Walk up the hill away from the harbour next to the Atlantic Superstore. Not far, just a parallel street or two and you are out of the tourist area and into the real city. There are painted ladies reminiscent of San Fransisco, locally painted signs, lost cats heart wringing posters on the telephone poles.
The English influence is everywhere: the public gardens, hotel names and brick architecture and construction details. The Irish fill the Catholic cemetery while the Scots have both the Province name and much of the music.
Halifax is also a a university city with more than its share of medium and high rise ugly cement slab dorms and signs for apartments and sublets in many windows. Then there are the discounts on offer, perhaps Tuesday or Thursday but never on the weekend when more money is to had from he tourists.
I walked up and past the old fort looking down on the harbour. The first time I was here, 2010 off the Costa Atlantica, Noah and I explored it. Our timing was right for both canon firing and a change of the guards in what I sincerely hoped was period uniforms.
I had wondered about the horses before spotting the sign for the Junior Lancers opposite the Citadel High School.
On the flats above the museum and boardwalk is an area of wooden houses. For Americans, it is like the oldest buildings in Bar Harbor or Portland. Homes under historic preservation stand next to tries of obviously the same era but owned by those who don’t want that burden. A Well tended house may share a wall with one which probably saw more care and live in previous centuries. A kaleidoscope of colors brighten your eyes. No rows of demure white here, but a riot of combination that would case massive heart attacks and strokes in the stuffier homeowners associations.
Which doesn’t mean that historic markers aren’t present.
The next time you are here, after strolling the boardwalk, seeing the maritime Musuem and contemplating the citadel, take a few minutes to explore a neighbourhood or two. See the hidden gems adding cheer to what could be the grey of an Atlantic costal town winter. The graffiti that is art.
Oh, and get your coffee from one of the many local and comfortable coffee ships. Or Tim Hortons. Better flavour, avoid the 30 min wifi limit of Starbucks and enjoy being in Canada.