A weekend on The Rock, Newfoundland – how much could I fit in around a work conference and the weather?
Newfoundland, also known as The Rock, is known for its friendly people, rugged landscape and the incomparable George’s Street. The knick name makes sense as it is exactly that – a huge rock of Canadian Shield in the Atlantic Ocean. Newfoundland also boasts the furthest eastern point of Canada at Cape Spear. As you can see in the above picture – even in July, the weather coming in off the Atlantic can be cold and wet!
A conference in July had me traveling for work once again, but I was able to add some exploring into the mix. The meeting was in downtown St John’s and my spare time was limited! We had also missed out on the nice weather of the week before, landing 6 degree days (celcius) and lots of rain. A little shopping on Water Street was in order to pick up some warmer clothes – it was July after all! There were some great shops and I picked up far more than I ever would have expected – who knew, but St John’s has some great little shopping gems mixed in with the touristy goods.
I maximized on the half day of leisure time to do the standard half day bus tour – hit the hot spots so to speak! The tour included a guide that kept us splitting our sides with laughter, the Cabot Tower on Signal Hill, Quidi Vidi Brewery (check out their iceberg beer made from 25,000 year old iceberg water), historic downtown and the Jelly Bean houses, Cape Spear and Petty Harbour.
The conference also had a great fun run – 5K around the lake towards Quidi Vidi and back to town. We lucked out with the sun making an appearance. The route around the lake was flat and the path was perfect for a run. It was great to just get out in the fresh air and sunshine. For families visiting St Johns, this would be a great place to get the kids out for a walk and fresh air – we passed a number of mums with strollers and young families walking along the path, stopping to feed breadcrumbs to the ducks, and taking photos.
As a 5K run wasn’t enough, a group of us head out to walk the hiking track to Signal Hill. The walking track was gorgeous – we followed the North Head Trail from Lower Battery Road to Signal Hill. All up, the walk was 1.7kms along the coastline, climbing 500 ft to the top. We were able to see Cape Spear and whales out to sea as we trekked along. Great way to spend the afternoon. If the North Head Trail isn’t for you, you can easily walk up the same route as the cars – perhaps more suited to families with strollers.
Signal Hill is known for the first transmission of long distance radio on December 12, 1901. Who would have thought, all these years later, we could take a photo with our cell phone and email it to our friends, post to FaceBook and send to Costco for printing! Marconi, the Italian inventor credited for the invention of long distance radio transmission, would be amazed!
While some may consider it a cliche – a trip to The Rock isn’t complete with out fish and chips down on George St. I quite enjoyed sampling the local fare at the The Duke and Duckworth, but there are plenty of places to choose from. Yellow Belly Brewery also offered up a great menu for my last day in town. For a nice dinner out, Portobello‘s makes an excellent selection with delicious dishes and a dining room overlooking the harbour.
With more time, hiking in Gros Morne National Park peaks my bucket list of activities still on the to do list, as does sea kayaking. Imagine kayaking out there with the ice bergs! Wow. I narrowly missed out on a day trip from St John’s with The Outfitters, however there was a minimum group size requirement which we did not reach.
I only scratched the surface with my spare time in Newfoundland. It is such a great place to visit – I can’t wait to get back out there and experience more than just a weekend on the Rock.