over the city. Our thought was that it would be nice to be able to look down over the Citadel, which is a star-shaped fortress, to appreciate its shape. Tim suggested we go with him; he took us to the top floor of the hotel and unlocked the banqueting suite there, proudly telling us that this was the banqueting facility with the best view in the city. To be fair, it was not at all bad.

It didn’t however, give us the view over the citadel that we’d really have liked, but it did have an interesting ceiling with some great chandeliers.

The other nugget that we learned from Tim was that Halifax has its own (modest) equivalent of Toronto’s underground city, although here it’s overhead rather than underground. It’s called the Pedway, and you can see one of its aerial corridors crossing the road in the second of the view photos above. Of course we had to go and explore it. As with Toronto and Montreal, it’s linkways between halls, with some stores and eateries,

but is still in development – there are many hoardings promising a bright future with more stores to be opened.

It also gave us a view back to our hotel – you can see the inward-sloping windows of the banqueting suite at the top of it.

We also had a chat with Tim about the hotel, which is a curious mix of modern and dowdy, more old-fashioned areas (e.g. the wing where we have our room). It turns out that a complex set of circumstances involving mergers, takeovers, divestitures and pandemics means that planned improvements have not yet started.

Anyhow, we had more of the city to explore, so we headed out to wander about according to the plan that Jane had formulated. We passed City Hall

which overlooks the Grand Parade.

As you might infer from the picture above, an event was brewing in the Grand Parade, involving people of African-Canadian extraction, dressed in their finery and setting up a sound deck. Their mood was jolly and we hope they had a good time, but we had a city to explore so had to move on. Before we did, though, I took a picture of a mural that overlooked a building site

and the City Clock.

Behind the clock above, you can see a hill, atop which is the historic Halifax Citadel (climbing it also gives a nice view over the city’s impressive – but closed for maintenance – Angus L. Macdonald Bridge and the Clock).

We decided to visit the Citadel, as they offered a decently low entry price for us two old people, and so began to appreciate that Halifax has a great historical richness. The Citadel was first established in 1749, and the present citadel, built starting in 1828, is actually the fourth fortification built on the site.

The citadel’s fortifications were built and rebuilt to defend the town from various enemies – the indigenous Mi’kmaq and Acadians, for example, raided the capital region (Halifax and Dartmouth) 12 times, four times against Halifax itself. While never attacked, the Citadel was long the keystone to defence of the strategically important Halifax Harbour and its Royal Navy Dockyard.

The present citadel took thirty years to build and the general introduction of rifled artillery (with greater range and accuracy than earlier guns) shortly after its completion rendered the costly installation obsolescent. It was partially rearmed in the 1860s and 1870s, and continued in use as a barracks into the 20th century.

It is easy to understand its superb strategic location, overlooking the original town and harbour. It’s a very well-maintained institution, staffed with people dressed in period costumes who can tell you about various facets of life there in the 18th Century.

The central courtyard

is littered with cannons

as are the ramparts,

including a 12-pounder

which is still active and which is fired every day at noon – apparently a really loud bang.
After our visit, we walked along to the Public Gardens, a very pleasant environment.

Items of interest included a weeping beech tree

and a beautifully-coloured Blue Jay.

After the gardens, we passed the statue of Winston Churchill

were checked out by a starling

and then visited St. Mary’s Basilica,

a cathedral with a very handsome interior.

I was particularly struck by the stained glass half-dome above the altar. It being in the competitive nature of these things, the cathedral has, close by, the Anglican Church of St. David and

St. Matthew’s United Church.

Our rambling then took us in the general direction of the harbour, but en route we noticed that among all the modern high-rise constructions there are plenty of handsome old buildings in the city.

The downtown area has some interesting buildings, too;

and we were pleased to note that there is street art among the attempts to make the city look attractive.

We reached the harbour clock

which marks the start of a boardwalk stretching a couple of kilometres south, from the ferry terminal to the seaport. A lot of effort has gone into making this an attractive and pleasant area to walk, with artworks both mysterious and quirky along its length

(the tower structure is covered with plastic flaps, which flutter in the breeze – it’s rather lovely)

(the above street-light diptych is called “Get Drunk, Fall Down”)

as well as eating and drinking establishments. One of them, the BG (Halifax Beer Garden), was obviously paying its local tribute to Germany’s Oktoberfest, it being October first and that.

There is a life-size replica of the flagship of Ferdinand Magellan’s voyage of circumnavigation, 1519-1522 – the Trinidad

which in its day would have had 45 crew on board. I know people were smaller in those days, but I reckon it would still have been pretty cosy.

The rest of the walk down to the seaport passes many items of statuary – The Émigré, A tribute to Women in History, Samuel Cunard and three of the many examples of what might be figureheads that line the boardwalk here.

One significant statue is of Ruth Goldbloom, who fought for Pier 21 in the seaport to be restored and commemorated in recognition of the nearly one million immigrants who were processed through it between 1928 and 1971.

The plan was to get to Pier 22 which we thought might have some nice eateries and/or drinkeries. We were wrong. It turns out to be a tourist tat haven only open on cruise ship days intended, I imagine, to attract people who are boarding and who need to find just that one more special something for a special someone. Since there was a cruise ship in, only slightly larger than the substantial buildings of Pier 22,

it was open.

By this time, we were feeling somewhat sharp set, so we made our way back along the boardwalk with the idea of eating at a place that we’d seen earlier on, called Sea Smoke. There was a diversion en route in the form of a 1968 Routemaster London Bus,

used for hop-on-hop-off tours and, unsurprisingly, somewhat modified from the original,

because getting off the way we UK folk might consider would probably precipitate a traffic accident and lot of attendant paperwork. So an alternative exit is needed for the passengers

and an alternative entry for the driver.

As we ate our (very fine) meal at Sea Smoke, the cruise ship which had been at Pier 22 came by on its way out;

I’ve never seen so many radar aerials on a boat before.

We watched the ship do a graceful pirouette before exiting the harbour and then we ourselves exited the restaurant, which is distinguished by having many fire tables outside – very pleasant as the evening was chilly.

By this time, the light was fading (possibly matching your interest level in this post).

We passed a final, mystery piece of art

and then, as the evening light flared and then died,

we made our way back to the hotel.

Again, sorry for a long post with lots of photos, but I hope you found the read worthwhile. We had a really enjoyable day discovering the historical, arty and eat-y sides of Halifax, which comes across as being a very pleasant place to be.

Tomorrow has a planned excursion, if all goes well – a 10 mile hike. If we survive, I will be sure to document our progress here, but for now it’s time for bed. See you tomorrow!

Onto Toronto

Tuesday 13 September 2022 – First things first: I haven’t written anything about yesterday. That’s because there’s not much to write. The satnav got us to the airport in the rental car; Avis took it back without demur, despite the bug splatter on the windscreen, we stood in the check-in queue for a WestJet flight to Toronto which took off and arrived approximately on time, we were wafted to our hotel – the Royal York, another city-block-size Fairmont slab of masonry – we had drinks and dinner before bed. (By the way, Toronto was originally called York because the settlers didn’t want to use the native, Mohawk, name Tkaronto.)

The only thing worthy of mention was the arrival at Toronto airport. Our instructions said that someone would meet us “in the lobby”. When we got to what passes for a lobby after you leave the baggage carousels, it was quiet – too quiet. Not only was there no-one there to meet us, there was no-one there to meet anyone, which, you must agree, is odd, There was a desk there labelled “pre-arranged transfers”, with a lady sitting behind it. After a couple of minutes I decided to ask her if she knew anything about our expected transfer, expecting a blank look and a shrug. However, she consulted her computer and told us that our driver would be there in five or six minutes. So we went and stood outside the door, where there were chaotic scenes of punters trying to find drivers and vice versa; after a couple of minutes a chap bustled pass muttering “Dr. Jane?” so we flagged him down and he whisked us to the hotel. I don’t know how that system works, but I was quite impressed.

That was yesterday; today was a day with no formal programme. Jane had had a chat with the concierge, which meant, though, that There Was Now A Plan. For once, this did not involve going for a wander. Yet.

Instead, we opted for the hop-on-hop-off bus tour (in part, at least, because the weather was looking a bit doubtful). The bus we’d intended to catch was (a) a little bit early and (b) wasn’t quite following the route that the bus company’s map described and so wasn’t stopping where we had expected. But we stood in the middle of the road and waved, and the nice driver let us on anyway and we stayed with the bus until it reached the harbour so that we could join the cruise that comes as part of the ticket price. The cruise basically goes out to the Islands in the lake (Ontario – one of the five Great Lakes you remember from your geography lessons, because you were paying attention, weren’t you?) that the city lies beside. I hadn’t realised until that point that Toronto’s harbour featured any islands, but there they are – 14 of ’em.

Obviously, going out on the water gives many chances to take photos of Toronto’s skyline.

The central island even has a small airport on it – Billy Bishop airport, named after a Canadian WWII flying ace. Other islands feature marinas, parks, residential areas and all sorts of other entertainment possibilities too diverse to go into here.

At least one of the smaller islands features more cormorants than I have ever seen in any one place before in my life.

There were thousands of ’em! Fortunately it was not a hot day, so the smell, which is apparently legendary, was not too oppressive. They’re not the most popular of wildlife around these parts, we understand; partly because of the smell, and partly because the guano appears to be killing the trees.

After the cruise we walked back towards the bus stop, past a very cute wavy boardwalk

which is one of many curiosities that the city has to offer. Once back on the bus, in occasional showers of rain which were thankfully only intermittent, we started to get to grips with mainland Toronto.

Which is messy.

It’s an inevitable consequence of the climate. The guide on the bus explained that Toronto has only two seasons – Winter and Construction. During Winter, it’s too cold to do any building work, so once the weather is warmer, the city is afflicted by a plague of road and construction works.

Toronto strikes me as being similar in many ways to London. There are some lovely older buildings, squashed in and towered over by modern ones.

Above is our hotel. There is some lovely brickwork

and some streets have got attractive older properties in them.

There are some great artistic flourishes on some buildings

and plenty of standalone artworks around.

(what, you may ask, is the reason for the expression on the cat’s face? The answer….

….a fountain of 27 dogs, all aiming at the golden bone!).

Other things we noted as we passed: striking modern architecture;

the huge indoor St. Lawrence market

(where, incidentally, against all my expectations and in the very first boutique we looked at, we found a supply of Twinings Earl Grey teabags sufficient to last us for the rest of the holiday);

an Ice Hockey Hall of Fame;

a central square (Yonge and Dundas) with a blaze of huge digital advertising hoardings;

incredibly confusing traffic instructions;

a heritage railway museum

(including this tiny train which ran on compressed air to reduce the risk of causing a fire in the rope factory where it was used);

and the historic Distillery District, now a place of eateries and shopperies.

Some of these photos were taken from the bus (mainly by Jane) and others on a subsequent walkabout (see, we couldn’t resist going for a walk, after all – we were lone rangers in Toronto).

Because we leave Toronto by train in a few days’ time, we also looked in on Union Station

and noted, outside a side entrance to our hotel, cars parked on double yellow lions.

All this was from covering a mere fraction of Toronto – there are more lovely brick buildings, churches, University premises and all sort of other interesting things to see, all mixed in with the paraphernalia of a bustling, modern, big city – monstrous high-rise apartment and office blocks, tedious traffic queues, noise, homelessness and pollution – many things to like and many that are less attractive. But all in all it was a good day, and we felt that the walking we did justified a few cocktails in the hotel bar once we got back there.

Tomorrow is Niagara Falls Day. We hope that the weather will be kind to us and I hope to be able to bring you some photos of the experience (though I expect everyone’s seen masses of photos of the falls before now). Tune in tomorrow to see how we got on, won’t you?

Day 11 – Chillin’ in Milna (Steve)

September 25th. As usual for me after a few days of relentless tourism, I felt the need for a day off, so when the rest of the group departed for other parts of Brač, I settled down to read the papers in peace and quiet. I experimented with trying to find local walks but abandoned the idea when it became clear that I would have to pay for getting the details of a local route. I also wanted to get a photo of Perla from the other side of the harbour, where the light would be good in the afternoon, so, at about 1230 I set off to walk round the harbour.

There was a stiff breeze and it was cool, but the sun was shining, and so I got other photos of Milna, such as this one

and carried on round to my selected vantage point for photographing the boat. Alas, I had been too keen, and realised that the sun wouldn’t be right for a while yet. The only thing for it was to find a spot of lunch, which I did in a restaurant called, engagingly, OmO; I have no idea why, but the burger was good and the chips were superb. So, by the time I returned to my selected site, the light was much better and I got this shot of Perla.

Whilst walking back to the boat, I realised that the breeze, while still occasionally gusty, had settled somewhat, and so thought it would be worth risking a foray with the drone. It was a bit scary, but I managed to get several aerial shots of Perla which look, I think, not bad.

and I took some video as well:

It was a satisfactory way of passing the time until I could decently get myself a G&T to await the return of the group to hear the story of their day, which may well appear in these pages courtesy of Jane’s good offices.

Until then, It’s Time For The Bar, I think.