Part two of Louise’s Newfoundland adventures – Don’t worry if you missed part one, you can read the first installment here!
Day 3: Discovering the Irish Loop
Day 3 of my St. John’s short break took me along the Irish Loop to discover the rich history of Cape Spear – North America’s most Easterly point -, enjoy a delicious picnic in Ferryland and to catch a glimpse of a whales, puffins and icebergs. Today was going to be a great day! We also made an impromptu stop off at Tors Cove to take in the scenery.
10:30am: Colony of Avalon Archaeological Site - After a scenic drive along the Irish loop, we arrived at the Colony of Avalon Archaeological Site on what started as a wild, icy and windy day. Wrapped to the nines, and still feeling the chilling bite of the North Atlantic, we headed in to the centre for an initial tour of how George Calvert established the first permanent settlement at Avalon in 1621 and to look at the many artefacts that had been recovered from the site. As the sun came out, we also got the opportunity to venture to the archaeological site to learn more about the settlement and way of life – including a tour of a 17th Century kitchen to learn how to keep the fire going and bake fresh bread.
So far, the dig has uncovered a portion of the Calvert’s mansion with the remains of the bakery and brewhouse, well, sea wall and warehouse to name a few. So when you go, there’s probably a new piece uncovered for you to explore!
12:00pm – Ferryland Lighthouse Picnic - We braved the wild Atlantic coastline and hiked the 1km up to the charming Ferryland Lighthouse with its bright red and white tower, and commanding views across Ferryland. Heading up, you’ll be able take in the scenery and blow away the cobwebs with the Ferryland shoreline to the left and endless ocean to the right.
You can sit outside or in – depending on the weather – and there are books and picnic blankets if you plan to stay a while. On a good day, you might just catch a humpback whale or an iceberg passing by, or you can just sit back and enjoy the scenery and wildlife.
Make sure you ring ahead and book as the picnics are extremely popular with large tour groups and locals alike. Each picnic comes with a salad, a huge sandwich, dessert and freshly squeezed lemonade in jam jars – cute! Priced at $26 per person with children options available, this is a perfect way to while away the afternoon.
2:30pm – Gatherall’s Puffin & Whale Tour - For $57 CAD for a 90 minute tour, this had to be the most exciting part of my trip as I’ve never been up close to a whale or puffin before. The boat trip last approx. 1 ½ hours – be sure to take some warm clothes, your camera and your binoculars! After a song to set the scene by one of our guides, we approached Bird Island, home to over 2.5 million seabirds including over 300,000 pairs of Atlantic Puffins.
Afterwards, it was on to the choppy waters! Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and pointed out the whales and predicted the times it would take from them to dive and resurface. It’s an amazing experience though and one I can’t wait to repeat. Make sure you stop off at the gift shop on the way out for a Puffin memorabilia or two!
7:00pm – Magnum & Stein Restaurant - After an amazing afternoon at sea, we retreated to the Magnum & Stein restaurant and it only seemed fitting to sample the fish! My recommendation – try the Prawns in Sambuca Butter, pumpkin seed dust and mint from $15 CAD.
Day 4: Space, Lighthouses & Downtown St. John’s
Today’s adventures were a mix of exploring Downtown St John’s, the Geo Centre near Signal Hill and a ride out to Cape Spear – Canada’s most eastern point – before a delicious fish and chip lunch!
10:00am – Johnson GEO Centre
The centre itself was built in a natural rock basis covering glacial till and boulders. Once excavated, the centre was constructed to fit between the 500 linear feet of exposed rock walls. These rocks were formed more than 550 million years ago – so it’s a pretty impressive centre!
On entry, visitors are welcomed into a three-storey high reception hall with an illuminated solar system suspended from above. From this, you have a range of different rooms with exciting exhibitions to explore from the Solar System, The Titanic Story, Oil & Gas Gallery and the Amazing Earth Theatre. All the rooms are really interactive, so it’s perfect if you have a young family in tow.
11:35am – Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site
If you’re not blown away by the spectacular scenery and wildlife here, then the majestic scenery from atop the 19th Century lighthouse should do it. There’s two ways to get to the lighthouse, by the stairs behind the kiosk, or via the longer route which takes you to a look out on the extreme edge of Canada’s most eastern point. Take a moment to breathe in the crisp North Atlantic air and if you’re really lucky, you may spot a whale or two!
12:30pm – Lunch in Petty Harbour at Chafe’s Landing - After a blustery visit to Cape Spear, we arrived at the calm shores of Petty Harbour for a fish and chip lunch! This restored 19th Century home offers two floors of relaxed dining. The menu is packed with delicious fresh fish dishes from the icy waters of the North Atlantic from calamari, mussels, crab, lobster, shrimp & more. Try the pan-fired cod for $16.99 CAD.
2:00pm – Visit to ‘The Rooms’ & Downtown St. John’s - Our afternoon trip ended back in St. John’s and a visit to the ‘The Rooms’ – Newfoundland & Labrador’s largest public cultural space and tells the many rich stories the province has to tell. There’s a variety of permanent, as well as temporary exhibitions so there’s also something new to discover.
Before we headed off to do a bit of ‘twacking (or shopping, in the local lingo!), we ventured down Jelly Bean row to discover the colourful array of houses and then finished our day trip with a cool beer on a patio down George Street! Make sure you pay a visit to the Newfoundland Chocolate Company -The Dark Chocolate Jelly Bean Row bar with Sea Salt was my favourite!
7:00pm – Bacalou Restaurant - We visited on Father’s Day, and such, it was an incredibly eclectic 5 course menu! Definitely not one for Vegetarian’s like me, who struggled with some of the local delicacies on the menu(!). However, the service was great and the whisky tasting was lots of fun! Each course was paired with a tipple that would complement the meal. My favourite by far was the Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey.
It’s amazing just how much you can do on a 4 day short break to St. John’s. Newfoundland definitely captured my heart and reignited the Wanderlust in me – so this year, I urge you to step into the unknown, off the beaten track and discover a whole new adventure in St John’s, NFL. It’s a journey you won’t forget.
Check out our St John’s holidays and city breaks and book your return flights from London Gatwick and a hotel stay.