June 26, 2016

Canada 2015 - The City of St. John's

My Canadian holiday last year was split between two cities - St. John's followed by Toronto.  St. John's is a city on the east coast of Canada, about as close to the UK as you can get and just five-and-a-half hours flight from London.  In fact you can fly directly to St. John's Airport.  It's where my friends live, who kindly offered to put me up for eight nights and show me the sights before heading onto Toronto.

Surrounded by the natural beauty of Newfoundland, pronounced 'Newfinland' by the locals, St. John's is built around a harbour and overlooked by Signal Hill.  It was my first experience of Canada and the North American continent and it definitely lived up to my expectations with wide roads, big cars, and friendly people.

The city itself sprawls from the harbour to the countryside, with the downtown area being a hub of offices and shops.  It's quite different to a UK town or city, as the 'centre' doesn't have a high street with full of commonplace stores, they tend to be on retail parks and malls dotted around the city.

I explored the bars, restaurants, and shops downtown.  What made it stand out for me was colour of the jellybean row houses, the sight of arriving cruise ships, and the views from Signal Hill.

I also used St. John's as a base to explore some of Newfoundland, and even with a week in the area I only managed to cover a small part of what Newfoundland has to offer (the part known as the Avalon Peninsula) getting as far as Come By Chance.

If you get to visit St. John's I recommend visiting these places...  Tim Hortons for amazing coffee, Quidi Vidi for lovely walks and a local brewery, Signal Hill for views over the City, The Bagel Cafe for the best breakfast known to man, the Johnson Geo Centre for some entertaining education, George Street for endless bars and the opportunity to be screeched in, and The Yellow Belly for Canadian Poutine.

My first night in St. John's gave me the opportunity to get to the top of Signal Hill
and look down on the city and harbour.
St. John's is famous for its brightly coloured Victorian 'Jellybean Row' Houses.
A cruise ship comes into port, viewed from Signal Hill.
You can see the downtown offices and how the suburban areas of the
city reach into the countryside.
An evening ghost walk around St. John's.
An early start to catch a cruise ship entering port, with Signal Hill to the left.
A sculpted newfoundland dog and labrador dog watch over St. John's harbour in the
province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Cruise ships like the Eurodam tower amongst the buildings.
Coinciding with the arrival of a cruise ship, a military parade marches through the
centre of St. John's.
Caught in reflection, the clock tower of the St. John's court building.
Literally built into Signal Hill (see the rock in the backround!) the Johnson Geo Centre
has lots of great exhibits, including a Canadarm used on Space Shuttle
missions to manoeuvre payloads.

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