PROVING there’s never a dull moment for me when flying long-haul routes – in this case a 30-hour journey from Sydney to Halifax in Canada – I am joined in the seat next to me by a 20-something, heavily tattooed Australian bloke. According to his immigration card his name is Mel, and judging by his actions, Mel likes a drink or 30. Mel assures me on takeoff he’s taken 3 Xanax and needs a drink or two to wash them down so he can enjoy 10 hours sleep. I know I should be shocked that Mel has taken 3 Xanax, my limit is one of those glorious little pink pills, but I’m more amazed that Mel can still obtained Xanax which is now a Class 2 drug and incredibly difficult to get, and I resist the urge to do a drug deal from the comfort of my seat. Unfortunately for Mel, the Xanax aren’t working and he spends the next 14 hours having one Canadian Club Whisky for every hour of our flight – at one stage he downed 4 in 45 minutes before he was cut off for a few hours – and he stays awake the entire night. Just before we land in Vancouver, Mel confides in me that he needs to “get his shit together” as he’s carrying a firearm. Good times.
I farewell Mel safe in the knowledge he’s probably sleeping the night/rest of his life in a Vancouver prison, and I continue my epic journey across to the east of Canada, a trip which takes considerably longer than it should thanks to storms across the country. We’re stranded on the Toronto runway for five hours during which we are offered a handful of pretzels and a glass of water. I haven’t eaten for 12 hours, having sprinted through various airports to make tight connections, and I could eat a small child. I look hungrily at the big bloke squashed in the seat next to me and start entertaining similar fantasies to those enjoyed by the soccer team that crashed in the Andes and ate each other. When I return from the bathroom, my seat mate has moved, obviously perturbed by my hunger games. I ask the stewardess whether a beer would be out of the question, thus proving once you take an Australian out of the country and add jetlag and hunger, their inner bogan is activated. When we finally take off around 1am, the stewardess arrives at my seat with a pizza and beer and refuses to charge me, demonstrating that Canadians are possibly the nicest people on the planet.
Yes, my journey to the Land of Milk and Honey may have begun without much food, but that situation is rapidly rectified when I attend my first assignment of the day – covering a “sausage fest”. I should point out that Canadians have no idea that a sausage fest back in cosmopolitan Brisbane is when you walk into a social or business setting and there’s loads of good looking blokes with, well, their proverbial sausages. And as I’m still jetlagged and ravenous, my inner bogan has not yet gone to bed, so I spit out “a sausage fest!” to my hosts, who take in remarkably good grace the Australian definition of the term. I spend a salacious Sunday wandering the streets of Halifax eating incredible sausage, washed down with sensational beer, and all served by good-looking men. Yes, it was quite the sausage fest.
My first day ends at the Five Fishermen Restaurant which not only serves delicious seafood, but has the most incredible story. Back in the early 1900s, it was actually a funeral home and when the Titanic sank off the Atlantic Coast in 1912, it was here in Halifax that 250 bodies were brought to shore. And the story doesn’t end there. Just 5 years later, two ships collided just off of Halifax in what is known as the Halifax Explosion and curious onlookers rushed to the windows of their homes to view the initial fire taking place offshore. But the ships then exploded, causing an atomic bomb effect back on land, and 2000 people were killed and taken to the same building as the Titanic victims. To this day, the pulley used to bring coffins upstairs from the morgue still exist in the restaurant’s wine cellar. But even more interesting are the incredible ghost stories in this place. Now, The Global Goddess adores a good ghost story and the women in my family are particular adept at attracting the paranormal and by that I am not referring to all of my disastrous dates back in Brisbane, but dead people. Yes, we see dead people. Not all the time, that would be just weird, but over the years my three sisters and me have all reported similar spooky tales and now, some of my nieces are showing signs that they possess “the gift”.
So, imagine my delight when I’m told there’s a couple of dead guests of the Titanic still hanging around the restaurant. My imagination goes into over drive and a fellow journalist and I wander around the restaurant and into dark spooky corners where we’re told certain “activity” has occurred. We enter a private dining room called The Captain’s Quarters and I am covered in goose bumps. Over the years female waitresses have confessed to being accosted by a young boy who invites them to play. My imagination runs wild and we take as many snaps as we can, hoping to capture a ghost on camera. We cautiously creep up a narrow staircase to the women’s bathroom in which the ghost of a young girl is said to inhabit. I almost pee my pants and feel a strange presence in the end cubicle. When we go back downstairs I ask our restaurant host where the young girl resides. “In the far corner of the bathroom where the end cubicle is,” he says. Shivers run up and down my spine.
Guests have reported taking photos of the restaurant over the year, only to have unusual images appear or their cameras stop working all together. As I publish this blog, I’ve just uploaded all of my Canada photos to date and every photo, save the two I took of The Captain’s Quarters, have uploaded to my computer. Coincidence? I think not. Storms, sausages, spooks and somewhere back in Vancouver, an Australian bloke with a hangover and a fire arm talking his way out of prison. Oh Canada, you had me at hello.
The Global Goddess is travelling in Canada as a guest of Destination Canada http://www.keepexploring.ca