Friday, September 22, 2017

September 21st – We Found Land in St John’s

After 4 (relatively gentle) days crossing the Atlantic, it was a relief to find land ahoy in Newfoundland, and in its colourful little capital, St John's. And, for a city that revels in being Canada's rainiest, windiest, and most cloudy city, St John's was looking pretty good in the autumn sunshine.

This hilly town's steep streets are lined with houses painted in all sorts of pastel shades – their bright colours designed to cheer up anyone feeling depressed by the pre-dominantly grey skies; but, on a sunny day like today, it almost had the feel of the Caribbean (even if the constant fresh breezes reminded us that we were a long way north).

Getting off the ship, we had the obligatory encounter with an enormous black Newfoundland dog, who patiently posed for a picture with Tracy after his owner had kindly de-slobbered him. After this heart-warming canine welcome, we then set about exploring town.

In this weather, St John's can seem like a great place to live, with the freshest of fresh air, and its gorgeous views of that beautiful sparkling harbour; although, the fact that we kept on smelling dope on the streets at 9 o'clock in the morning, was perhaps an indicator that this is maybe not the most thrilling place to live. Because, there's an end-of-the-world, elemental feel to the place – a city perched on the edge of the Atlantic, that's a long way from anywhere.

We trekked high above the city to Signal Hill, to see the old British gun battery that protected the narrow approach to St John's sheltered harbour. The views from up there, with the clouds racing by in the wind, casting shadows over the city, before it burst into sunlight again were spectacular. Travelling up there with a photographer like Tracy was confirmation that this was a truly "picturesque" sight – she must have taken hundreds of pictures up there, as the light constantly changed.

From the top of the hill, we then marched on down again to the other side, down a beautiful walking path through the woods, to the little fishing village of Quidi Vidi, which again couldn't have looked much more photogenic, with the turning leaves of the trees reflecting in the still waters of its harbour.

Our pedometers (and our tired feet) were telling us that this was quite a trek, so we stopped for lunch in an Italian deli on the edge of town, before we headed back into the Downtown area, to explore its quirky mix of shops and bars.

I don't think that I'd like to live somewhere as remote as St John's; but, when the sun's shining, it's a great place for a day trip.