Tuesday, December 12

A City by The Ocean

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Off the East Coast of Canada, in the North Atlantic, is a land of mystique and legends.  A land, untouched by passing centuries.  Where the Atlantic ocean embraces rocky coastline. Where you can view whales, swimming majestically around ten thousand year old icebergs, and herds of caribou frolicking in their natural habitat.  This is the island province of Newfoundland.

On the eastern part of the island, is the oldest city in North America, St. John’s.  With a population of one hundred thousand, St. John’s is a big city, but with a small-town attitude.  And, it’s the people who keep it this way.  After all, Newfoundlanders are world-renowned for their friendliness, and for never turning down an opportunity to lend a helping hand.  Everyone became aware of this, on September 11th, 2001, when dozens of airplanes were diverted here when air traffic was halted due to the tragic events unfolding in the United States. On these planes were thousands of passengers who found themselves stranded on unfamiliar territory.  The people of St. John’s quickly got to work and prepared their homes for people they never met before, and gave them support once the reality of what was happening in their homeland started to sink in. 

The thing you will first notice about St. John’s is the European-style architecture.  Brightly colored houses, in rows, perched over steep hills.  Some of them dating back to the latter part of the 1800’s.  Architecture from another age.

St. John’sHarboris one of the most protected harbors in the world.  To the left of the harbor, on top of a steep embankment is Signal Hill, and Cabot Tower.  Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic signal, here, from Poldhu, England, in 1901.  A short drive will take you to the top of this hill where you can visit the tower to see some of Marconi’s inventions.   Or you can climb the tower to see a spectacular view.  To one side, an aerial view of the city.  To the other, ocean and rugged coastline as far as the eye can see.  As you scan the coastline, you’ll spot a lighthouse perched on the cliffs.  That’s Cape Spear, the most Eastern point in North America, the closest place on this continent, to Europe. 

I can’t tell you about St. John’s without mentioning its most famous street.  After a long day, what could be better than to relax and sip on a cold beverage?  And where is a better place than on George St.? 

You may have trouble deciding where to go!  That’s because there are over one hundred pubs lining this tiny street nestled in the heart of the downtown core.  If it’s the true Newfoundland experience you’re looking for, choose a pub where a traditional band is playing, like O’Reilly’s.  Or visit Trapper John’s where you can be “Screeched In.”  This is Newfoundland’s way of initiating visitors.  But there is a price to pay!  You must down a shot of Newfoundland Screech, a potent, dark rum.  It’s worth it when you receive that certificate stating that you are an honorary Newfoundlander.

There you have it.  St. John’s, Newfoundland.  Drop in for a cup of tea and a good ‘ol fashioned East coast kitchen party!


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