Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Long Day

Today was a long, long day.  Mainly because there was no real break from yesterday.  Our flight left Calgary at 11 p.m., so that was already a long day.  We both found it difficult to sleep on this flight for a number of reasons: we were cramped in a fairly small space--this was not a spacious plane; someone nearby coughed severely all night (at least it seemed like all night); a baby nearby wailed occasionally; dawn arrived by 3 a.m. (Mountain time), but appropriate at 6:30 a.m. in Atlantic Time.  By the time we landed in St. John's we were pretty bleary.

It was shocking to see the foggy, wintry-looking scene as we landed.  I had dressed according to the time of year and Alberta's weather: sandals, skirt, short-sleeved top.  When we left the terminal we could see our smokey breath of the air.

After picking up our luggage (just a small bag each) we phoned our B and B and were told we could come right away, drop off our bags and refresh ourselves--maybe we wanted a nap?  Our hosts, Fraser and Elaine Inkpen, are gracious and friendly, and our room (actually the master bedroom) is great.

We dropped off our things and I changed to warmer clothing.  Jim was able to check on his stocks, and we enjoyed tea, coffee and even a muffin each.

Around noon we left and went looking for Tiny's bar and café in Conception Bay to have a meal.  We must have overshot, as we never did find it, and ended up at Jungle Jim's instead.  Jim ordered a stirfry and I had a chicken quesadilla, both of which were excellent, but arrived after a long wait of 45 minutes.  Seemed unnecessary, as there were very few customers there.

It was when we set out to explore the coast of the Avalon peninsula from Conception Bay to Pouch Cove that I realized I had left the camera at the B and B!  Chalk it up to a lack of sleep!  But we enjoyed the drive and felt we had seen some of the real Newfoundland, taking small back roads.

I was amazed at how many new houses there were along this route!  This area seemed quite prosperous.

Houses here are painted in a distinctive pattern, often with fairly bright colours, blues, rusty reds, mossy greens, etc.  But whatever the colour, the trim around the doors and windows, on the porch railings if there are any, on the fascias and especially on the typical upright trim boards on the corners of the house, all that trim is painted a contrasting colour, usually somewhere between a pure white, through all the shades of yellow and right through the beiges and tans.  This almost universal colour scheme gives a distinctive local flavour, one which we enjoyed.

After reaching Pouch Cove we headed back toward St. John's intending to visit Signal Hill, a National Historic Site.  We don't have a detailed map of St. John's but figured that if we headed into that area of town we'd surely see signage directing us to Signal Hill.

By the time we were out the other side of St. John's and on our way back to the B and B we realized that we had missed Signal Hill somehow.  We turned around and headed back, this time helped by a sheet of directions from the B and B.  Even with those directions we had trouble finding it and stopped to ask directions.  Come on, Newfoundland!  Help your tourists find these great spots by some adequate signage.

The Visitor Centre at Signal Hill was very worthwhile and enjoyable, with displays and a good film.  We arrived just at the tail end of a "tattoo," a reenactment of a military drill, with performers of a pipe and drum corps in true period costumes.  (This is where I really wished I had the camera with me!) How fortunate for them the costumes were oldfashioned wool, as the wind, combined with wet weather, was pretty cutting on that exposed site.  Actually, that gave a good insight into the miserable conditions that the soldiers, signalmen and their families endured here in those old times.

We then visited the Cabot Tower at the top of the hill, the site where the first trans-Atlantic wireless signals were received by Guglielmo Marconi, an historic event that revolutionized the transmission of messages from overseas, previously handled by transAtlantic telegraph cables.  There was an excellent display with lots of information, some of it a bit comical.  When the main cable company heard of his achievement they sued to stop him.  They could see the end of their cable's usefulness.  He was on his way to New York to set up a wireless station there when the governor and premier of Nova Scotia met him and persuaded him to locate his station in Canada.

It was about this time, around 5 p.m., that we both ran out of energy and decided to call it a day.  We found a Tim Horton's on the way back to the B and B and had some heartening chilli.  Arrived "home" by 6 p.m.  Jim gave up the struggle by 7 and is already sound asleep.  I seem to have gotten a "second wind" and will read and knit for a while.

All in all a long, long day, but a good beginning to our holiday and our experience of Newfoundland.

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