There I was, expense report in hand, on a small plane to Halifax. I was facing three days in the gateway to the Maritimes with little to look forward to except an all-day meeting in an airless conference room and maybe a couple hours holed up in the “authentic” hotel pub.
Business travel. For an off the radar adventurer those words are synonymous with two things: obligation and longing. Obligation to timetables and longing for what’s out there, just beyond the breakfast room windows. Here’s my list of the top five ways to eek out a little living while you’re busy making one:
- Eat local, dammit. Sometimes this is all we have to hang onto. At the Marriott Harbourfront in Halifax they serve fresh smoked Nova salmon at the breakfast buffet. Snap that stuff up. It’s a sampling of what you’d be eating if you were really out there, in charge of your own destiny.
- Go to the monument. Whichever one they have. In Halifax I insisted on a group walk to the hilltop fort that now functions as a living monument to the leagues of sailors who lived there when it was under British control. A monument seen is a nod to the local culture. Even if it’s only a nod, you’re covered.
- Hit the airport tourist center. Yep, I said it: tourist. Why? It’s like a library of all your future adventures in case you return unencumbered. On-hand I now have: a Halifax map, maritime culture catalog, and a bunch of postcards.
- Buy a newspaper. If you’re only breezing in and breezing out you can learn a lot about a town by scanning its print. My issue of Halifax’s Globe and Mail, featured a culture smack down between Halifax and its sister city as well as cleverly-written piece on couples therapy guru Harville Hendrix. I found out it was local because I asked the airport bartender, which brings me to tip five.
- Buy a drink. It’s your ticket to the dish. A worldwide, proven truth is that bartenders know everything. Tap them. Mine said that in Halifax beer is served in “junior”, “man” and “lady” sizes. If you order the “lady” you’ll get a tall 32 ounces of golden Canadian. Order the “man” and you’re only looking at 22.
Hey, I’ll take it.