Blue Rodeo, Cabot Tower, Cape Spear, Jelly Bean Rowhouses, Newfoundland, Pippy Park, Quidi Vidi Brewery, Royal St. John's Regatta, Signal Hill, St. John's, The Rooms
Waking to a sunny day, we continued north on 10 except for side trip one, to Bauline East. A small, pretty harbour in a tiny town we got our first look at what happens to cod after folks cut out the fillets and tongue.
Side trip two was to Bay Bulls where Pennecon Limited clearly must be the biggest employer in town.
We wanted to go to the easternmost point in North America so we took Petty Harbour Road off 10 to wander the long way around to Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site. The second lighthouse built in Newfoundland, it began operation in 1836. Similar to the Cape Bonavista lighthouse, the light tower centered in the surrounding square wooden keepers house was built first with the house constructed around it. The light apparatus was seven oil burners (Cape Bonavista light had six) set in silvered reflectors with the whole apparatus being turned by weights that needed frequent rewinding. Fun fact: the copper-domed lantern room and the lighting apparatus, which had already been used for twenty-eight years in the Inchkeith Lighthouse on the Firth of Forth in Scotland, was designed and provided by Stevenson and Sons, Stevenson being the grandfather of author Robert Louis Stevenson!
After enjoying the views at Cape Spear we headed the last 18 miles up to St. John’s and the Pippy Park Campground & Trailer Park. With no reservations, there were no hook-up sites available but there was a small, mostly empty overflow spot where we could boondock. St. John’s is the provincial capital city and Newfoundland’s largest city so we knew this was going to be a switch from the quiet we’d been enjoying for so long.
Opened in 2005, The Rooms houses the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador.
We figured it was a good place to start our exploration of St. John’s, so we rang for a taxi, driving and parking an RV in the city not being high on our list. 🙂 Jumping into the cab, the driver who is just as friendly as everyone in the province, says, “So ya here for the regatta tomorrow?” “Ahhhh, what regatta?” say we. “Ya donna know ‘bout the regatta? The Royal St. John’s Regatta? It’s huge, the whole island comes, 40,000 maybe 50,000 people!” WELL…..surprise!!! No wonder the RV park was full! BUT….we went on to The Rooms.
Having done pretty much all of The Rooms and had a lovely light lunch in the museum, we headed down towards the harbor in a zig-zag fashion looking for the famous Jelly Bean Row houses. Pretty quickly it becomes apparent that these wonderful colorful houses (which by the by we have noted in previous blog posts are all over The Rock) are not just one row, but street after street of multi-hued homes, many accented with potted bouquets of magnificent flowers.
The next morning, Wednesday, August 2nd dawns a bit raw and grey, but we’ve decided that after we run a couple of errands we’re going to join with all of (or at least a whole lot of) Newfoundlanders and go to the 199th Royal St. John’s Regatta, It’s the oldest annual sporting event in North America. Guess what….it’s a local holiday and pretty much nothing is open not even the grocery stores because, well, everyone is down by Quidi Vidi (kiddy viddy) Lake! So we call for a taxi and he takes us as close as he can. WHAT FUN!!
Having enjoyed ourselves with “all the rowing” and the famous French fries at Ziggy Peelgoods (four lines and nearly half hour wait) we hiked via Kings Bridge Road into downtown. Down at the harbour, we had an “okay” steak dinner at The Keg Steakhouse & Bar overlooking the ships tied up just outside across the way. Afterwards, we wandered around a bit, heading back up the hill. Note: St. John’s was built on a steep hillside so from the harbour most everything else is up, so good exercise! 🙂 As we got up to just below George Street all access was blocked, there were “event people” and “event security” everywhere and music could be heard. As we walked up around the perimeter I asked what was going on and they said “Blue Rodeo is playing tonight” “OK, who are they?” “One of the top bands in Canada for the last 20 years!” When we got to where they were taking/selling tickets I reminded Ed Life’s an Adventure and we handed over our cash, went in and had a BLAST! Blue Rodeo is GOOD!
Next day was an oil change and check up at the St John’s Mercedes dealer and errands. In the late afternoon our friend, Suzanne Anthony a fellow full-timing, blogging RV’er also living in a View similar to our rig, joined us in camp. We had been sharing notes and suggestions all around Canada so it was great fun to finally meet.
The following morning the three of us drove over to Quidi Vidi Village in our RV. A neighborhood of St. John’s once known as a fishing village, Quidi Vidi Village is now a major tourist attraction because of the Quidi Vidi Brewery. They are famous for their Iceberg beer which I have mentioned before as well as seven other beers. Unfortunately, there are no tastings without a tour, and all the tours were booked. Oh well, Ed had tried a number of them already 🙂
Next on the list of St. John’s attractions was Signal Hill, the site of Marconi’s first transatlantic wireless communication and Cabot Tower. Overlooking the harbour and the Atlantic Ocean this high hill has been an important defensive position since 1640 and even held anti-aircraft and anti U-Boat defense guns of the United States during World War II.
We dropped Suzanne at The Rooms where she would spend the afternoon and with plans to meet later in town for drinks and dinner, we went back to camp to do laundry. With another taxi ride into town, we walked around a bit and then had a good meal at Oliver’s, which we recommend.
We had actually been a little uncertain about going to THE BIG CITY after all the quiet villages and no crowds we’d been experiencing. As it worked out, even with the regatta, country/rock concert and all, it did not feel overcrowded and we had a lot of fun! Plus, there is the bonus of meeting a fellow RV traveler and absolutely now having a new friend! It’s an adventure!