What I learned in Nova Scotia

I have traveled to about 40 countries including exotic places like NgoroNgoro and Mandaly. I love to travel and many more places are on my go-to list like Tierra del Fuego and the Shetlands. I am on an up-and-down kick.

I only want to go to places on the top and the bottom of the world. I’m not so interested in the middle. Last year, over the Fourth of July weekend, I wanted to go someplace north. I pulled Halifax out of the air. My geography is not so great because I thought it was much farther north. Turns out it is about even with Minneapolis. But, I had never been to Canada before and it was something I could add to my list and it wasn’t in the middle so I went. And I’m glad I did.

Nova Scotia is located almost exactly halfway between the equator and the north pole and is the second smallest province in Canada. It is also the second most densely populated. It is a peninsula surrounded completely by the Atlantic Ocean.

The glaciers of Nova Scotia are long gone but there is still evidence of them in its rocky terrain and hundreds of clear icy lakes. It is a beautiful place.

The Lake

The Citadel, a star shaped fort, watches over downtown Halifax. Edward Cornwallis founded Halifax in 1749 with 2,576 settlers. The first Citadel was completed in September of that same year. There were many forts of varying shapes and sizes over the years but it eventually fell to neglect and ruin. In 1951 the site was declared a National Historic Site and a restoration program began. It was decided the fort would be restored to its peak period between 1869 and 1871. This was the time it was the most effective against attack from both sea and land. The 78th Highlanders were in garrison at the time so today the guards at the Citadel all wear traditional Scottish uniforms  We even heard a bagpiper.

The Road

English is the dominant language in Nova Scotia, however, both French and English are spoken and all signs are in both languages. My son took this as an opportunity to completely immerse himself in a language he neither spoke nor understood. Whenever we were in our hotel room, French television was on. All time spent in the car was shared with French radio. All signs were photographed. I would like to say that by the time we left we were both fluent, but alas, it wasn’t so.

We spent a full day driving down the coast. We looked for lighthouses and empty places. We found both. We also found a lot of people and towns and houses. More than I had expected. They were quaint and for the most part well kept.

The Coast
Lighthouse off the coast.
The country

Leaving the country was a bit weird. We were flying directly from Halifax to Dullus Airport in Virginia. When we arrived at the airport we saw signs with the American flag indicating United States passengers to proceed to a particular elevator. We followed instructions and found ourselves in a special terminal reserved only for people traveling to the USA.

As we went though security, we also went through US Customs, with a US Customs official checking our passports and asking us questions like we were actually arriving in the USA. My son was appalled to think what it must cost us to maintain these special terminals and I wondered what the advantage was. Apparently these have been around since the 1950’s. United States officials state that “this process is intended to streamline border procedures, to reduce congestion at ports of entry, and to facilitate travel between the pre-clearance location and some U.S. airports that may not be equipped to handle international travelers”.

So as I said, I was flying into Dullus, which is more than equipped to handle international travelers. It was weird. The thing I really didn’t like about it was I felt I was being discriminated against. There were two small food stalls, a mini newspaper shop and a duty-free corridor in the terminal. All the good shops and restaurants and duty free stuff was not available to us.

I not only learned about Nova Scotia and Halifax, I also learned something about the USA. Isn’t travel interesting?