As my journey goes into its 2nd week and beyond, I now find myself again in Halifax, the largest city in the Maritimes with a whole lot to see and do. Something I haven’t mentioned much here is how much of this trips time has actually been spent getting from place to place. By now I have probably used every form of transport possible – except plane (that includes bike and taxi!)! A good example of most of my day in travel was on the way to Moncton – 17 hours by bus since our VIA train was full (I have learned to make reservations now!) or the ferry from North Sydney to Argentia – 17 hours plus a scenic 3 hour drive to St.John’s. Overall the journey has been enjoyable but I have definitely anticipated the destination much more with each stop! :]
Here in Halifax I am staying in an exceptionally clean and friendly hostel which is part of the network known as Hosteling International – a great resource if you are looking for budget accommodations and people to explore and share stories with (as is Backpackers International and Airbnb!). I am surprised to find that nearly every tourist I meet in hostels or bnb’s is European (while most tourists I see in Museums and attractions is Asian!) – especially German. I guess they all have one love in common – love for travel, water and seafood!
So for Halifax this 3 day stay was rather wet…as in soaking, screaming-down-the-streets, lightning-on-your-tail-wet! I had a blast though because it was unexpected and refreshing…I certainly hoped Toronto got some of this rain and cool weather too! Because of the weather, most of this stay involved the indoor sights and sounds, so I grabbed a map, 5 friends I made at the hostel, and we explored the tastes and places to see in Halifax.
Though I may have felt more like a typical “tourist” exploring the museums, parks and National Historic sites of the city, they really taught me alot about Maritime history and culture. Far beyond my thoughts of just a region hurt by Cod collapse the Maritimes – especially places like Halifax – have repeatedly struggled and fought for their freedom, cities (or forts, depending on the time), citizenship, industrial and technological power and as many of us know, for their livelihoods and culture. I felt humbled by all the knowledge in the museums…indeed I would see so many people snapping pictures and running by photos without a second glance at the actual written information, even my hostel buddies! It seems tourism really does have traits of its own versus those who are there to drink the information slowly, or perhaps searching for answers…
I certainly took my share of pictures, but I can say too that I have taken an imprint of Maritime past, a perspective you can’t get anywhere else! The best part has probably been applying what I see in the Museums to the reality of Halifax and the surrounding area around me…Such as learning about the Halifax explosion – you can see the crater shape of the harbour where it occurred! Or the stories of immigrants at Pier 21 – all you need to do is walk down a bus street. Then there were the naval ships and wartime history, local fishermen and the balance of resources, tourism and culture…the list goes on.
The trip continued to its closing as I finally got to enjoy a top-notch VIA rail trip back to Montreal, thank you express deals for the slice of luxury!
It seems since my train ride back the streak of good luck (with the exception of finding a place to stay!) continues! Once I finally hauled my bags into an affordable hotel in Montreal it was time to explore the city, this time with bearable heat! A huge bonus for me was the accompaniment of a good friend and fellow M-scholar Tingjia who took me out for great food, EPIC laughs and intriguing entertainment – thanks so much!!!
Time to bus home now, thank you to everyone who has made this trip so memorable and especially to those who toured with me or let me stay with them for some time! I am taking back with me a mountain of photos, a huge stash of environmental and urban planning project ideas/applications and the love of Maritime culture, the art, the places and the whales! Most of all I will never forget the kindness of each and every citizen wherever I went, you all have an Eastern soul – resourceful, kind, slightly windswept and maybe a tad salty – I promise to come back soon (with a bike!) ;]