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Food trucks. This is probably the best thing about living in Halifax. This past Thursday was The Coast‘s Food Truck Party and even though I was exhausted from working this week, there was no way that I would be missing it.

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Welcome!

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My kind of party

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Waiting…

It was only $2 to get in and there were about 20 food trucks to choose from. I took my time and looked around a bit before deciding on the infamous K-dog from The Food Wolf and some spicy cajun fries from FoodStruck Cantina. I’ve heard one of my favorite local New Brunswick bands The Motorleague rave about The Food Wolf everytime they have a show in Halifax and I finally learned what was with all the praise. K-dogs are the most amazing hot dog I’ve ever had, hands down!

So, what is a K-dog? The ‘K’ stands for Korean (I assume) because the locally sourced dog which is bigger than your average is topped with a spicy Korean mayo, kimchi, green onion and sesame seeds. I love me some kimchi but I never thought of putting it on a hot dog but it’s probably the best place for kimchi aside from samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly).

K-dog

K-dog is the best dog.

The cajun fries I got weren’t much to write home about but the sauce that came with them, the smoked oyster sauce was phenomenal! Next time I grab something from FoodStruck Cantina, I think I’ll choose something more exciting than fries.

Happy Food Truck Party!

Happy Food Truck Party!

My pictures don’t really show it but there were a lot of people at this event but that being said I only waited in line for 10 minutes for my K-dog and maybe 15 minutes for the fries. The folks in front of me at the FoodStruck Cantina line were complaining about the line, the line which they had only been waiting in for maybe 10 minutes and ended up leaving. A 15 minute queue is nothing compared to the lines I waited in at similar events I attended in Tokyo.

Thank you Tokyo for blessing me with an abundance of patience for food lines!

Halifax Things

So I’ve noticed a few things since moving to Halifax:

1. Always be prepared for any type of weather. The weather here changes frequently throughout the day so I always make sure to have a few things on my person at any given time (sunglasses, umbrella, an extra layer). For me, I have to carry even more clothing and accessories than the average Haligonian because I leave the house at 5:30am when it’s dark and chilly, enter the outside world again at noon when it’s sunny and warm, quickly retreat to my second job only to return to a day that is practically over and the sun is setting and the temperature is lowering.

2. Samosas are massive! I took the following picture at Humani-T Cafe on Young Street when I moved here and at the time I thought, “Jesus, now that’s a big samosa!” I assumed this (pardon the pun) massive discovery was limited to this particular cafe until I started working at Steve-O-Renos and I discovered that we also carry them and so do some convenience stores.

Face Samosa

Face Samosa

In the picture below you will find a Halifax born Staff of Life samosa on the right and on the left is a samosa all the way from Fredericton, New Brunswick. Apparently in Halifax samosas aren’t just a snack, they’re a meal. They are THREE TIMES the size of the ones I’m used to. Why, Halifax? I mean, I’m not complaining because they taste amazing, I just don’t understand why they’re so big!

Does bigger mean better?

Does bigger mean better?

3. Morning Glory muffins are a thing. I had never even heard of these until I started working at the cafe but now I see them EVERYWHERE. Ours are a white/whole wheat flour blend with carrot, zucchini, raisins and sunflower seeds. They’re very, very dense.

Morning Glory

Morning Glory

4. Breakfast. Halifax indulges me in my love for breakfast by offering a lot of all-day breakfast deals and has shown me new breakfast options. Huevos rancheros seem to be offered at most places that have a breakfast menu and from what I can tell (I haven’t actually tried them yet) they are basically a breakfast tortilla minus bacon add avocado, salsa and beans. What I have yet to find is a decently priced, fancy-ish brunch place that serves cocktails for/with brunch. I like to feel like a fancy alcoholic sometimes and have fancy drinks with my brunch.

I can’t wait to find out what other little surprises Halifax has to offer.

Weekends Are Special

It’s a very rainy Sunday evening here in Halifax, the perfect ending to an amazing weekend. It doesn’t get much better than a chilled Sunday evening snuggled up in bed with some hot tea, the internet and the sound of the rain outside for inspiration.

Perhaps it’s because everything is still new and exciting but I realized this weekend that I’m in love. I’m in love with Halifax. That’s right, I’ve falling in love with yet another city. I remember when I realized I was head over heels for Tokyo, I think it was sometime in 2008 after the initial shock wore off and I started to feel somewhat comfortable within the city. With Montreal it was more of a love-at-first-sight moment in 2003 when I went there for the first time for Warped Tour.

The weekend was pretty exciting, there was a lot going on. The best part was getting to see my special someone after two weeks apart. I am starting to learn that absence really does make the heart grow fonder. I don’t think that your feelings change while you’re away from each other, I think that what makes you feel closer to your partner after some time away is the intense feelings of appreciation for the time that you do get to spend together.

We saw and did a lot over the few days that we had. Oktoberfest was on Saturday which was fun but not as disorderly as the last Oktoberfest I attended in Yokohama where I ended up with a shopping basket on my head. We made a surprise trip to a local convenience store to check out the arcade at the back of the store. It’s called Halifax Vintage Arcades and it’s got everything from Robocop to pinball machines. The owner switches them up periodically to keep his customers happy and he also rents the games out. What a great idea for a party!

On our way back from all the fun we had gamin’, we stumbled upon a set up for a really cute backyard wedding. We were nosy and had a look around while the girls were setting up. I love the idea of a backyard wedding.

Gamin'

Gamin’

Backyard Wedding

Backyard Wedding

Sunday was what I believe to be the last installment of the Switch Halifax event series for the 2014 season. Think ‘street party’ but with less dancing. This time Agricola was closed to traffic and businesses were offering deals on food and drinks and residents were out on the sidewalk selling off books, clothing and other things they no longer had a use for. I could have bought a lot more but I think the books I chose were prime. I’ve already read The Book of Negroes but it was so good I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of owning it myself (for $2) and being able to re-read it whenever I want to. I’ve heard good things about The Time Traveler’s Wife and Never Let Me Go so I’m excited to get into both of those.

Books!

Books!

We got a little hungry from the walk and were happy to stumble upon Gus’ Pub which is home to what I’ve been told is the best burger in the city, Ace Burger. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a burger in such a long time but I was thoroughly impressed with Ace. I can’t say just yet if it’s the best burger in Halifax as I’ve yet to try the others but it has set the bar high, real high. Judging by the picture, it doesn’t look like much but believe me it’s delish! It seems the focus for Ace Burger is on flavor, not the presentation or all the bells and whistles that comes with gourmet burgers.

Ace Burger

Ace Burger

Early birthday cake!

Early birthday cake! It’s handmade with <3

Grabbin' a caffeine fix

Grabbin’ a caffeine fix

Pretty awesome local coffee

Pretty awesome local coffee

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest

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Best house in the Neighborhood

I’m starting my second job this week so depending on how I feel by Friday, this coming weekend might be one of relaxation and reading which I wouldn’t be too upset about. I haven’t given myself anytime to read lately and I’m dying to get into my new books!

Fall is in the Air

It’s been somewhat of a long week for me, but a good one.

After being denied entry to The Seahorse a couple of weekends ago due to an expired New Brunswick license, I decided that it was probably a good idea to get a new photo ID and stop carrying around my passport. I was quite shocked at the doorman’s refusal to let me in because I never had any problems in New Brunswick using that as proof of age. I did a bit of research into the rules regulating licensed establishments in Nova Scotia and according to Halifax Regional Municipality Police it’s not required that ID be accepted if it is expired. It seems that some establishments choose to bend the rules a bit because after being denied entry to The Seahorse for Retro Night, we found another bar (that shall remain nameless) that had no problem accepting my expired license as a form of identification. Just because the identification is expired doesn’t make my birth date invalid, does it?

I’m still finishing up a few errands before I start working my second job (next Wednesday) and have no time to do anything, ever.

I was finally able to meet up with a friend from Fredericton. We’ve both been living here for a few weeks now but we’ve both just settled into our routines enough so that we could meet and chat over tea. We checked out the South Park Street location of Humani-T. This one is open earlier and later than their Young Street location and have some wonderfully, comfy chairs and sofas to sit on as well as a small fireplace and the best part is (besides all the wonderful tea) is that they serve gelato. I didn’t have any that night because sugar late at night is basically like drinking coffee right before bed. I would have been up all night. It’s definitely on my list of things to do before it gets too cold though. It’s getting pretty chilly at night so I’ll have to indulge soon.

I’m looking forward to the weekend. Not only do I have two days off after working 6 days straight but there are a bunch of events going on including but not limited to Quinfest, Oktoberfest, HELM (Halifax Electronic Music Festival), VegFest and a Harajuku Fashion Walk plus my special someone is visiting me. It’s certainly going to be a busy weekend!

Lavender Tea

Lavender Tea

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Community Garden

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Almond Milk Frozen Yogurt

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Second Treat of the Week

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The Commons at Night

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My ‘hood

 

 

Summer Simmer

Weather-wise, summer is winding down here on the East Coast but as for me, I’m just getting started!

Moving to Halifax so late in the year meant that I missed a lot of great festivals and events but lucky for me, the fall weekends are still packed with fun things to do. This weekend the Gottingen area of Halifax was celebrating 250 years of history with the Gottingen 250. Friday night was the final North by Night Market of the summer in Squiggle Park which I was lucky enough to check out.

North by Night Market

North by Night Market

There were a number of food/beverage vendors to chose from to satisfy your Friday night cravings. I was disappointed not to find any vendors serving alcohol, I think I got a little spoiled by festivals in Tokyo where there is always alcohol (and lots of it!). Since I couldn’t satisfy my alcohol for a hot Mint Shiso lemonade from Lemon Dogs Lemonade which I must say was pretty damn good. The natural lemon flavour was strong so the mint and shiso flavours didn’t really come through as much as I had hoped but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. I also got to sample the Maple Spice lemonade which was also pretty tasty.

Lemon Dogs Hot Lemonade

Lemon Dogs Hot Lemonade

I wasn’t actually hungry when I arrived at #nxnmrkt but I thought why not indulge anyway? There were a few tables selling vegan fudge and cookies and another selling homemade stove-top fudge but when I’m at a festival sweets aren’t normally my go-to, I go big with the mains. We had two choices: Gourmet grilled cheese sammies from Halifax Press, which I have passed by a number of times at their regular lunch time spot (corner of Bell Road and Summer Street) as I go home from work and Food Wolf which I have been told is pretty rad. I opted for the simple but tasty N.S. Cheese Mixer from Halifax Press. It was definitely a great grilled cheese sandwich but I think next time I indulge in a Halifax Press grilled cheese sandwich it will be one of the more gourmet options rather than the classic.

Mmm grilled cheese

Mmm grilled cheese

Saturday consisted of another trip to Gottingen to take in more of the festivities for Gottingen 250. I stopped at The Nook on Gottingen for an Americano and smoked salmon on a Montreal bagel. I enjoyed the view of Gottingen Street from the counter, when given a choice I always choose the window seat so I can people watch.

Lots of foliage but I still had a decent view.

Lots of foliage but I still had a decent view.

Americano + Smoked Salmon on a Montreal Style Bagel

Americano + Smoked Salmon on a Montreal Style Bagel

After my little snack at The Nook, I headed over to the main stage area to check out some music. What a great vibe! It made me feel extremely grateful for living in Halifax. These are the kind of things I live for; community, festivals, good vibes. I was able to catch some amazing local hip hop artists including ECMA winners Universal Soul who have been on the scene since 1985! It was a good show. Unfortunately, I had to leave a bit early because I worked early Sunday morning but I still had a great time.

I was up bright and early (5am!) on Sunday and, I never thought I’d say this but, I’m actually really starting to enjoy the early mornings. The walk to work is pretty dark and peaceful and by the time I finish I still have an entire day to enjoy. The plan for Sunday was to check out more of the Gottingen 250 festivities and see my girl, Ria Mae perform but I wasn’t really feeling up to it. This mornings rainy weather had me (and a lot of my coworkers) feeling a bit lethargic so I opted to stay in and get some things done around the house.

There’s something about Gottingen Street that fascinates me. When I lived in Canada all those years ago, particularly when I lived in the Lower Sackville area (aka Sack Vegas) I was always under the impression or was told that Gottingen Street was dangerous so I avoided that part of town. I’ve taken the bus down Gottingen a few times since I moved here and what I saw was abandonment. I didn’t see what I saw over the weekend which was a vibrant, hip neighbourhood full of young, entrepreneurial spirit, unique shops and a whole lot of character.

This is definitely an area I will be exploring more.

A lot of little things came up between the time I bought my ticket and the day I was suppose to depart. A lot of things that would normally be considered par for the course and I believed them to be stresses that I had to work through to prove how much I wanted to return to Japan. These stresses included everything from subletting my apartment to visa application struggles to re-booking flights and they did not cease.

By the time that July rolled around, I had come to accept the struggles and found a happy place and was open and accepting to whatever was going to happen. It was also around this time that I decided that I only wanted to go to Japan for a year, save money and return to Halifax to attend pastry school. Between the time that I bought my ticket and my schedule departure date I also became very close to someone I was seeing, this made leaving difficult but I knew that we had it in us to make it through a little separation. I realized during those few months that creativity, passion, love, friendship and family are what matters most in life and I became aware of a sudden desire to settle physically. I still want to see the world but I want to have a home town.

On August 9, the night before I was scheduled to leave I attempted to check in online with no luck so I had to wait until the next morning to check in at the airport. We arrived at 6:30 and seeing the line I attempted to check in at the kiosk, no go. I stood in line behind a few professional hockey players who were being checked in and when I finally approached the counter, the counter agent, without a smile, promptly said, “you missed your flight. You have to rebook.” Confusion set in, and I thought “what do you mean, I missed my flight, it doesn’t leave for another 50 minutes?” The words didn’t actually come out of my mouth because I was exhausted and having a hard time comprehending what she was actually saying to me. Luckily my partner was there and he asked what my options were to which she responded with a customer service card with a 1-800 number on it. That counter agent was probably just doing her job but the least she could have done was to smile or offer some sort of sympathy, I wouldn’t even had cared if it was fake sympathy. I called the number she gave me and the woman on the other end of the phone was shocked that I wasn’t allowed to board my flight, she offered to rebook for me but I had to pay an additional $340 on top of the roughly $1500 that I already paid. Money was already going to be tight for the first two months I would be in Japan so I decided (after much thought, deliberation and coffee) that maybe this wasn’t meant to be as I had originally thought. To be completely honest, since I had already let go and was willing to accept any outcome, I wasn’t that disappointed about not going back to Japan.

I was returning to Japan with the delusion that I would have the same life as I did the last time I was there with the added hope that life was better than it was in Fredericton. Maybe it would have been great, but then again maybe not. There were reasons why I had left Japan in the first place and my friend Beau who left Japan around the same time that I did warned me that I would have an “oh shit!” moment when I got there see everything that is wrong with Japan.

To quote myself, “Thinking back on when I decided to leave Japan it did feel like my time was up, that I had learned all I needed to learn and that it was time to move on. When I left, I didn’t regret it and even now in the confused, unhappy state that I am in I still don’t regret leaving. I have felt nostalgia for Japan since leaving but regret is something I have never felt.”

Having my plans of living in Halifax bumped up by a year and being open and accepting of that has been surrounded in nothing but positivity, good things and synchronicity. Travel/accommodations between Fredericton and Halifax worked themselves out somehow, I got interviews/jobs and a rental immediately, all of which I am very excited about. My neighbourhood and this city are incredible and I’m excited to explore them more. The more I learn about Halifax, the more excited I get.

(I even passed by one of my favorite Halifax artists the other day on Spring Garden Road, Ria Mae. Check her out, she’s incredible!)

Thanks, Halifax!

My beautiful city

 

So, I’m in Halifax

This certainly wasn’t my plan for this September but I’m going with it and things are amazing because of it.

So how did I get from one of my last posts where I was writing to praise the Japanese consulate in Montreal for their speedy processing of my Japanese visa application to living in Halifax? I would like to blame it all on Delta Airlines but there were many factors involved in my being grounded it just happened that Delta Airlines’ policies and procedures were the most recent.

It all started in January 2014. It was the middle of a horrendous winter in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The positivity and inspiration I felt after returning to Canada was simmering down, leaving me feeling unmotivated on a regular basis. There were constant snowstorms and many days that were -30 degrees fueling the hermit nature of many Canadians in winter. I wasn’t getting out much, most of my time was spent working a job that was unsatisfying for a company that was uncaring and unorganized. Despite my position as assistant store manager, I was still struggling financially. I was lonely and constantly thought about my six years in Japan, the friends that were still there and how things and people were so much different/better there.

I convinced myself that I was meant to be in Japan and was desperate to get out of Fredericton and out of retail. I took an online TEFL certification course and found myself searching various discount flight websites almost daily for the cheapest flight to Tokyo. After a few Skype dates and email conversations with different friends I decided to get in touch with my previous employer to find out if there were any openings for the upcoming school year. As it turned there were a few assistant and ELS (English Language Support) positions coming up. My previous experience as an teachers assistant and my new certification to teach English as a foreign language made me a desirable candidate. Interviews were held, an offer was made and shortly after that my ticket was bought.

It wasn’t as exciting this time around, the idea of moving to Japan. It was stressful thinking about getting rid of/storing all of my belongings. I didn’t have a lot because when I moved to Fredericton in 2013 something was always me telling me that I wouldn’t be there for very long, that it was merely a pit stop. I had what I needed to get by, daily necessities, a bit of furniture but nothing that was considered unnecessary. A lot of my stuff was still packed away in boxes, Fredericton never really felt like home so I couldn’t figure out why I had been drawn there in the first place until I was about to leave.

I was excited about seeing my friends, eating amazing food again but mostly I was excited to make and save more money than I had been in the past year. I was seeking happiness in the wrong places and relocating for the wrong reasons. I can say that now because I can see a bit more clearly now that I am where I believe I am suppose to be.

To be continued…

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