There’s rain and fog,
a cool breeze that keeps constantly blowin’,
Six months of winter every year;
But I love this rock and
all of the good things we got,
There’s peace and beauty everywhere.
- Damian Follett (No place like home)
I keep falling in love with strange places. I have left pieces of me in every city I’ve been to, whether or not I loved them.
It might be the strangest province I’ve been in. But it may have been the best. I’m repeating my stories and laughing at the insanity and I keep having to remind myself not to buy a ticket back.
There is magic sometimes when you travel. You end up having the perfect night. Not because of the party or the drinks but because of the people. You couldn’t replicate it if you tried. In Newfoundland, in five nights, three of them were absolute perfection.
So what brought me to Newfoundland? Last year, when I went to Yellowknife, my flight was delayed on the way home. In return, WestJet provided me with a coupon code of 20%. I knew, without a doubt, that I would use it to get to St. John’s. I looked at my calendar and looked for flights for the long weekend. Little did I know that the two weeks prior to this, would be the craziest two weeks of my life and the trip to Newfoundland became an escape.
But I digress. My little brother decided to join me on my trip, marking one of his first trips that wasn’t for work. I was determined to give him a weekend he wouldn’t soon forget. I booked three nights at the Hi Hostel in St. John’s, a delightful little place near downtown, a night at the Skerwink hostel in Trinity East (but really Port Rexton) and a night in St. John’s before flying out early in the morning.
Seems uneventful enough.
But oh my. Newfoundland. The first full day, on the recommendation of the hostel staff, we did the Irish Loop, a scenic drive through the Avalon Penisula, chasing icebergs. We would notice them in the distance and veer left, anxious to get as close as possible. In one of those instances, we clambered over rocks and stumbled through a purple pebble beach, desperate to touch one of the ice giants. The road stretched south, weaving its way through the coast before heading back up north.
Armed with our phones, we tackled the road, noticing interesting places and stopping to take photos. In a memorable detour, we traversed into a seemingly forgotten town, desperate to look at shipwrecks. The weather proved unhelpful, and the fog horn seemed so loud, it hurt our ears to walk near it.
That night, again on the advice of the hostel staff, we went to the kitchen party hosted by the very cool, Quidi Vidi brewery. Where I accidentally brow-beated a bartender into giving me a certificate that I was a beer expert. No regrets. Also, I don’t really like beer but the Iceberg beer was absolutely delicious and I even liked the IPA (don’t tell Raj!). Though, if you know me, you know I really liked the Quidi Vidi Light. Light beer forever! (Also, equally pleased to know most Newfoundlanders drink light beer. MY PEOPLE!)
A bearded fellow started chatting with us and a few hours later, I found myself in a fishing shack that belonged to a young Newfoundland couple’s father, drinking beers and making plans to have a wild night. First up, Linda’s. Imagine you went to your grandmother’s basement. She was a hoarder. And then, she set up a bar. And decided when she opened and closed. This was Linda’s. This was a perfect bar, mostly because she had a collection of spoons on the wall. Soul mate!
Following , we headed into St. John’s. Most of the bars charge a cover to enter, but Lottie’s did not. Their speciality? Double white Russians. Yes, it was painful. Mixing beer and white Russians and gin and tonics was not a good idea. The music was phenomenal. I heard so many of my favourites so this place gets a huge thumbs up from me.
The next day, we drove out to Cape Spear, and did the hike around the giants cliffs. The wind was so strong, I was afraid of blowing right over! We saw some people bring their tiny dogs and I was really concerned.
But the view was stunning and it followed a wonderful breakfast at the Bagel Café which is absolutely amazing. I would return to St. John’s for that breakfast alone, That afternoon, we took a tour and tasting at the Quidi Vidi Brewery, where I was awarded my “beer expert” certificate. Thanks Ben!
Sunday saw us leave the hostel and head north. Our destination was Bonavista, a town located on the Bonavista Penisula. We drove through snow, rain, mist, hail, sunny skies and gray skies and every weather imaginable. We got to the end of road and wandered through the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse and took a private tour. It was private because there was no one else there. Like I said, it wasn’t exactly tourist season.
One of the best things about our little road trip was not having a destination. We drove into Dungeons Provincial Park and pulled over into tiny marinas. My brother tried to step onto an iceberg. We drove around looking for food and photo opportunities, without any real schedule or timelines or destinations in mind. Our hostel booked, the lovely Skerwink Hostel (best party hostel in town*), so we could take our time getting there.
We, of course, checked out the local brewery, a delightful place called Port Rexton Brewing, in the pouring rain and wind. Following that, we headed back to the hostel for even more drinks and chatting.
Early the next morning, my brother and I hit the Skerwink Trail. It was absolutely stunning. Honestly, one of the most beautiful trails I have ever done. We took our time going back to St. John’s, where we checked into Memorial University.
Can I take just a second here to rave about this?
Brilliant idea. Memorial University rent out the door rooms during the summer time. It is so much cheaper, it is closer to the airport, the beds are comfy, the bathrooms are super clean, there is a front-desk with somewhere there at all hours and the whole experience was seamless. Breakfast is included but we flew out at 6:00 a.m. and didn’t get a chance to experience it. But highly recommend. Big time.
In St. John’s, my brother and I found a great little pasta spot that offered 2 for 1 pasta that night. So we ate our weight in pasta and vegetables and we both took off separately for last-night-in-Newfoundland-adventures. He had met a girl. I had met a boy. He took me around St. John’s and showed me his favourite viewpoint of the city. It was all too much. The moon, the dim lights of St. John’s, the waves crashing into the rocks and two strangers in a car.
Newfoundland. Romantic, adventurous, stunning, fun, intoxicating, breathtaking.
Just too many words to describe it.
I’ll be back. I mean it this time.
*Okay, not really a party hostel.