Friday, 7 October 2016

Discovering Newfoundland and Labrador August and September 2016. Part three. Around and about on the east side.

After hiking in Gros Morne National Park for a week, it was hop the plane to St. John's, navigate curvy named roads into the city center to our B&B in one of the historic Jelly Bean row houses.  A quick city tour the next day to get our bearings, then off to France (St. Pierre and Miquelon by ferry), then the Bonavista Peninsula before coming back to our B&B to explore the Avalon Peninsula.  Two things we learned by driving this holiday:  First, Newfoundland is a very big province and I will remember that it isn't just us folks in Northern Alberta that travel hours to get somewhere. Second, Newfoundland isn't a tidy triangle (which is how we drew it in school), it is a complex set of bays and peninsulas that have their own personalities and mean you are seldom far from the ocean.

St John's City Tour

Cape Spear.
 The farthest east point in North America

Pub Food.  Fish and chips and dressing and gravy.
Duke of Duckworth.
Newfoundland Chocolate Company, mmmm
Just down the street from the laundry.

Ghost Tour of St. Johns.  Great fun.
  This is the wall of the Anglican Cemetery that keeps breaking from the weight of the hill above
and letting loose skeletons onto one of the main streets. It was the only cemetery for hundreds of years with a lot of unmarked graves (another interesting story)

Our last night we splurged on an incredible multi course meal at the Mallard Cottage in Quidi Vidi

Desert board - some of everything for those who can not decide.
 Home made ice cream and a selection of lovelies all fresh baked (and warm)

Art in the loo

Oldest wooden structure in St. John's area.
 Late 1700's and owned by the same family until a few years ago.
National Historic Site.

Cape Spear again on my camera not iphone

Gun emplacements from WW2.
 Newfoundland was essentially occupied by Canada, the US and the UK
 in order to ensure that German submarines did not get past
to attack the coast and/or the ships heading to Europe.
You have to go somewhere to get a good sense of the history.

Another set of the red chairs

Signal Hill and Cabot Tower

The Narrows and St. John's harbour from Signal Hill

And I always thought that shrapnel was a technical military term.
Yup, closer to the UK than to home.
Quidi Vidi duck.  It seemed to be impossible to take a bad photo near water.

Anglican Cathedral.  The black is from the 1892 fire that destroyed much of St.John's.
 White blocks on the other side were ones that had to be replaced.

Touring The Rooms.  Combination museum, archives, art gallery.
 Newest exhibit was to commemorate the centennial of Beaumont-Hamel
 (Newfoundland's equivalent to the Anzac experience at Galipoli)

Newfoundland has two Remembrance Days.
 July 1 where all wear the Forget me not to remember Beaumont-Hamel
 and November 11 with the rest of Canada.

Same family as Puffins, I discovered.

Johnson's Geocenter was very impressive.
Sponsored by the Johnson family (who we get our vehicle insurance from),
so I guess I get to claim a bit of ownership

Our B&B.  We had the top floor of the yellow house.

Our landlady was a bit of a collector of cool local art.

Outports had their own definition of moving home.


Exploring St. Pierre

It was a four hour drive from St. John's to Fortune on the Burin Peninsula where we cleared customs and caught the ferry to St. Pierre.  France had invested a lot of money to maintain their presence in North America.  The standard of living is significantly higher than on the Newfoundland side, despite the fact that the main employers are government, maintenance, infrastructure.... and with a bit of an addition from tourism.  Everyone is a French citizen and entitled to free education in France.  

Dinner our first night. Quiche. Mmm

One of several postcards I found at the photographer's next door.
I smiled when our guide reassured us that the weather in St. Pierre was beautiful and the winters were very mild...

L'Atelier Gourmand for our second dinner.  "Rural French Cuisine" Fantastic service, excellent meal. Amazing considering that everything has to be imported, mainly from France. Except for the beef which our waiter assured us was imported from Alberta because it was the best.  I, of course, chose salmon which was probably swimming in the ocean the day before.


Isle aux Marins.
A small island in the harbour which used to be where all the fishing stages were
.because of the flat rocky beaches where you could lay the cod out to dry.
 It's a historic site now.

My favourite colour of house.  It could be seen everywhere.
Nobody knew what it was called but all agreed it was very common.
One of our guides had heard that perhaps it was originally created with cod liver oil...

St. Pierre and Micquelon were also infamous for being the middle man during prohibition.

Another Singer sewing machine for my collection

The interesting thing is how many of these historic hospital items I had actually used.

Loom so similar to what we had seen in Asia.

In one of the back rooms of the Heritage Museum (a private collector, so delightfully quirky)
was this huge mural that must have been for a special occasion and then not really needed.
At the corner was the artist putting on the finishing touches...

...and on the other side was a bit yet to be finished.

Trinity area/Bonavista Peninsula

Here was another example of how old the newest province is.  John Cabot made land on the tip of the peninsula (and called it "beautiful view in his native Italian) in 1497.  Granted, a few hundred years after Leif Erickson settled at the tip of the Northern Peninsula, but not too shabby at all.

We stayed at a rather luxurious hotel near Trinity.  A bit of hiking, a bit of exploring historic Trinity (disappointing given the hype), some interesting meals.  And two stellar activities that made the stay totally remarkable.  Rugged Beauty Boat Tours and the Rising Tide Theater's production of West Moon.

One of the original houses in Trinity.
French influence to the style because of the curve to the roof and the shape of the windows.  And, ny favourite colour.

Bonavista Social Club.  A wee place on the west coast of the peninsula.
We went for the explore (and the name) and had great fresh food which we got to watch being prepared.
 This is the wood pizza oven.

Rugged Beauty Boat Tours.  Our guide, Bruce, was raised in one of the outports
 that has been resettled and has an incredible knowledge of life on the peninsula.

Random Passage site.  Never heard of it.
 Came home and read the book - thoroughly enjoyed it.
Excellent description of immigration to these areas in the early years.

We would pull into these little coves and Bruce would pull out photos of the community before they were uprooted.  He'd align the photo with the land and show us where he had grown up, or where his grandparents had lived.  Totally brought things alive.  Also learned a lot about Newfoundland politics and Joey Smallwood.  Reread The Colony of Unrequited Dreams from a different perspecitve.

Jigging for cod.  Never understood what that meant.  The fellow was not happy with the size of fish he was getting.  Fishermen get a quota that usually takes about two days to fill.  For the entire year.  Most will keep this for personal use.

The two story house had recently been restored by the nephew of the original owners.
Bruce had a photo of it almost falling into the bay.

Hiscock house in Trinity  One of the few originals.
 Most of the town is in the style of.

And another Singer.

Around our hotel

Some fascinating art

Fused glass - similar to what I had seen at Deer Lake airport.

Alders.  An introduced species.  But fascinating

Hiking along the skerwink trail. (Skerwink is a shearwater in other areas). It was a great half day hike along the coast then inland.  More stairs than I could have wished for. Newfoundland seems to have a code that a certain grade needs to have stairs which then dictate how big your steps need to be.

Avalon Peninsula (History, Puffins and Mistaken Point)

Once back in St. John's, we did a series of day trips down the Avalon Peninsula - if I was to make a suggestion, it would be to stay on the peninsula and cut down on driving.  Ah well.

First off, the puffins at Witless Bay Ecological Reserve. It was almost the end of the season and time for they to head out to sea, but there were more than enough to catch them in all their finery. Cal's camera with its serious zoom lens brought these little fellows right up.

Not known for their flying skills.  Great divers.

Our first trip down was to Colony of Avalon and Ferryland (actually a corruption of a French word and pronounced Fur - i - lund).  Fascinating archeological site.  Guide was incredible at explaining what we were seeing. If we had been there on a week day, we could have actually watched the dig happening.

Well.  One archeology student got to spent her summer digging out the dirt that had filled the well.
 Made me shudder even thinking about it

Replica 16th century garden

Meet and greet cat at the bakery

Furniture in the bakery was built by James Tuck who headed the first digs in 1992
We tasted some cookies baked in a mussel shell from a recipe dating back to the 1600s.

Waiting to head out to Witless Bay Ecological Reserve with O'Briens

A Turr (Murre or Cormorant) egg
On the way back to St. John's we stopped at Tors Cove to checkout
Running the Goat Books and Broadsides where I picked up a hand printed and bound story
of The Christmas Turr.

Our last expedition was to Mistake Point, the newest UNESCO World Heritage Site (it was given designation only this summer).  Excellent local discovery center and the guides combined knowledge, history and humour to bring the area alive.

This area of the Avalon Peninsula is subarctic alpine -
 this tree literally hugs the ground to protect itself from the winds.
Next land south is Antarctica.

Even I could see the fossils

One guide was raised in the wee town nearby - Portugal Cove South - and entertained with stories of living around here. This was a local fishing area, so everyone knew about the interesting stuff in the rocks, just didn't know how old they were (the oldest living organisms known.  Other areas are in Australia, but these are more accessible)

Early scientists had tried to remove the specimens.  Badly done.  Instead, silicone molds of the entire beds have been created so that scientists can study the entire colony and its relationships.  As parts weather and break off into the ocean, new part weather out of the other rocks...

And a few more puffins to end the trip.

Did we have a great time in Newfoundland and Labrador?  Absolutely.  The province is everything that people said it was (and then some).  Would we do it differently/  Somethings yes, but that's what travel is all about.  There's still lots of things to see and do, perhaps we can figure out a next time.

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