Posts filed under ‘St. John’s’

Mile Zero!

On our final day in St. John’s, I hit another milestone on my trip:

Mel at Mile Zero
Mile Zero! Both ends of the Trans-Canada Highway, the west end in Victoria and the east end in St. John’s, are marked “mile zero.” I didn’t find the sign in Victoria, and in St. John’s, it took some time and effort and asking a random clerk in the City Hall. But it turned out that the sign was just a bit further down the block than we expected, and when we found it, there was much photoshooting, of course. Canada starts right here.

The Girls at Mile Zero
Special thanks to Christina and Jules for reaching Mile Zero with me!

Mel and Mama at Mile Zero
And of course, special thanks to my mama as well! I couldn’t have done this trip without her help.

St. John's Houses
Even though the day was a bit grey (typical for St. John’s, I’m told), we had a nice time wandering around the city. I just can’t get enough of the painted houses!

Newfoundland Tricolour
Cheery red house flying the old unofficial Newfoundland flag. The first time I saw this flag, I thought it was a faded Irish or Italian one, but that last bar really is pink. I did a bit of digging and discovered that this tricolour flag has been around since the late 19th century, though it has never officially represented Newfoundland.

More downtown St. John's
Gower Street, across from the Cathedral downtown, is a particularly picturesque stretch, don’t you think?

Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Inside the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, downtown St. John’s. We kind of wandered in, and thus began the most awkward cathedral visit ever. I think a couple of altar boys were in training to help tourists, because there appeared to be some sort of supervisor, and the boys kept asking us if we had any questions. We didn’t want to be rude and skedaddle right away, but we really didn’t have a ton of time to spend, so we kind of lingered long enough to be polite, and then thanked them. We were just about out the door, when one of the boys asked me if I’d seen the museum. Since they were watching us the whole time, I was fairly sure that he knew that I hadn’t seen the museum, so I said that I hadn’t, and then off he went, and I felt like I had to follow. He took me to a really tiny room filled with all kinds of historical artifacts, which I’m sure would have been interesting, but our afternoon scheduled included lunch, finding somewhere to buy very cheap sheets, and driving over an hour to get to the ferry. If we missed the ferry, we were stuck in St. John’s for several more days, so again, I lingered a few moments to be polite, and then we beelined out of there. Nice church, though. I do enjoy a good church, so I’m glad we went in.

Lunch was at The Sprout, which I must mention, because it was a delightful little vegetarian place downtown. It’s been way too long for me to remember what I ate, but I think I remember pesto. Usually a safe bet with me. Anyway, if you’re in St. John’s and you like tasty vegetables, I recommend it! I seem to remember it using more actual vegetables than “supposedly tastes like meat” plant proteins, which is the type of vegetarian food I prefer.

Signal Hill
Ah yes, and one more stop before we left downtown: Signal Hill. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans for us. This is the view from the top of Signal Hill. Striking, isn’t it?


April 20, 2011 at 1:22 am Leave a comment

Puffins and More!

On Day 28, I woke up impossibly early with my mom to ride a boat and look at wildlife. I’m not super keen on boats (this may surprise those of you who are keeping track of how many boats I took on this trip!) and I’m normally not super keen on wildlife, either. But my mom really wanted to go, and I didn’t want her to go alone. I also really wanted to take her to breakfast at Cora’s, which I’d been talking about for five years, so we hit up a location in St. John’s before driving south to Bay Bulls to catch a boat tour with O’Brien’s.

Atlantic Whaler
We climbed on board the Atlantic Whaler and apparently, the first sailing of the day isn’t a popular one, because my mom and I only had to share our guide, Greg, with about five other people. It is worth noting that of the 8-10 people on board, counting crew, I was the only one that got pooped on, and my lovely white Canada Olympic sweatshirt was pooped on three times. I am not over this.

Tail of a Whale
The boats leave the dock and head out toward Gull Island, part of the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, and on the way, they try to find whales. We found quite a few, or we found the same one quite a few times. Either way, here’s my best whale shot!

One of the first birds we encountered was the kittiwake, a highly common seabird.

But the puffins weren’t too far away! I was pretty excited to see all the puffins. They’re like mini northern penguins that also fly, and penguins might be my favourite animal. Since I don’t have any trips planned to penguin colonies in the near future, seeing the puffins was a highlight. They’re just so stinkin’ cute.

Puffins in Love
Many puffins mate for life, so I like to think that I caught these puffins canoodling.

Swimming Puffin
Puffins aren’t great fliers (their stocky build makes them slow and awkward), but they are great swimmers and fishers.

Flying Birds
Although it’s a reserve, the birds have natural predators, so whenever they see one, they all freak out and fly off. And poop on unsuspecting photographers below.

Whoa, Murres!
I was using a 70-200 zoom lens on the boat, so the above shots are quite zoomy, but this one gives you an idea of how many birds are on this island! Insane. These are murres, I think, or razorbills.

These guys are definitely murres, and I also definitely think that the two guys on the right were posing for me. They heard that I’m fond of unison.

I got some really fun shots that I might never have the chance to take again, so I’m really glad that my mom ended up wanting to go on the boat and I’m glad that we got to squeeze it in! I heard that the tours are really lively and fun when they’re full…there’s sometimes dancing and fiddles in addition to puffins and whales. We did get a traditional Irish song from Greg the guide at the end of the ride, though!

Mom and Me
Who thinks we’re related?

April 3, 2011 at 1:14 am 2 comments

a st. john’s evening

Just over an hour after my mom picked us up at the ferry terminal in Argentia, we arrived at our hotel in downtown St. John’s! Driving into the city, we were already excited to get out and explore. Since we only had about an hour or so of light left, we decided to just drop our stuff off, change clothes, and head somewhere for dinner, seeing a bit of the city on the way.

St. John's Street
We stayed at the Courtyard, which was quite nice and located on a typical downtown St. John’s street.

Bright Houses
I quickly pronounced this street my favourite in St. John’s. It’s one of the most-often photographed, kind of like St. John’s version of those seven pastel-coloured houses in San Francisco. I loved all of the brightly-painted buildings and houses in St. John’s…I’m sure it helps the residents stay cheery through all of the gloomy weather!

Red Building
We actually had gorgeous weather that evening, instead of the usual gloominess! The sun was shining, the sky was cloudless and blue, and all of the bright red paint glistened.

Downtown St. John's
The closeness of the buildings and the sun being so low in the sky made photography a bit difficult that night, but I’m making it work, right?

We ate at Nautical Nellie’s, which isn’t the type of restaurant my mom and I usually pick when we’re together, but it was just perfect after our long ferry ride! I feasted on fish & chips—traditional St. John’s cuisine—and we loved the pub atmosphere.

St. John’s is known for its night life and I was told that in order to really experience St. John’s, I had to explore the legendary George Street after dark, but I hadn’t counted on such an exhausting day. Plus, we had an impossibly early morning scheduled, so we had to take a pass on George Street. Instead, we grabbed some coffee at the appropriately-named Coffee and Company, a wonderful little local café, and headed back to the hotel for some well-deserved and much-needed relaxation.

February 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm Leave a comment

The Suggestion Box: Newfoundland

I’m a little late with this, since I’ve already seen some of the Burin and Avalon Peninsulas, but if anyone has any great recommendations for St. John’s, I have this afternoon in the city before we head to the ferry.

We had fish & chips on our first night in the city, and an O’Brien’s boat tour and Signal Hill are already on the schedule, but feel free to leave a comment if there’s anything else I shouldn’t miss.

July 6, 2010 at 5:36 am Leave a comment


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