Sunday, June 14, 2009

Halifax by the sea

Oh boy - This is going to be one of those long, long posts with lots and lots of photos. There are just so many beautiful, surprising, quirky and interesting things to see in Halifax - I just had to stop every 20 feet to take another picture. It's that "love-goggles" effect I get when I travel. Everything is interesting. Oh yeah, and this city is great for your glutes: very hilly.

I was really hankering for a little east-coast fix lately (completely seduced as I was
by those Newfoundland ads on TV and in the paper), but while that didn't seem quite in the cards this summer, I did have an opportunity to zip over to Halifax for the weekend. It was good enough to tide me over until I do make it to the Rock.

Ironically, I did manage to sample a bit of Newfoundland at the Newfoundland Grocery Store, 6061 Willow Street map here

This store's got all the charm and authenticity I could handle. All the products are uniquely Newfoundland-made and imported for nostalgic ex-pats and curious others.

Of course it felt weird contemplating buying wonderfully strange Newfie merch like canned corn on the cob, or Newfoundland Nobs and Lumps without having ever set foot over there, but I did manage to make up my mind eventually and walked out with this bag of kisses. I'm only mildly embarrassed to admit I ate the whole thing (give or take a few).

Next up - JWD Books on Barrington Street.

The only bookstore I've seen that rivals New York's famous STRAND, if not in exact volume then at least in sheer spirit (although JWD is decidedly more chaotic and hence, I think, more fun). JWD is two overflowing floors of non-stop books books books. Chock-a-block. Choking with books. So full of books it cuts a window through them to let in the light of day. But as much as I love this type of crazy shrine to the written word, my brain does tend to turn to mush from the over-stimulus.
Where do I start? Where does it end?

I was thrilled to make it to the legendary FRENCHY'S used clothing store. I'd heard about it on my first trip to Halifax in 2001, but back then the only location was across the water in Dartmouth and being January, I was less inclined to make the trek. Since then though, they've moved over to Halifax, and after a recent fire claimed their larger space, set up these modest digs right around the corner from Steve-O-Reno's drive-through cappuccino stand (see below). Frenchy's did not disappoint, and if you don't mind digging for your treasure through large bins (a system I find makes sense and is somehow less overwhelming than flipping through rack after rack), chances are you'll come up with some gold too.

Speaking of gold, this is a gem. Located at 2854 Robie Street in the parking lot of a hardware store, Steve-O-Reno's Cappuccino Drive Through is a Halifax institution that has also more recently spawned a regular ol' sit down shop on Brunswick street. But this one has more soul. More soul than all the Timmy Ho's across the land combined.

Halifax has good food. One breakfast favourite was The Good Food Emporium, on Gottingen street in the North End.

Just loads of good, basic vegetarian grub, and the best fishcakes I've ever had. So good I couldn't even stop to take a photo of my plate before wolfing it all down.

Part of the the North End's DIY scene is the Roberts Street Social Centre, an independent collective space featuring a zine library, silk-screening facilities and an artist-in-residence program.

And finally, no self-loving Halifax tourist should resist a visit to the Economy Shoe Shop, one of the more popular pubs on Argyle Street.

Handy links:

Book lovers rejoice: JWD Books
Art lovers rejoice: eyelevel gallery
Low-tech lovers rejoice: Sometimes Always at the AGNS
Coffee lovers rejoice: Java Blend
Organic Food lovers rejoice: Fid Restaurant
North End lovers rejoice: Go North Halifax

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