MUCH TO SAY ABOUT ST. JOHN’S, NF

This entry is part 8 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

NO, we haven’t taken a vacation from our vacation in the Canadian Maritimes.  We’ve just been so involved with our trip that I: 1) haven’t had much time to write, and 2) we’ve seen so much worth writing about I’m developing writer’s block about where to start.

Just looking at over the center of St. John's, Newfoundland, brings a sense of excitement. It's a beautiful city with lots to do and learn.

Just looking at over the center of St. John’s, Newfoundland, brings a sense of excitement. It’s a beautiful city with lots to do and learn.

So, although it’s out of chronological order, I will mention St. John’s, Newfoundland.  So many interesting things to see and do.  I’ll start with a picture of Jellybean houses, which

Jellybean Row

Jellybean Row

remind me of Christo Art.  You remember Christo.  He’s the artist who wraps buildings and puts umbrellas along hills for miles. My Jellybean Houses photo tells the story, except to say this was an idea that the city launched in the ‘50s to brighten up their lives.

Then there’s the Veiled Virgin, the most exquisite statue I’ve ever seen.  It’s in the Convent

Incredible Sculpting

Incredible Sculpting

on the grounds of the Basilica of St. John, and open to the public during very limited hours.  It’s a sculpture by Giovanni Strazza from a single piece of marble, with the Virgin’s face behind a veil of marble so thin it’s hard to believe it’s not tulle.  You may not want to base a trip to Newfoundland on seeing that, but if your travels take you in the area, you don’t want to miss it.

Poutine, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, is

Our bucket of poutine

Our bucket of poutine

a local dish of French fries with gravy and curds.  While wandering on Water Street where the city’s classiest restaurants have long lines of tourists and locals waiting to dine, Monique and I were drawn to Smokey’s Poutinerie, which fits into the street like Spike Jones and the City Slickers playing next to the London Symphony.

Being in Newfoundland and wanting to soak up Atlantic Provinces cuisine, we looked in, then went in, then, to our surprise, we ordered one of the 20 or so versions of poutine.  We got the Philly Cheese Steak poutine, which included the basics plus meat, red peppers, onions and mushrooms.  We did this, of course, to be in a position to advise RV.com readers.  Conclusion:  we won’t do it again, but that’s our personal taste.

We spent three days in St. John’s, hardly enough time to really get to know the oldest seaport in the New World, and yet, we did the town up right.  Rather than try to relate it all, I’ll summarize a few experiences:

Geo Centre Planets - 4961The Geo Centre, a very interesting exhibit building that put us literally in contact with some of the oldest geology on Earth.  A beautiful museum that provides an excellent opportunity to  get to know rocks and how the Maritimes separated from Africa.

The stately Cabot Tower reigns over the town as did Queen Victoria year's earlier.

The stately Cabot Tower reigns over the town as did Queen Victoria year’s earlier.

The Cabot Tower, honoring the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign, overlooks the Narrows, a passage from the Atlantic into the harbor, where German U-boats patrolled blowing up merchant vessels heading for Europe.  And across the Narrows is Cape Spear, the easternmost point in North America.

Nearby, a road passes along steep cliffs, famous for the caves where wine was stored at perfect temperatures before being exported.  Not a biggie on

One of the caves where wine was stored is sealed behind a steel door.

One of the caves where wine was stored is sealed behind a steel door.

getting to know the city, but interesting.  And leaving the Cabot Tower, we passed the visitors center, where a reenactment of military hostilities between the British and French was staged.  Lots of drums, fifes and booms.

The Rooms is a museum, whose modern exterior is out-of-place with the quaintness of the city, but inside are some excellent exhibits, all connected by an impressive three-story atrium.  The theme is the historical fishing industry of St. John’s but it goes much further.

We went out on a boat whale-hunting.  We not only didn’t harpoon any, we didn’t see any.  Captain Barry explained that the whales sense bad weather and head for deeper waters.  The bad weather arrived a few minutes later.  A few puffins and other northern birds provided some wildlife experience.

Young troops prepare for battle -- in truth, the actual soldiers were probably not any older than these young men.

Young troops prepare for battle — in truth, the actual soldiers were probably not any older than these young men.

 Two more eating opportunities.  Walking out the back door of the Geo Centre, we happened upon a small field of blueberries lining the pathway.  We munched our way back to the truck.,  The other – a stop by a recommended local fish & chips chain restaurant.  We did not find that it added to the flavor of our visit, primarily because we didn’t detect any flavor at all.  But,

Picking berries

Picking berries

they did give us a certificate commemorating our first time at the restaurant. Water Street would have been a better choice.

What have you learned here?  Don’t miss St. John’s.  I’ll have some more tips on our journey among one of North America’s most attractive and attracting lands.  As our caravan draws to a close in a few days, I can say we are finding that almost everyday brings new interest and excitement, which I will draw upon for the next few blogs in this series.

At North America's Easternmost Point

At North America’s Easternmost Point

P.S.  Before ending, I want to clarify one of my misstatements.  I assumed that all those bays, inlets, coves, fiords, etc., I wrote about earlier were salt water because they empty into the ocean or its tributaries.  I have since learned that many are fresh or brackish water.   I’ll say again the shorelines along those little villages and remote areas are some of the most enchanting scenery you’ll see anywhere.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.