10.07.2015 - 11.07.2015 12 °C
If I started lazily yesterday, today set a new record. After ending yesterday with maybe one of the best tasting menus I have ever experienced (and tasting every critter possible including lobster, rabbit and duck) we fell into a food & wine coma only to emerge way later this am.
Photo Credit: The Rooms
Today's activities started first by sourcing breakfast (shout out to Rockets Bakery for an amazing cup of coffee) followed by a few hours spent discovering Newfoundland & Canada's history at The Rooms. We walked up the hill (St. John's is like San Fran, it is either up or down and really steep). The Rooms is a cultural facility (museum, archives and a couple of galleries are within its "rooms"). The colourful building was constructed on a hill overlooking the city at a historic location once occupied by Fort Townshend. The building can be seen from almost any point in St. John's and is an odd contrast to its neighbour, Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Both Ger and I have visited numerous museums in our travels and even a couple in Canada, this is by far one of the best I have ever been in. The building itself is spectacular, the content was well laid out and very educational (maybe even more so because I am Canadian) and the view of the city and harbour from the museum were breathtaking. A super interesting day, felt like a sitting in a social studies class as a child again. From the Norseman, to Cabot, to Confederation, whaling, the rise and fall of the fishing industry, to the first oil from Hibernia (kudos to Husky who clearly provide substantial funding to the construction of The Rooms) = time well spent. Useless info interjection, Newfoundland has the largest population of Irish outside Ireland (50% of those who settled here were Irish).
The Rooms as has a substantial exhibit of a local artist, Christopher Pratt (he is no schmuck artist, he has received the Order of Canada). The collection is of his art all painted from scenes in Newfoundland and has an impressionist feel. To say we both loved his style and paintings is an understatement.
All the educational activities created an appetite (and a craving for a glass of wine) so we sauntered into a lovely local establishment for my first bowl of cod chowder and fish cakes. Devine. We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering through downtown and browsing in local galleries and oddly supplied tourist stores. We capped our day off with a visit to Quidi Vidi (pronounced Kiddy Viddy) a small fishing village within St. John's which is home to the Quidi Vidi Plantation, "a craft enterprise incubator for emerging artists wishing to pursue careers as professional craftspeople". An awesome stop to see some original art and other assorted crafts.
So two days in and I would safely wager we are in love with this province. The people are so friendly and polite. I have never been anywhere that people always (and I mean always) hold or even move quickly to open the door for you. Yesterday we were waiting to turn left on a busy highway and beginning to think it might never happen, when a gentleman turning right off the highway (and clearly had the right of way) waved us out. If you attempt to jaywalk here, the traffic stops (not that we would jaywalk ever)! Small gestures but it makes a difference.
Tonight we are headed back to Quidi Vidi (what a great name) for dinner at another top ten Canadian restaurant, Mallard Cottage. I foresee another food coma in my future.
Tomorrow we leave St. John's and head out deeper into Newfoundland (including the place where they believe Cabot may have landed in June 1497 (it appears there is some dispute)).
Until next time,
P.S. The title "Me Old Cock" is part of the screech ceremony or the "screech-in" (which we have not had to complete yet involves drinking screech (rum), reciting the Screecher's Creed and kissing a cod) and is an old English Cockney term meaning buddy or friend. It is Newfoundland's way of making one a token Newfie.