John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

Pipe Band, Mounties and HMCS Sackvlle in Halifax Harbour

Replica slave ship Amistad in Harbour

Sisters together again!

July 3

Nova Scotia has the old BC-style liquor monopoly with only government liquor stores and a limited number of agencies in small rural areas but no private beer and wine stores. That being the case, we took advantage of the Liquor Store right across the street as we were leaving Digby. After overcoming the sticker shock of Canadian prices (taxes?), we made our selections and carried on our way toward Halifax.

In previous visits to Nova Scotia I had always wanted to visit Annapolis Royal, an historic town first settled in 1602 under de Champlain, a nice connection to our visit last year to Honfleur in Normandy, his port of origin. While never having enough time previously, this day took us right by it and we took the short side road into the town.

We took a slow drive through the old town and stopped in front of the restored oceanfront defensive bastion of Fort Anne. We took a walking tour of the defensive earthen structures and learned from the various plaques of the Fort's history. Apparently it had changed hands several times between the French and English, the last time in 1720, when the English took it for the last time.

We moved on to the Visitors Centre located in a working powerhouse, home to the only commercially functioning tidal power generation plant in the world. From there, we drove up Highways 1 and 101 through the beautiful Annapolis Valley. We stopped at a Subway and picked up a sandwich (me) and salad (Brenda) for a picnic lunch at a little roadside park. Unfortunately, even with sunshine a brisk and cool wind was blowing making it uncomfortable for Brenda.

We drove into Halifax/Bedford to book into the motel I had booked over the phone, a day ahead of Ron and Anne-Marie's arrival. I had remembered the Bluenose Inn and Suites from our previous trip as being well situated above the Bedford Basin with nice views. Since then, a five-story apartment has been built between the motel and the water, blocking most of the view. The owners have let the motel completely fall into disrepair, almost like they are getting the cash out of it before they tear it down for condominiums or other redevelopment.

As such, the suite they gave us was an absolute pit, with mismatched kitchenware, a non-functioning stove, a barely working TV and a major stain on the floor of the living area, complete with drag marks. We were pretty certain they weren't going to clean it until the CSI investigators were finished. We decided to make do as we would be here for 3 days and didn't want to have the pain of moving everything again (our suite was on the third floor with no elevator).

On our arrival here, we had stopped at the Visitors Centre where Brenda got a reference for a hairdresser for her cut and colour from the woman in charge. We sought out the shop in the Sears store in the Halifax Mall and found Vicki, the recommended stylist. She was so impressed with getting the recommendation that she moved around a couple of things and cancelled her lunch to fit Brenda in for Thursday.

We next went grocery shopping at the Sobey's outlet near our motel. After mostly great experiences with grocery supermarkets in the US, this store was pitiful in its selection, quality and service. With stormy weather approaching, we were starting to get an uncharacteristically gloomy feeling about our re-entry to Canada. Hope springs eternal and we decided to take it with a humorous outlook, thinking we might get some good road stories for the Journal.

July 4

While Brenda got ready in the morning, I went looking for a barbershop along the Bedford Highway and happened on Tony's Barbershop. Tony was a real down-easter relocated from Cape Breton with the best and broadest Maritimer accent I'd heard yet. He had a relative in every town we planned to visit along with recommendations for scenic stops and places to eat.

I picked up Brenda and we took a driving tour around Bedford, Lower Sackville, Dartmouth and Halifax, looking for possible alternatives for Ron and Anne-Marie to see if it rained on Thursday as predicted. We ended up in the Halifax Harbour waterfront and started along the boardwalk with the sound of pipes and drums in the distance. We came around a corner and there was a Black Watch contingent giving an impromptu performance.

We listened to a couple of stirring numbers and walked over to take a picture of four Mounties in red serge standing nearby. Brenda, of course, started right off flirting with them by asking, "Do they always send the best looking guys down here for this duty?" Then one guy turned to me with my Vancouver Giants ball cap on and asked, "Are you a Giants fan?" (I hope he wasn't flirting with me!). Apparently he was stationed for some time in RCMP Headquarters in Vancouver.

We had a nice lunch on the dock at Murphy's Wharf where Brenda struck up a conversation with a young couple from Bethesda, Maryland at the next table along with their 6-year old son. They were staying in a house near Lunenburg for 2 weeks and had come to Halifax on a day trip. They loved Nova Scotia and their stories once again reminded us of our trip here with Katie when she was younger.

Strolling back along the dock, we came across the replica of the freedom ship, Amistad, an exact copy of the only slave ship to have had an open revolt where the slaves took over the ship in the mid-Atlantic. Returning to Big Blue, we took a loop drive around the Citadel, admiring the fantastic views.

On our return to the motel we passed a Costco, where we decided we needed a wholesale fix and went in. It was good to stroll the aisles and, for once only bought a few small things due to the lack of cargo space. Nearby, we found an Atlantic Superstore which beat Sobey's all to hell in every aspect.

Our suite in the motel was one of the very few with a view of Bedford Basin (remember, 3 flights, no elevator?) and we enjoyed the sight of a sailboat race from our window. A major storm system was approaching and the wind blew hard and steadily up the Basin, as the boats surged back and forth, leaning full over with large foam sprays.

Around 8:30 pm we left for the airport to pick up Ron and Anne-Marie from their flight from Vancouver. They came smiling into the baggage area in spite of Anne-Marie's seriously ailing back (herniated disc)...she's a trooper! We had lots of laughs catching up back at the motel where we plied Anne with liquor for a good night's sleep.

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