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Bubble breakers 

A small sampling of what awaits you off-campus, a bus ride away (at most).

click to enlarge The Scotia Square food court is a plethora of smells, sights and lunch specials. - SCOTT BLACKBURN
  • The Scotia Square food court is a plethora of smells, sights and lunch specials.
  • Scott Blackburn

We're spoiled here in this burg. Because there is little geographic reason to its layout, in terms of common sense, or language---try explaining to someone on Barrington Street how to get to the Canadian Tire on Quinpool Road, or why there's no East Halifax---everything is close, but it feels far. A cab ride to almost anywhere from almost anywhere is under $10, but to even need a cab is too much for many of us to bear. So we stick where we are. In our hoods. With our peeps. Doing us. And it's cool.

Students are the worst about this, and that's because you're scared. First of all, THIS IS BARELY A REAL CITY---nut up! Second of all, I'm from the country and had a panic attack in a car outside the Spring Garden Road Library my first day of school, so I feel you. But I also had to take the bus from Sackville that year, so I got to know downtown really well by default.

That's the thing: Most schools are so close to downtown. So put on some damn socks, change your pajama pants---this has never been OK, just stop it---grab your ID, hop on a bus if you need to---routes 1, 7, 10, 17 or 18 all go by---and bust through your bubble.

In four blocks of Spring Garden Road alone there's a park (Public Gardens, Spring Garden at South Park Street), a mall (Park Lane, 5657 Spring Garden), a movie theatre (also Park Lane), a 24-hour McDonald's because let's be real (5675 Spring Garden, 422-2683), cheap-ass drinks at Pizza Delight (5680 Spring Garden, 455-0990), a great indie bookstore (Bookmark, 5686 Spring Garden, 423-0419), awesome Chinese at Jean's (5972 Spring Garden, 444-7776) and awesome Mediterranean with lots of veggie options at Mary's 2 (5982 Spring Garden, 404-7171) and the legendary Just Us Coffeehouse (5896 Spring Garden, 423-0856).

Branching out from the trunk of SGR are indie boutiques (Soled Out Sneakers, 1587 Dresden Row, 444-8555; Put Me On, 1526 Queen Street, 492-2572), a pool hall (Locas Bar & Billiards, 5430 Doyle Street, 423-2522), a newsstand (Atlantic News, 5560 Morris Street, 429-5468), a liquor store (5440 Clyde Street, 423-6716), a Kinko's (1469 Brenton Street, 423-5500), guitars (Atlantic Folklore Centre, 1528 Brunswick Street, 423-7946) and more coffee (Steve-O-Reno's, 1536 Brunswick Street, 429-3034).

Head to what you'll eventually recognize as Pizza Corner---the daylight! It burns!---and get some vinyl at Taz Records (1593 Market Street, 422-5976), underwear at Night Magic (5268 Sackville Street, 420-9309), more magazines at Blowers Street Paper Chase (5228 Blowers Street, 444-3708), then have a drink at any of the 100 bars on Argyle/Barrington/Granville/Lower Water Streets.

There's another mall in the ugmo box known as Scotia Square (2000 Barrington Street), where you can find The Source, Lawton's, Reitman's and a great food court. Scotia Square is also a conduit to the north end---take the elevator to level C and head for the light. Walk up the hill past the construction site and the police station and there's Propeller Brewery (2015 Gottingen Street, 422-7767) and great entertainment spots The Company House (2202 Gottingen, 404-3050) and The Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen, 888-639-1169), which is next to Coast favourite Alteregos (2193 Gottingen, 431-3170). Walk up to Agricola Street, where you'll find more vinyl (Obsolete Records, 2454 Agricola, 407-7228), another liquor store (2559 Agricola, 429-5645) and the best breakfast sandwich in town (Smith's Bakery, 2525 Agricola, 429-1393).

Cut up to Robie and take a bus back to school if you want, but you haven't been to the Hydrostone (fancy!), west end (malls!), Dartmouth (croissants!) or Bedford (Pete's Frootique flagship!) yet. Burst that bubble, you guys. Do you. All over the place.

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