Day 12 |
Oct 01, 2011

 Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist lecturer

Co-ordinates: 44º39’33.3”N, 063º37’23.3”W
Weather: raining
Air Temperature: 19ºC

I have been looking forward to today for some time because today we were in Halifax and driving to the other side to a small town called Hall’s Harbour on the Bay of Fundy. Growing up in New England, we have always heard about the amazing tidal exchange in occurs here, but I have never witnessed it for myself – so today was going to be my first time!

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t going to cooperate with us – the weather forecast had predicted rain, and… well… that is exactly what we got – all day! But despite the rain, we were all in good spirits as we boarded the buses for our day’s adventure.

The rain paused long enough for us to enjoy our first stop at the cemetery where a couple hundred victims from the Titanic disaster are buried. Halifax was the ‘rescue center’ for the Titanic sinking, and many of the retrieved bodies are buried here.

Our guide, Glenn, brought the story alive by taking us from gravestone to gravestone and telling us a story about each person - their position on the ship, where they were from, and the circumstances of their death. There were some fascinating stories of bravery and courage. The most touching stories, for me, were about those seamen onboard the ship who rescued so many of the passengers, and in doing so risked their own lives. This was a touching experience for me, and I think for most of our group.

The second stop, about 1 hour away, was at the Grand Pre winery, where they produce some of the finest gourmet wines that are unique to the province. The specialty grapes that they cultivate are specifically developed for Nova Scotia’s specific climate and landscape. By the time we arrived, the rain had started up again, delaying our tour of the vineyard, so instead we headed inside the winery and proceeded with the wine tasting – two white wines and two reds. They were excellent, and several people decided to buy some to take back on board for the remainder of the cruise. This winery also produces a couple different Ice Wines, which are wines produced using frozen grapes. This is very special wine, and cost a lot more than the standard wines, because the process produces about 1/5th of the amount of wine than using non-frozen grapes. Interestingly, the guide told us about the strict standards for Ice Wine – the grapes must be vine frozen for more than 2 days at temperatures below -8ºC. They cannot be picked and then frozen!

By the time we arrived into Hall’s Harbour at 1pm, we were definitely ready for lunch!! This, for me, was the highlight of the day – fresh boiled lobster served the traditional New England way, with a whole lobster, side of potato salad, coleslaw, and drawn butter. And, of course, the wonderfully tacky lobster bib!!! We had a great time tearing into the lobsters to get every very last bit of meat out of the shell! Even on some occasions I had to duck to avoid a flying piece of shell or meat from one of my lunching neighbours! But we all had a great time and to top it all off we had a pound cake covered in fresh blueberry sauce! YUM!!!

When we had arrived, nearly all of the boats docked at the small wharf area were high and dry – resting on the muddy seafloor – because the tide was out. But…by the time we finished lunch, about 45 minutes later, the boats were all afloat again. These tidal changes can be as great as 14 meters!! You could literally watch the level of the tide rise as you stood on the wharf. These are some of the greatest tides of anywhere in the world!

On the way back to the ship our guide regaled us with stories from the region, including some of the natural disasters that have occurred in the area – including the huge hurricane in the 1990s that was the basis of the famous book (then film) called The Perfect Storm.

As we reached the outskirts of Halifax, we took an indirect path back to the ship on a “Highlights of Halifax” tour in the coach, including the Citadel and the old clock tower.

It was a wonderful day, and we all came back onboard happy, with lobster-filled stomachs and many great memories of Halifax and the Bay of Fundy.