Impressions of Halifax

The biggest city I visited on my Maritimes adventure was Halifax, so I should give it some exposure on my blog, since I do like to feature cities. Compared to Charlottetown, it felt decently large. (I would barely even call Charlottetown a city. It felt like there were maybe 10,000 people there, but according to Wikipedia, there are actually 34,562, according to a 2011 census.) But compared to Victoria, it felt much smaller. The Internet is telling me my intuition is wrong though. Halifax and the surrounding area has 390,096 people whereas Victoria and its surrounding area has 345,164 people.

IMG_9007Now that we’ve got all that figured out, I’ll explain why I compare Halifax to Victoria, and why even though I liked Halifax, I didn’t love it.

  • Everyone hyped it up so much that my expectations didn’t jive with the reality. Even the stewardess on the plane announced, “Welcome to beautiful Halifax,” and everyone seemed to use this descriptor when referring to the city. However, it was damp and grey when I arrived, and it didn’t seem as beautiful in the rain as Vancouver is. Although maybe that’s because when I’m on vacation, any rain is an unwelcome sight.
My first photo of Halifax, waiting for the bus to take me downtown from the airport. These Adirondack chairs are everywhere!

My first photo of Halifax, waiting for the bus to take me downtown from the airport. These Adirondack chairs are everywhere!

Partial view of Halifax Citadel National Historic Site.

Partial view of Halifax Citadel National Historic Site.

  • Halifax and Victoria are both harbour cities with navy bases. Canada only has 3 (the third is in Newfoundland). Thus, they both have waterfronts which are comparable.
Halifax's Harbourfront reminded me of Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria. I enjoyed walking along here.

Halifax’s Harbourfront reminded me of Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria. I enjoyed walking along here, people-watching, and taking in the Busker’s Festival.

I ate poutine with haddock at The Battered Fish, the first of many seafood experiences.

I ate poutine with haddock at The Battered Fish, the first of many seafood experiences.

yum yum.

yum.

IMG_9075

Look what I found! Theodore Tugboat lives in Halifax Harbour! I watched this show with my brother every Saturday morning as a kid.

Look what I found! Theodore Tugboat lives in Halifax Harbour! I watched this show with my brother every Saturday morning as a kid.

One of the acts at the Halifax Busker's Fest.

One of the acts at the Halifax Busker’s Fest.

Getting stuck halfway up the wave in the harbourfront.

Getting stuck halfway up the Halifax wave.

  • Halifax and Victoria are both capital cities, but with very different feels. Whereas Victoria is British, pristine, and pretty, Halifax is a more gritty city, like a sailor with a beard and a bottle of rum in his hand, telling an old yarn that you don’t quite know what to make of. I appreciated this rugged, “rough-around-the-edges” feel to Halifax though because it is so different than out west. Underneath Haligonians’ (yes, that’s what they’re called!) rough edges are really gentle, helpful souls, whereas Vancouverites maybe look more approachable or friendly but then don’t really stop to engage with strangers as much. (I know I’m painting broad strokes and there are definitely exceptions, but this is a quick summary of my impressions). And this is one area that Halifax did live up to all the talk.
Here's a sailor for you.

Here’s a sailor for you.

Entrance to Halifax Public Gardens.

Entrance to Halifax Public Gardens, a floral oasis in the heart of the city.

IMG_9033

These gardens are quite lovely. And they're free! (unlike the outrageous prices of Butchart)

These gardens are quite lovely. And they’re free! (unlike the outrageous prices of Butchart Gardens, though not on the same scale, either.)

A local Halifax restaurant my friends and I ate at.

A local Halifax restaurant my friends and I ate at.

Known for their law school.

Known for their law school.

I loved all the bright, colourful homes in the Maritimes.

I loved all the bright, colourful homes in the Maritimes.

That being said, I obviously enjoyed taking photos (like always) and had a great time walking the streets of a new city and seeing the favourite haunts of an old friend who now lives and works in Halifax. I just don’t know if I would want to live there, but it’s a nice spot to visit, especially when the sun comes out. If you’ve been there, what are your impressions of Halifax? Do you find yourself consciously or subconsciously comparing new cities you visit with old ones you’ve lived in?

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