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Published: August 31st 2015
We got up early this morning and sadly said goodbye to Prince Edward Island. In the stillness of the morning, PEI was more beautiful than ever. As we were packing up the car, we could see the trees in the distance sheathed in mist, only the tops peeking out. We drove past the rolling farmlands reflected in the stillness of the water, the cornfields and gabled houses, and vowed to come back to this magical place one day.
Over the Confederation Bridge we went, back into New Brunswick and then Nova Scotia. We passed through
beautiful Cape Breton which is actually an island. It is connected to mainland Nova Scotia by the rock-fill Canso Causeway. We were told by more than one Newfie that Cape Bretoners are just Newfies whose car broke down on the way to Newfoundland.
After six hours of driving, we had a quick bite to eat at The Old Triangle Pub in Sydney, Nova Scotia before catching the Argentia ferry. We got settled in our berth for the 16 hour trip to Newfoundland and were in bed by 9 pm. The ferry can often be quite rocky in windy weather so I was very relieved
when the sailing was calm and smooth and we both slept well.
The ferry docked at 10 am the next morning and we were in Newfoundland! A quick 1-1/2 hour later we arrived in St. John's and found the house where we were couchsurfing. Jerry, our host, is 69 and an interesting fellow. Tall and slim, he sports a grey ponytail and is very welcoming. We were invited to make his home our home. He was born and raised a Newfie and has lived here most of his life but he and his wife Donna are free spirits and have lived in New Zealand off and on for 12 years.
After settling in, we picked up Tim's daughter, Shayna, who lives in Gander but was staying with a friend in St. John's. We were thrilled to see her after a two year hiatus.
Not ones to let dust settle under our feet, we headed for downtown St. John's, which is renowned for its vibrantly coloured Victorian rowhouses, referred to affectionately as “Jellybean Row”. St. John's is the most easterly city in North America and it is actually 295 miles closer to London, England than it is to
Edmonton. It is very hilly, with twisting and turning roads, including one called "Hill o' Chips". Its busy and breathtaking working harbour is filled with large commercial fishing boats, containers, and, on the day we were there, a cruise ship.
We had lunch at the Duke of Duckworth Pub, which was lively for a Monday afternoon. Shayna introduced Tim to a Newfie favourite, fries with dressing and gravy. The dressing is made up of fresh breadcrumbs, melted butter, onion and summer savory. The result is delicious and Tim was thrilled with yet another excuse to have fries.
We visited the Old Courthouse where we had a short tour. Tim got to sit in the judge's chair and look down from his perch on Shayna who was in the defendant's cage. Luckily she got off for good behaviour.
After doing more sightseeing around St. John's, we drove to Bowring Park, which encompasses over 200 acres. It has lovely walking paths, beautiful flowerbeds and a man-made duck pond which has a few swans and more ducks than I have ever seen in one place. There are hundreds of them and we were told that everyone feeds them and as
a result, they do not migrate in the winter.
There are a number of statues in the park, including "Peter Pan" which was erected in memory of Sir Edgar Bowring's grandchild, who drowned along with her father at the sinking of the Florizel. The statue was unveiled in 1925 with the following inscription: "In memory of a little girl who loved the Park". It is intricately sculpted with fairies, tiny mice and frogs, lovely maidens, bunnies, and of course, Peter Pan. It is truly a work of art.
We returned to the house where Jerry and his wife Donna had dinner waiting for us. We had a great meal and enjoyable conversation. Before the night was through, Jerry pulled out his Bodhrun, a traditional hand-held Celtic drum played with a type of brush called a beater. He sang and played an Irish ballad called "30 Days in Jail". It was wonderful, and along with his colourful Newfoundland phrases, we got a true sampling of Newfie culture.
Another great day, with more of St. John's to come.
(Scroll to bottom of page for more photos.)
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