Go to St. Johns, Newfoundland and discover a relaxing place to visit with amazing ocean views, friendly people and iceberg beer!
No Icebergs in September!
My first to Newfoundland was an education. I soon found out that icebergs and whales can’t be found in September. They start down Iceberg Alley from the northern glaciers in spring and float along the east coast of Newfoundland through the summer. If you come in September, you’ve missed the boat!
St. John’s to Cape Race
I flew to St. John’s where I had booked a nice B&B for a week, except for one day when I drove to Cape Race at the south east end of the island, following the Irish Loop trail.
It was Cape Race I loved the most.
The long drive down a narrow road along the coast to the lighthouse was breath-taking. I only saw one other car, going the other way. It felt so peaceful. I stopped to walk up to a waterfall along the road, and again to admire a couple of cows who seemed so far from anywhere. At the end of the road was the lighthouse and a tiny museum to Marconi who sent the first wireless transmission from here. The waves crashed on the huge rock cliffs and it felt like you were truly at the edge of the world.
St. John’s, Signal Hill and Cape Spear
Driving back to St. John’s along the TransCanada highway I encountered a rainstorm which almost blew me off the road! For the next few days, I just stayed close to homebase, but it was enough adventure by itself. You could see the ocean from the smashing vista at Signal Hill or take a short drive out to Cape Spear lighthouse. Both are national historic sites and have small museums inside. The village of Quid Vidi even offers its own brewery where you can taste Iceberg Beer! The fishing village of Petty Harbour is not far, and you can watch fisherman drag their catch into tiny huts on the docks where they are cleaned and the remains thrown out to flocks of eager seagulls.
Brigus for a day-trip
Brigus was just a couple of hours away, and I wandered through the village and out onto the rocks, discovering colourful sea creatures in the crevices! There was a tiny museum, Hawthorne Cottage, the original home of Captain Bartlett, who was an arctic explorer. You can stop in at a house/tea-room for homemade biscuits and jam. Everyone was very friendly, in that down-home kind of way. The houses were neat and pretty, freshly painted in yellow, white or pink, decorated to be admired, which they were.
George Street in St. John’s
The night life of downtown St. John’s wasn’t quite what I envisioned. George Street was one long street lined with dining and drinking establishments, boasting the most bars per square mile of anywhere in North America. With a university in town, it was an ongoing beer-fest and loud music until all hours of the night. I had imagined it as a row of Celtic pubs with a few fiddles and a nice, friendly singalong, but St. John’s is not Ireland, even though its roots are there! I went to Nautical Nellies instead and had seafood.
Walking around St. John’s
One of the nicest thing to do in St. John’s is just to walk around. The houses are painted lovely, bright colours and there are some gorgeous, stately homes set amidst big trees that are perfect for admiring. I enjoyed the Historic East End, just on my own, although there is a Walking Tour. You can also walk downtown to the harbour and see all the huge fishing and container ships at port. There is a huge museum on a hill, The Rooms, which is worth a visit, even if just to see the Giant Beaver!