Friday, November 8, 2019
Grumpy and Weary - Checking in to Halifax on a Wing and a Prayer
After a subpar night at the hotel at San Francisco International Airport, 13 hours of flying and layovers, and a foggy drive into down, we're putting the red into the red-eye from Calgary.
We get to the Homewood Suites in Downtown Halifax at 8am. Of course, they're not going to have our room ready at this early hour but they are willing to watch our luggage for us and we're free to use the lobby until the room is ready.
I leave my cell number with the front desk and we drive to the waterfront. It's interesting but, of course, everything's closed this early in the morning. We're too tired to continue so we head back to the hotel and try to make ourselves as comfy as possible, falling asleep where we sit, and with bad humors to boot.
It's the Grumpy Musicks taking up space in the Homewood Suites lobby.
At noon, the travel gods smile on us and my phone rings. The room is ready. The clerk asks us to come to the front desk. As I'm sitting on a couch about ten feet away from her, I raise my hand and say "here I am!"
We check in and, to our surprise, the room is exactly as we booked and hoped for. It seems that, lately, we've always have to trek back to the front desk to complain about the accessibility of the room, the location, the noise, things not working, etc, so it was a nice change of pace to have everything just as we wanted.
I go get us some burgers from a nearby Wendy's, we have dinner in the room, call it a night, and sleep like logs to cure us of the big hangover of jet lag.
After a decent breakfast at the hotel breakfast bar, we walk down the steep hill to the waterfront three blocks away. Now that we're rested and it's later in the day, we'll take it in a little better.
First stop is the Harbour Hopper Tour office to make arrangements for an accessible tour tomorrow (you need to give them 24 hours notice). More on that tomorrow.
Next, we whet our whistles at a waterfront beer garden and strike up a conversation with a cruise ship passenger from Oklahoma. He works in oil and gets 6 weeks off each year. He's spending his time travelling.
Across the way is the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. This is very interesting but keep in mind, the bathrooms on the second floor are more accessible than the ones downstairs.
Halifax has a very long maritime history. It served as the main base for the British in their wars on the continent...they had to come from somewhere during our revolution...and continues to host the biggest Canadian naval base.
A parrot squawks a welcome as we enter. We see displays of ships and weapons of this country's navy, including the story of the Sackville, an historic Corvette that is tied up to the dock just outside.
Very interesting is the display of all the shipwrecks that continue to be found on the bottom of Halifax Bay including that of the HMS Tribune whose overconfident captain refused a pilot when he entered the bay in 1797. Running aground on some rocks, he still refused rescue thinking the tide would lift the ship to safety.
A storm set in and, while the men took to the riggings to try to survive, only 14 did of the over 240 man crew.
Of course, the big star of the show is the Titanic exhibit. Halifax was ground zero for the rescue and recovery effort when the big ship sank in 1912. Here, you see many exhibits and hear stories of that tragedy including fixtures from the ship, a pair of child's shoes, and a piece of the life jacket that John Jacob Astor wore.
We take a breather on a outdoor deck before seeing the rest of the museum.
Just beyond the museum, the waterfront is taken up with a massive construction project for a bunch of condominiums. Truth be told, it's a rather ugly wound on an otherwise beautiful waterfront. To get around it, we have to navigate a floating bridge.
It works but it's like a carnival ride with all the rocking from the little waves.
Back on the boardwalk, we make it to the Ferry Terminal. There's not too many accessible ways to take a boat ride here in Halifax, but the ferries are so we take a trip across the bay to Dartmouth.
It's public transit so it's a $2.50 fare...no discounts for disabled on Halifax Transit, by the way...a cheap way to take a quick boat ride to the other side. A transfer (available by request for free) will allow you a return trip, as well, as long as you come back within two hours.
In Dartmouth, a long switchback ramp leads us up to street level from the Ferry Terminal. On top, we find a nice little block with a small selection of restaurants and bars. We end up at Whiskey's Lounge which has one of the few accessible dining areas, in front on the patio.
Beers all around plus some decent pizza will be our lunch over here before we head back to take the return trip to the Halifax waterfront.
Continuing on, we come to the Historic Properties, a group of old buildings used by privateers to hold their booty (a privateer is a legal pirate...they would get a license from the king or queen which would allow them to plunder other ships at sea and split the proceeds with the Royals).
It's a nice mall with a nice restaurant or two that we'll return to later. For now, it's time to head back up the hill to our room to rest up for tomorrow.
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