I get a kick out of being a tourist – I grew up near Grand Bend, the tourist capital of the Lake Huron shoreline (I was going to say Southern Ontario, but it’s not quite as touristry as Niagara Falls.) I spent my summers at various jobs waiting on tourists, and let’s face it; some of those tourists were not good customers. So I vowed to be a good tourist whenever I travelled.
Now, at my day job, I work with for an association of economic developers and I know how valuable tourism is to the local economy. By night, I like to support theatre whenever I can – theatre is a wonderful tourist attraction, with spin-off benefits for restaurants, bars and even ice cream shops. So, I had great fun being a tourist in Halifax last week.
We went to Halifax to see La Cage aux Folles at the Neptune Theatre. As a “friend of theatre” I always tell anyone who will listen that I am there to see a show – they need to know the part theatre plays in tourist attraction. So I talk to desk clerks, servers, retail sales people, tour guides, everyone, telling them I am a tourist and I was drawn to their town by their theatre. I love the look on their faces when I say “I just came from Ontario to see a show at the Neptune.”
In Halifax, everyone I talked to was aware of the Neptune Theatre, but alas, servers and desk clerks hadn’t been to shows there. I took the opportunity to tell them that the Neptune has rush seats at a lower price available a half hour before show time. I hope some of them will take advantage. Some folks I talked to had seen La Cage and were raving about it. And even those who hadn’t seen the show told me that they heard it was the best show the Neptune has ever done.
That inspired me to do a “Best” list – for Halifax tourists:
– Best musical ever at the Neptune, and likely in Halifax: La Cage aux Folles.
– Best seafood chowder and yummy lunches: McKelvie’s “delishes fishes dishes”
– Best Room: At the Waverley Inn on Barrington where we stayed, which was once occupied by Oscar Wilde in 1882 – how appropriate when we were there to see La Cage! Oscar would have approved, I’m sure.
– Best scenic lighthouse on a rock: Peggy’s Cove.
– Best tour guide: Richard at the Maritime Marine Museum, who knew more facts about the Titantic then James Cameron, and could easily point out all of Cameron’s errors! Richard is a great story teller, and while he amused us with many stories, he didn’t let us forget about the tragedy.
– Best art exhibit: small sketches by each member of the Group of Seven in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
– Best Oreo Cookie Cheesecake: at a martini bar called “The Bitter End” – one might not expect desserts there!
– Best Big Bang: The canon at the Citadel on the top of Halifax’s hill, which blasts each day at noon hour.
– Best fresh fruit: Pete’s Frootique (of CBC fame) but we didn’t get to the farmers’ market down on the pier, so I really can’t compare…. Anyway, the staff at Pete’s were cooperative and helpful, even in the Mother’s Day rush.
– Best historic pub: The Henry House, just a few doors down from the Waverley Inn. Dinner was good too, but we were interested in the building and its first owner, one of the Fathers of Confederation, William Alexander Henry.
– Best restaurant with a view: Murphy’s right down on the wharf over the water – where we saw a gorgeous sunset over the MacDonald Bridge and beautiful reflections on the harbour.
– Best city drivers: When it comes to giving the pedestrian the right of way, Halifax drivers are the best. They stop for jay-walkers every time. Even when you’re just standing there trying to figure out where you are, a driver will stop, just in case you might step off the curb.