Friday, July 23, 2010

St. John's and a Ferry Long Day

St. John's, the oldest city in North America, is the capital and the largest city in the province. You are still very aware that you are on an island far from the mainstream and mainland. There are the same number of TV stations we had in other places on the island, two. But it is a beautiful city with plenty to keep you entertained.
One place for both views and a some culture is The Rooms, the newest museum. The building is designed like the fishing rooms we have seen throughout our visit. We did not visit the museum but we went to the cafe on the fourth floor for lunch, great fish chowder, just so we could take advantage of the view.
From the top floor of The Rooms you have a great panorama of Signal Hill, the Narrows, the harbour and most of the city
This shows how tight the Narrows are as we watched this tanker come into the harbour.
These are a few of the vividly painted houses in the city. Can you find Nanc in the pic?
Since we landed on the Rock everyone said we had to experience George Street as it has more bars per meter than any street in the world. You can easily see this is true as the street is only two blocks and every building is a bar. On Tuesday we went there for supper and wondered what all the excitement was about as many places were closed. We returned another night for some music and found a few more people. Finally on Saturday we took a nap and went downtown at 8:30 for supper and music. That night we got a little hint what the real scene must be like. When we were leaving at midnight ALL the bars were open and the streets were getting crowded. Oh well, I guess we are just to old for the after midnight scene. From the little action we saw the saying in the pic sums up George Street.
One must stop on my list was the Quidi Vidi Brewing Co. in Quidi Vidi Harbour. They produce great local beer that is only available at a few places away from the Rock. The tour starts with the guide talking about how the company started and explaining each brew as we sampled a small taste. Next everyone selected the one beer they wanted to drink as we toured the brewery. 1892 was my favorite with Eric's Red a close second. They also brew Iceberg beer that is made with water from bergs. I found it to be cool, clear and refreshing, a good hot weather beer.

On Monday left St. John's and drove less than a hundred miles to the Argentia Sunset Park near where we planned to catch the ferry at 3:30PM Thursday. The town of Argentia is no more as it became a US military base in 1941 until it closed in 1994. This is where Roosevelt meet Churchill in 1941 before we were in WWII. The visitors center has an excellent display on this meeting as well as the negative and positive affects of the base.

When we were at the visitors center they suggested we check in with the ferry because one of the boats (surprise, the Smallwood we came over on) was having mechanical problems again. When we checked they said a smaller, slower boat, the Lief Ericson, was now sailing this route, but on a delayed schedule. The Tuesday boat that was to depart at 5PM would be leaving at eleven and our boat on Thursday would also be late because crossing times are now 18 hours rather than the regular fourteen. We were undecided about what to do and after checking again on Tuesday afternoon and learning the departure time was now 1AM we decided to wait until Thursday. Two hours later Teresa from Marine Atlantic called to tell us the Thursday trip was canceled and we should get on the wait list for Tuesday unless we wanted to drive the 600 miles back to Port aux Basque. We opted for the wait list and checked in at 4:00 and began the WAIT. FINALLY at 1:30 Wednesday morning we were told we could get on this sailing. We loaded at 2AM and departed at 3AM. We arrived in North Sidney at 9PM only 14 hours behind schedule and 29 hours after checking in Tuesday afternoon. It was a very long day made worse because the change of schedule meant the sleeper lounges we had reserved were no longer available, thus we had quite a restless night with the fog horn sounding the entire night near where we “tried” to sleep.
The Lief Ericson waiting in the fog to load.


Céline said...

happy to see you back on the main land.Celine and me are waiting for You. We enjoyed reading you every second day.

Anonymous said...

The joy of sea travel!
Tom and Georgie

Janey said...

I have to say, I really enjoyed your posts on Newfoundland & Labrador. As a born and bred Newfoundlander, I'm quite surprised you missed Fogo Island and St. Pierre. Fogo is beautiful and full of its own culture. And St. Pierre is actually a part of France but is just off the coast of Newfoundland.
If you ever get the chance to return you should definitely check these places, and fyi, both require short ferry rides.