Day tripping

Trip Start Jan 16, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Canada  , Newfoundland and Labrador,
Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's been a while since I've wrote something here, and I was going to say that it's mainly due to not much happening over the past few months, but after review I thought, hang on a second...loads has happened.

As far as day to day life is concerned I'm enjoying working in the hostel and glad be to be surrounded by a really great team of people. Amanda is experiencing life as a Veterinary Technician, or a Vet Nurse, as it known back home. Apparently in Canada the human nurses don't like the animal nurses being called nurses so they have to be called technicians, but more importantly it's great for Amanda to be employed in her trained field, as most people who come to Canada find it hard to get employment in their professions so it's a credit to her that she has.

With regards getting to see some more of the country, we're doing little by little on days off. So far we've managed to tick off the very picturesque Peggy's Cove, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenberg Town & Mahone Bay and had 5 great days in St John's in Newfoundland. In the middle we've also been around for Canada Day and Natal Day, which celebrates the birth of Halifax and close neighbours Dartmouth, which culminated in a very spectacular fireworks show over the harbour.

Peggy's Cove and Lunenberg are two places that are big on the tourism map in Maritime Canada. Peggy's Cove because it has one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world sitting out and proudly keeping watch over it's own little portion of the Atlantic Ocean. Besides this though, it is also a picture perfect fishing village with only a handful of residents and just a few cafés and bars to keep the tourists entertained.

We made the trip out to Lunenberg using one of the tour operators that we recommend to guests in the Hostel and our guide Ryan also brought us on a leisurely three hour hike to nearby Gaff Point, spending some time in an almost untouched deserted beach which looked like it could have been the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe. Stunning.

The town of Lunenberg itself, apart from being very pretty, is also very unique in that it was founded and built entirely by immigrants of Britain, Germany, Switzerland and France, and, as is usually the case, all of these people had different religions and they all wanted somewhere to worship. This then lead to many different denominational churches being constructed, but instead of the usual religious squabbles that exist, the community decided to live in harmony and let everyone have their own beliefs. The harmony is evident throughout the town as all of the properties are very tastefully decorated in bright colours and immaculately maintained. However, as is unfortunately the case too often at the moment, the town has felt the effects of the global recession and For Sale signs are an unwelcome and far too common a sight dotted around the town and its outskirts. 

Our last trip was to somewhere both of us have wanted to visit since we arrived in Canada, and that was St. John's in Newfoundland, or The Rock, as it is more well known as. Ideally we'd loved to have spent more time here and visited some more of the province, but time was not on our side so we made the most of the few days in the provincial capital.

Where Nova Scotia has quite a strong Scottish and Acadian influence, St. John's most definitely has a definite waft of Irishness about it, and you don't have to look too far to find it. Within an hour of arriving there we were being given a fantastic tour of the city and surrounds by Dennis, a local with close Irish heritage who was like a walking talking version of Wikipedia. His knowledge ran as deep as his pride of his Irish heritage. One the many nuggets of information he shared with us the explanation of the flag, which is locally known as the Republic of Newfoundland.

While Newfoundland and Labrador are twinned together in Canadian provincial terms, Newfoundland is very much it's own entity when it comes to identity. The province is one of the oldest pieces of land in North America yet it is the newest piece of Canada, only joining the Commonwealth in 1949. As the majority of the original inhabitants came from Catholic Ireland and Britain, they were opposed to the joining and being part of the Queen's rule which lead to a very strong sense of identity which is displayed in flag created especially for the "Republic." On first glances the flag looks like a faded Irish or Italian flag as it is an almost exact replica of the famous tri-colours. Whilst it borrows the first two colours of green and white it replaces the orange (or red in the case of Italy), with pink. The origins of why pink was chosen aren't entirely known but it is thought that it signifies the British religious influence with possibly a bit of tongue-in-cheek thrown in to the bargain.

The other, and possibly more noticeable sign of it's huge immigrant history is the local accent. At first it make you stop and look in surprise a little, but once you get used to it, it's very pleasing on the ear. I can only describe it as a mix of Irish, southern English (think Cornwall or Devon) with a little bit of deep down south Mississippi thrown into the mix. Whatever it is, it's certainly unique.

We had hoped to see some of the incredible sights and wildlife that the province is famous for like icebergs, dolphins and of course, whales but we appeared to be about a week too late in making our trip as the majority of the sea life had travelled further north, with the icebergs going south. We were a little disappointed when we were half way through our second whale spotting boat trip and despite seeing some stunning scenery and bird life; there was not a sniff of a whale. So it came as a bit of a surprise when we got a very brief but welcome view of a Minke whale coming up for air and showing us his fin. I had personally spent about 4 hours with the camera glued to my eye over the course of our two tours desperately looking for a glimpse of a whale, and so when he did appear for us, it was Amanda who caught the shot, having spent about 20 minutes with the camera in her hand. Oh well, I suppose he knew who the bigger animal lover of the two of us is and rewarded her.

Aside from the nature and wildlife, St. John's has a great history and culture, and the houses that dot the skyline, nicknamed Jellybean Row due to their colourful design make it a very photo friendly town. Its only downside is probably the cost of living there. Dining out proved to be a very costly experience, which is mainly due to the fact that the province imports a whopping 90% of all its food. However, I don't think this clouded our opinions too much as it was definitely a very pleasant trip and left us with some very enjoyable memories of the most eastern point in North America.

We're now back in Halifax and planning for the next few months, summer is coming to an end, but the sun is still shining most days so we can't complain too much, even if it is almost 100% humidity at night. We move out of the apartment on September 1st and it has proved to be a huge struggle to find somewhere that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and decent quality, so we have decided to move back to the hostel for our last few months here. Although living and working in the same place isn't always ideal, we know we'll be surrounded by a lot of good friends as winter approaches and there'll be no more Friday night Karaoke sessions as is the case with our current flat mate. It's not the Karaoke sessions that's the problem; it's the choice of songs.....anything from the Spice Girls to Lady Gaga. Couple that with not knowing who is sleeping on the couch every Saturday and Sunday morning or even if the apartment door will be locked when we come home in the evening, so the added security will be a bonus.

For now though it's a case of just trying to decide the next major step to take once January comes around my visa expires. There's a lot of questions and doubt in our minds as to what or where we will go, however, like most things in life it's best to leave these things to fate and deal with whatever hand were dealt. Sunny side up, as they say.



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Pipita2 on

he,he, technicians nursers for animals , he, he, funny Canadians, we shouldn't call them Canadian people, they are Canadians sapiens sapiens..he,he, I need u here man, Ruben is acting crazy with a girl , Tonin sleeps with a straw link to a can of beer, Domenico has long hair and Fabio has become a mornon.. can't handle all by myself, Pipita be back soooooon!!!, je,je pasalo bien, abrazos!

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