Last summer my sister gave me a rather terrific combined birthday and Christmas present and took me to visit my daughter and her family in Deer Lake, Newfoundland. Other than the vicissitudes of air travel, it was a wonderful time.
Deer Lake is on the west coast of the island and is the direct entry for air travel in that part of the world. We got a direct flight from Toronto Pearson. I flew from London to link up with my sister at Pearson. Costly and awkward, and for the same price could have hired a limo service from home to Pearson. Won't do that again.
My daughter and her family live in Deer Lake so it was very convenient. It is a beautiful area and only about an hour by car from Gros Morne, which is a UN Heritage Site and utterly gorgeous. We popped up there and went for a whale watching cruise on Bon Bay. Even though we went all the way out to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, no whales. But that's the chance you take. Met some very interesting people at the port and on board the boat.
I'd never been to Newfoundland so that removes the last province from my bucket list. My sister had never been either, nor anyplace east of Montreal, so we planned a few extra stops. After the family stuff in Deer Lake which also included an excursion to Corner Brook (the arrival point for ferries), we hopped a local Air Canada flight (a Dash 8 ) to St. John.
St. John, Newfoundland is on the Avalon Peninsula and is quite different from the west coast area in that it is very much a glaciated area, full of terminal moraines. The city is set on a group of these ridges and historically most of the roads are designed so that the hills can be ascended by horse and waggon teams. Of course now it is trucks, but the roads are the same, only paved. You really have to watch your roads carefully when driving in St. John. Quite often, you can't get there from here but have to go someplace else first. We had hoped to get to an outport nearby that has the family surname, but we decided it was too difficult to get there by car. I think it is fly or get a boat. In St. John we found our way to Signal Hill (Cabot Tower) where we got some nice photos looking at the harbour and out into the broad Atlantic. If you've seen the NL tourism commercials, it is all true. Newfoundland is a wonderful place for a holiday.
After a few days in St. John and some lovely sea food, we hopped a short flight to Halifax, planning to stay there for about a week. We found a hotel in Dartmouth, across the harbour. This was not inconvenient as there is regular ferry service and we were tired of driving. Bus tours were the order of the day.
The Halifax water front along the harbour has a massive park designed for tourists. It is delightful, and we spent some time there just wandering around. A highlight here was the SPCA volunteers who were accompanied by a pair of great Danes, and were fund raising. There were also some performers from the War of 1812 commemoration on break wandering about in costume. All in all, a pleasant place.
One of the bus tours we took down the coast from Halifax took us to Lunenberg to have a look at Bluenose II under construction in the ways. Until you've been close to that vessel you really can't appreciate the beauty of her lines. It was good she was in dry dock so we could see all of her. Magnificent. Of course, not everyone's bag, but I have owned three sailing yachts in my time, so ...
We also got down to the overly photographed Peggy's Cove. Very picturesque, but a bit foggy when we were there (twice) but there is a good restaurant. On the second trip south, we were detoured at a small town whose name escapes me by a television company shooting the series Haven. This is supposed to be set in New England, but I guess it was more economic to shoot it in Nova Scotia.
The countryside in Nova Scotia is green and generally up hill and down dale. Generally beautiful. Of course, the whole east coast is dominated by the Atlantic Ocean, but there are many bays and as a result there is a huge coast line. We only had a week to explore, and were kind of worn out from our Newfoundland adventures, so we enjoyed the hospitality of Dartmouth and Halifax. During this two weeks, we only had one rain day, so we considered ourselves lucky.
We considered a day trip over to the Bay of Fundy, but somehow it never quite fit in. Really sorry my sister couldn't see the tidal bore come in there, but I have been in Saint Johns, NB. The range of tide there is something like 40 feet, so it is quite impressive. But I digress.
We flew home from Halifax International to Pearson, and parted company. My flight to London was delayed for four hours. Grrrrr. But overall a wonderful trip. I recommend wholeheartedly a visit to Gros Morne, especially if you like hiking.