I becomes we...

Trip Start Jan 16, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Canada  , Nova Scotia,
Monday, May 9, 2011

Well it's been a while since I last updated the blog, probably a bit too long so I'll do my best to recount what's been going on in Halifax since I last wrote.

I suppose the biggest and best difference now is that I am no longer flying solo and after a long three months have been accompanied by Amanda who got here just over a month ago on April 6th. 

As I had already, to some extent, settled in here, began work and had a good circle of friends, I knew that this would make things a little easier when she came over. On the other hand I also knew that it could be a little daunting coming into all that whilst trying to settle in at the same  time. 

Having said all that it was great to have a couple of days off work when she arrived so we could catch up in real life, and not through Skype or emails. We were also very fortunate to have been given a present of three nights in the beautifully old fashioned and historic Waverley Inn, right in the heart of downtown Halifax courtesy of Amanda's sister and brother in law. Not only was it three nights in luxurious surrounds but also a very welcome mini break away from sleeping in a bunk bed. The hotel advertises some of its' famous ex guests as American entertainer P.T Barnum and none other than Irish poet and writer Oscar Wilde. Once inside it's clear that the grandness of the decor would definitely have met with Mr Wilde's very high tastes.

After the first few days of eating out and enjoying some of Halifax's famed nightlife, we moved into the hostel together for the remainder of the month. I know that might not sound the most romantic of moves, but we did have the benefit of a private room and double bed, albeit with a single bunk attached on top,and while room 119 would be described in estate agent speak as "cosy" it turned out to be a comfortable abode for what would be our first place together in Canada, so to speak. 

Having been here for a few months, it was interesting to see and note Amanda's opinions of Canada and the various differences in culture and way of life and if they matched mine and I think we're both happy that we're not too different in that aspect of things so it made settling in for her a little bit easier.

Knowing that we would be moving out at the end of the month, we began the never likable task of hunting for a place to move into at the start of May. Now I know that house hunting can be frustrating and sometimes a pain in the ass no matter what part of the world you're doing it in, but it all seemed to be just a little more so this time round. 

It's hard to really explain some of the sights and people we came across in the course of the three weeks that followed but I'll do my best to paint a picture.  The first place we looked at really set the tone in that the advert described it as being "Bright and breezy with cool housemate" The reality of which however resembled the set from the film Trainspotting. For any of you unfamiliar with this, it's a film based around heroin junkies and alcoholics living in dilapidated flats surrounded in dirt. I think we both knew from even looking at the place outside that it was a no go but decided to be polite and see what the inside held. I honestly think the girl who wrote the ad most likely did so having just consumed some of the narcotics I've just mentioned cos it couldn't have been any more the opposite of "Bright and breezy." She then took great pleasure in telling us that she loved her time in Ireland and would love to go back. When I asked her which part she visited, the reply was the icing the cake and our invite to leave. "Oh I was only in the airport for an hour while waiting for another flight." Grand, see you later, don't call us, we'll call you.

We learned the hard way that what you see in the advert is definitely not a guide to what you get once you view it. So many of them had tastefully furnished places looking ideal to just turn up and move into, only to be told that the furniture wasn't included and only in the photo to make it look better. Things were definitely a lot different to what we'd been used to and they didn't get much better. One apartment was housed in a place that would give "Biggest eyesore in Halifax" a very good run for its' money, however, I think think the biggest thing that jumped out at us were not the places themselves but the actual landlords. It was as if they went to endless lengths to not rent the place out or to make them look unlivable. One landlady in particular stood out as she instantly reminded me of a character from the film Kingpin. Again if you're not too familiar with it, I strongly suggest you take a look at it. In the film, the landlady in question takes great pleasure in asking her tenant to perform certain acts on her in return for shortcomings in the rent. The landlady paid such a striking resemblance to the character in the film that the instant I met her, I'd already made my mind up about looking elsewhere. I've attached a clip to show you what I mean, which I wouldn't advise looking at if you're eating. 

So, now that you've looked at it and deciding whether to laugh or cry, you'll know how we felt when we left the building. 

After all the searching and disappointments we eventually came across a couple of ones that were more than normal and livable. Ultimately it came down to price and the $200 difference between them, we figured, could be saved and put towards the next part of our trip, which I will go into further detail on at a later point. The place we decided on is ideally located in the centre of town and close to everything that we need, shops, public transport, restaurants not to mention bars. Through a bizarre twist of fate, we are located exactly 5 floors above Durty Nelly's Irish bar and across the road from Grafton St. We just can't seem to get away from it can we? The only major drawback to this is that it can get quite noisy at night especially on weekends when a queue forms not too far below our bedroom window and speakers are placed outside, usually blasting out endless U2, Thin Lizzy and every other Irish artist you can think of, it can become just a little too much, especially if I'm starting work at 7.30am the next morning. I'd been getting a bit of cabin fever living and working in the hostel so all in all, it's place to call home for the next few months and is ideally located to make the most of a Halifax summer which we keep hearing so many good things about, so we will have to see if it lives up to it's high expectations. 

Otherwise though, we are keeping well and have been making the most of the green areas around town. The Halifax Citadel is only a stones throw away from the apartment and the very beautiful Point Pleasant Park is only a short walk away. Both of us are working now, me in the Hostel and Amanda as a Veterinary Technician. In fact as I'm writing this, she is working her first shift there and I am anxiously waiting to see and hear how it all went. It also makes things a little easier as it means we can save for things like our trip to the wedding of my former travelling partner Eoin and his fiancÚ Isabella in Sao Paulo, Brazil in November. And seeing as we will be in the area, we have decided, finances depending of course, to travel into Argentina sometime around late November this year and hopefully spend Christmas 2011 in one my favourite countries in the world. So for those of you that are sick of hearing me drone on for hours about my time there previously, the bad news is there's gonna be more on the way...hopefully. That's all a good few months away now however, so for the time being, Halifax is where we'll call home and once the good weather finally comes around, we'll be doing some day trips and weekends away to the majority of Canadian east coast and with some luck, a short stay in Newfoundland before the end of October.

I'll continue updating the blog as we continue our journey, however, now that we're stationary here for a few months I don't think describing our domestic lives will be of much interest to any or all of you so I'll update it less regularly, at least until we start taking some trips in over the coming months and have some photos and stories of actual interest to share about the always insightful and never ceases to amaze me country that is Canada. 

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