Our last stop was the provincial capital, Halifax. Decidedly the land of boutique inns, our downtown accommodations were tucked three floors up in the attic of the elegant Waverley. We entered the chinoiserie-style premier room by turning on a lamp decorated with dragons and were welcomed by a statue of a life-sized gilded emperor. That night, we slept on a centuries-old Chinese wedding bed. Our curiosity led us to roam the decorated halls which turned into an encounter with visiting ghost hunters, armed with EMF readers and hoping for a little activity from some of the inn’s past visitors (P.T. Barnum and Oscar Wilde, to name a few).
I tend to rank my love of cities by the quality of their vintage stores, and Halifax takes the cake with Elsie’s Used Clothing (1530 Queen St). Their racks are filled with a bounty of high-end pieces at wonderful price points and I emerged hours later, teary-eyed and dressed in my new handmade finds - a wool beret, oversized leopard print silk blazer, and 1970’s woven mohair jacket. I returned multiple times to have conversations with owner Maureen Elsie, its Haligonian curator. Let me assure you - this shop alone justifies a cross-country flight.
After rifling through decades of clothing, a well-deserved star anise and papaya gin and tonic at Highwayman was in order. Named after the novel by Alfred Noyes, this literary-themed restaurant and bar is filled on a Wednesday night with patrons and warm ambiance. As for the food, a refined and impressive multi-course tasting journey from ocean to land was served to us on inlaid tables. Although
the menu changes seasonally, I highly recommend the charcuterie board, which incorporates a tasty array of sobrassada, chorizo, and salchichon-style pork sausages cured in-house. I can safely say that Highwayman has the talent and presence to set the bar for the next generation of dining establishments in this city.
On our last morning, we popped into PAVIA Cafe on the top floor of the central library for one last view of the city and a quick espresso before our flight. We sat above the fog, overlooking the harbor. Halifax is in a growth phase, literally and figuratively. There seemed to be transition and refinement throughout, but one thing will forever be consistent: that good ol’ Maritime hospitality.