Traveling to the east coast of Canada has been on my mom’s bucket list forever, and what better time to cross it off than during Canada 150?
I have to admit, I had never been enthusiastic about venturing out east – I love B.C., and Quebec has always been alluring to me…but the east coast seemed like something I could do later, after traveling to more exotic locales.
Our weekend getaway to St. John’s, Newfoundland has totally converted me. It was one of the most fun trips I’ve taken, and I’d go back in a heartbeat. I think it might be a different story in the winter, but the weather was crisply turning into autumn when we visited, and it was magnificent.
We arrived on Saturday morning and went straight from the airport to the Rooms (a ten minute drive). The Rooms is the most popular museum/art gallery in St’ John’s, and was a great place to start because we learned a lot about the culture on the east coast. We learned about ugly sticks, the colloquial language, marine life, and more. We spent a lot of time in the Great War exhibit, and I’d encourage anyone who passes by St. John’s to visit. I had no idea what a huge impact WWI had on Newfoundland and Labrador. The Rooms did a great job of bringing the soldiers’ stories to life.
After the Rooms, we checked into our Air BnB…Now I need to take a moment here to acknowledge how amazing my cousin Jasmine is for planning this whole trip. I was way too overwhelmed with the move and personal drama, and she took it upon herself to plan our entire stay. It was SUCH a relief to just show up, and have everything taken care of. Thank you jas, I love you.
Jasmine rented us an incredible Air BnB – one of the historic jellybean houses on jellybean row! Jellybean row is not actually one street, but a neighbourhood of beautiful, brightly coloured homes. We learned that there actually isn’t one known reason why the residents began painting their homes so colourfully, but some say that it was for fisherman to see their homes from the water.
After we checked in, we went for a delicious brunch at the Hungry Heart Café. It was delicious! The service was excellent (the service was excellent everywhere, because everyone is SO NICE). I would definitely recommend it 🙂 I think our favourite item was the waffles with peach marscapone. YUM!
After brunch we decided to burn off some calories with a hike to Signal Hill. We drove up to a parking point, but basically spent the rest of the day trekking around the area. We climbed up to Cabot Tower, and from there found our way to Quidi Vidi by asking anyone who looked like a local if they could give us directions. Of course every single person we asked was so welcoming and willing to help – I have never encountered friendlier people than those who live in St. John’s!
The views from our hike were breathtaking. We couldn’t stop taking pictures because every which was we turned look like a postcard view. It was so, so, so refreshing and inspiring to be near the ocean. I loved every minute of it.
Quidi Vidi is adorable. It’s a neighbourhood in St. John’s, formed around an inlet, so many of the buildings are on stilts over the water. They are famous for their brewery, and we were so lucky when we went because a wedding was happening and there was live music and dancing! I think it was local music, but it sounded very Irish! It felt like we were in a movie with our own soundtrack playing.
After our long day out we went back to the Air BnB for a nap before heading out for a great dinner – fish and chips! We went to one of most popular places in town – Ches’s. Wow, my stomach is starting to rumble just thinking about how good it was. We had cod, because that is the most popular fish in the area, and I upgraded my chips to a poutine. So Canadian, eh? Again, it was a superb experience and I’d recommend it. Make sure you get a slice of the coconut cream pie!
On Sunday we started off our day with a nice long stroll along Water Street, where all the main boutiques are, before having a boozy brunch at St. John’s Fish Exchange and Wet Bar. I had a lobster eggs benny which was out of this world, and Jas had a cod gratin that I don’t think we can find anywhere in Toronto. So good!
We spent some time shopping in downtown St. John’s after brunch, but the only souvenirs I ended up bringing back were Purity cookies. Purity has been making cookies in St. John’s since 1924, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve stuck with the same recipes since then. They taste pretty classic! I bought lemon creams, milk lunch cookies, and jam jams. The jam jams are my favourite.
We visited Rocket bakery to pick up some sandwiches to have as a picnic at our next destination, but we ended up being so full from brunch that we saved them for the airport the next day! I would say that Rocket was good, but it didn’t blow me out of the water like every other restaurant did.
We spent the rest of the day up at Cape Spear, which was about a half hour drive from St. John’s. I think this was my favourite part of the trip – the views from Signal Hill were incredible, but Cape Spear took my breath away.
We took a tour of the historic lighthouse there, which is set up to show how life for the lighthouse keeper and his/her family would have been like centuries ago. We struck up a conversation with some of the people who worked there (of course), and learned that seal flipper pie is actually a thing that some people in Newfoundland still eat! Ahhh!! Apparently it tastes like chicken pot pie, but cooking it will make your house smell fishy. Delightful 🙂
After our beautiful day at Cape Spear, we headed back into St. John’s to check out the historic district and walk around the jellybean houses. It is such a picturesque city, with gorgeous views of the water.
Afterward, we headed back to Water Street for dinner. We had a hip meal with a big batch of oysters at the Adelaide Oyster House. The menu has lots of cool items like scallops with yogurt and hazelnuts (actually weirdly delicious), and salmon sashimi with slices of ginger and sticky rice. The cocktails were also delicious – my favourite was a mule that had lavender in it. Hopefully my dad can recreate that one at home 🙂
After dinner we headed back to our jellybean house for an early night. We played Clue and ate the rest of our coconut cream pie and lemon meringue pie that we had picked up at Ches’s! It was the perfect end to a cozy weekend away. I had such a wonderful time traveling with my mom and Jasmine – we make an awesome traveling trio! I’m looking forward to our next trip, which might becoming up soon so stay tuned 😉
Thanks for reading! xo