Halifax is the main city in Atlantic Canada, lesser known than Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal but definitely worth a visit.
Ideally located on the Eastern coast of Canada, it is the closest city to Europe. For this reason, it has developed into a major commercial and military port. The city is built on a peninsula and its link to the Atlantic is palpable. A salty cold wind breezes through the streets, From almost anywhere in the city, you can glimpse at the water and boats slowly coming into or leaving the port. Many locals live in Dartmouth, on the other side of the channel, and prefer taking the ferry to come to work in Halifax everyday rather than a road bridge. At lunch time, workers meet on the waterfront and eat a lobster roll on the benches facing the entrance of the harbour. The city centre is built on a steep hill, with the Citadel on top, so be prepared to climb up and down the streets!
Halifax has a dark and explosive history. Originally, the region was home to the Micmac nation. When the Europeans arrived, the area was first called Chebucto (the largest harbour). The settlement was disputed between the French and British colons and finally went to the British Crown and received its current name in 1729. In 1912, the victims from the Titanic wreck arrived in the city and were buried in the Fairview cemetery. In 1917, a boat full of explosives destined to WWI crashed into another and caused the largest human-made explosion apart from the nuclear bomb. The blast destroyed most of the city and killed 2,000 people.
Its present and future look quieter though. It is said to be the most dangerous city in Canada, but "dangerous" for a Canadian means "nothing to worry about" to the rest of the world. I never felt unsafe, even in the "rough" neighbourhoods. Crime mostly seems to be linked to drugs because Halifax is a major hub for it. So If you stay out of that you should be fine! The North End is one of those neighbourhoods with a dodgy reputation but it's my favourite place in the city. I fell in love with its colourful houses, bohemian cafes, small artists boutiques and great street art.
On the opposite side of the city, the South End district has posh houses, historic buildings, universities and parks. The largest one is Point Pleasant park, a charming wood with its own beach. The region offers plenty of good spots for surfers and beach-lovers but taking a swim at the centre of a major city is quite a privilege!
If you can, try to go to a hockey game. Even if you don't get the rules, the ambiance is worth it in itself! Sometimes, the players get into proper fist fights, there is a lot of entertainment and cheering in between actions and it's a 100% Canadian thing to do.
To end the day perfectly, take the ferry to Dartmouth in the evening like the locals and admire the view of the city lights from the other side.
To get in the mood:
Listen: Y'Akoto - Babyblues
- Eat: Lobster roll