Monday, August 17, 2009

Days 8 and 9

Jeepers, it's hot. The first two days of 2009 where the thermometer hit 30 degrees Celsius. That limited us to doing a little less than what we intended to do over the weekend, but that's okay, we probably needed to slow down a bit during the halfway point of the trip so we could recharge for the final few days.

Day 8 - Saturday the 15th

With yet another bright and sunny day in the works when we got up, we headed down to the Halifax Farmer's Market at the old Keith's Brewery building. A spectacular setting for a farmer's market as the building used to be part of the Alexander Keith's brewery - the old stone building is still intact and all the nooks and crannies inside make for an interesting backdrop as you navigate the building to check out all the booths - there's crafts, vegetables, displays, stuff all over the place, plus of course there's Mary's bakery, home of the best raspberry/chocolate croissants I've had. We bought a cheese cutting board that was handmade with multiple types of wood by a Nova Scotia artisan - we got a similarly-patterned lazy suzan from the same artisan about six years ago, so now have a matching set.

Then we let the boys loose on a boat-shaped playground by the waterfront - figures that Nova Scotia would have a nautical theme for a playground. This was right by the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, a nice museum that had a display about the 1917 Halifax Explosion, where nearly 2000 died and 9000 injured after two munitions ships collided in the harbour and then exploded a half hour later with thousands of people watching from the hills, not knowing that there were explosives on board. The MMoA also has a display with actual stuff from the Titanic. Cool stuff for the teens.

With the heat out there, we elected to go to the beach again at Williams Lake (the same one we went to yesterday) and spend a longer time there for the kids to splash around in the late afternoon.

Day 9 - Sunday the 16th

Another hot day. We booked a canoe and kayak to go out into the harbour for later in the day, then headed over to the Hydrostone Market area, an European-styled eclectic mix of shops and eateries crammed on one city block. En route, we stopped at the Fort Needham Memorial Park where they set up a plaque and stone memorial to the victims of the 1917 Halifax Explosion. It was easy to see why people succumbed to the temptation to watch the events unfold - Halifax is a city built on a slope away from the waterfront so it's almost like sitting in a massive auditorium. So with it being December and all the leaves off the trees, you can easily picture thousands of people hearing about a collision between two ships in the harbour and then gathering to discuss what's going on ... then *boom*. The sloping nature of downtown Halifax made the damage and casualties that much more severe.

A short walk over from the Fort Needham took us to the Hydrostone Market. We had a nice lunch at Julien's Patisserie with dessert afterwards - they use authentic French baking with artisan breads. I had an eclair with Pippy while Pene had a tiramisu made with mascarpone cheese.

After some time exploring the Hydrostone area, we decided to hop onto the ferry to take us to the other side of Halifax harbour, to Dartmouth. Just a little fun for the kids to ride a ferry and also hopefully take in a nice breeze. At the other side, nothing was really open with it being a Sunday so we just strolled on the other side for a bit and let the kids run wild on another nautical-themed playground set. After a half-hour on the Dartmouth side, we decided to cancel the plans to go canoeing/kayaking because it really was hot -- it was better for us to be under the water instead of being on top of the water for a hour at a time!

We then took the ferry back to Halifax and headed home. A neighbour generously offered the use of their pool so we hopped in to cool off - the perfect tonic after a day of exploring the city and walking around in the heat. We spent nearly two hours in the pool before finally being dragged out.

The evening was capped off by a terrific meal at a Mongolian restaurant - the food was perfectly cooked and each of the three older kids completely cleaned off their plates, which is no easy task to accomplish. (Give Poppy time, he's still only four years old)

Today? Not sure what we'll be doing the rest of the day, but we do have a tour planned later this morning at Dalhousie University, where my stepmother still works and my father recently retired from (it's also where HD taught for a year, in the same department as my dad!). Our eldest is two years away from going to university and she wants to explore her options to see what's out there. Halifax is one of her favourite cities and she's interested in med school and the field of psychology, both of which are ideally provided by Dalhousie.

Tomorrow - look forward to going to the South Shore for the day, exploring Mahone Bay, Lunenburg and The Ovens.