Back in April, I went to St. John’s for the Juno Awards weekend. Weather was the theme of the weekend. Flying there, we got caught in Halifax for twenty-four hours due to the bad weather in St. John’s. When we finally arrived in Newfoundland, the skies were grey but at least We.Had.Arrived. (Honestly, I expected rain and grey in St. John’s – isn’t that what this province is all about?!). Flying home, the weather drama was the possibility of volcanic ash in the airspace coming from Iceland. It was the talk of the Sunday night which was the actual Junos night. Certain musicians actually left St. John’s early in fear of being stuck for a few days. I was worried since I had to get out of the city on the Monday as I had a flight on the Tuesday morning to Mexico City (terrible travel planning on my behalf). Needless to say, my flight home worked out perfectly. Volcanic ash?! No ways, jose. And those who left early missed a killer party put on by Warner Music.
I loved St. John’s. I loved the people there. The atmosphere. The wildness of George Street. The rock. The textures. I cannot wait to go back. (Also, hello St. John’s brides – I would love to shoot your wedding there!)
Being there during the weekend of the Junos no doubt gave the city a different vibe but I am sure that the friendliness of the locals is totally normal. Junofest was a great way to see live music and check out the local venues. We saw Hollerado and Arkells at Junctions but my favourite show was probably seeing Amy Millan, backed by the boys of Hey Rosetta, play at the Ship. The Ship almost had the vibe of a small Horseshoe Tavern so I felt at home. The stage was also teeny tiny so I felt like I was almost invading Amy’s space (sorry about that!).
The jellybean houses of St. John’s are famous in this city. They are gorgeous. I do not know how the neighbours plan what colour each house will be but they match perfectly. My friend Alison and her parents drove me around to find the perfect jellybean houses. It was a very comical car ride to say the least (I <heart> you guys!). The photo above on the left was taken at The Sprout. I probably could have sat there all day and drank coffee while creeping on those passing by the window.
Signal Hill is normally a great spot to go to see the entirety of St. John’s. I say normally because when I went, you could basically only see about ten feet in front of you thanks to the thick fog. Also, it is a steep drive up and when we were coming down, there was a man on a unicycle making his way up. I am not kidding.
Quidi Vidi is a cute place just outside of St. John’s where you can actually climb on the rocks. It used to be a fishing village but now there are quite big and fancy houses along the shore. There is also a brewery here where you can have lunch and, uh, buy beer. 🙂 What I really wanted to do here was photograph a bride lying down on the cliffs.
I think that my favourite place that I visited was Cape Spear. To me it just seemed like a magical place. It is the easternmost point in North America so that is what makes it special. The colours of the rock and the grasses in that area literally blew me away. I was determined to see a whale here but the fog was super thick so I quickly gave up on that idea.
I had the best fish & chips that I have had to date while in St. John’s. (Well maybe the second best – the first being the fish & chips that I ate in Southwold, Suffolk in the UK – it was wrapped in newspaper and we ate it sitting in the car on a pier. Seagulls were literally floating at the windows trying to get our scraps.) The place with the great fish & chips is called By Da Beach in St. Phillips. The fish was delicious and the batter was not greasy.
A couple of other things about St. John’s:
1) I had a really awesome dinner at The Casbah. The food was super and the overall atmosphere is pretty cool. It is slightly romantic so bring a date.
2) There is a great store downtown called Model Citizens. I got a cute jacket there and also a fab necklace that was designed by local artist. The store owner told us proudly how Jeanne Beker had been in the day before. Cute.
3) You may never see more drunk people in your life than on George Street (besides in Melbourne at Melbourne Cup). People were literally falling down on the streets (because you can drink on that street). I was blown away and amazed.
4) There are, in fact, Newfoundland dogs everywhere in St. John’s. Alison would tell me that it is just a coincidence that I saw so many there while I was visiting but I feel I saw too many of this breed to make it one. At one point we had to stop to the car to allow a woman to cross the street while walking THREE of them.
5) People in St. John’s do not use umbrellas or cross the street at crosswalks. It is easy to be spotted as a tourist if you do either of these things.
6) You need to be screeched in if you go to Newfoundland. This is when you do a shot of Screech, kiss a cod and then say something in Newfie (Ali, can you remind me what this is?). I, unfortunately, was not able to get screeched in whilst in St. John’s. But this just means that I have to go back for another visit. Yes, please.