Full disclosure: I grew up in a community near Lunenburg, so I was familiar with the town. With its proximity to my home in Halifax, indie appeal*, and my desire to see at least three things there, I thought Lunenburg was a terrific candidate for my first official Operation Hometown Traveler trip of Summer 2012.
In wanting to travel in my hometown and province like I do when I’m “away,” I did all same preparation: solicit Facebook and Twitter friends for suggestions, consult local tourism sites, Google the heck out of things, and hit the road.
Most everything you’ll want to see and do in Lunenburg is located in the “Old Town” area. As “the best surviving example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America,” Old Town Lunenburg received a UNESCO World Heritage designation in 1995. Since that time, the town has done a really excellent job of preserving the qualities that warranted the designation and using them to revitalize the town in delightful ways. An historic town that’s also a working fishing community, Lunenburg is home to world-class cuisine, artisans and galleries, terrific independent stores, and a brand-new distillery.
I arrived just outside of the Old Town area (by Lunenburg Foundry, for locals) and noticed a piece of concrete. It is, in fact, a piece of the Berlin Wall. All I’ve been able to discover is Lunenburg’s deep German roots garnered it a piece of the historic wall. I’ve since learned there are other pieces in Nova Scotia. I will find all of them! [Update: I found all of them!]
Harbour view, golf course peril
As suggested by several folks, I drove up to the golf course for a panoramic view of the harbour and Old Town. It’s a narrow lane up a steep hill, with a sign noting there’s a tee on one side and a green on the other. At that point, I heard the Avis car rental guy replay his departure speech in my head, “We look for golf ball-sized dents and scratches longer than a finger.” Harrowing words, but what a view!
Snacks, Shops, and a Steve from my past
My first stop was a very necessary coffee at Laughing Whale (recommended by my friend Rhia). Delicious organic fair trade coffee, plus delicious baked goods to provide fuel for the busy day ahead.
Ready to go, the first shop that caught my eye was Luvly, a store featuring independent Canadian designers. It was my good luck there was a 2-for-1 sale, and I got a great deal on some new things for summer. I also had a great chat with the super-friendly staff, who made the visit all the better.
My next stop was one I had been intending to make for a while. An old, old, old, old friend of mine has an art supply store, called Steve’s Art Supply, so I stopped in for a catch-up and a chat. Do not let his stern expression throw you off, he’s as funny as they get. Steve shares space with Power House Art, featuring contemporary art, including this painting that you can buy for your own home (sorry, Steve not included).
Lunch on a patio – lingering encouraged
After a couple of hours of hill-climbing, I was starving, so I sought out the Salt Shaker Deli, where I’ve wanted to eat since it opened – it was also recommended by guest poster Vanessa, and justifiably so. It’s run by a couple who also own Fleur de Sel, one of my favourite fine-dining establishments in Nova Scotia, and features a menu of sandwiches, pasta, and pizzas in many delicious combinations.
Sitting on their sun-soaked patio, I could have happily spent the afternoon working my way through the menu. After some deliberation, I enjoyed a Bahn Mi sandwich and met my new favourite condiment, sriracha mayo. It was divine, and it required a lot of restraint to not devour it in one bite, python-style. It was a perfect day for a patio, and I’m pleased to report my server encouraged lingering. They may not get me to leave next time.
Divine Dots & Loops
@SueOz on Twitter recommended Dots & Loops, and she gets bonus points for her A+ recommendation. The space is bright and airy, and is home to a well-chosen collection of clothing, handmade jewelry, paper crafts, cards, and tons more. I chatted with one of the owners and I hope my enthusiasm for her shop was fun for her, and not terrifying. I love Dots & Loops and can’t wait to see what fun things I’ll find on my next visit. Fact: I bought a super-soft t-shirt with narwhals on it and I’m wearing it as I write.
A spirited trip to Ironworks
I had been looking forward to my next stop, Ironworks Distillery for a long time (also recommended by Vanessa). It has the fun, historic vibe of being located in a blacksmith’s shop, with the appeal of sampling of finely-crafted spirits in the afternoon. The friendly staff love their product and are happy to describe their products in exquisite detail.
I took my sweet time getting to know their apple vodka (so many apples, it’s gotta be a fruit serving), then, cranberry, raspberry, and blueberry liqueurs. All of them are made using Nova Scotian berries, and I couldn’t resist taking home a bottle of their cranberry liqueur. I also “met” the still, named “Brigitte,” who was resting – it was the weekend – so I definitely have to go back to see her in action.
Going to work on the Bluenose II restoration
Giant sea creatures lurk overhead
When you’re walking through Old Town Lunenburg, be sure to look up. That way, you can’t miss Lunenburg’s brightly-coloured buildings and charming signage. Every light post features giant-sized sea creatures representing the many species whose harvesting has supported the town and surrounding area for centuries.
Nautical style + green lifestyle
*If you think I may be wrong, check out this video produced by the Lunenburg Board of Trade, highlighting the lifestyle appeal of Lunenburg, Live Well in Lunenburg.
See Lunenburg for yourself:
Laughing Whale Coffee: 263 Lincoln Street
Luvly: 230 Lincoln Street
Steve’s Art Supply and Power House Art: 129 Lincoln Street
Dots & Loops: 183 Lincoln Street
Ironworks Distillery: The Blacksmith’s Shop, 2 Kempt Street
Bluenose II Restoration: Lunenburg Shipyard, Burma Road (until July 2012)
Wind Bag Company of Nova Scotia: 35 Falkland Street