“Hey darling,” she said, handing me the menu.

It was the first time I remembered someone calling me “darling”.

But Pam, the waitress/cook/owner all-in-one, was no flirting and I wasn’t special. The customers were all “darlings” as well.

I also ate a mousse burger for the first time. But it wasn’t the last culinary adventure with the largest member of the deer species.

“Just out of the oven,” said Pam.

Many firsts like this represent our experience during two summer weeks in Newfoundland. Called the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, he was surprised to learn that neither place was officially part of Canada until 1949.

Newfoundland, often called “The Rock,” felt like a faraway country. English may be a common language, but it took me some time to get used to accents, expressions and even vocabulary. For example, the word “Tuckamore” named a stunted evergreen tree on the windswept coast of Newfoundland. The time itself looked strange, just 30 minutes off from most other timezones.

Traveling from Nova Scotia, we (and our car) took the ferry to Channel-Port aux Basques on the southwest tip of Newfoundland. Her MV Blue Patties on Marin Atlantic, which traverses the Cabot Sound, which connects the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the North Atlantic, took about seven hours.

Another ferry option was to go to the southeastern port near St. Johns, the island’s capital and largest city (about 112,000 inhabitants), which took about 16 hours.


St. John’s, Newfoundland.Photo: Destination St. John’s

Newfoundland’s geographic size is enormous (approximately 69,000 square kilometers) for its relatively small population (approximately 520,000 people). It’s impossible to see everything in two weeks, so we focused on the UNESCO-listed Gros Morne on the west coast and the Bonavista Peninsula in the east. Both are known for their spectacular beauty. Still, our visit required a lot of driving, from one coast to the next and back again on the Port aux Basques ferry.

But driving was never monotonous. We were told by nearly every Newfoundlander we met to always be careful with our adventures. It was never spoken of as a dire warning. Rather, it was a lighthearted, accurate observation generously provided to a CFA like me.

CFA stands for “come from away”. The long-running, award-winning Broadway musical showcases the extraordinary hospitality of Newfoundlanders when 38 commercial planes were diverted to Gander International Airport after the 9/11 attacks. More than 6,500 of his passengers from all over the world were treated not as strangers but as welcome guests and invited to Newfoundlanders’ homes. There, not only were they given fresh clothes and plenty of food, but they were also given keys to the residents’ cars. .

At one of our first accommodations near Gros Morne, a bed and breakfast farm called the Upper Humber Settlement, we felt welcomed by those plane passengers. rice field.

The host, Lauralee, showed extraordinary generosity not only with breakfast, but with her time. After eggs and sausages accented with flowering chives and other organic foods, we were given an hour-long tour of where breakfast began. Laurelie kept her smile on her face as she slapped the Noceium swarm.


Puffins congregate on the cliffs behind the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse.Washington Post photo by Pat Nicklin

From this secluded spot carved into dense evergreen forest, head east on Highway 1 to the Bonavista Peninsula. So we booked him to stay for a week at the historic hipped Saltbox right next to Atlantic Cove.

I let my mind wander while driving for hours through uncluttered wild landscapes with expansive vistas. I had very little interaction with my fellow humans, but my mind could not wander too much. There was a strange pothole.

In Newfoundland, fishing villages are known as outports, and the outport we headed for was Somerville off the Indian Arm in Bonavista Bay. Built in 1847, the brightly painted house we reserved for a full week was called Dolly Buff, in honor of the traditional yellowish hue of Newfoundland fishing dollies. rice field.

The advantage of staying in one place for a long time: Knowing that, you can pretend you’re not a tourist. Our house was in a row of similar houses lining the half-mile waterfront, some empty. Neighbors invited us to join their morning gatherings for coffee and baked goods. Unincorporated, it was a true community. The informal mayor collected approximately $75/€58 annually from each household to pay for emergency services and garbage collection. Recycled items were collected by his two brothers who grew up here and cashed in on deposit returns. There was a small cemetery on a hill overlooking the harbor, and the tombstones bore many of the surnames of the current inhabitants.


St. Paul’s Anglican Church is one of the heritage listed buildings in the town of Trinity.Washington Post photo by Pat Nicklin

Commercial fishing vessels have been dormant following official regulations to restore depleted fisheries. But early one particular morning, a motorized Dolly and Skiff headed out to sea to fish for a quota of cod for local personal consumption. Wrapped near the quay was the largest thigh-high rope I have ever seen, used to lasso iceberg chunks for St. John’s Brewery. was The water from the icebergs that solidified snow tens of thousands of years ago gave the golden beer its special, very light taste.

For Newfoundlanders, icebergs were a familiar sight in spring and early summer. The iceberg that sank the Titanic in April 1912 probably first floated in the Labrador Current along these coasts, known as “Iceberg Alley.” At least he hoped to catch a glimpse of one iceberg, but feared he had arrived too late.

But whales, that’s what we saw!

From the historic and picturesque outport near Trinity, we joined about six people embarking on a Zodiac inflatable boat piloted by a professional whale watcher. I had to wear it. Big and bulky, it felt like an astronaut waiting to launch a rocket. Once out to sea, the enveloping fog turned into a cold drizzle, the ocean swell splashed into the chilly waters, and the suits were no longer fun.

Then suddenly, a few yards off starboard, he said, “She blows!”

Then, as if conscious of the audience, the humpback rolled on its side, flapping its pectoral fins and splashing water. A few minutes later, the whale’s entire body leaped into the air, breaking through the rippling water. Meanwhile, a fin whale appeared on the port side of the Zodiac. Shortly after, a pod of dolphins started playing around the boat. A cry of joy rose from the Zodiac. Even as dusk approached, the shivering from the cold was easy to ignore.

The next day we drove further afield to try out the Bonavista peninsula, staying on solid ground. A rocky coastline carved into arches, caves and sea stacks. Cape Bonavista Lighthouse is home to hundreds of puffins, the cutest birds. The town of Bonavista itself, believed to be the site of explorer John Cabot’s first landing in North America in 1497, is home to a fascinating art gallery and charming eateries.

There was so much more to experience, but after a week in this part of Newfoundland, it was time to cross the island for the ferry home. Back in Gros Morne National Park again, we booked a cottage for a few days at Norris Point. Days were spent hiking the park’s many trails through the boreal forest and exploring the park’s geological wonders.


Gros Morn Wahl features animals found in Gros Morn National Park.Washington Post photo by Pat Nicklin

Over the unique red landscape of the Tablelands, we walked over the exposed mantle of the Earth, pushed up millions of years ago by the collision of tectonic plates. Fossils from the ancient Iapetus Sea were found in the Greenpoint sedimentary cliffs.

But it was the last night that proved particularly emotionally memorable.It was then, in a packed pub in Rocky Harbor, that Thomas and I, along with four other CFAs, were made honorary Newfoundland citizens. I embarked on a ceremonial ceremony for We kissed cod, danced jigs, and threw back shots of a very bad-tasting rum called screech. (I was warned that the alcohol in the screech bypasses the digestive system and travels instantly into the bloodstream.)

When we were appointed to the Royal Order of Screecher, the crowd cheered loudly and thumped the floor with what looked like a large, elaborately decorated cane, but was called an ugly stick.

The next day, walking along the coastline of the Basque Port, Pat and I spotted a vague white figure drifting slowly along the distant horizon. iceberg? finally! But as it came into focus, the vague outlines of the ship became apparent.

Further closer it was a ferry-our ferry home. But what if we want to stay?

©Washington Post

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