I had the good fortune of being the lucky recipient of an Air Canada ticket, so I asked myself, “what place have I always wanted to visit but wouldn’t necessarily pay to go and see?”
It was only some months earlier that I had had the pleasure of cruising on Holland America’s Maasdam, sailing from Boston MA > Bar Harbor ME > Halifax NS > Sydney NS > Charlottetown PEI > Quebec City QC > Montreal QC. All lovely destinations, but I remember feeling slightly disappointed that this east coast adventure didn’t quite take me as far as the island of Newfoundland.
Before I knew it, I was on a plane heading back east, but this time all the way towards the most easterly tip of Canada (and the Western world, for that matter).
It was after dusk that I arrived in St. John’s. Due to the briefness of my stay, I booked a tour for the following morning. Considering it was only 3 hours, I was pleasantly astonished at how much we covered – and how each point of interest was completely different than the next. Cape Spear was the first stop. A morning fog often blankets the city and surrounding area. This fact had me slightly worried because it can spoil the views. But even though the fog had not completely vanished, I could see the majestic steep rugged cliffs, and the beautiful vast ocean; and the mist only added to the atmosphere. This is also home to the province’s oldest surviving lighthouse (a national historic site). Next we drove by Petty Harbour, which could easily be called “Pretty Harbour”. This small fishing village is so picturesque that it is perhaps the most photographed and filmed town in Newfoundland. Another charming and scenic fishing village worth strolling around is Quidi Vidi. We ended the tour with a visit to another historic site of Canada; from Signal Hill, the view of city of St. John’s is really breathtaking. So pleased was I with this tour that had my trip been cut short, I would have returned satisfied.
Wanting to see more of the coastline and countryside, I booked two more tours – one took us north through The Baccalieu Trail, and another led us to the southern shore of the Avalon Peninsula (including the Irish Loop, where the hiking is supposed to be fantastic). The weather can be unpredictable, but luckily it was on my side.
In the city of St. John’s itself, my favorite image was that of the Jellybean row houses. The brightly coloured Victorian homes lifted my spirits – I wish they were everywhere. George Street is a small street famous for its bars & pubs (but being a solo traveller, it wasn’t for me…maybe next time). I enjoyed The Rooms, a beautiful, modern Art Gallery & Museum, where one can learn about the history & heritage of Newfoundland & Labrador. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the Johnson Geo Centre, but many spoke highly of it. They have an exhibit featuring the Titanic (which sank just 350 km from the Centre).
Speaking of icebergs, the peak time to see them drifting south along the coast of Newfoundland is May & June. During the spring & summer months, visitors can often also witness thousands of whales and seabirds migrating. I hope to be one of those visitors one day.