Instead of doing a day-by-day, chronological description of my time in St. John’s, I thought I’d go with a more thematic approach. And what sticks in my mind first and foremost are the people.
At The Bluestone Inn B&B, there were our hosts: owner/operator Gerri and her daughter Sarah, who in addition to looking after our rooms and daily morning feasts, provided sage advice on getting around St. John’s (on foot, by car or city bus), points of interest to visit, things to do, the weather and even cab fares to/from the airport (flat rate vs. metered – metered came out to be cheaper, but that could depend on traffic issues, I imagine). Gerri arrived every day at the crack of dawn to get breakfast happening (served 8 – 10 a.m.), and also handled laundry, guest check-ins/-outs, etc., while Sarah did up the rooms – and Gerri was generally on site till 9 p.m. every night. And they were both in the process of reno’ing Gerri’s house on Bond Street at the same time! These are two super friendly, hard-working gals – and if you’re looking for a B&B in St. John’s, I highly recommend The Bluestone Inn: http://www.thebluestoneinn.com/
Also at the B&B were an assortment of guests from all over Canada – Saskatchewan, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto – as well as a couple from Germany, so breakfast became an opportunity to chat with about where everyone was from and swap stories about what you’ve seen/done in St. John’s/Newfoundland. Also a good source for travel tips.
One of the good things about travelling alone is that it forces you to get over any shyness about chatting with strangers pretty quickly. This wasn’t my first solo trek, so I’ve gotten a lot better at it – especially eating alone in restaurants (which I always found challenging, even though I have no trouble going to movies and plays alone). I’ve already mentioned Marty and Anthony from Quebec, who I met my first night when I stopped by the Duke for dinner. On my first full day in the city, I chatted with various crew on the Iceberg Quest boat tour: Nathan, Barry, Luke and Steve – and besides offering insight on things nautical, these guys had great advice about St. John’s weather in general (basically, just wait 5 minutes and it will change). I met some singers/musicians: Angele from Moncton, busking on Water Street and in St. John’s to finish recording her CD. Angele told me about an open mic night at The Ship Pub, where I also met bagpipe player/busker David Day (an American expat), and singer/songwriters Michael Banks (who turned out to be from T.O.), R.N. and Leslie Wagner, and R.N.’s pal Derek, who accompanied R.N. on blues guitar for a few tunes. One night, when I was having dinner at the Bamboo, a cosy and very good Chinese Restaurant on Duckworth, I met David Dunn, who was originally from St. John’s, but had been living in Manhattan for some time and working as the personal assistant to a painter there. Throughout the week, I also chatted with store clerks, cafe and restaurant servers, cab drivers and tourist site staff. And, after the brewery tour at Quidi Vidi, a guy named Frank invited me to drink my beer aboard his boat – and I met his friends Mike, Chris and Dave.
I have no photos of the folks I met – but I won’t forget the easy-going conversations (and laughs) I had with them. For me, visiting any place is not so much about the place as it is about the people. So, a big shout out to all those friendly (and interesting) folks I met during my stay.
Back soon with highlights on what I saw in St. John’s. In the meantime, I’ll be heading to my pal Rosemary Doyle’s theatre, Red Sandcastle Theatre, tonight to see ELLAmentary (which I missed during its Toronto Fringe run).