I’m sorry about yesterday, I had just uploaded everything into WordPress then my internet connection dropped out; but I published it the next day I hope you liked it, read on…
What a lovely place Halifax is! Florie and I got off the ship today without being crushed like before and out to the Hop on Hop off bus (Gray Line Tours) was waiting outside; they were vintage London Transport Route-Master buses painted pink and they took us on a 13 stop, 1½ tour of their fair city. OK that was the structure of the day now the colour.
The morning was already hot in the brilliant sunshine and clear blue sky, we could see the authorities had put an immense amount of money and effort into developing the cruise port into something that visitors would want to return to and the locals use every day, they did a great job of integrating old and new buildings in a sensitive and attractive way, I like the fact that the Canadians have their priorities right, both in St John’s and here in Halifax there seem to be breweries everywhere; the guides that greeted us at the bus were really friendly and knowledgeable as the Canadians tend to be. Our bus tour took us first along the waterfront then left into the downtown area with the guide pointing out significant buildings and interesting facts and stories as we went along; I thought Halifax was an attractive place bunched up in some areas and well spaced out in others.
The city has a beautiful Victorian public Garden in between the many established deciduous trees there are raised flower beds planted with all manner of flowers making stunning splashes of colour and eye catching patterns leading off in different directions, as we walked through, then we came to the Victorian grey roofed band stand, surrounded by multicoloured flower beds, there are ponds some with ducks on, as we walked we could almost forget that we are in the middle of a busy city, when we left the park by the large ornate gates and we walked down Spring Garden Road which has lots of interesting shops of all different sizes and many types of goods some of them useful for stocking up our cabin back at the ship.
We were taken on the next bus up to Citadel Hill which is a popular historic site and adjacent to it is a large grass common which is very popular with the Halifax population for sports and gatherings throughout the year, we then went out of the city slightly stopping at areas of interest until we got to Fairview Lawn Cemetery which to visitors is better known as the Titanic Cemetery, here we were met by volunteer guides who showed us round and related all the information and stories about the victims who were buried there and the role Halifax and a ship called The Mackay Bennett which had the task of recovering all the bodies, it recovered 306 plus having to bury 116 bodies at sea leaving 150 victims to be laid to rest in three Halifax cemeteries a poignant time, making the Titanic film that I saw as a lad suddenly very real to me. On our way back to downtown we travelled alongside the harbour which gave us good views of the whole area which is quite attractive and we were given snippets of information about the ship building and repair yards which goes on all the year round.
We had lunch at Murphy’s Restaurant that has its dining area right out in the water front meaning we had water on all three sides so we could see the ferries coming and going from the dock next door to us; the food and Canadian Beer was great Florie chose Tempura Haddock and chips and I opted for Lobster Poutine, which is lobster thick fries cheese curls and lobster hollandaise sauce, a dish from heaven with a whole weeks calories on a plate, for those of you who have not been to Eastern Canada, basic Poutine is a portion of fries with cheese on the top and gravy, my mouth is watering just typing this into the computer, the restaurant was almost empty when we arrived but was heaving with customers with some waiting to outside to get in when we left.
We were told about The Halifax Explosion that happened in 1917 when two vessels The Mont Blanc and The Imo were in collision in the narrows of Halifax Harbour, the Mont Blanc was carrying gun powder, cotton, picric acid, TNT and benzol, the benzol was on the top deck and caught fire and the crew abandoned ship and ship drifted to the Halifax shore line and it soon exploded levelling everything before it which was all the north end of Halifax and Dartmouth Killing 2,000 people and blinding and maiming thousands of others, the city’s firemen were attending the scene for the collision of the ships and were killed instantly, the devastation was horrific and to make things worse it snowed that night complicating rescue and emergency accommodation in the whole area; you can still see remnants of the explosion in the city to this day, nearly four miles away from the explosion the Mont Blanc anchor was found, and every year on 6th December the at 9.04 a service is held at Fort Needham in remembrance of this terrible incident. Boston Massachusetts sent a train full of doctors, medical staff and supplies within twenty four hours and ships arrived with emergency supplies within days to help the relief efforts; however the city has recovered rebuilt and appears to be a happy thriving community now.