Diane's Travels

Joined April 2018Living in: Canada
  • Sep19

    Journey Home

    September 19, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    We were very efficient packing up and checking that we left nothing behind. Heather showed us a news story about Jimmy Buffett’s show last night in St. John’s. Yes, Lynn, he was really here (private joke ). The news story showed Jimmy Buffet with a musician we had seen in Trinity. Even after just two weeks, Newfoundland is feeling familiar.

    Heather and Leah drove us to the airport which was very calm and peaceful at 8:00 in the morning.

    I was thrilled that Newfoundland Chocolate company had a shop after security clearance. We had a delicious latte and cappuccino. The shop had a poster that translated the Newfoundland sayings they put on their chocolate wrappers.

    I bought a signed copy of Alan Doyle’s book, A Newfoundlander in Canada - perfect reading for the journey home.

    We had a half hour delay departing St. John's but then a smooth flight to Halifax. We enjoyed lunch at Vino Volo, a chain appearing in many Canadian and US airports that features wine by the glass. Our flight to Calgary was uneventful and we were very happy to be picked up by Alex.

    Our grandchildren came to visit and we had great fun watching them eat the chocolate "moose" pops and trying on their Newfoundland sweaters.

    Our first impression of Newfoundland was that it was a very family friendly and family focused province. However, we came to realize that the bonds were deeper and that the connections among Newfoundlanders are more like a clan - intense loyalty and support.

    We are looking forward to seeing "No Change in the Weather", a Newfoundland musical in Calgary on Sat. Sept. 21. Seeing this show will help prolong the good feelings from our holiday.

    Until next time, thanks for reading along.
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  • Sep18

    Our Last Day

    September 18, 2019 in Canada ⋅ 🌧 9 °C

    Alan made a big pot of oatmeal which was a perfect match for the wet and grey morning. Alan proposed that we take a drive along Marine Drive. We saw million dollar homes and views.

    We made a stop to walk a part of the East Coast Trail but the wind was wicked and the trail too precarious so everyone quickly returned to the warm van.

    The first lookout at Outer Cove was where Terry Fox started his run across Canada In 1980. The second lookout at Middle Cove is one of Heather’s favorite viewpoints. We stopped at Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto. Alan, Gary, Leah and Kern braved the weather to see the Waterwitch.

    Heather’s brother, Ian, invited us to his house in Pouch (pronounced "pooch") Cove for a cup of tea. We met his new German shepherd and heard stories about his house and the area.

    In Newfoundland, you will hear people talking about a mug up (cup of tea), fry up (bacon, ham), boil up (usually what you boil in the bush) and a shag up (a mistake).

    We had lunch at The Traditional Coffee House which made everything from scratch, even the bread for sandwiches. They cook 2 or 3 turkeys every day just to keep up to the demand for their sandwiches and soup.

    Saving the best for last, we went to the Newfoundland Chocolate Factory and acted like children in a candy shop. There was a flowing wall of chocolate, an amazing selection of chocolates, a glimpse into the production area, a tasting, gelato, and a coffee and hot chocolate bar.

    We came home for a rest and could smell the Italian roast Heather had simmering in the crockpot. We will be having our last dinner in.

    It has been an amazing holiday and two weeks have gone by so quickly.
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  • Sep17

    Screech In Tuesday

    September 17, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ☁️ 8 °C

    It was drizzly and foggy but we appreciated it as unusual weather that we don’t get in Calgary.

    Because Heather’s cleaning lady was coming, we headed to Rockets Bakery for breakfast downtown. I enjoyed two lattes. I fuel up when I can. Then we wandered to several shops selling Newfoundland gifts and crafts.

    The crosswalk lights are interesting, sometimes giving you 15 seconds to cross and other times, 65 seconds. Leah’s theory is that they use age sensors to determine how many seconds to give you to cross. Belinda, do you remember how we had to run for our lives at the crosswalks in Prague?

    Alan then led us on a tour of his favorite art galleries: Christina Parker Gallery, Red Ochre and Emma Butler. Emma Butler was my favorite because of its selection of top artists like Christopher Pratt, Jean Claude Roy and David Blackwood. My jaw dropped when I saw a door painted by David Blackwood for $250,000. One lucky reader of this blog might be in for a surprise this Christmas.

    We then went to The Rooms, a spectacular museum and art gallery. We saw a painting by Kym Greeley, a very successful artist who is Heather's cousin. A highlight was talking with Barbara Pratt as she was painting. The Rooms also had paintings by her father Christopher, mother Mary and brother Ned. What an ultra gifted family.

    The Ottawa Senators are in town. Gary honestly asked whether the Senators knew that the Maple Leafs were in town. We had to explain they were playing together.

    Then off to Christian’s Bar on George Street for Leah and Kern’s screech in. We heard there are 130 pubs in and around George Street. It’s a lively area. The person who did the ceremony was fabulous, remembering everyone’s name and sharing lots of fun info about Newfoundland. He had screeched in Anthony Bourdain in 2017, and some Toronto Maple Leafs this week. There was another Diane MacDonald being screeched in. So fun.

    We walked to Yellow Belly for dinner and then to Shamrock City for some live music.
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  • Sep16

    Quidi Vidi and Cape Spear

    September 16, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

    After a leisurely breakfast, we walked around Quidi Vidi, the site of St. John's Regatta, the longest running organized outdoor sports event in North America. We saw a team of rowers being coached by a person in a motorboat.

    Halfway around the lake, we detoured into Quidi Vidi, one of Canada’s oldest fishing villages. It is so picturesque. We stopped at Quidi Vidi Brewery for some beers and cheesies! I had a personal first using a gender neutral washroom. But the joke was on me as it was a homemade sign (maybe a joke) that was later taken down to reveal it was the female washroom.

    We had lunch at Mallard Cottage, one of Canada’s top 100 restaurants. The food and atmosphere were excellent.

    We then drove to Cape Spear, the furthest eastern spot of land in North America. I had a wonderful conversation with another tourist, Chris from Montreal, while the others climbed stairs to the lighthouse.

    The last stop was Petty Harbour, birthplace of Alan Doyle.

    We are having dinner at home.
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  • Sep15

    A Leisurely Sunday

    September 15, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    We had a fabulous sleep after going to bed at midnight, which everyone knows is very late for us. We had a huge breakfast with bacon, eggs, back bacon and croissants with great conversation.

    Alan led a walking tour of St. John’s for Leah, Kern and Gary. The weather was warm and sunny. Heather and I headed for a latte and some grocery shopping. We enjoyed lattes by the window at Coffee Matters and had a wonderful catch up. Then off to Sobey’s which has an escalator for your grocery cart.

    Mid afternoon we got a call from Alan inviting us to join the group at The Ship. We learned there was a Caesar-making competition that night and that the bartender was last year’s Canadian champion. So of course I ordered a Caesar, and told her I was from Calgary where Caesars were invented.

    Then off to the car wash to try to restore Kirby’s van to the condition in which we received it. Anyone watching would see teamwork in action as we cleaned and vacuumed the car.

    The Toronto Maple Leafs are in town and people were lined up at 2:00 am for tickets. We saw a few people wearing Leafs shirts downtown.

    Last stop of the day was the wine shop as supplies were running low.

    We had dinner at home and enjoyed an earlier night. We watched Instant Hotel which is a hilarious reality show from Australia.
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  • Sep14

    St. John's and Alan Doyle

    September 14, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    We left beautiful Trinity this morning and headed to Heather and Alan’s home in St. John’s. We are getting pretty good at packing the van. Then the shouts of “Spread your legs” warning people in the back row that the captain’s chairs in the second row are about to be swung back and locked in.

    We drove to the TransCanada Highway. Construction caused us to take a 45 minute detour through Avondale. The drive took about four hours. There was one interesting and tempting sign for the turnoff to Saint Pierre and Miquelon. Yes, it would take just a short drive and ferry to get to a beautiful island in the St. Lawrence that is part of France. Someday I would love to go.

    We had lunch at Moxie’s shortly after we arrived in St. John’s, and then unloaded at Heather and Alan’s. Home sweet home.

    Their home is beautifully decorated with art and pieces from their many trips. They live across the street from The Rooms, a wonderful museum and art gallery.

    Kirby, Heather’s daughter, cooked and delivered a wonderful lasagna dinner as she knew we would be rushed to get to the Alan Doyle concert in the Iceberg Alley Tent. She also kindly drove us to the concert, with the men wedged into the back seat like peas in a pod.

    The concert was amazing with two bands featured before Alan Doyle. You may know Alan from The Great Big Sea. I also enjoyed his book, Where I Belong, about growing up in Petty Harbour. There were thousands of happy people, many standing and dancing before the stage and others like us happily seated. There was so much love for all the performers and so much pride evident. We left just before the last song and began the race to find taxis to take us home. We were successful. Such a great night.
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  • Sep13

    Skidaramink

    September 13, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Today is Friday 13th but thankfully no one is superstitious. Leah saw a beautiful sunrise while the rest of us were still in bed. The weather has improved dramatically from yesterday.

    Our plan for the morning was to hike the Skerwink Trail (or Skidaramink as we called it in our silly moments). It is one of Canada’s 10 most beautiful hikes. 5 km long, it follows a very rugged and rocky coastline with great views of sea stacks, cliffs, grey beaches and Trinity Bay. I struggled with the many steps but was proud to have completed the hike in 2.5 hours which is within the timeframes in guide books. Gary stayed with me and I was glad to stop whenever he took pictures.

    Heather’s Fitbit said we walked 11,379 steps and Leah’s app said the hike was equivalent of 34 flights of stairs.

    We went to the Two Whales coffee shop for lunch. It is a charming and bustling cafe on the highway that serves lattes! Yeah! It has been days since my last latte and this one was so good. We had soup and paninis. We will be back tonight to hear the Crooked Stovepipe, Canada’s longest performing bluegrass band.

    On the drive back to the cottage, we stopped to take pictures of the mussel farms in the bay.

    The men went for a second hike in the afternoon while the women rested in the cottage, reading, blogging and doing laundry. Then the women took the car for an essential shopping trip. First stop was Mirabella’s jewelry and gift shop. The sales lady told me she jogs the Skerwink Trail in 38 minutes. Then a quick walk through the arts and crafts above the Dock Marina.

    Grand finale was tasting and shopping at Aunt Sarah’s Chocolates. The sales lady told us a heart warming story about two New York State customers who were so moved by the musical Come From Away that they came to visit Newfoundland. Best of all they wanted to thank every Newfoundlander they met so they brought tons of Hershey chocolate bars in custom wrappers with messages of thanks for the compassion shown during 9/11.

    Off to dinner soon and then a night of bluegrass music. Another full and wonderful day.

    Dinner is booked at the Twine Loft. Even the diehard cod lovers opted for maple blueberry chicken tonight except for Gary who is continuing his unbroken fish eating record.
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  • Sep12

    Touring the Bonavista Peninsula

    September 12, 2019 in Canada ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    We woke to pouring rain. Heather said she heard a fog horn in the night. I hope it wasn’t me!

    Blueberry Cottage is wonderful. Newly built, it has 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, lots of cosy nooks, fire pit and a huge boat (not included).

    We visited lots of points of interest in the Bonavista Peninsula. First up was Port Union, a town famous for the first Fishermen Protection Union and the start of the labour movement in Canada.

    A bit further we visited Elliston starting with the Puffin site and root cellars, and ending with a stop at the Sealers Interpretive Centre. A very moving exhibit on the risks of sealing and specifically the sealing disaster of 1914 when 79 Newfoundland sealers died.

    We drove to Bonavista a few miles away for a delicious lunch at Mifflin’s. We all warmed up and I left a very happy lady thanks to an amazing chocolate pecan cheesecake.

    After lunch, we saw the John Cabot statue, the lighthouse and the “dungeon”, a unique rock formation. Then there was consensus to head home. The wind, rain and cold were quite tiring.

    We are headed to the Fisher’s Loft for a four course dinner. Gary has chosen cod for his main course as he has done at every meal he can. Lamb shank for me.
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  • Sep11

    En route to Trinity

    September 11, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Today is 9/11 and it is especially poignant to be travelling through Gander, the community that provided refuge for so many international air travellers.

    We had a luxuriously long sleep and then great breakfast with egg and ham cups, homemade bread and homemade jams including beet jelly made from the water of cooked beets and strawberry jello.

    We packed the car more easily thanks to the wine and snacks that have been consumed. Within a half hour we reached the Beothuk Interpretive Centre. The Beothuk were First Nations people. The community died of starvation, conflict with settlers and European diseases. The last Beothuk was a woman who died in St. John’s in the 1820s. Outside the Centre was a Spirit Garden which I loved. It was a magical, sunlit space full of tokens made from shells, feathers, ribbons and other colorful materials. A beautiful and sacred space.

    We stopped in Gander for groceries at Dominion and wine shopping next door. The lady at the checkout asked if I was from Quebec, given my accent.

    We found precarious places to store our new purchases and headed out for a 2.25 hr drive to Trinity on the Bonavista Peninsula. We passed through towns named Lethbridge and Charlottetown on the way. Quite confusing, don’t you think?

    We stopped for a snack at Port Rexton Brewery and Oh My Cheeses food truck next door. Beer and grilled cheese sandwiches go well together, according to my friends.

    We have rented a 3 bedroom house called Blueberry Cottage in Trinity. House rules include no pets, no parking and no cooking shellfish. Heather says the shellfish rule is a common restriction due to smell and allergies.

    We had a pub dinner at the Dock Marina and then went to a Rising Tide live theatre production. Rain is forecast for tomorrow so will be touring the Bonavista Peninsula.
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  • Sep10

    Fogo Island

    September 10, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Today was glorious - 15 degrees and sunny. We were up at 5:30 am to have a quick breakfast before dashing for the ferry to Fogo Island. You have probably heard of the architecturally stunning Fogo Island Inn frequented by the rich and famous. Rooms start at $2000 per night and there is a minimum three night stay. The Inn is part of the Shorefast Foundation led by the visionary leader, Zita Cobb. The Inn and the Foundation have definitely contributed to economic development and social good on the Island.

    The ferry cost only $6 return for a 45 min ride on an ultra modern boat. And, should the ferry not be able to operate for a few days, residents can fly from Fogo Island to Gander for the same price - $6 return!

    We decided to walk on the ferry and hire Fogo Island Bus Tours to take us on a personal tour. This was definitely the right decision.

    First stop was Seldom where we visited the F.U. (For Fisherman’s Union😁) Trading Company Museum. We learned how critical the union/coop was for Fogo Island’s survival in the late 50s and early 60’s and still is today.

    I read that the Flat Earth Society had an office and museum on the island. Our guide, Lettie, did not say a word as she drove us to a small plain white building. No sign and no signs of life so we drove on.

    Next stop was a charming Craft and Quilt shop. Third stop was a furniture workshop which was created to build beautiful furniture for the Inn but now ships to customers around the world. Would you pay $5000 for two custom chairs for your dogs? Someone did.

    Then we had the good fortune to get onto the property of the Fogo Island Inn which we could only do because we were escorted by Lettie. We walked up a long hill and toured the art gallery inside the Inn.

    Afterwards we toured a “shake” which is an out building on stilts in the water where fisherman clean and prepare fish.

    We were ravenous and headed to Beaches which serves authentic Newfoundland food - all things cod, scrunchins (pork rinds), etc. After lunch we climbed Brimstone Head, a short but steep hike offering great views. I did not go to the top.

    Last stop was the Marconi Museum which offered the most spectacular views of all. I could have sat all day on the balcony staring at the water and houses below.

    We caught the return ferry with minutes to spare. It was another smooth ride. When we arrived we drove towards Twillingate and had dinner at Sansome. Another seafood feast. Can you imagine crab spring rolls?

    There was a very nice sunset that we could not capture in time. Good night everyone.
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