For Big Day Downtown this year, Downtown Halifax chose the theme of "People's Choice" and we used our social networks to get ideas for where we could go to spend the $150 that they gave us. Having done earlier Big Days as well, it meant that I had visited much of the downtown area and getting some help with choosing things to do was a good idea. People are good at suggesting where you can spend your money and between some conversations and tweets, I was able to figure out some great downtown businesses to visit.

Downtown Halifax is officially is the area from the Casino to the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market and Pier 21 and extending up to Brunswick Street from the Waterfront. Within that area there are many businesses and they are all fair game to be part of the big day. The bloggers assembled at the newly opened Onyx on Argyle to accept this mission and it was a nice start to the whole exercise with some good drinks and snacks in a comfortable environment with fellow bloggers.

There are a few stops that I had in mind right away, but in asking a few questions my big day got even better with the feedback that I received. Living in Wolfville and working in Dartmouth means I'm familiar with the city and already do a lot of shopping there, but with feedback it helps to discover new places that haven't shown up on your radar. Instead of having one Big Day all together I asked a few questions and incrementally enjoyed a Big Day.

The first question that I asked was about a vegetarian lunch downtown and I got some great responses right away. The Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design suggested Fruition in the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market. Lisa Preston suggested The Wooden Monkey. Abad Khan reminded me that Indochine has a location on Barrington and while a triple-lunch day sounds good, I knew I'd need to spread those meals out a bit.

The second question posed on Twitter was for where to get craft beer and Susan Thompson of Fredericton suggested Stillwell, which in posing my question I was secretly hoping for. She'd visited Halifax recently and thought it was great and I agreed and added that to the plan for my Big Day.

The final question that I asked (knowing I easily could use up all $150 at the locations already suggested) was for where to get bike stuff, clothing, or t-shirts. Steve Keeling suggested Lost Cod on the Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk. Arthur Gaudreau (through his HalifaxReTales Twitter account) thought of Biscuit General Store (which I've been to often, and love, but didn't get to visit for this Big Day). Brad Alex Stephens suggested Ideal Bikes. Offline MEC was a suggestion for a spot for bike and clothing stuff as well.

With a to-do list of locations and a prepaid Visa card from the Downtown Halifax Business Commission it was time to make the plan for my day. It ended up being part of three days which allowed for good food and drink along with great shopping in the downtown with lovely late summer weather.

Day 1

Vegan Seitan Donair at The Wooden Monkey

I started off with an old favourite I hadn't visited as part of earlier Big Days – The Wooden Monkey. Having been there often, and usually getting the veggie burger, it was kind of surprising to me that I hadn't tried their Vegan Seitan Donair. Having been a vegetarian for over two decades means that it has been a long time since having a donair, so something new at a favourite restaurant was exciting.

To start I ordered a Big Spruce Brewing Cereal Killer Stout to have some craft beer with my afternoon lunch. Seitan) is not something that I've eaten often, but the way that the Wooden Monkey prepared it with tomatoes, onions, and a sweet coconut sauce all wrapped up in a porridge pita is amazing. With their potato roasties on the side it's one of the best lunches I've had.

Carrot Cake Smoothie from Fruition

Then it was out into downtown again and along the Waterfront Boardwalk to the other end of downtown. The Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market has a great collection of vendors selling food and goods and it can be busy on Saturday morning. But there are many vendors who are there throughout the week, and Fruition is one of them. Their location is bright and right by the windows at the front of the market. Inside they have a range of delicious vegan food and I picked up some of their Power Porridge and got a Carrot Cake Smoothie. The smoothie was just right and a few days later I cooked up the Power Porridge in my rice cooker and that was a tasty breakfast and a nice change from the ordinary oatmeal I have every weekday.

Flat White from The Smiling Goat

With some clouds in the sky, but no rain, I walked along the boardwalk thinking of where to go next when I remembered that the Smiling Goat had a location downtown now. I stopped in there for a Flat White and used their wifi as I sipped espresso and microfoamed milk. The Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design then suggested I stop in to look at the show in their gallery, so it was back down the boardwalk past the Seaport Market and before Pier 21.

Mary E. Black Gallery and Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design

The Mary E. Black Gallery is in the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design and they feature a variety of exhibitions throughout the year. The most recent exhibition (which ended August 31) was "Presence of Absence" which was a collaboration between Catherine Beck and Jeffrey Cowling exploring loss and remembrance. The exhibition was fascinating. There was jewelry from Catherine Beck using human hair as the starting point and funeral urns and reliquary boxes made from exotic woods by Jeffrey Cowling. It's an interesting reflection on loss and memory.

Blue SC Speed and Cadence Sensor from MEC

I had parked the car in the parking garage next to MEC and while I had explored the food and artistic parts of my Big Day Downtown, I wanted to start on the clothing and outdoor activity part. MEC is the most regular stop downtown for me and this time I looked through the clothes and got a Castelli Velocissimo Tour Cap that was on sale. In the back of my mind I was thinking of another device to track my bike riding activity and picked up a Wahoo Fitness BlueSC speed and cadence sensor for my bike (semi-subsidized with my Big Day Downtown money). The tour cap is great for keeping sweat and sun out of my eyes, and the sensor measures the speed of my bike as I ride as well as the rate that I am peddling, so you can see when you are coasting and when you are working as you look at the data from a ride.

 

Day 2

At the end of a day at work I was able to stop in to Ideal Bikes on Barrington to look through the range of bicycles, equipment, and clothing that they have there. I found some comfortable and durable Darn Tough socks that should last me a long time riding (and they have a lifetime guarantee). Ideal Bikes is also right beside Stillwell, and I met my pal Kendra (@halifaxfilmgal on Twitter) there for some socializing, a beer, and a snack.

Stillwell

Any bar has basic elements that are relatively simple, but are difficult to get right. There is the location, the layout, the staff, the drinks, and the food. At Stillwell they have everything just right. It's welcoming as soon as you arrive and I love the bar. With taps at the bottom of a chalkboard wall behind the bar, it's a simple setup built around great craft beer. The names of the beer are written over the taps. The lineup changes on a continuous basis, so if it is busy you may notice that there is something different on one of the dozen taps on the wall. It's set up in traditional pub style, so you order your food and drink at the bar which gets you moving around a bit.

Board and Taps at Stillwell

Tokyo Fries at Stillwell

With a knowledgeable staff and friendly atmosphere it feels just right and time slips away effortlessly. This time I tried something new and had the Bitter Get'er India Black IPA (from Big Spruce Brewing) which is nice. Kendra had Bulwark Blush Cider which she enjoyed. The food at Stillwell is simple, but amazing. My favourite menu choice is the Tokyo Fries which are usually served with Atari Mayo (which isn't vegetarian), but you can get a honey sauce for dipping, or the vegan option which is a Sriracha-based sauce (which I opted for this time). With a coating of Tokyo steak spice, they're perfect and with the hot sauce it's a nice little kick that goes well with craft beer. The menu adds new things often with all sorts of amazing creations, so you can try something different or stick with something that you like. Stillwell is a gem at the heart of a revitalized Barrington Street.

 

Day 3

Veggie Ball Banh Mi from Indochine

The last stop for food on my downtown adventures was at Indochine. They make the most amazing Banh Mi sandwiches and now have a location on Barrington. My favourite is their Veggie Ball Banh Mi which is a delicious sandwich that is built around veggie meatballs that are made right in the kitchen all within fresh bread. In the summer they have a refreshing iced organic lemonade with mint that is great on a warm summer afternoon.

T-Shirt from Lost Cod Clothing

For the final part of my Big Day I returned to the Waterfront to look at the shops and stop in to Lost Cod Clothing. In a small building packed with t-shirts, hoodies, and hats, they put various logos on the clothing. The logos have a story and they save the history of Nova Scotia by remembering companies that are no longer around. In the shop Chris knows the stories of the businesses that are no longer with us and is more than willing to share them. Looking through the logos and hearing the stories was fascinating. I finally decided on a green t-shirt with the Halifax & Southwestern Railway logo. I like the logo and the story as this was the railway that ran along the South Shore which has a trail I love to bike on.

Black Bear Ice Cream

With my t-shirt and a little bit more time on my hands I walked over to the Black Bear Ice Cream shop to see if there was something there that interested me and there was. Jalapeño ice cream. I like spicy things and after having a sample, I decided to go for it. The locally-owned shop makes their own flavours and the spicy jalapeño peppers are counterbalanced with the coolness of the ice cream which has a fiery aftertaste. It was a good way to wrap up my big day as I sat on the waterfront and looked out at the water at the end of a beautiful late-summer day.

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AuthorChris Campbell
Categoriesplaces

We didn't make it to the top.

A few weeks ago my friend Diane suggested a weekend trip to Mount Carleton in northern New Brunswick to hike up the tallest mountain in the Maritime provinces. I'd never been to the provincial park there and was keen to go to a place of New Brunswick where I had never been. So the plans were made and a cabin booked (since I like the idea of camping, but not necessarily setting up the tent and sleeping in it).

In the days leading up to the trip the weather was checked often. It looked good for a long time but then Hurricane Arthur) showed up. The track looked as though it would keep most of the effects away from the mountain, so the trip stayed on. The path changed a bit the day before, but the forecast still was for some rain and a bit of wind.

Mount Carleton Provincial Park is located in an isolated part of New Brunswick. So isolated and preserved that there is no cell service or power lines in the park, so it is a really great way to disconnect. It's been a long time since I disconnected for even a day or so, and this was really nice as it forces you to be in the moment and look and listen to the world around you.

The park is beautiful and we arrived on a Friday afternoon just before dark. The heritage cabins are log cabins that feature a kitchenette with running water, a propane stove and oven, a full-size refrigerator, as well as a full bathroom with shower. So it wasn't roughing it all. The cabin was close to Lake Nictau which is a lovely, long lake at the bottom of Mount Sagamook. The trail for that mountain is a short walk from the cabin, but we came for Mount Carleton and on Saturday we went to the front gate (where they have Wi-Fi) to check the weather and see what the conditions were going to be for the day.

The forecast from 11am called for rain with a bit of wind, but nothing too strong, so we set out for Mount Carleton which is located at the end of a narrow dirt road. Part way down the road there was a birch tree across the road. I was able to use a broken branch as a lever to move the tree out of the way so we could pass. There weren't any other trees down and the rest of the drive was uneventful. A light rain was falling and with good socks and sturdy hiking boots and waterproof gear in place we set out up the easier way to the top which is a 4.4 km hike.

The enchanting and terrifying part of hiking on the trails in Mount Carleton is that it is peaceful and quiet and isolated. While we saw a car in the parking lot at the bottom of the mountain, we didn't see anyone else on the hike. At the top there is a shelter, but nobody is stationed there. The park has regular patrols on the roads and it's good practice to sign in at the bottom of each trail and to also let someone know where you are going and what your expected timeline is. But being in an area without cell phone service can be disconcerting as the usual quick checking of the weather forecast (or tweeting) can't happen. If that was possible we would have seen that the path of the tropical storm had changed and that it was going right up through New Brunswick.

It's a beautiful, tree-covered hike up the mountain. The branches provided some shelter from the rain as we ascended. As we went there was more and more water running onto the trail. About halfway up there was a steady stream of water covering the trail which intensified the further up we went. Close to the top there is a shelter and at that point the trail was completely covered with a heavy flow of water. It looked like a river and at that point the decision was made to turn back as it didn't feel safe.

The rain kept falling and the wind picked up and we heard trees and branches breaking and falling as we hiked down. A couple of branches and trees fell across the trail, so we had to climb over them. It was very wet and I'm so glad that I had good socks and boots as they kept me comfortable the whole way. My iPhone was nicely ensconced in a waterproof case that allowed me to take some pictures along the way to document the experience.

Arriving at the parking lot after the hike down was a relief. The trail near the bottom now was also covered with water, so it was definitely getting worse. We took off our gear and got in the car to head back to the cabin along the dirt road as the rain fell and the wind blew. A few minutes down the road there were a couple of newly-fallen trees completely blocking the way out. These were too big to push out of the way, so we turned the car around and went back to the parking lot to wait for the patrol. After a half hour or so a pickup truck with flashing lights on came up the road followed by another pickup truck. They said that it took them an hour to get down the road and they cleared about 13 trees along the way.

We headed out following them down the road and seeing broken and fallen trees all along the way. We needed to stop four or five more times on the way out as they took out the chainsaw and cleared trees from the road that had blocked it again. These were trees that had fallen in the past 15 minutes, so the weather was definitely getting worse. Luckily none of the roads back to the cabin were washed out, so arriving back was very nice and the cabin had power and firewood, so the day was ended with a warm fire in the wood stove and good meal.

The next morning was sunny and beautiful. Probably a good day for a hike, so we drove out to the base of Mount Carleton again to see if we could make it up. On the way there we saw another patrol and they let us know that all the trails were closed due to the number of trees down and the flooding. We turned around and headed to the main gate to check out. We found out that the park had been closed the day before a couple of hours after we arrived back at the cabin. But there were a couple of smaller trails open and that Williams Falls was quite close and quite beautiful. So we went there and along the way had a beautiful view of Mount Sagamook and had a peaceful short walk through the woods to see the raging waterfall that was probably much more intense due to the day of rain.

A gentle way to end a weekend in a park that was filled with wind and rain, but still very beautiful. It's a place where I will return and attempt to climb to the top of at least one of the mountains at some point in the future.

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AuthorChris Campbell
Categoriesplaces

Walking in to The Middle Spoon I looked around and said a cryptic password to a server there and she led me down the stairs and past tables to an ordinary looking door. Going through a series of winding hallways we arrived behind an unmarked door and in the secret bar called Noble underneath the streets of downtown Halifax. This was the place for the launch of Big Day Downtown by the Downtown Halifax Business Commission where a group of bloggers were gather to meet each other and find out what the theme was for this year. Each blogger drew three cards from a bowl and with $150 we had to go and explore and write about our experiences.

Going to downtown Halifax is always a choice for me. Living in Wolfville and working in Dartmouth means that most days I am close to the downtown, but not actually there. So the step of visiting downtown pretty much always has a purpose. One of the things that is most fun is being able to be part of Big Day Downtown which I've been lucky to do for the last few years. A group of bloggers are given a prepaid credit card and the task is to spend the money at downtown businesses. Every year there is a theme and this year with the three theme cards that we chose, we had to seek out experiences that fit within those themes.

The cards that I drew were Fun, Happy, and Authentic which seemed perfect to me. Should I try to go to all-new places, or maybe go to old favourites. Would it be better to spread out the money to many shops with small purchases, or maybe splurge a bit at a few restaurants. So with a rough idea of where I wanted to go and a few hours to spend on a Thursday afternoon I ventured in to the city to get started.

Meaty Meatless Burger

Meaty Meatless Burger

There are lots of great restaurants in downtown Halifax and it is always good to try something new, so the first stop on my Big Day was 2 Doors Down, which would be a fun way to start things off. It's a great location on the corner of Barrington and Salter Street with a warm and inviting environment. With my youngest daughter joining me for lunch, we were seated by the window and started to look through the beautifully designed menu. Being a vegetarian means that finding things to eat can sometimes be a challenge, but at 2 Doors Down there were some really amazing choices for me to make. With an emphasis on local ingredients and a fun approach to the dishes, the menu combines comfortable and recognizable ingredients in different ways. I choose to have the veggie burger and it was delicious. It's called the Meaty Meatless Burger and it was a breaded veggie burger with a caramelized onion balsamic jam, grilled portabello mushrooms, and blue cheese whiz. It was served with some delicious french fries and some of their own home-made ketchup. My daughter had the "Kale, Caesar" Salad which she devoured and enjoyed. For desert the gingerbread beckoned and it was a tasty and not too sweet with everything balanced just right.

Inkwell Sign

Inkwell Sign

At this point I was joined by my friend Kendra (known on Twitter as @halifaxfilmgal) and while there weren't any films to see, I figured it would be good to have some help as I went around the downtown on a sunny summer afternoon. We went in to Inkwell to look at some of the lovingly printed letterpress cards, posters, and notebooks on their shelves. Lots of local stuff, stamps, and cards for all occasions are around the shop as well. After looking through lots of cards and notebooks I settled on a clever notebook with "My Analog Blog" on the cover. When I want to use my fountain pen to write a blog entry, this is the notebook for it.

Macarons at Le French Fix

Macarons at Le French Fix

Leaving Inkwell and going around the corner Kendra asked if I had been to Le French Fix, and I hadn't but had always wanted too and this would fit into the authentic category. One of the best times to visit a patisserie is in the morning so you can get your day started with some well-crafted pastry, but this being late afternoon meant that there wasn't as much in the store. Luckily there were colourful macarons in the case and I bought a couple of them (I had pistachio) and noticed the Pig Iron Coffee on the counter. Always on the lookout for good coffee, I tried a sample and bought a bag of the beans which were a good medium roast.

Zane's Macchiato Special at Two if by Sea

Zane's Macchiato Special at Two if by Sea

Now with coffee on the brain and with gravity helping it was down towards the harbour and the Historic Properties where Two if by Sea are in downtown Halifax. One of my regular stops for a croissant and coffee, the late afternoon and good weather meant that there was no food left, but as always there is the best coffee in the city. My regular coffee at home now is usually extracted from Two if by Sea's Anchored Coffee beans, so I replenished my stock with a bag of La Azacualpa from Honduras.

Since there was time I ordered my favourite, which is Zane's Macchiato Special – espresso in one cup, a single macchiato in the other cup. The combination is always good and is a great little jolt of caffeine in the afternoon which is just what is needed to restore your energy. If it was warmer I would have had their cold brew coffee which is gently extracted over 18 hours. If you haven't had a chance to try it, you're missing out on some delicious iced coffee. This isn't the sugary simulation of other places, but a robust drink that lets you taste the subtleties of good beans.

Wired and ready for the final push we took a walk along the Halifax Waterfront filled with smiling tourists. Kendra hadn't been to the new location of Strange Adventures, so we went up to the comic shop on Prince Street to look around. It's compact and bright with big windows looking out on Lower Water Street with shelves of all sorts of amazing stuff to read. Not having much time, I didn't get anything as it would have been way too easy to spend the remaining money there and there were still a couple of other stops to make before the day was done.

Saigon 2 Laptop Bag from MEC

Saigon 2 Laptop Bag from MEC

One of the most fun places for me downtown is MEC and exploring the outdoors on my bike makes me very happy, so a stop into the store was next on the agenda. The gear and clothing all through the store is organized by activity. I went to the bikes and looked at the accessories and attachments trying to think of what would be good to get. Maybe some clothes, or biking shorts? A light?

I have a lot of different bags. While it's good to have the right one for taking stuff with you, it can also be a bit of a problem if you have too many bags. So I'll admit right up front that I have a bit of a problem with searching for a better bag but here right in front of me (in bright red) was a bag that on sale. It looked as though it would be great to have for my laptop. My regular laptop bag is good, but a bit small. This was a chance to have something a bit better and it was a messenger bag, so that would work for biking too. After pacing around and looking at it and being told by Kendra that I should publicly admit that I have a problem, I decided to take the plunge and get it.

The Saigon 2 Laptop Bag is from Vancouver's Onsight Equipment and it's big and roomy enough for my 15-inch MacBook Pro along with all sorts of accessories and lunch. The straps are comfortable and it can be more secure with a reflective belt to keep it from moving around and to make you more visible at night. There are also a couple of reflective strip spinners that attach to the bag for even more safety. While I don't think that I'll have the bag on a lot while I'm riding my bike, it's good to have that option and even though I didn't really need it, having a good bag makes me very happy.

Chili oil from Morris East

Chili oil from Morris East

The final stop for my Big Day was something that I'd been thinking about for a while. Morris East is one of my all-time favourite restaurants. For authentic food, they are the best and with their wood-fired oven powered by Annapolis Valley wood, the pizza is delicious. Not having enough money for a meal, but still having a bit I figured that it would be great to get a bottle of their chill oil along with some of their whole wheat dough and sauce to make pizza at home. It's a great way to have fresh pizza when you want to make it at home and don't want to spend the time making the dough and sauce.

With a bit of mozzarella and parmesan cheese I assembled the ingredients at home and then cooked a nice pizza for supper as I reflected on my Big Day Downtown. The day was authentic, fun, and made me very happy. A perfect way to spend a day in downtown Halifax doing things that I love.

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AuthorChris Campbell
Categoriesplaces

One of the wonderful things about living close to Halifax is that the city doesn't become too familiar. At various times of the year I'll spend more time in the city, but most of the time my visits are focussed and relatively quick. Working in Dartmouth, but living in Wolfville means that I spend a lot of time on the road. By the time the end of the day rolls around I usually won't hang around in the city. But at certain times of the year or for certain people or events, I spend more time getting to know the place where I work and the place that I see across the harbour.

Luckily I was chosen to be part of Big Day Downtown again by the Downtown Halifax Business Commission and it's a great opportunity to think about downtown Halifax and what I can do there. Working within constraints is a good thing and the basic rules are that you're given $100 you can spend however you want in downtown businesses. Being the third time poses some challenges as you don't want to repeat yourself and want to do things that are interesting. The twist this time was randomly pairing the bloggers up and getting us to share our adventures.

So often with social media and the various ways that we share words and images online we construct imaginary people in our minds. It's similar to how we visualize radio or podcast hosts or musicians whose voices we hear. Real people are complex and wonderful and any chance to meet them in person is good. To be able to socialize and laugh in person can be even better. The online scene in Halifax is active and strong with a diverse range of voices and people who share what they love in interesting ways. Sometimes we forget how special this is and projects like this that remind us of the community and the people who are part of it.

The kickoff event was at Morris East, which is one of my favourite restaurants and one of the places where I went for my first Big Day Downtown. The assembled bloggers mingled and socialized. It was nice to see familiar faces and catch up with people in a socially unmediated way. Being able to connect and share with people electronically is good, but it's nice to be a room with people (along with food and drinks). When the names were drawn from the bowl I wondered who I'd be teamed up with. Would it be someone I knew? Would it be someone who shared interests with me, or would it be a surprise?

My partner for the Big Day was prolific blogger Jill Mader, who I knew from Couchtime With Jill. It seemed as if the choice was almost too perfect with Jill's focus on tv and my focus on films. The rough outline for the day was worked out at the opening event with the discussion swirling around favourite tv shows and celebrities. A couple of weeks later we met up again to start our Big Day.

Jill figured out some of the places where celebrities had been in downtown Halifax, so that provided choices for where to go. I'm sure that we just scratched the surface, but I was happy with the list since it gave me the chance to combine old and new places. She wrote about her Halifamous tour over on her blog.

Two if By Sea

Two if By Sea

Our day was a Thursday after work, so before I met up with Jill I made a quick stop at Two if By Sea cafe to get a coffee. TiBS is one of my favourite places to get coffee and their new location in the Historic Properties is great. A simple counter that wraps around a corner holds everything that you could want if you love coffee and pastries. There are coffee beans to take home, along with cookies, croissants and mini croissants. Their slogan is "Drink drip, eat butter" which really sums it up. The menu is written on chalkboards on the walls and hanging from the ceiling and the coffee is fresh and strong. Knowing that I'd have a meal shortly the choice that I made was to have a cappuccino which, as usual, was just right. Sipping the coffee I walked through the Historic Properties and outside on my way to the first stop and meeting up with Jill.

Freak Lunchbox

Freak Lunchbox

This was a repeat visit (both in general and in the Big Day Downtown context) to Freak Lunchbox. The reason for going here again was that it apparently was visited by Rob Lowe (who crosses over both into film and television). Other celebrity visitors have been Tom Selleck, Julianne Moore, Lucy Liu, Gabriel Byrne, and Gene Wilder. Freak Lunchbox is a relatively small candy store packed with all sorts of tasty treats and novelties. The back of the store is lined with bins filled with the most amazing range of candies. You pick a bag or box and start to fill it up. Near the front of the store are boxes of candies, chocolates and a whole wall of novelty items. I looked and looked and looked, but decided to take the plunge and get a takeout box and start to fill it up with candy. The other thing that intrigued me was a Pac Man arcade console holding candy (not to scale, it's a lot smaller than an actual Pac Man machine). With a bunch of candy in our hands, Jill and I walked down the street to our next stop.

Pac Man Candy

The Bicycle Thief

There are a few reasons that I wanted to go to The Bicycle Thief and the primary one was that I had heard great things about it, but hadn't ever managed to go. The other reasons are that Pierce Brosnan ate there and it's a restaurant that is named after the great Italian Neorealist film. So this was the core of my big day.

Old Fashioned

We started off by looking through the large menu and ordered some drinks. Having a favourite television show in mind, I ordered an Old Fashioned (the drink of Mad Men's Don Draper). It looked great and tasted great as well. Jill got a newer raspberry fizz which she enjoyed. Well-made cocktails are a perfect way to start off a dinner at the end of a long day.

Red ravioli

Would it be possible for me to find good vegetarian options? The menu has a strong selection of meat-based dishes, but there are some quite great-looking options for vegetarians aside from the salads. I'm not vegan, so that opens up a few more choices for me. The menu is divided into 1st Gear, 2nd Gear, and High Gear. It was in 2nd Gear where I made my decision. The Red Ravioli filled with ricotta, Mascarpone, spinach, fresh herbs, light cream sauce looked amazing and was so good. The right thing to have while you talk about films and tv with someone who also enjoys those things too.

Desert

Having something a bit smaller was good as it gave me the chance to try something from the desert menu, which was also extensive. It all looked really good and I picked from the top of the list with the Triple layered Butterscotch Caramel cake, with crushed toasted Pecans on top. The balance of sweet and salty was just right and I savoured it. With the sun having set and the day being long, we wrapped up our day and on my drive home I thought of how I could spend the rest of money in the coming days.

Obladee Menu

Obladee Wine Bar

It didn't take too long to figure out a place to go as the next day I was downtown again, this time as guest of Kendra (@halifaxfilmgal on Twitter) who was participating in the HPX Digital conference. She invited me to the closing party of HPX Digital which was happening at Pacifico Dancebar. I met up with Kendra earlier and we went to Obladee Wine Bar which just happened to be celebrating their 2nd anniversary. Walking in I saw some familiar Halifax social media types including fellow Big Day Downtown participant Cheryl of Wry and Ginger fame.

After catching up a bit with Cheryl on what she had done with her Big Day, Kendra and I took advantage of the special on sparking wines and had a couple, along with some of the tiny birthday cake that was offered to us. We talked mainly about films (as usual) as the Epiphonics provided a jazz soundtrack to the evening. It was quite nice and I really need to get to Obladee more to enjoy the wine, the food and the comfortable and classy atmosphere there. It's a real treasure to have a place like that downtown.

Saint Lou's Gentlemen's Barber Shop

The final stop in my multi-day Big Day Downtown was a place that I'd wanted to go to for a while. I walked by it after getting my coffee at Two if By Sea at the beginning of this story (but you probably didn't notice since you only really are seeing the things that I describe here with my words). My hair and beard were getting a bit long, so when I first heard about the new Big Day Downtown the very first place that I thought of was Saint Lou's Gentlemen's Barber Shop. Nestled in to a small space in the Historic Properties with a glowing barber pole beside the door, Saint Lou's has one barber chair, one barber, and three chairs to wait in. There is music playing, a guitar on the wall and a friendly barber named Rob, who greeted me as I entered the shop and he cut the hair of a man sitting in the chair. There are no appointments, you just show up. As I sat down he asked if I'd like a beer or a coffee while I waited. This is a choice that I hadn't had when getting a haircut before. I chose the coffee and was able to have another delicious cup of coffee from Two if By Sea. Even before the haircut started I knew that I made the right choice coming here.

In the chair the haircut began and Rob skillfully trimmed up my hair and beard. We chatted a bit and I found out that his brother was a student of mine and that he got his barber training initially at NSCC at the very campus where I started with the college on Bell Road. He worked in Halifax and Australia and then returned back to Nova Scotia and opened the shop with a casual vibe and high-quality haircuts at reasonable prices. It's great to have places like Saint Lou's and people like Rob downtown. It's the heart of a city and the simplest business model there is - provide a service that people need, in a personal way that makes you happy. That's how you end a Big Day Downtown - looking a bit better than you began as you drive home thinking about things that you want to do the next time that you come back.

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AuthorChris Campbell
Categoriesplaces