Our Fabulous Trip to Newfoundland

Old Jul 15th, 2004, 09:47 AM
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Our Fabulous Trip to Newfoundland

Just returned from an absolutely wonderful two weeks in Newfoundland (June 25-July 11). I had high expectations for this trip and reality exceeded them. We were blown away by the scenery and culture and have never been anywhere where the people were so genuinely friendly, thoughtful and helpful. I encourage anyone looking for a special experience to put Newfoundland on your "must do" list.

We flew into St. John's, drove west to Trinity, through Terra Nova, then Gros Morne, up the Northern Peninsula, then down and back east to Twillingate and St. Bride's before returning to St. John's. With thanks to those whose postings here were instrumental in my planning, here is a long report of our 4,060 km trip:

We spent one full day on the beautiful IRISH LOOP, beginning with a boat trip to Witless Bay Ecological Reserve in a cold, hard rainstorm on choppy seas. We could see the birds but no whales due to visibility. Fortunately the weather cleared up for the most part. Continuing south, we had an great lunch at the Captain's Table. There's an interesting cemetery overlooking Tor's Cove and another great photo op soon after that, at Bear's Cove.

After visiting the Colony of Avalon in Ferryland (recommended), we continued along the loop. We did not see caribou on the barrens nor did we take the Cape St Mary's road due to fog. In St. Vincent's Beach we stopped to watch whales feeding on capelin. (The beach is full of terrific, ocean-smooth rocks.) It was here that we experienced legendary Newfoundland hospitality. As I turned the car around in a gravel lot, its front wheels sunk deep into sand. We were stuck, but were almost immediately surrounded by three local people (arriving separately) who dug us out in just minutes. Our heroes! We had a very good light supper at The Wild's golf resort.

Comerford's in Holyrood has convenient, comfortable lodging for visting the loop. We really enjoyed the pan-fried catfish at Beach Cottage down the street.

The highlight of our visit to BONAVISTA PENINSULA was sailing next to a sperm whale with Dr. Peter Beamish of Ocean Contact, which operates out of the Village Inn in Trinity. We also saw a few minkes and many bald eagles. He offers a unique experience.

Trinity is a very attractive town with street signs written in an Old English font. The Bonavista Lighthouse is worth seeing, as is the nearby Dungeon Provincial Park (free), with an interesting rock formation and community pastures with sheep, goats and horses. We also enjoyed visiting the Random Passage set, although we were not familiar with the book or mini-series. We were the last visitors of the day so we got a private tour.

We stayed at Fisher's Loft Inn, a lovely B&B in Port Rexton with excellent food. We enjoyed two dinners and a terrific view at Dockside Marina in Trinity. (Continued)
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Old Jul 15th, 2004, 09:48 AM
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Heading west, we passed through TERRA NOVA National Park, stopping at the Marine Interpretation Center and an overlook. In GOOBIES, the birthplace of Joey Smallwood, long-time premier and leader of the movement to join Canada, we stopped by the interpretive center in his name. We also visited the Salmonid Center in Grand Falls-Windsor to learn about salmon.

After spending the night in Badger, it was on to GROS MORNE National Park. It was Canada Day with free admission for all. The Discovery Center is worth a stop. We enjoyed some short walks in the park but the highlight was the Western Brook Pond trip.

From a waitress at the Gros Morne Resort, we heard the Lobster Festival was on in Cow Head, so we headed there to catch a fiddle concert at the community center. We found the young man sitting on a kitchen chair in the yard, playing traditional Newfoundland tunes while 20 or so people listened. It was charming.

The Ocean View Motel in Rocky Harbour was comfortable, has a great view of the harbor, a very good restaurant and is convenient to pick up Western Brook Pond trip tickets. Area restaurant recommendations: Seaside Restaurant in Trout River. We heard raves about Java Jack's in Rocky Harbour.

Heading up the GREAT NORTHERN PENINSULA, we stopped as most do, as Arches Provincial Park (free). On the advice from the waitress at the Gros Morne Resort, we also stopped in Daniel's Harbour to visit the Nurse Myra Bennett house, which I highly recommend. (She served the medical needs of the peninsula by herself for many years while raising a family, foster children, quilting, organizing a church choir, etc.) We had a good lunch at the Anchor Cafe in Port aux Choix, but only visited the visitors center there, not having time to walk out to the actual dig.

I highly recommend spending time at L'Anse Aux Meadows historic park, where Vikings lived 1,000 years ago.

I also highly recommend the Grenfell Foundation center (he brought medicine and more to the area) and, especially, the Northern Discovery whale and iceberg trip out of ST. ANTHONY. The huge 1,000-2,000 year old icebergs were stunning, and as we slowly circled one, they played the theme from "Titanic!" I cried! We saw a pair of humpbacks, too.

Our two nights in the area were spent at the Tickle Inn, which has become "the" place to stay. The food was the best we had on the trip, the setting is gorgeous and the hosts, David and Barbara Adams, are marvelous and genuine. We were their lone American guests on the morning of July 4 (four were Canadian and two British), but they took down their privincial flag and raised Old Glory while the guests (except the Brits!) sang our national anthem and "America the Beautiful." If you're going to the area, it's worth planning ahead to be sure you can stay there. Six months is not too early.

If you go to the Northern Peninsula, be aware that gas and food services are in short supply.

(Continued)
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Old Jul 15th, 2004, 09:49 AM
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Crossing the island again, we stopped in lovely little TWILLINGATE, for one night. Someone recommended a visit to Prime Berth on the way into town, which we would not have done as it looked like a tacky tourist trap. We're glad we did and took a guided tour, as we learned a lot about cod fishing. The Gennell Museum in town has a stuffed polar bear that accidentally wandered into town on March 6, 2000. (It was too dark to tranquilize him and send him home.)

R&J Restaurant is popular with locals. Harborview Restaurant is good too.

Heading towards the Avalon again, we stayed one night at Bird Island Resort in ST BRIDE'S, to be close to St Marys Ecological Reserve. We enjoyed seeing the birds despite the fog. The walk out to the cliffs is rocky. Our only disappointment was that fog obscured what is said to be a lovely drive from Placentia south.

After spending so much time in rural areas, ST. JOHN'S was a shock. I mean, traffic, signs, yields, steep hills, missing street signs, streets that are suddenly "right turn only" and so forth. It was a bit easier the second day. We liked Signal Hill (saw a military tattoo), Cape Spears, the GEO Centre, the railway museum and walking around.

We were thrilled with our lodging, At the Beach House, in Portugal Cove/St. Phillips, just 10 mins from the airport. We had a huge room (queen bed, comfortable sitting area, dining table, kitchen, computer with high-speed Internet access) with a drop-dead view of the harbor. One morning we saw whales, plus lobstermen checking their traps.

If you are hungry, we highly recommend Oliver's on Water St. in the city. Great prices and food.

Late June-early July is a great time to visit the province, early enough to see icebergs in the north but late enough that the capelin would be spawning to maximimize whale watching. Moving across the island as we were, we managed to have nine straight sunny days. Temperatures ranged from an estimated 45-85F. We had one morning of cold, hard rain, and some days with intermittent sprinkles and overcast skies. Fog would come and go most of the time and was fun to watch. Sometimes it was a thin layer over water, and at others it moved in like a smoky wall.

If you are flying out of the province, call the airline the morning of your flight to confirm its departure. We called at dinner time the night before and did not learn until we were at the St. John's airport early the next morning that our flight was cancelled due to fog and we were rescheduled for the following morning. Tired of sightseeing, we used our extra day to watch movies at the Avalon Mall!

THE END
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Old Jul 15th, 2004, 10:33 AM
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You have certainly whetted my appetite for Newfoundland! Our family's Canadian trips thus far have taken us to British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and PEI. In 2 weeks we leave for Alberta. Looks like Newfoundland will be our next fun trip to plan. Thanks for all the details!
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Old Jul 15th, 2004, 11:22 AM
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Great report Sluggo. We've been 7 or times and never tire of the place.

Jerry
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Old Jul 15th, 2004, 03:27 PM
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Sluggo, thanks for the wonderful trip report. It brought back so many great memories for me. I did so many of the same things that you mentioned and loved every minute of my time there. WE, too, drove all over.
When we went back on our second trip, we rented a cottage on the Irish Loop and concentrated on that area, and did some hiking. There is no doubt, we'll return to Newfoundland again.
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Old Jul 16th, 2004, 10:02 AM
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laurafromtexas, Canada is full of special spots, and Newfoundland is at the top. If my report encourages someone to visit, I'll be very happy. Have fun in beautiful Alberta.

Thank you, jerry. Your tips on other posts helped a great deal with my planning.

kodi, I hope we return, too. I'm afraid every other place we go now will disappoint!
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Old Jul 16th, 2004, 12:10 PM
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Great report sluggo. I'm glad you spent some time with the Adams at the Tickle Inn. They really have a very special place. I'm also happy to hear of your expedition with Peter Beamish at Trinity--he is so enthusiastic about his research that it is infectious.
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Old Jul 17th, 2004, 02:57 PM
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Sluggo!
Thanks for a great report! I'm taking notes for January!
Jan
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