St John’s (Newfoundland), Canada.

  • Visited September 2018

Visiting St John’s in Newfoundland is akin to rubbing balm on your soul. Everything you have heard about the warmth and hospitality of Newfoundlanders is true.  Everyone I encountered was lovely – genuine, polite, chatty (but not obtrusively so). I was greeted with hellos by strangers as I walked around the city, doors were held open for me and I could enjoy an iceberg beer in a bar watching local musicians play without being hassled. It was a refreshing change and explains why increasing numbers of travellers are being drawn to visit this part of the world; for the people as much as for the stunning landscape.

Appearing on maps as early as 1519, St John’s is said to be the oldest city in North America and it is known for its colourful ‘Jellybean’ rows of houses. Newfoundlanders are very proud of their heritage and culture, and I would recommend a visit to The Rooms, a cultural centre with excellent exhibits, if you are interested in learning more. If you have an interest in history, you will find walking trails all over the city with informative signposts detailing the significance of various sites, and I throughly enjoyed my walk up to Signal Hill, the spot where Marconi received the first wireless transmission signal in 1901. Signal Hill provides magnificent views of the city, the harbour, and Cape Spear Lighthouse so this should not be missed. The Basilica of St John the Baptist is also worth a visit.

Downtown St John’s is where you will find most of the action. Water Street has some excellent restaurants, shops, and the obligatory Starbucks. George Street is full of bars and clubs, including Trapper John’s which is a popular place to get ‘screeched in’. A Newfoundland tradition, getting ‘screeched in’ involves non-Newfoundlanders doing a shot of screech and kissing a cod! I spent a great Sunday at Green Sleeves Pub knocking back beers, enjoying tasty food, and watching a very entertaining singing duo who sang a range of crowd pleasers and traditional folk songs. You will find live music daily at various venues on George Street.

Another favourite venue of mine was Mussels On The Corner, on Water Street, which offers mussels served different ways and has 18 beers on tap, including Quidi Vidi Iceberg Beer, a light and refreshing lager. This place had a cool vibe and the service was very good. Recommended.

I would definitely visit St John’s again and hope to explore more of Newfoundland in the future.

Tip: bring a warm coat, hat, scarf and gloves with you. When visiting in late September I was grateful for them. Found myself wearing sunglasses, jumper and scarf during the day when the sun was out but it does get very cold in the evenings so you will want to layer up…

Selection of pictures from my stay: