I think it would be fair to describe the start of the day as up and down.* And then up again.* After waking just in time to watch the sun rise over Mahone Bay* I went back to sleep for an hour before freshening up and then going downstairs in the knowledge there was a cooked breakfast with my name on it… which is always a pretty good way to start the day, in my book.*
Having said my goodbyes to my hosts I hopped in the car and headed off in the direction of Halifax but, little more than two miles down the road, I had stopped again.* There was no traffic jam nor was there any car trouble.* No, the problem was there was a man stood in the middle of the road and he positively refused to let me drive round him, despite my best efforts.* To be fair he was wearing a uniform with the letters RCMP on it and he was stood beside a car with lights flashing on its roof.* Thankfully he was a decent sort and, upon hearing I was from London, he waved me on as, “it’s too much paperwork to book you and you Brits can drive so much better than the locals anyway!”
After that reassurance I made exceptionally good time - and, as my confidence grew in the car, I had an exceptionally good time! - and was soon turning in to the parking lot for the memorial to Swiss Air flight 111.* I sat there for some time looking out to the site where the plane crashed in 1998 and couldn’t help but feel, as someone who does their fair share of air travel, a connection with the people who were on that plane.* It seems incongruous that they should have suffered such violent deaths in such a tranquil and beautiful setting.* It was a shame that a bus load of tourists had to roar up and ruin the moment as its passengers descended on the site, laughing loudly, talking on their mobiles phones and posing for photos around the memorial.* I was about to say something to them when I realised they were all speaking German so I decided to leave them to it and made my way to the nearby town of Peggys Cove.
It has to be said that Peggys Cove is a really cool little (and certainly it is little!) old fishing village which has, unfortunately, been ruined by tourists such as myself wandering around photographing everything in sight.* It’s said that Peggys Cove is one of the most photographed places in the whole of Canada which, when you figure that list will include destinations such as Toronto’s CN Tower, the Expo and Olympics sites in Montreal, and Chateau Frontenac in Quebec you get an idea of the scale of the problem.* That’s not to say I didn’t like Peggys Cove - far from it - and I spent several hours wandering round it and photographing it from every angle.* It’s fair to say that I liked it a lot.
The road from Peggys Cove to Halifax is quite surreal - almost like something you’d find in Utah or Arizona - only colder.* The road winds its way between huge boulders deposited on the land by glacier movement creating not only a unique landscape but a really challenging drive.* I was really enjoying myself and I was somewhat disappointed to reach the end of the road.
My disappointment subsided when I got out of the car and checked out the city. I wandered first through the Citadel, then past the Old Town Clock down towards the waterfront.* I’ve always felt cities - particularly those in North America - to be such impersonal places but somehow Halifax felt different.
For the past few days I’d been hearing that the USA and Canada were facing each other on the ice in Halifax but it came as a surprise to discover, as I passed the Metro Centre, that it was in fact a fully fledged World Championship.* With fans from all over the world on the streets it really added to the vibe about the place.* I was offered tickets for the big game but $250 was too steep.
Down on the waterfront there was something of a carnival atmosphere; I watched people ignoring warning signs and trying to clamber up on top of a huge concrete ‘wave’ (guess you have to see it for yourself), people were socialising in bars and restaurants and there was even a colossal sailing boat which had sailed across from the Isle Of Man - I was told it was being used as a base for a movie star attending a movie premiere nearby.* And then there was the ice hockey.* Fans from Finland, Germany, Latvia - in fact most countries in Europe seemed to be represented with the exception of the UK - were milling around dressed in their country’s colours and heckling their opposition and lapping up the sunshine as official team cars with registration plates from all over Europe cruised on by.
It was a great atmosphere but, much as I wanted to stick around and savour it for the evening, the hotel rates were insane so I decided to get some miles behind me and headed off in the direction of Cape Breton Island.* I had thought about camping and followed the signs off the highway to a likely looking campground but I was afraid for my safety when I saw the people running it so I took off again!* In the end I made it here to the Cove Motel which is just a mile or so from the causeway which leads on to Cape Breton.* It’s the usual motel fayre - undecorated (and very probably uncleaned) since the seventies - with the notable exception of the ridiculous price.* I did consider turning around and heading back to the campground but I was starting to get frustrated and worried that I might have another encounter with the local police so I decided to hand over the cash and retire to my rather tired looking room for the night.