Newfoundland trip report
Basics: 2-10 June, 2009, traveling solo. 5 nights in St. John’s, with several day trips; 2 nights near Trinity; 1 night back in St. John’s to catch early-morning flight the next day. Weather was nice (windy), scenery was stunning, and I’d love to see more: it’s a wonderful place. If you have any questions, please reply to this post and I’ll do my best to monitor it and respond via the forum.
Prices are Canadian $ (not including fees, charges, surcharges, taxes, GST, HST, etc.) unless stated otherwise.
Lodging: The only lodging I arranged in advance (a few weeks) was nights 1-4 at “At Wit’s Inn” in St. John’s, $99/night, full breakfast included, free parking (on-street). Wonderful hosts, clean and nicely-kept, outstanding breakfasts, en suite facilities. Location is excellent, reasonable walks to Signal Hill one way and George St. the other. After a few days, I decided I’d need another night in St. John’s, but they were booked. They did, though, find a spot for me just down the road at “Chef’s Inn” ($109/night), which was also a very nice place, and the room had a nice view of the harbor, which I didn’t have at the previous place. Also was en-suite, full breakfast, and free on-street parking. A note about parking: many B&Bs that don’t have their own parking lot (i.e., most of them downtown) will give you a parking permit for your car allowing you to park on the street within a few blocks of your B&B. I never had trouble finding a spot within a block, but that might be more difficult in July/August with more crowds. On the other hand, it might not – there were a lot of conferences in St. John’s during this time, and many of the hotels were completely booked.
Nights 6-7 at Fisher’s Loft Inn, Port Rexton (near Trinity), $112/night, en suite, breakfast not included (breakfast was $15 for a full breakfast, less for a “continental” breakfast). I had the full breakfast both days, and it was outstanding. Room was spacious and elegant, with a view of the bay. This is definitely an upscale establishment, comprising at least 4 separate buildings, one of which has the dining room. It’s located an easy 10-minute walk from the start of one of the most scenic hiking trails I’ve ever seen, the Skerwink Trail. Binoculars come with the room, and bicycles are also available.
Night 8 back in St. John’s, at Captain’s Quarters, $104/night, continental breakfast (but I left too early for it). Location is great, and free off-street parking lot is helpful, but it’s definitely not as comfortable or well-appointed as any of the other places I stayed.
Car rental: Enterprise, smallest available car, $230 (US dollars) for 1 week, including all charges. I reserved the car a few months before the trip, having heard they can be scarce in the summer. Mileage allowance was 1400km, of which I used 1100, so I think this was reasonable if you stay around Avalon/Bonavista area, but if you’re going farther you might incur some charges …
General travel tips: it seems like a lot of flights arrive in St. John’s late at night, so the car rental and lodging operators are well-equipped to handle this. I arrived after midnight and had no problem getting a cab; I’d also warned my hosts in advance of my arrival time so they’d be ready. I picked up the rental car the next day, though that was mainly to avoid an extra day of rental – the counter was still open when I got off the plane. Coming from abroad, as I was, I went through Canadian customs in Toronto, and then had to go through a security check again before going to my connecting gate. I hadn’t seen this coming, so I hadn’t emptied my water bottle anywhere, and therefore it was emptied for me after some stern questioning. They also confiscated my 4-oz. toothpaste tube, which made it through security in the US. Finally, they were rather confused by my folding book light, which apparently when X-rayed resembles a scale used for weighing drugs. So all in all, I got plenty of attention. I used an ATM in the Toronto airport to get enough cash to last me the whole trip. Cab from St. John’s airport to downtown was $25 (incl. tip). In early June there are going to be things that simply aren’t open for the season yet (some museums, tours, B&Bs, etc.) – this wasn’t a problem for me as I expected it, and the lack of crowds (often the lack of anyone else at all) was part of the appeal. Other seasonal issues: I saw almost no black flies, and only used my bug spray once, despite the fact that I was outside most of the time. Finally, I was a bit too early to see whales (that wasn’t one of my goals for the trip, so it wasn’t a big deal). Some people told me the whales were just starting to arrive in the area, so perhaps if I’d gone on a boat trip with the purpose of seeing some, I’d have done so. Saw plenty of icebergs, though.
Weather: I was lucky, with sunny weather and highs around 20 (C) all but the last two days of my trip. Even so, I wore layers most of the time – this is the windiest place I’ve ever been in my life, especially anywhere high up along the coast (and that’s mostly where I went). The last 2 days were 12-15 C with off-and-on rain showers, but it really didn’t slow me down. I highly recommend that if you bring a hat to Newfoundland, have some way of securely attaching it to your head, or it will end up in the Atlantic rather quickly.
What I did: will be in next post (as a "reply" to this one).
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