Monday, October 31, 2011

Big Day Downtown

My Big Day Downtown started off like any other: I got up, brushed my teeth and hopped on an amphibious vehicle that rolled through the streets of Halifax and then plunged into the harbour.  Well, I guess that’s not really the ‘usual’ morning for me, so let me tell you how it really happened.

My Big Day Downtown took place during that lovely time of year called my vacation.  Weee!  I was off for a full two weeks; one of which, I spent relaxing at home in Halifax.  When the Big Day Downtown rolled around again this year, I was thrilled to spend one of those vacation days trying out something new.  You see, the objective theme of this year’s BDD campaign was to try something new – and so I did.

If you follow my blog you know that I’m a food and beverage writer and generally, my life revolves around food.  The logical response to trying something new would be to venture out to one of downtown Halifax’s new restaurants.  But I wanted to shake things up a little -- and after much consideration, I decided to base my day on some new experiences. 

My experiences were fun!  One was lighthearted and adventurous: getting to know a little more about the city I live in and learn some historical highlights.  My other experience was slightly unnerving, something every woman goes through; has anxiety about; bites her nails over, and so on.  So what were these two experiences? My first was a ride on the Harbour Hopper, and the second: a hair cut…by a new hairstylist!  That’s right, I embraced this assignment hardcore.

So the day actually started just like any other vacay day; I got up, got some coffee, checked my email, got ready and headed out for a walk with the man.  Come to think of it, the HH wasn’t even my idea; he had been trying to get me on it all summer!  And when someone gives you a $100 Visa to do with what you will, there’s no time like the present!  We stopped in to the little Murphy's on the Water hut on the waterfront and purchased our tickets at $29.89 each.  A tour was leaving in 15 minutes so we hurried over to get a good seat – the very front row, in fact!

Our tour guide was awesome; knowledgeable and hilarious, she (and our driver) guided us though the streets of DT Halifax, all while filling us in on various tidbits of the city’s history.  We went down Argyle St. and saw the shadow in the window of St. Paul’s church; we waived to all those lucky lunchers eating on the hot sunny patios of Argyle and we climbed to the top of Citadel Hill to take in the awesome view of Halifax.  From there we waived hello to Mr. Alexander Keith’s grave at Camp Hill Cemetery; cruised down Spring Garden Road and heard learned some tidbits about Keith’s Brewery, Nova Scotian Crystal and the Historic Properties’ history as we travelled along the waterfront.


The moat at Citadel Hill

A view down Spring Garden Road


Keith's Brewery


And then we got the warning: there was about to be a BIG splash!  As we rolled along by the Casino Nova Scotia, I was prepared to get soaking wet – but it was just to psych us up, and I didn’t feel a drop!   So our little vehicle that could, drew up its wheels and set sail in the Halifax Harbour.  From there we learned some facts about Purdy’s Wharf, said ‘Hi’ to Theodore tugboat and heard all about some of the most famous nautical disasters in Maritime history; the Halifax Explosion and the sinking of the RMS Titanic.  By the time we got back to shore, I was having so much fun that I was sad to have to go.  What a fun adventure for tourists, but also a great opportunity for local citizens to try something new in their own environment!


Heading into the harbour

A view of Purdy's Wharf towers

The Dartmouth Ferry

A view of the Clocktower

Once on dry land, I headed over to Granville Street for my brand new haircut.  I really, really needed one.  My hair had gotten to the point where I couldn’t stand it anymore.  And so, in the spirit of the assignment, I abandoned the usual spot where I normally get my hair cut, and I jumped into an appointment with a new hairstylist at Thumpers. 


Before...

Thumpers is a lovely salon.  With its cool location and awesome d├ęcor, I was thrilled to spend a few hours in such a nice spot.  Trust me, I needed some pampering time, so I was happy to have someone wash and dry my hair so that I didn’t have to!!  I was pretty pleased with my cut; my bangs were an the short side, but who cares really? Hair grows back after all! I know, I know, you're probably thinking: "What's different?  She looks exactly the same!"  But seriously people, I got a t least 5 inches cut, and my layers got some much-needed attention too!  Altogether, my cut + tip was $69.

After!!

I didn’t exactly try something new with the remaining $1 but instead, I threw in a couple bucks and had an old favourite: a cappuccino at Uncommon Grounds on the way home.  I had a great day trying out some new spots in the downtown core; I’m so used to focusing on restaurants that I often miss the businesses that are thriving.  I had plenty of other ideas to choose from too – but they’ll just have to wait until next year’s campaign.

Stay tuned to With Bite for updates on a really cool project that I was thrilled to be a part of; Big Day Downtown, The Series!! For the past month, I’ve been running around downtown Halifax speaking with business owners, residents and city planners to learn more about what’s happening downtown now, and what’s to come in the future.  Make sure you check out the Downtown Halifax Business Commission’s website to keep up-to-date on the series; it will air in November.

I’d like to do a big shout out to the folks at DHBC; particularly Ivy Ho, as well as Tracy and Julian at Firefly Digital Media for being great directors, cheerleaders, make-up/wardrobe assistants and coaches.  It was an absolute blast, and I can’t wait to see the end result!

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