Many (including me) have wondered how I ended up picking
Newfoundland for my summer vacation destination. The fact is, I didn’t really. It was a place that my traveling
companion, Lisa Marie, had always wanted to go to. Ever since she became a
stalker fan of the band Great Big Sea, who are from and apparently wax poetic
about Newfoundland. And I am so glad she did, because, Newfoundland? Just Wow.
So, my first day, I started with the fun in customs – into
Canada. They gave me an uber hard time. Where are you going? Newfoundland?? For
business? For Pleasure?? (raised eyebrows) Are you married? What do you do? Are
you traveling alone? Are you meeting anyone? Oh… your friend likes Great Big
Sea? Oh, why didn’t you say so?? Well, are you gonna be in Halifax at all?
Because we have great cover band
that plays at this pub… no? Well, have fun in NL!
I guess Lisa’s not the only GBS stalker. :)
So we met up at the airport, drove around a bit, then hit a
pub that night. Holy crap were there lots of beers on tap
! And the fish and
chips were divine (and since I ate nothing that day, totally acceptable on the
WW program). The gentleman next to us informed us that he had to talk to us before we left. Not because we’re great beauties (which we are), but because we were there. It was the first
insight I had into the storytellers of the area.
He didn’t say much – just a joke. But that led to another
and another… we left laughing and discussing what a nice gent he was. Then we
went in search of java (as we were both working off some rather lengthy travel.
Lisa way more than me, but still…)
At the coffee shop, we met the biggest character, ever He
was sitting there doing a crossword and waiting for folk to talk to. So he told
us about this film crew that were doing this show on the local culture. “The
crew kept saying we were all so nice. And of course we all just agreed. But then,
they interviewed this old man, who decided to tell them the truth.He said
Newfoundland had more sons of bitches per capita than anywhere else, but the
rest of the people were so nice that you knows who the arseholes be and you leave theys
alone.” Also, the locals don’t
seem to like put-ons. It seems there was a guy who at the end of the school
year was going down Toronto. “How you getting dere? Oh, tumbin' it.” (with the
universal sign for hitchhiking). Then, when he comes back, he’s all pretention.
“Can you front me a dollar?” he would say, instead of borrow a buck, as he
would have said before he put on airs. Sad, but apparently everyone knows who
the arse lickers are, and they leave theys alone.
I haven't got a picture of Long John's Sausage Emporium (or whatever it was called), but here are two other window shots that should give an idea of the irreverent attitude of the area:
One morning, we made our way to this huge museum, called The
Rooms. They also have an awesome restaurant, and we went for lunch. Wow, what a
Then, we toured the actual displays. These folks have long memories, and
they have a harsh history. Whole rooms were dedicated to these tragedies. There
were the boys who died in the battle of Beaumont Hote
on July 1 (of the 801 soldiers from NL, 733 were hurt or killed the first day
of battle). Also, there were many paintings about the men (77 of 132) who,
after being abandoned by their ships, lost their lives on a sealing expidition.
Some of these tragedies were personal to the artists, and yet they still drew
my attention. For example, David Blackwood had several etchings about Martinand David Winsor
. I do wonder what
their story was….
The final insight of the day was this: In the morning,
another pair of tourists at our B&B had told us about some of the work at
the Rooms being total crap. For example, someone “spray painted some cardboard
boxes gold, probably some kind of statement…” Well, we saw that same exhibit.
They weren’t spray painted. They were CAST BRONZE. The detail was AMAZING. And it does make a statement… permanent
garbage… and crazy talent.
gave us some inside info on the
NL music scene. Great stuff! You can hear the irish everywhere in the music. Sadly, once I got home, I found out that this stuff cannot be purchased on iTunes. Whack, right?
We had sushi that night…. I know it’s a fishing island, but
North Carolina doesn’t do sushi, and they catch tuna. But this was some good
stuff, lemme tell ya!
Up to run – they have some hills there. Jaysus. Hills. There
are freaking STAIRCASES between streets. I cannot imagine who shovels them in
This second full day, we decided to drive, after walking all
day the day before. Down to Cape Speare we went.
This is the eastern most part
of the north American continent, and where the telegram for titanic was received. We met a photographer
from Alberta (now- formerly a
Newfoundlander) . Lots of folk move to Alberta because of the drilling. Now they
are moving back, because of the drilling. We saw whales here at Cape Speare.
After Lisa Marie bought an incredibly silly hat (that I
covet), we drove to next lighthouse – Ferryland.
Went for a picnic that was
highly recommended; they were closed. Boo hoo. We kept driving – the southern
Avalon peninsula is more
boon-dockie than North Central PA. That’s saying something!! It reminded me of the crazy moors in
Woman in Black. Totally freaked me out. These folk are sure fond of dykes. When
they connect the fingers, of the island it’s not with bridges. It’s with dykes.
Why, I wonder?
We got back, and decided to look for a ghost tour to round
out our night. We found where it was but when? No sign gave a time, and our phones were useless up there.
So went into the closest bar
, where of course the man at the bar immediately struck up
a convo – big time. Ends up he’s the owner; cool dude, too.
We went there and had dessert (fantasmic bread pudding folks) before we hit the
ghost tour. And the ghost tour
, though fun, was exhausting. The dude was like
tigger, bouncing up the hills. Literally. And we’re talking hills that put San
Francisco to shame. (side note: on the last day, we met the wife of the man who runs the ghost tours. We had some conversation... surprise surprise... about Mummers, which are huge up in NL and also in Philly and nowhere else in the western world :)
So, after a day of rest, the next day was walking again.
First, on our way up this massive hill, we went to the Geo Science Center. I
love Geology – I think if I had to do it over again, I probably would study
that instead of chemistry. But anyhow, there was this titanic exhibit. OMG they
call this informing? It was all opinion. There were about 40 placards with
various pieces of information, and at the bottom, a “summary” which was titled
“THE TRUTH”, but was in actuality, vitriolic opinion. Did you know, for
example, that JP Morgan was a big ahole? We know because he carried a walking
stick. This showed his self centered attitude was brimming with aggression. Oh,
and the Captain of the titanic? He was WAAAAY too arrogant. We all know that a
ship’s captain should be wishy-washy. I mean, who wants a decisive, strong,
assured captain? Sure, I wouldn’t want to hang with the guy. But come on.
We continued up Up UP to the top of signal hill, which was
crazy high. It’s where Marconi broadcast the first transatlantic telegraph.
It’s crazy windy. As is evidenced by this video
After that, we went for High Tea in the local Anglican
stronghold. Tea in the crypt
… very fun and quite yummy. Dinner was at biancas
… awesome! Finally,
we went to a pub on Georges street
to listen to music. It wasn’t to my taste. Bad covers of bad music. And if
you’re not drunk, what’s the point? But it was ok.
The next morning, I found a running trail next to the quidi
vidi (prounounced kiddie viddy) that was mostly flat! I was so excited that I
ran way too far, ended up in a part of the city I didn’t recognize. Ended up I
ran about 5 miles. Crazy, right?
More driving – this time up to north conception bay. Port
Grave – I assumed it was some French thing, like accent grave, but they seem to
take the English seriously
. We passed no less than 7 cemeteries; some right
next to each other. There was even a salvation army cemetery up there. We
drove, literally, to the end of the road. Then we went back to St. Johns. Have
I mentioned how much fun St. John’s is? It’s a great city. That night, we went
to a Simon and Garfunkle review at the Spirit of Newfoundland
. Lots of fun, in a kitchy way.
The last day was spent lazing around. Not by choice. My BP meds were not working - or were working too much. I was too dizzy to stand. Much to the dismay of the St. John's public, I let Lisa Marie roam
alone this day, while I read. Missed my reading fix all week, I sure did. Ended up at shamrock city
, which had very fun music. It was Packed. We shared a table with a lovely couple
from Montreal. It was a total hoot. We ended up writing instead of talking because the music was too loud to
But it was great. Side Note: lisa
can really put down the bushmills. FH cannot handle wine. Sigh.
And with a lot of hassle (and may Laguardia Airport sink
into the sea, that pit of despair), it was home again home again, jiggigy jog. If you wanna see more of the pics, well, head on over to my photobucket album
. As crappy of a photographer as I am, this place is well worth a few looks.