Time to Git Stupid Drunk Bys Newfie Weddin'

Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
Trip End Jul 29, 2008

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Flag of Canada  , Newfoundland and Labrador,
Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We flew 36 hours from Sydney to St. John's, Newfoundland via Vancouver and Toronto. It was straaaaaaaaange to be back in Canada and on our way home.  We were now adjusting back to our own culture and our own ways of life and that was surprisingly a bit difficult to do.  We were not outsiders anymore, but we felt as though we were; so much had happened in this past year and while nothing had changed, everything had changed.  What we realized is that you are only left with the memories – your own private memories and the pictures that remind you of them.  Beyond that, you could almost be convinced that it never happened since nothing at home had changed in any significant way that would indicate that you ever really left…it was so strange. 

Our first recognizable feature of home was the Toronto Airport Terminal 1 Tim Horton’s.  We dragged our tired bodies to the till for the ultimate refueling - some double-doubles and some boston cremes.  Flying high on sugar, we continued on to St. John’s for our friend Colleen’s wedding.  We arrived and taxied to our hostel, a private residence actually that was being rented to us for a decent rate and, fortunately, all the other rooms were empty allowing us to literally sleep for the better part of two rainy days.  We emerged from this sleep refreshed and feeling re-connected to this land.  The only problem was that it was about 1am on a Monday that we came to be feeling decent.  Wondering what to do, we headed down to George Street to see what was shaking and, sure enough, it’s reputation was deserved; the party was in full swing for hours more and we bounced from pub to pub enjoying the live music streaming out of each and every bar.  We couldn’t believe how many bars there were packed into this relatively small street!!  We ended up meeting a traveler who spotted us right away as fellow vagabonds I think.  He had just gotten to town and needed a place to crash so we offered up one of the rooms at our place for the night which worked fine for all of us and he was gone the next day.  

We finally felt well enough to venture out to explore the beautiful and interesting town of St. John’s.  It was a very cool place and we enjoyed every bit of the steep streets, jellybean-coloured houses, beautiful Basillicas and small fishing villages built into the side of the rock.  We noted all of the interesting food for sale including cod cheeks and tongues and seal flipper pie.  Interesting no doubt, but we stuck with the fish 'n chips before embarking on our haunted tour of St. John’s.  It was a really interesting way to see part of the downtown, snaking in and out of alleys and buildings.  I don’t recall any terribly freaky stories but it was a fun tour all the same!

The following day we were invited to join Colleen for her rehearsal dinner and party which was a complete blast!! We were welcomed by her family and friends to a big backyard barbeque before everyone headed downtown to head out whale watching on a boat they had chartered.  The harbor around St. John’s is known for excellent whale watching during July when the humpbacks have completed their long migration, are well-fed and are ready to play! It was an incredible trip; we saw humpbacks breaching, waving and having a ball all before Nik and I were "screeched in".  This welcoming tradition involves drinking some good strong rum (traditionally from the bottom of the barrel), answering the question of ‘Is ye an honourary Newfoundlander’ with something like “Indeed I is me ol’ cock and long may your big jib draw!’ after which we kiss a (stuffed) puffin’s arse and get a certificate welcoming us to this great and friendly province!! A very fun experience that we loved!!

Friday we continued our exploration of St. John’s by heading up to Signal Hill.  We weaved our way through downtown reaching a narrow, windy road leading to the rock face bordering the harbor.  From here, we continued up the path leading to Signal Hill.  Signal Hill is famous for a lot of reasons and made for a really interesting stop:  it is where John Cabot is believed to have first landed in North America in 1497, it is where the French conceded St. John’s to the British in 1762 and it is where the first wireless transatlantic transmission was received by Marconi in 1901.  It is some of the oldest rock in Canada, about 550 million years old, and this hill was once a mountain, long since worn down.  We entered the Cabot tower built atop the hill and later made our way back towards the city, but first stopped in at the Johnson Geo Centre near Signal Hill. 

This centre was a super cool geological gem built deep into the rock of Signal Hill with tons of nerdy and interesting geological and geographical facts.  As if that wasn’t enough, it also had a very interesting exhibit on the Titanic which sunk 350 miles off the Newfoundland Coast.  We had a ball exploring all the information and exhibits of this centre and would highly recommend it to anyone!

The wedding was the next day and it was outrageously fun in true Newfie style. A few of our university friends were there too so it was a great reunion as well. We partied till the break-a-break-a-dawn and I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a truck.  We all figured it was nothing a little fish ‘n chips couldn’t fix so we headed to famous Chess’s Chips to grease our belly’s before our friends were back on their way.

Memories of whales danced in our heads and we had one more chance to experience this again so we set out to go whale watching again the next day in Bay Bulls, about 30km south of St. John’s.  We were not disappointed: in addition to the cutest puffins ever, beautiful scenery and a great day all around, we were lucky to see a dozen or so whales all around us, jumping, waving, playing together and some even came right up to see what we were all about.  The absolute best part of this experience was a mother and her baby whale that both came right up to the boat to see us and play.  They were so close I could look right into their eyes and could touch them if the boat were lower.  They stayed with us for a good 20 minutes or so, playing together, with us and observing us as much as we watched them.  It was such a personal and touching experience to have shared an encounter like that with these huge, wild and mysterious animals. 

With this last excursion, our retirement came to a close.  We both felt happy and sad about this.  We looked forward to returning to Ontario (Thunder Bay first and Ottawa later) to see our families and friends again, to perhaps rejoin into the regular day-to-day life and routine which, to some extent, we missed.  On the other hand, this was the end of the freedom that we embraced and loved and the closing of a chapter of our lives that was ours to remember and cherish.  With the happy and the sad, we returned to Thunder Bay the next day and to Ottawa a month later enriched with new friends, fond adventures and irreplaceable memories.  We would not have traded any of this for the world and we consider ourselves truly blessed to have shared our journey with each one of you, thank you! 

Until the next adventure (there will always be a next adventure!),

Niko y Sarita xoxo
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