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Nova Scotia Winter Trip Report 2013

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Nova Scotia Winter Trip Report 2013

Background: I was born and raised in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia then moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia where I attended university and worked for 11 years. In 2007 I moved to Manitoba and return home to Nova Scotia at least once a year for vacation. This is my second NS trip report. My previous trip report from July 2012 can be found at tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopic-g154967-i326-k56467…

Summary: This trip report covers my most recent vacation in January and February 2013. I spent part of my time in the Halifax area (stayed with family) and part of my time in the Wolfville/Berwick/Kingston area of the Annapolis Valley (stayed with family). Most of my time was spent with family and friends visiting but did managed to squeeze in some touristy places and restaurants over my three week vacation.

Halifax area: Interlude Spa located at the Marriott Harbourview Hotel, St. Paul’s Anglican Church located in Parade Square in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotian Crystal on Halifax waterfront, Two If By Sea cafe at Historic Properties, Nova Scotia Art Gallery located downtown, Province House located downtown, shopping in downtown Halifax, Halifax waterfront, Le French Fix Pastry Shop located downtown, Indochine restaurant near Public Gardens, skating at The Oval on the Halifax commons, cheesecake at Sweet Hereafter on Quinpool Road in Halifax, The Wooden Monkey restaurant located in downtown Halifax, The Economy Shoe Shop restaurant located in downtown Halifax, Saege restaurant located on Spring Garden Road in downtown Halifax, Sugar Moon Farm located 90 minutes from Halifax in Earltown, Masstown Market located near Truro, May Garden Chinese food in Lower Sackville, Mic Mac Tavern in Dartmouth.

Wolfville area: Eagle Watch in Sheffield Mills, The Look Off, Port Pub in Port Williams, Fox Hill Cheese in Port Williams, Just Us Coffee and Museum in Grand Pre, The Tangled Garden in Grand Pre, Union Street Cafe in Berwick, Driftwood restaurant in Berwick, Farmer’s Family Diner in Aylesford, Frenchy’s used clothing in various locations, The Green Elephant Cafe in Kingston, Double Dragon Chinese food buffet in New Minas, Marie et Guy French Bakery in Kingston, attempted to make it to the Winter Wine Festival in Wolfville area but it was postponed due to blizzard.

Photos to accompany this Nova Scotia Winter Trip Report 2013 can be found at flickr.com/photos/…

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Halifax Area:

Interlude Spa http://interlude.com/ I started off a “me day” in downtown Halifax with a massaage at this spa. It was fantastic! I totally recommend it. This spa is located in the Marriott Harbourview Hotel right beside Historic Properties on the waterfront. There was construction going on in the lobby of the hotel, but once I found my way to the spa on the second floor all was well.

St. Paul’s Anglican Church http://www.stpaulshalifax.org/ I worked across the street from St Paul’s Anglican Church located in Parade Square in downtown Halifax for a few years but had never been inside. I decided it was time to change that. I was familiar with some stories about the church, like how it was the oldest church in Halifax and how there is a face of a man located in one of the windows. The story during the Halifax Explosion the window blew out but since they replaced the glass a ghostly figure is in the window. It is true, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. When I stepped inside the church I was greeted by a man who offered me some information about the church and was encouraged to walk around and to enjoy the beauty of the church. I highly recommend popping in if you enjoy old beautiful churches with some great history attached.

Nova Scotian Crystal http://www.novascotiancrystal.com/ For many years I worked very close to Nova Scotian Crystal which is located on the Halifax Waterfront but I had never been inside. I decided it was time. I was very pleased when I entered NS Crystal. Lots of beautiful crystal and great staff. I struck up a conversation with the woman in the showroom and decided to purchase a crystal christmas ornament. Much to my surprise and delight I was invited back into the crystal making area to meet the crystal makers and to take photos while they finished up my ornament. This was a wonderful experience. The Irish crystal makers were friendly, fun, and fantastic. I learned that it takes many years to become a crystal maker and that it is a profession passed down amongst families. The guys were originally from Waterford Crystal in Ireland but began making crystal in Nova Scotia when Waterford Crystal laid people off many years ago. Nova Scotian crystal is the only crystal maker left in Canada and it made me feel very proud to know that such a wonderful craft was being performed right on the Halifax waterfront. Sadly, when I returned home from my trip, as I was editing my photos of the neat crystal making process, I received an email from Nova Scotian Crystal stating that they were going into receivership and were bankrupt. I am very saddened by this news. They will remain open for a few weeks and I strongly encourage you to check them out if at all possible before they close up shop. It truly is a unique and interesting and beautiful place.

Two If By Sea http://www.twoifbyseacafe.ca/ I had heard about this bakery from a few friends and knew I needed to check it out. I made plans to meet a friend for lunch at their historic properties location in downtown Halifax. OMGosh it is awesome! Huge beautiful croissants and fantastic coffees. I had the procuitto and cheese croissant and a chai latte and yum yum yum it was good!

Nova Scotia Art Gallery www.artgalleryofnovascotia.ca/en/landing.aspx I had been to the art gallery a few times but it had been at least 6 years since my last visit. I decided to check it out while I walked off my huge croissant from Two If By Sea. I was pleased to see the Maud Lewis exhibit which is a fantastic Nova Scotia folk artist, as well as many wooden Nova Scotia folk art pieces. There was also a very strange but interesting take on Nova Scotia rug hooking by an eccentric artist. Overall I found my time at the art gallery to be very relaxing and fun, and it reminded me how art is such a part of Nova Scotia culture.

Province House nslegislature.ca/index.php/about/contact/ I had walked by Province House many, many times but had never been inside. It was time to change that. Province House home to Nova Scotia Legislature. I enjoyed the architecture and history of the building of the self-guided tour.

Shopping in downtown Halifax http://downtownhalifax.ca/index.php/ One of my favourite things to do in Halifax is to meander around downtown and shop. So many great choices with unique stores on every street. I spent a few hours just walking around and popping into interesting stores as I made my way up to The Oval for some skating. I encourage you to walk around aimlessly - you might just be surprised at all the fun options for shopping.

Halifax waterfront halifax.ca/rec/documents/HfxWaterfront.pdf Hubby and I decided to go for a stroll along the Halifax waterfront one afternoon. It was chilly but still managed to enjoy the harbour views and capture some nice photos. This is always a favourite walk of mine, regardless of the time of year.

Le French Fix Pastry Shop kellyneil.com/kellyneilcom/2013/1/8/oooh-la-… I can’t find a website for this new pastry shop located downtown so I am linking to a friend’s blog with photos of it which is how I found out about it. Yum yum yum! If you like french macarons then check this place out. Delicious! My favourite was the banana caramel macaron. Great place to pop in for a snack and a latte.

Indochine http://www.indochine.ca/ This is a new to me Veitnamese take out style restaurant with a few tables located near the Public Gardens and Lord Nelson Hotel. I had spent the day walking around downtown and needed a warm pick me up before I headed off to skating at The Oval. I had the vegetarian pho and it was good. I will definitely go back.

The Oval http://www.halifax.ca/SkateHRM/ I had heard so much about The Oval which is a new to Halifax outdoor skating rink and I knew I had to check it out. It is awesome! First off there are free rentals for skates and for helmets and all you need to do is show them identification to rent them for free. There are lots of benches and Beaver Tails is set up if you want refreshments. This is an excellent, free, outdoor winter attraction and everyone should check it out! I enjoyed my time skating in the crisp cool air as the sun started to set and I think others will too.

Sweet Hereafter http://www.sweethereafter.ca/ I had heard about this new cheesecake shop from a few friends. They basically only sell cheesecake and tea and coffee and they guarantee to have at least one vegan cheesecake option in their showcase at all times, along with regular cheesecakes. Yum yum yum I loved this place. After skating at the oval on a very cold day I popped in here for a slice of carrot cake cheesecake and a cup of tea. It was a bit pricey but it is a treat place and the decor and food and service were excellent and I would definitely return. It is located on Quinpool Road, so slightly off from the downtown area (I guess you would consider Quinpool Road uptown), but worth checking it out.

The Wooden Monkey http://www.thewoodenmonkey.ca/ I’ve been to the Wooden Monkey before but it was many years ago in downtown Halifax. They are known for their organic and local foods. Hubby and I decided to have a date night downtown and went here for a late supper. Hubby had an organic cola and I tried Jitterbug Soda which is a local company that sells sodas at the Halifax farmers market. Both were excellent. We then split a yummy salad made with apple and feta and nuts and some bacon wrapped scallops with a rootbeer reduction sauce. Both were absolutely delicious and we will definitely return to The Wooden Monkey in the future.

The Economy Shoe Shop theeconomyshoeshopgroup.ca/economyshoeshop/ This restaurant and bar is located in downtown Halifax and is a familiar place for me as I would frequent it with friends while attending university. The decor is interesting as it has this big tree in the center with small white lights. It can get quite busy at night and it can be hard to snag a table. Hubby and I went here one afternoon for nachos. The Shoe Shop has been voted the best nachos in Halifax many times and they are pretty darn good. Overall this is a great place to grab some food and drinks with friends.

Saege http://saege.ca/ After our nachos at The Shoe Shop hubby and I decided it was time for dessert. One of my favourite restaurants in Halifax is Saege so we headed there for some dessert. Hubby chose the creme brulee and I chose the brown sugar merengue with lemon curd and berries. Both were excellent, Saege never disappoints me.

Sugar Moon Farm http://www.sugarmoon.ca/ This is a working maple syrup farm located 90 mins from Halifax up closer to the Truro area in Earltown. I had been here once before in 2008 with family and we absolutely loved it. In that previous visit we had a wonderful breakfast and a fantastic sleigh ride as it snowed lightly. I was eager to see if Sugar Moon Farm would deliver this time. My husband and one of my best friends arrived around 11 am and were pleased to find the fire lit inside and it smelled great. Breakfast was decent, but we found the baked beans should have been cooked longer as they were not quite soft enough, and we found breakfast to be slightly on the expensive side, as my meal and my husband’s meal came to $45 which seemed like a lot for three pancakes, two pieces of sausage, two sides of baked beans, one coffee and one tea. We had been hoping to go on a sleigh ride but unfortunately none were taking place. I inquired as to sleigh rides but was told the horse was injured and therefore there would be no sleigh rides today. She did indicate that the previous weekend there had been a dog sledding demonstration and that we were also welcome to snowshoe or hike up the trail to the maple sap tapping area. I inquired as to who had done the dog sledding demonstration as I had been looking for a dog sledder tour on the NS mainland but was unable to find any. She provided me with his business card and said he was close to Sugar Moon Farm. More info can be found at http://www.strattonoutdoors.com/index.html I made a strong mental note that next time I am in Nova Scotia during the winter to book a dog sledding adventure and pair it with a trip to Sugar Moon Farm. Even though no sleigh ride was available and we found our meal to be on the pricey side, I would return again as it makes for a nice day trip in the winter out into the country, and really who doesn’t enjoy locally made maple syrup!

Masstown Market http://masstownmarket.com/ We stopped here on our way backto Halifax from Sugar Moon Farm. It is this big farm market with lots of great foods and decor items. Great place to grab a quick bite to eat en route to a different location or to pick up some food for camping, or to stroll for some souvenirs.

May Garden Chinese http://www.maygarden.ca/ This is my favourite chinese food in the Halifax area and they have three locations. We met friends here for supper one night and as always it was delicious. Best egg rolls ever, in fact when family flies to Manitoba to visit us they always bring us May Garden egg rolls!

Mic Mac Tavern http://micmacbarandgrill.com/ There are lots of places to go for a good steak. But honestly, if you are after a good steak then Mic Mac Tavern is my top choice. It doesn’t look like much, the building decor leaves lots to be desired (picture old school diner or tavern with wood paneling), and it is way over on the Dartmouth side of the city, but yum yum yum they know how to cook a steak to perfection. Hands down the best place to get a good steak at a good price in the Halifax area. Went with hubby’s parents, we each had a 12 ounce steak with mushrooms and onions with either fries or baked potato, garlic toast, two beer and one pop and one water and it came to $95. Excellent value and delicious. This is a Dartmouth local favourite restaurant. It can be very hard to get a table on the weekends and you will often see people just standing around the restaurant waiting patiently for a table.

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Annapolis Valley Area:

Eagle Watch http://www.eaglens.ca/ Every January and February the Sheffield Mills area of the Annapolis Valley sees many, many eagles. Even though I grew up in this area of the valley, I had never been over to the formal eagle watch festival and I knew this trip I needed to make it happen. Basically the festival consists of two things - a viewing area where all the eagles hang out, and a community hall where they serve meals and have entertainment and a little museum. The viewing area is pretty cool. You will find professional photographers mixing with regular joes. The professionals have these huge lenses that cost up to $10,000 and they spend all day waiting for the perfect action shot. Every morning the eagles are fed dead chickens in this field and all day long people show up to see the eagles. I went a couple different times hoping for the perfect shot. Most times there were no less than 20 or 30 eagles present and they would fly back and forth from the trees to the field. It simply was amazing. I found it difficult to get a good shot because I did not have a decent lens and the birds move often but it didn’t’ matter, it is a sight that simply must be seen to understand the magnitude and beauty of these magnificent birds. I was very very pleased with the eagle watch experience and would attend again in a heart beat. One morning my husband and my two friends and I decided to visit the community hall in Sheffield Mills for the eagle watch pancake breakfast. It was awesome! Basically your small community breakfast with pancakes, two kinds of syrup, sausage, coffee, tea and apple cider. It was cheap and delicious and it gave a great sense of community. A local musican played while we ate and afterwards we went upstairs in the hall to check out the small museum and photos of eagles for sale. We all enjoyed the breakfast and the eagle watch and would all attend again in the future.

The Look Off www.valleytourism.ca/index.php… This is a viewing area on the north mountain that overlooks the Wolfville/Canning/Port Williams/Minas Basin area of the Annapolis Valley. It offers a really beautiful view of the area and it is one of my favourite places in the entire world. One day my mom and brother and I took a drive up just so I could capture a few photos from the Look Off in the winter.

Port Pub http://theportpub.com/ This is a pub and micro brewery located in Port Williams. I give it two big thumbs up! This was my first time here and it was excellent. I chose the lobster poutine, my brother chose the fish and chips and my mom chose the lobster clubhouse sandwich and we were all very very pleased. Delicious! It was so good we decided to try dessert and they were equally as nice. The pub is relatively new and is a welcoming building and has a great view and patio overlooking the water.

Fox Hill Cheese http://foxhillcheesehouse.com/ I discovered this cheese house in Port Williams during my last vacation and I am hooked. Hubby and I love their products and I knew I needed to go pick up our favourites - double smoked gouda, Guinness cheddar, garlic quark. Yum yum yum. Also tried a gelato called “ice wine gelato” which I assume they had made especially for the approaching winter ice wine festival. It was fantastic! This is a great cheese house in a very pretty location and worth the visit.

Just Us Coffee and Museum http://justuscoffee.com/ I have been here many times and really enjoy this coffee house and museum. It is fair trade coffee and is a nice place to stop in Grand Pre. My brother and I enjoyed a stroll through the little museum and drinks in the cafe.

The Tangled Garden http://www.tangledgardenherbs.ca/ This is a neat garden and business where they make jellies, chutneys, liquers, oils and vinegars out of the herbs grown in their garden. I always stop here and love the decor and smells and products. This time I purchased a blackberry vinegar and can’t wait to try it. Even if you don’t want to buy any of the products, a stroll through their gardens is worth the trip.

Union Street Cafe http://www.unionstreetcafe.ca/ This is a unique and quirky restaurant in Berwick that ironically is no longer located on Union Street haha. Always a positive experience here and again it did not disapoint. I chose a greek salad and bowl of french onion soup and it was delicious.

Driftwood Restaurant http://www.driftwoodrestaurant.ca/ Seafood restaurant in Berwick in a new location. The new location is beautiful and used to be the old firehall until it was converted to the Driftwood. Decor is pretty and food was good. I chose the one piece fish and chips and it was great.

Farmer’s Family Diner yelp.ca/biz/farmers-family-diner-aylesford This is an old school diner located very close to Oaklawn Zoo in Aylesford. It has been a favourite of mine for a while but my friend had never been and insisted on checking it out as she had heard quite a few positive things about it. She was pleased. She chose the whistle dog with poutine while I had the colassal clubhouse sandwich with fries. Delicious and yummy, and reasonable priced. Expect huge portions. Snowmobilers welcome at this restaurant as it is located along a popular snowmobile trail.

Guy’s Frenchy’s Used Clothing http://guysfrenchys.com/ This is a chain of used clothing in Atlantic Canada. I classify frenchy’s as my favourite store and I bring an empty suitcase to Nova Scotia specifically for my frenchy’s finds. Love it, and scored some great clothes at super cheap prices! I hit up the locations in Lower Sackville, Coldbrook, Berwick and Wilmot.

The Green Elephant Cafe tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review-g181764-d37… This is a new cafe in Kingston. I had planned on trying the waffles but unfortunately got there too late in the day for that. Instead I tried a curry veggie sandwich and a veggie soup. Food was good, but I felt the cafe to be a bit cold (temperature and decor) and a bit pricey. I’d give it another try but not sure if it will become a regular place for me.

Double Dragon Chinese yelp.ca/biz/double-dragon-restaurant-new-min… Stopped in here for the lunchtime buffet one day with my sister. $11.95 and lots of choices. Always a solid choice for a chinese buffet in the New Minas area.

Marie et Guy French Bakery http://www.marieandguy.com/ This is a traditional french bakery in Kingston. I had never been here before although I had seen the cute “FRENCh BAKERY” sign on the street a few times and had been wanting to check it out. It was a great little shop filled with great breads, croissants, and desserts. Marie has a heavy french accent and it just adds to the fun of the bakery. Their products are also available at Fox Hill Cheese (I saw a little tray of their goods there with a sign), and the Annapolis Royal Farmers Market (Marie told me this).

Luigi’s Pizza tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g616307-d7… This is a small pizza place in Berwick. Everytime I am home in NS I simply must pick up garlic fingers from a pizza joint and this year it was Luigi’s. Garlic Fingers are an east coast favourite, best dipped in donair sauce. If you haven’t tried them, pick them up at any NS pizza joint. Delicious.

Winter Wine Festival winesofnovascotia.ca/events/… I had arranged it that I would be in the valley for the winter wine festival. In July 2012 I spent a day visiting many of the wineries in the Wolfville area and wanted to see them in the winter too. The winter wine festival offers sledding, sleigh rides, ice wine samples, food, etc and I thought it would be a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon. One problem though, Nova Scotia got hit with a blizzard so the wine festival was postphoned until the following weekend. I would not be able to attend the following weekend as I was flying back to Manitoba mid-week. So instead of attending the winter wine festival I stayed in and watched the snow fly. No need to skip the wine though, that weekend I sampled three different NS wines (what to do when a blizzard hits and the wine festival is cancelled??? - well devise your own wine festival!). I chose a reisling from Gasperau Winery which was nice, the Tidal Bay apppelation from Domaine de Grand Pre which was delicious, and a cranberry wine called Red Barn from Muwin Winery which was my favourite of the three. Now I didn’t drink all three bottles myself, but I did sample them all and it did offer a nice distraction to the blizzard!

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3. Re: Nova Scotia Winter Trip Report 2013

Conclusion: Overall I had a wonderful winter vacation in Nova Scotia and I can’t wait to go back again soon! Photos for this vacation can be viewed at flickr.com/photos/…

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4. Re: Nova Scotia Winter Trip Report 2013

Excellent trip report, made me homesick for N.S. I used to visit The Interlude Spa in Dartmouth fairly often for a "me" day. It was wonderful. Too bad you missed the Winter Wine Festival, at least you had your own tasting. , I'm not familiar with the Muwin Winery, Where is it located?

This report shows that there are still many things to do during the winter in Nova Scotia. Except during a blizzard, which is rare!

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5. Re: Nova Scotia Winter Trip Report 2013

I hadn't heard of Muwin Winery either, but the bottle indicates it is located in New Ross. I just stumbled upon it in the NSLC and thought it looked interesting.

Definitely lots to do in NS in the winter, I didn't have a bored minute :)

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6. Re: Nova Scotia Winter Trip Report 2013

Thanks so much for posting such a detailed report, great help for visitors- your pictures are brilliant alot of talent.

Glad you had a great holiday.

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7. Re: Nova Scotia Winter Trip Report 2013

What a great trip report! It sounds like you had a great vacation. I have added this to our trip reports. It is really great to get a winter report.

Edited: 16 February 2013, 21:20
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8. Re: Nova Scotia Winter Trip Report 2013

After all that typing I realized I forgot three things in Halifax! We took my nephew to The Discovery Centre (a science museum for children with hands on experiences) in downtown Halifax and we loved it! He is 4 years old and had a blast! We then went to Pogue Fado pub for lunch. Food was great! Finished off the day by taking him to Freak Lunchbox for some candy.

I tried so hard to remember all the things we did - next time I will have to take notes during the trip so I don't forget anything!

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9. Re: Nova Scotia Winter Trip Report 2013

Wowsers! You hit all the major 'must-sees' and then some! If anybody is looking for places to go, I'll link them to this post!

Great report.

10. Re: Nova Scotia Winter Trip Report 2013

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