Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Halifax; Shore Club

On our third day in Halifax, after visiting the Citadel and the Public Gardens, Phil and I hoped on the car and drove to Hubbards, located about 45 minutes away from Halifax.

Why go there? Because we wanted to have a lobster dinner elsewhere than in one of those tourists traps downtown and also because according to reviews online it seemed like the place to try if you are in the area. If you are on an actual road trip it seems the south-west of Nova Scotia is where the best lobster at, but we lacked time and means.

The Shore Club is known for a few things : their lobster supper menu, which includes all you can eat steamed mussels and salad bar, and the fact that the place becomes a dance hall on Saturday nights with a live band playing.

So we got there on a Thursday evening. The lovely staff took our order. We each went for a medium lobster supper, which is 1.25 lbs for 37.95$. Of course we were given wet napkins, plastic bibs with the drawing of a lobster on them, and there was a full roll of paper towel on the table.

The steamed mussels were simply done, fresh, and delicious. Our waitress placed a bowl between us so we could discard the shells in it. There was still some sand most of them but it didn't bother us much.

Our lobsters came on long transparent plates with a side of melted butter.

Simply steamed, they looked gorgeous. The claws and the body had been cracked beforehand by the staff but we still used the usual lobster tools provided. Good, fresh lobster is delicious as is and doesn't need additional seasoning. We dipped the delicious meat into the melted butter and managed not to make too much of a mess of ourselves.

The salad bar was, honestly, somewhat disappointing. Though the selection was wide I found some of fresh ingredients weren't that fresh and some of the recipes reminded me too much of the salads aunts and grandmothers bring to a pic nick : too simple and too much dressing. Still, if you are a fan of family style salads, that may actually suit your taste buds. Of course the idea of the Shore Club is to have a family style supper with no pretension at all, but compared to salad bars I have seen elsewhere it just couldn't meet my expectations.

Once we were finished with our lobsters, our lovely waitress asked us what we wanted for dessert. The choices that night were brownie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup, lemon layered cake, and a blueberry cake drowned in a berry reduction.

Phil went for the brownie while I went for the lemon cake.

Of course these tasted like diabetes. They were honestly way too sweet to our liking but they also tasted the way any grandmother who loves her grandchildren a little too much would make them. They tasted fresh from the day, moist, but because of the amount of sugar in them we had to wash everything down with two cups of black coffee each.

So how was the whole experience? It could be better. Considering the fact that the mussels and salad bar were all-you-can-eat, the price was fair. However, the salads could be of better quality. The desserts could be less sweet. I don't think the selection needs to be fancier because it wouldn't fit with the familial style of the place. But overall we had a very pleasant time, the staff was lovely, and even the location was fine, considering that you kind of want some peace, quiet, and space for your family. Honestly, it was sort of like the equivalent of a sugar shack in Quebec ... but with lobster instead of maple syrup.

And so that's it! We went back to the motel and crashed because we knew we had a long way back home waiting for us the day after.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Halifax; Citadel Hill and Public Gardens

On our third day in Halifax we were granted with a lot of sun and a fairly warm temperature. We decided to pay a visit to the Citadel, a fortification built in order to defend the harbour and its surroundings. Completed in 1856, it was then called Fort George.

The Hill itself is located in downtown Halifax, just a few blocks away from the Waterfront Boardwalk. The area features a lot of green spaces with enough space to host a show or a festival, as well as a skate park.

We parked the car in one of the parking lots and started going up the hill.

The way up seemed pretty steep for the tour buses and we feared for the car drivers that were brave enough to share the road with those.

At the entrance booth they give you a sticker (to stick on yourself) and a small booklet to help you find your way around.

The main barrack was converted to host the Army Museum, the shop, and to let people visit the rooms in which the men would sleep.

The Army museum is basically a few rooms showcasing the part played by Canada is bigger and smaller wars, as well as uniforms, paintings, gears, weaponry, and models.

What I enjoyed the most while visiting the Citadel was the variety of uniforms worn by the employees. You can clearly see the influence of Scottish heritage in the designs.

To our modern eyes they might look pretty useless and ineffective, but all those colors and ornaments served the purpose of making the enemy believe they were going to fight an army that was too rich and too powerful for them and thus, perhaps, make them think twice and back off. Now how effective was that? I don't know.

Besides the part that was dug into the hill, you can also go up the walls where the canons are resting and treat yourself out with a 360 view of the city.

Looking down the walls not only the perspective on people is mesmerizing, it also gives you a better idea of how big the Citadel actually is.

Mandatory picture of pigeons.

I didn't snap a picture of everything there is to see because there is quite a lot. Inside the actual walls are more rooms that served as storage, administration offices, even a school and a prison.

The depression all around the Citadel can be visited as well. The way it was built they made sure that no one coming up the hill could get easily in. In fact, not only will you suffer from a mean drop (about ten feet high) but both the outer and inner walls will be full of soldiers ready to pull the trigger.

We spent a few hours there, visiting every room we could, talking to employees, even watched a movie on the story of the Citadel. The sounds of men marching, guns firing, and bagpipes playing made me forget there was a city down that hill.

After seeing what we wanted to see, we decided to walk to the Public Gardens, located just on the other side of the street.

Since the beginning of our stay all the locals asked us if we had visited the Public Gardens. The people of Halifax seem quite proud of those.

It's basically an oasis of peace and beauty. The influence of the Victorian era is unmistakable in the design of the park. Benches, ponds, statues, fountains, you name it, you have it.

If ever you need to take an actual break, there is a coffee shop in the gardens. A scene with enough seats for two hundred people is located in the center. While walking around I realized that some of the floral arrangements would use edible plants and vegetables.

Walking through the park I realized how lucky the people of Halifax are despite living in a relatively poor province. It's like their own little Central Park. And they get bonus points for an awesome access to the water.

And so I am going to finish this post with a picture of the most beautiful pigeon I have seen in my life. I mean what's wrong with Montreal's pigeons? They all look sick and half dead.

And so that's it for today. Until next time!
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