East is East
Trip Start Jan 16, 2011
12Trip End Ongoing
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Having said goodbye to Vancouver and set out on the flight to Montreal, where I would have a short stop over, I noticed pretty quickly that there was certainly a friendlier side to people on the east side of the country.
First, however, there were two more pressing matters occupying my mind as I walked out to the plane on the Montreal runway;
"God it's freezing" and, "God that's a very small plane."
The temperature had dropped from an almost balmy 9 degrees in Vancouver, to -7 and having been indoors all day, it hit me like a wet fish in the face
While on the flight, the lady sitting beside me was a native of Montreal travelling to the hospital in Saint John on a business trip and having told her of my reasons for coming to Canada, she very kindly offered to drive me from the airport to the hospital, which meant I was a lot closer to my accommodation and subsequently a much cheaper taxi fare. So far so good in the east.
Once I got to the "hostel" my initial gut feeling had been confirmed. I say "hostel" by the way as it was more of a house than your average hostel, and over the following days, the house would feel more like a home.
Sharon, the owner of Newman House met me as soon as I walked in the door and I instantly felt a warm welcome and knew that I'd be more than comfortable over the next few days. Having a private room and a double bed was also a major bonus after the previous three weeks of little sleep on the most uncomfortable dorm bed I've ever had the pleasure of knowing,
I spent the next three days looking around town and enjoying Sharon's fantastic hospitality which included a couple of private tours to see all of Saint John, the reversing falls as well as cooking and offering me the full freedom of the house
Being winter, the tourism levels were fairly low so any conversations or questions I had with locals around town always resulted in them asking me where I was from. Being Irish I'm used to getting a pretty positive response from locals, however, the residents of Saint John were positively beaming when I told them. Almost all of them had connections, some more dubious than others, however, everyone was very glad to tell me about their roots. There was also a big build up to St Patricks Day with decorations already being installed in most shops or malls. One mall worker told me that they were having their celebrations for two hours on March 14th, with the highlight being the Scottish dancers that would be appearing. Now, I could've been mean and said that everything about that was wrong, but sometimes a smile and a nod is sufficient.
Although I only had a short stay in Saint John, it was definitely memorable for all the right reasons and I would like to return in summertime with Amanda as I think it will be a very different place then and also to visit Sharon and avail of her fantastic hospitality again.
For now though, it was on owards and 412km eastwards to a place I wanted to visit since I arrived in Canada, Halifax, in Nova Scotia where I am hoping to settle long term. And although it's definitely colder here, and much smaller than Vancouver, it's definitely got a good vibe and employment opportunities seem to be higher so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.