The Capital City - St. Jòhn's.
If you know me, then you know my absolute love of cities. Pretty much the instant I got to Newfòundland, I looked at a map and planned on driving the 7.5 hours east to St.John's0.
In a nice twist, my work sent me there before I even had the chance to go myself.
I tried to look up some buildings before I got there, but most of the things I found were outside of the city.
One of the worthwhile things I could find was an imposing old hospital building.
Walking around the building, I found plenty of god awful graffiti. I don't remember there being one respectable thing painted on the whole damn place.
Although, I did like how one kid was so gangster as to tag a computer picture format1. Checking out his punchlines2, he sure is 'killin kans', although it could use more arrows.
The hospital would also make a great low-key biking or skating spot.
If you're thinking that you couldn't bike or skate here, realize that people were jogging and walking their dogs past me this entire time. It's a strange combination in that the whole building is very sealed, but you could probably have a picnic against its outside walls.
By the way, if you're reading this and thinking about checking out the hospital; realize that the cops got a call about a homeless man entering the building in December. They then proceeded to get the dogs and search the building until they found the poor bastard hiding inside a drop ceiling on the 7th floor - then charged him and threw him in jail.
St. Jòhn's sounds to me like one of those places that doesn't have real crime to deal with.
Walking away from the hospital, I came into what appeared to be a middle class neighborhood of colourful, victorian houses.
...and continuing on, I found a few, more upscale houses as well.
After having my first ever taste of Indian Food (which was delicious by the way), I went for another walk; this time to another neighborhood, slightly closer to the harbour.
It was similar, except there weren't any outstanding upper class houses and the streets had more of an angle.
Adjacent to the neighbourhood was an area with a collection of appealing buildings, but I didn't snap any pictures because I wanted to come back at night for them (which I never got around to).
The apparent graffiti I came across was composed of mostly terrible stuff, but there were a few okay hand tags and rollers.
Then there were these 'potato-like' characters which I thought were actually pretty good. Although they must not have been up to the standards of the person who felt the need to celebrate Tupac Shakur's life atop them.
This sign guarded the parking lot below the faces/Tupac wall.
Jeez, you can't check out hospitals, you can't stand in parking lots...
...well I guess you can stand in parking lots, it's just up to you if you want to roll the dice that the parking lot isn't under surveillance at the time.
I hurriedly scurried out of that parking lot in fear and headed down to the harbour. Then from there, over a couple of streets before coming upon the interesting sign you see above.
I found it so interesting because you would have to assume Hill O'Chips road would have a good story behind its naming...that story is a mystery to me; I'm only saying.
I also loved how there were still places like this in St. Jòhn's - little corner shops with a metric ton more character than your local 7-11.
Continuing on my journey, I came upon this church with a fantastic archway out front.
(Also, I know this picture is stitched together quite poorly, but it's all I have.)
I tried the front doors, found them open and made my way inside. An old man didn't even look twice as I moved throughout the captivating structure and tried my best to capture its splendor.
After about 25 minutes, I finished up and made my way back outside. As I opened the doors to the outside, I almost hit one of 4 skateboarding kids who were discussing the handrail out front - 2004 Navi meets 2009 Navi...
The next day we made our way over to The Battery.
The Battery is a neighbourhood of modest houses, superimposed wherever they would fit upon a section of harbour cliff. As you walk through the streets, you're amazed at the narrow streets and the idea of how two cars pass each other in such tight quarters.
(We saw what happens, one courteously moves into one of the driveways, I'm only stating...)
I had a good laugh as I passed this house.
You would like to believe the owner of this car lives across the street; but there weren't any substantial buildings across the street from this. It forces you to wonder if that is their vehicle and if they live in this very modest house.
This little conundrum reminded me about a story; where this girl I knew, went home with some random guys in the D and ended up at a house with boarded up/missing windows (she thought they lived better from their clothes and vehicles.)
The Battery has a definitive end where the coast becomes unsuitable for housing.
Reaching the end of the road, I opted not to hike the coast to Signal Hill, even though the cat which had accompanied me the entire time, continued on.
Walking back from The Battery, I met up with co-workers and we headed west towards 'home'.
A month or so prior to the above St.John's adventures, my friend Meredith had mentioned possibly traveling from Nova Scotia to Newfòundland for my birthday.
I'm not sure if she was entirely serious about the trip, but I pushed the idea and thankfully, her and my other friend GW departed the mainland for the rock. They initially planned to come for 4 nights total, but the ferry was delayed due to high winds in Newfòundland and they ended up only being able to come for 3 nights.
Knowing their time restraints, I figured that St.John's was the best way to spend their minimal time on the rock.
They reached the island around midnight on Thursday and were thankful to finally get some rest in Corner Brook hours later.
The next day, we took a short tour of Corner Brook before spending the majority of the day reaching St. Jòhn's We arrived in St. Jòhn's around 7 or 8 and had a few drinks, then went out on the town. Nothing that eventful happened, but I was excited about the White Russian bar.
Waking the next morning, Meredith wanted to frolic amongst some of the stores she spotted, GW wanted to sleep and I just wanted to get out for a walk to retrieve breakfast and look around - so we went our separate ways and about our separate agendas for a few hours.
Walking near the harbour, I found a department store which I proceeded to make my way behind and into its parking garage. Unfortunately all of the entrances from there into the department store were sealed.
So I decided not to push my luck and resorted to traversing along the harbour's shore.
I also went to this great sandwich shop called Auntie Crae's3 for some breakfast. I got my baguette to go and walked down the bar district from the night before....all the while trying to piece together the memories that the white russians tried to destroy.
(I realize that the baguette should be in focus and instead the background blurry; I apologize, I was in a haze still.)
When I finally made it back to the hotel, it had begun to rain and the fog had grew thicker.
GW & Meredith weren't to be defeated though. They decided since this was their only day in St. Jòhn's, that we would make the best of it and just do all of the things people typically do in St. Jòhn's...regardless of the weather conditions.
So off we went in the rain and in the fog.
Signal Hill is the number 1 touristy thing in St. Jòhn's, but most people write it off if it's foggy. Not us though, we went up anyway and the view from the first picture in this update was a little different on this day.
Signal Hill is, well, a hill, which stands high over St.John's and has been the site of military fortifications since the 1600s. Most tourists come here for the hiking opportunities and the great view of the city.
Setting the tone for the day, we came to the viewing platform and as the wind and rain beat down upon us, Meredith set up a timer picture and the three of us happily smiled. The three of us, a viewing platform, some rocks and bright white behind us!
We were growing cold and since there wasn't much to see, we quickly scurried back to the car; not before I snapped the above picture of Meredith to give an idea of the conditions.
The Cabot Hill tower at Signal Hill.
(This picture is from my first journey, I had visited Signal Hill on my first visit to the city as well).
We got back in the car from the top of Signal Hill and warmed up for all of 3 minutes before we noticed a canon and thought it would make another great group picture.
The things we do for profile pictures, eh?
Anyway, we were out of the car again and all smiles as we tried to keep small body sections free of water.
From there, we actually stayed in the car for a bit as we drove 20 minutes to Cape Spear.
When you have a geographic extreme and fort ruins in one location, you know it's going to be good enough to make my 'must see' list for the day.
...and so, we set up the camera and took another group picture in front of the 'most Eastern point in North America' sign. It's funny that I say we all set up and smiled, but then when I looked back at Meredith's photos, she's always smiling while GW and I have the most blank looks on our faces.
Oh well, it wasn't a matter of us being sour about the rain or the fog or the cold, it's just our everyday demeanor.
I had the tripod and wanted to spend large amounts of time take pictures in the WWII fort ruins, but I felt bad as the others were cold and we all had rainwater rushing at our feet because of the fortification's design.
I knew I would be back, so we continued on...
...along the coast and up to the two lighthouses.
The walk back from the second lighthouse to the car was about 10 minutes and we were happy to get inside and blast the heat out the Intrepid vents.
Once back in the city, we had now been out in the rain and about the city for a few hours. We had developed a hunger and wanted to go get something to eat.
I should explain that when I'm hungry, I'm terribly impatient and irritable. Therefore I wasn't looking forward to heading back to the hotel to change clothes and get ready; so I was ecstatic when it was decided that we should just go eat in our rainy, tourist clothes.
So off we went to the pub to sit down with some Guinness, fish and chips.
Also, they had board games because they were trying to be an authentic 'pub', so I was quickly atop the chess board and challenging GW to a game.
I've had some compare me to Bobby Fisher4 and you know my chess game gave GW absolutely ZERO chance of victory! Complete dominance!5
We left the pub and went back to the hotel. The three of us sat around for a bit, watching darts and consuming beers and vodka-waters. I had one last can of 211 that I bought in Maine and I was happy and sad at the same time about consuming it.
After a while, we went out on the town and I had quite a few drinks. One of the more humourous instances of the night was after the bar, I jovially asked Meredith if we were going to Confusion, which is the local, popular music, dance bar. She actually informed me that we just left Confusion and so, I asked if it was good...to which she replied that it was.
I was on a whole different planet. Not a close one either...we're talking Saturn or Neptune here.
Anyway, as you can imagine, I woke up feeling like death and was more than happy to quickly position myself in the back of the car while Meredith took the wheel.
I had one request before we left St. Jòhn's in that I wanted to see this old nurses' quarters they were renovating. It looked tasty and also accessible, but after the night before, I didn't think I was in the position to push my luck in terms of favours.
The last request of the day was to stop at this sign in Central Newfòundland as I wanted a group shot in front of it.
The drive was pretty uneventful away from stopping for the Green Bay sign and Meredith almost hitting a moose. They made their ferry reservation and Meredith was excited about her time in NFLD, but not the upcoming 7 hours swaying at sea. GW was his normal lackadaisical self and I was beside myself with joy that two of my top 10 friends had put up with sketchy seas, ferry schedules and long distances just to see little old me.
Thanks guys. You made it an awesome, memorable and great birthday by deciding to make lemonade with the weather lemons.
1 - Signal Hill, Newfòundland & Labrador - Wikipedia
2 - The Battery, St. Jòhn's - Wikipedia