This past October I took advantage of a new direct route offered by Canadian airline, Westjet, from Dublin to St. John’s in Newfoundland to visit one of my sisters. In under six hours, I was walking around the colourful streets TripAdvisor likens to a mini San Francisco!
Unfortunately I’ve only been to San Fran’s airport so the comparisons end there. But here are the noticeable differences:
– the airplane did a full on u-turn upon landing before taxiing to its gate, my first ever airplane ‘u-ey’!
– at arrivals the airport security asked if I was transiting through or home. To which I replied a confused, “neither?” Who knew visiting St. John’s isn’t an official answer…
– there is only one bar and it closes at 10.15pm, or whenever the last flight goes. This is for all you pre boarding pint happy travellers, get in early or be disappointed. Or, since the airport is a short drive from city centre, get a good drink in at your new local and then hail a cab for the trip home!
These small differences all gave me a chuckle and I hope they help prepare you for your next Newfoundland experience. Now for the good stuff – all the places I visited!
Post-emotional embrace with the sister, she wheeled me off to her local java place, Coffee Matters, before we headed to Cape Spear for a short stroll and pics at North America’s most easterly point. I can now say I’ve been at the most easterly point of two continents, Australia/Oceania and North America! I was then treated to a yummy homecooked meal, drinks and an Irish live music tribute at Kellys Pub on George Street.
The next day we went to Lester’s Farm to find the best pumpkins, walk through the corn maze and see the animals. Some little kid stole one of our pumpkins when we weren’t looking and rocked out of there with it in his wagon. Be prepared when you pick your perfect pumpkin, someone else may have their eye on it too!
This was all followed by lunch at YellowBelly Brewery (I’d go for the Irish Red Ale if I were you) and an evening at the The Duke of Duckworth (aka, the Rovers Return of NL!)
The next morning we had a leisurely brunch at Mallard Cottage in Quidi Vidi, followed by a visit to the Quidi Vidi Brewery and Village Plantation where a host of local artists work on site in their studios. I chatted to printmaker Graham Blair for a while before buying one of his Minke Whale prints.
We then hiked up Signal Hill for a view of the coast and the city below.
My last two days were spent eating and drinking in the downtown core, where the sister and I popped in and out of local shops, cafes and eateries. Here are a list of places we went to in addition to the above, all of which I’d recommend to visitors!
To eat and drink:
– Hungry Heart Cafe (a social enterprise offering tasty seasonal dishes)
– Rocket Bakery and Fresh Food (always bustling and popular with the lunchtime trade)
– The Adelaide Oyster House (newly opened, great for a good glass of wine and sampling their share plates)
– Fixed Coffee & Baking (good outdoor patio-weather pending!)
– Jumping Bean (solid coffee and a view of St. John’s main street if you’re into people watching)
– Afterwords Book Store (for the next airplane read or addition to your personal library)
– Craft Council of Newfoundland & Labrador (for local wares, I picked up a couple of pairs of handmade wool socks)
– Fred’s Records (music and more)
– Tval Skincare (handmade natural goods inspired by Sweden and made in St. John’s)
– HOME (any gift you could ever need to buy for your humble abode or someone else’s can be found in this gorgeous shop)
– Junk (quirky pieces, I picked up a printed poster and unisex t-shirt)
– Common Ground Coworking (I had to pop in for a few hours and they were more than accommodating, with a chilled out and adorable office dog to boot!)
While it was a short trip, it was perfect for five days spent catching up with my sister, meeting some friendly locals and exploring a small, coastal Canadian city I hadn’t had the chance to while living in Ontario.
If you’re in Newfoundland or Ireland and considering taking advantage of Westjet’s seasonal and direct cross-Atlantic service, make sure you get in early. More great news for 2015: they’re also doing trips to London (and advertising in island slang!)