For more than a year now, we’ve had a big trip on the books. We had promised our family when we left the States that we would be back every couple of years. So, 21ish months after we left we are heading back to North America, for a whirlwind tour of points near and far. Well, okay, far and farther. John has family clustered in the Southeast, while Lisa has bicoastal hubs. Once we knew we were going, we decided to drop in locations with old friends (and cool points of interest certainly don’t hurt) because why not? (Time and money – that’s why not. But not “why not” enough, so ha!) We top the whole thing off with a bit of extravagance left over from an early draft of our plans to move to Europe. First thing’s first, though. We’ve made friends online with people in unusual (for us) places, which should be the tagline for the internet honestly. A nice-size group of them actually live in Canada, largely but not entirely on the east coast in Halifax. And so, we kick the Grand Tour 2.0 off in Nova Scotia!
Our initial travel was not difficult, but it had several moving parts. First we got our usual ride from Orlando (a person, not a city) to Porto. From there we flew to Lisbon for a worryingly tight connection. Making that, we settled in for the modest flight to Frankfurt. Our connection there wasn’t until the next day, however, and so we popped to a “nearby” hotel – if you haven’t read our last post, feel free to pop back and get our full, deep feelings on the subject of airport accommodation. Other than John temporarily losing his phone in a taxi (thankfully returned) it was uneventful enough, and we left the next day for our trans-Atlantic flight on Eurowings “discover.”, an airline we had never heard of before and were not at all nervous about. We needn’t have bothered – they were as friendly and efficient as any other airline we’ve been on, and the food was a little better than most. Score!
And so we arrived in Halifax with a vague idea of what our welcome wagon looked like. We’ve known our friend Lesley for a few years now but, as we jokingly remarked in the days leading up to this trip, we’d never seen each other with legs! No idea exactly how tall or suchlike. Fortunately, her husband and all around gem of a person decided to make the connection easier by drawing a caricature(!?) of us. For added giggles, they didn’t have any reference photos to give him that had our legs in them, so he improvised. Still, how great is it to exit the baggage claim to be greeted by a very excitable person waving a picture of you at you? We loved it. We loved her. It was off to a great start, and became even more anecdote-worthy when Lesley bid adieu to a few people also waiting for arrivals. By name. “Do you know everybody in Halifax??” Yes, as it turns out. Yes she does.
(Ok, she doesn’t, it was a couple of wild coincidences, but still.)
We met with most of our friends that night in downtown Halifax at their favorite, or at least a favored, sushi restaurant. It was a wild blast of positive energy as we finally got to interact with our friends from afar. Most of them were local to one another but there were a couple of other folks who had also sojourned for the meet-up, so it was an intense and excited dinner. Honestly, it was borderline-overload with us being as tired as we were, but totally worth it.
Our next day – the one full day we had in Halifax – was a whirlwind. The joke was that it was kind of like having a toddler give a houseguest an excited tour of their home, with an emphasis on their room and their favorite toys and the backyard. They were very excited to show us their favorite places and things. What was especially great about it, although it makes for some uninteresting reading for strangers, is that it was a series of their favorite places, not the famous or exotic ones. We met some charmingly-eccentric shopkeepers, and ate some delicious meat pies (of New Zealand origin, we think?) picnic-style on the grass near the Garrison Grounds.
The highlight of the day was going to Peggy’s Cove, an incredibly scenic spot (the picture at the top of the post is also from there) that is just amazingly beautiful, and equally dangerous. You see those darkened rocks in the pictures above? Tourists have to be endlessly warned not to stand on “the black rocks”, which are the best places to stand for a panoramic view precisely because they are located in the splash zone for the breaking waves. One second a person is standing there getting the perfect picture; the next, they are being swallowed by the unforgiving sea. We’re told that people die here every year because of this, despite the constant warnings. No deal, ocean – we didn’t live this long just to tempt fate by standing on wet rocks. Phah. We finished the day at Rhubarb, a nearby restaurant that has one of those menus that may not read as amazing, but they make everything very well – you can trip and fall into a good meal there, and we recommend that you do.
Sated in mind, body, and belly, we retired to one friend’s home in a lovely, bucolic setting for an evening of fireside camaraderie under the starry skies. It was truly magical and we’re only sad that we can’t do it with them more often. A last round of hugs and squeezes and we were back to our hotel. Lesley finished the job that she started, charioteering us back to the airport so we could make our way south. Next stop, Washington, D.C. and children!