Why are we here?
To learn more about why and how we got to the island at the end of the world check out: Finding hearth and home in Newfoundland
As a respite from our nomadic roaming we settled down in the friendly city of St. John’s Newfoundland for 2 months in late fall of 2016. Arriving at the end of the tourist season was fantastic. We still had many warm sunny days and were able to find a nice modern apartment literally in the middle of downtown. Many home owners did not want to rent to us for such a short duration because they would have a hard time finding renters once winter set it. Most people here hunker down during the cold months, and after this last week of frigid temps I can see why.
Join us for a day in the life, St John's style
A typical Saturday morning finds us at the St John’s Farmers Market. Everything has been painstakingly coaxed out of the scant topsoil without chemicals, and you can find 3 generations of family members tending the small farm booths.
After gathering our veggies, organic meat and eggs, and a few tasty condiments for the week we venture inside the community building for a bustling breakfast of delicious Indian food followed by an assortment of treats from our favorite vegan / gluten free baker.
Now it’s time to stretch our legs and breath in some fresh costal air with a visit to the picturesque Quidi Vidi Village.
An old boathouse site has been re-built to serve as Quidi Vidi Village Plantation information and arts center. The upper level is made up of studio nooks where the public can interact with artists, purchase their wears, and watch them work. Each artist applies for a space in this beautiful building and if they are selected will cozy up in the eaves for a maximum of 2 years.
A selection of work from the Plantation artists in residence. Click an image to learn more about each artist.
After exploring the Plantation, a walk around Quidi Vidi cove provides an idealized window into the many quaint fishing villages around Newfoundland. With the exception of summer weekends when it is veritably packed with tourists.
All that walking will enliven the appetite. Time to slip into our absolute favorite restaurant for an old-new fashioned brunch, and an Old-fashioned with brunch (or 3).
This particular brunch spot has a bit of history.
The Mallard Cottage, an 18th Century Irish-Newfoundland vernacular style cottage, is recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada, as being one of the oldest wooden buildings in North America. Award winning Canadian top chef Todd Perrin and his wife purchased and refurbished the cabin in 2011, receiving the Southcott Award for excellence in preservation for their efforts. They focus on fresh local food only, doing all of their own butchery and pickling in house. Add live music and insane cocktails… woowee. Reservations usually need to be made a week in advance, but today luck was with us and there was a table open when we wondered in.
This place has it all; cocktails to die for, skulls, pickled everything, taxidermy and friendly photo bombing staff.
And to top it off… the ultimate deal in town. $10 to fill a take-away box with all you can grab confectionery from the ever refilling desert table = belly ache for days. Yum!
Looks like it's boat only access to the pirate's clubhouse
One of the first things we noticed about Newfoundland was the incredibly adorable micro trees. The harsh winters and minimal topsoil naturally crafts bonsai’like trees into bizarre shapes. Some hardy dwarf white spruce trees we’ve seen grow a mere foot tall and expand outwards into a 12-foot diameter shrubby groundcover.
Take a walk down Jelly Bean row to enjoy Newfoundland salt shacks at their most colorful
Long and tall is the name of the game. In winter months there is no parking on these icy hills. I'm sure you can imagine why.
Then grab the laptop for a little productive time at one of our favorite cafes, The Rocket or Fixed Coffee and Baking
Who said being so far away from it all means you can't indulge your inner hipster. The zines, tapes (yes, tapes, like for a tape deck) and art for sale at Fixed Coffee will fill the void.
To finish off the day meander through The Rooms for a beautiful collection of native and contemporary Newfoundland art and historic displays.
If you have any extra time to fritter away, or a group of wily friends, head down to Mochanopoly Board Game Café, and don't forget to sample the gluten free vegan cakes
Well, we are downtown and it's all happening. Let's head to THE FIFTH TICKET: keys + kitchen for some good eats, cocktails, and live jazz.
Everyone is out and looking sharp! We were amazed how “polished” St John’sers are. Spike heels on cobble stones, pencil skirts and the full Mac counter. I felt quite under dressed sporting one of my two pairs of pants; baggy sweats, which I’m currently wearing in the coffee shop – Hey, it’s cold out!, and my grey faded jeans.
A wonder along the main street inevitably leads to the growing intensity of Pub Street, and aptly named zone of shots, street meat, shenanigans, karaoke, strip clubs, bros, pizza, dancing and general good natured debauch.
Duck off the street and find repose in Celtic restaurants and breweries with live music and cozy warm interiors.
Above: The factory, one of the main venues for live shows in town, opens off of McMurdo's Lane.
I love walking through the winding alleys between Water and Duckworth streets. They retain the feel of early fishing port days with a splash of quality graffiti. One alley can distract you for an evening (just like burning man) with a collection of dive bars, clubs, restaurants, and joint smoking locals.
The slow trickle of Sprinter vans delivering disorderly “guests of the state” to the courthouse fortress in the middle of town is a sobering reminder to have fun, but don’t pee in public.
To start or wind down our evenings we always return to our faithful Vinyl Room bar under the Reluctant Chef. This little gem has become our “local”. Located 2 doors down from our apartment, it feels like you have been transported to a speakeasy in the middle of Chicago, New York, San Fran, Paris… or any other lively city with a little class. Pick your own soundtrack from the massive record collection and deliver it to your bartender with your cocktail order. (They make a wicked Negroni, the bitterest in town)