Newfoundland part 2: When in Bonavista…

Feb 28, 2015 | 0 comments

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Saturday morning we woke up early, packed the car, and headed out to the small ski area where my friend works as a cross country ski instructor. Since I’ve never skied before and my friend didn’t have time to teach me before work, I contented myself with hiking the ski trails in the morning while he taught his class.

It was the windiest day! Gusting at 30mph the air felt about 5 degrees with blowing snow blurring my vision and making my ears and chin ache. The trees provided some buffer, but whenever I came to a crossroads in the trail, I had to quickly trudge-scamper through the snow to get to the next sheltered spot. I spent the last 40 minutes or so waiting in the chalet by the warm stove, content that I had seen as much of the trails as I could that day.

Once my friend got back, we hopped back in the car and took off up the TransCanada highway, heading to the rural village of Bonavista, about 3.5 hours north…

Of course, the 3.5 hour drive turned into an over 4.5 hour drive as we stopped to take photos along the way and at some point realized we were nearly out of gas. Turns out, many of the little villages throughout the NL countryside don’t have gas stations! We ended up having to backtrack down the highway about 22km (13 miles) to fill up and then head north again.

View from Trinity, NL

Nonetheless, it was a gorgeous bluebird day with excellent views of the mountains and forests throughout the island. I was amazed by the small size and density of the pine forests there; the trees grew so close together you couldn’t even fit between them, and they were all under 15 feet tall, probably from the constant wind that sweeps in from the sea.

Farmhouses in Trinity
Needless to say, we were pretty exhausted by the time we got to Bonavista, but fortunately we had a cozy hotel waiting for us at the end of the road. Harbour Quarters Inn was incredibly affordable and way nicer than anything you’d get for that price in the states! 
Our hotel
We only had a couple hours to rest though before the evening festivities: tickets to see NL’s own homegrown duo The Fortunate Ones, with an opening by Del Barber of Manitoba. I must admit I wasn’t remotely familiar with these musicians until a few weeks before my trip, but I can easily say I am now a huge fan of both. Check out the Fortunate Ones’ title track for yourself, and believe me when I say it was even a hundred times better in person (also, the music video was filmed in Bonavista so you can see more of what the town looks like!):
The concert was made even better by the fact that it was held in an old church-turned-theater, with a small attendance of locals and a few out of towners like us. Admittedly I haven’t been to many concerts before, but this was by far the best I have ever attended. 
Feeling absolutely euphoric and energized afterwards, we headed down the block to grab some late night dinner at the town’s only pub and ordered Newfoundland specialty: Fish n’ Brewis. 
Fish n’ Brewis
What is Fish n’ Brewis you ask? Get ready: It’s boiled salt fish (cod) mashed and mixed with soaked hard bread and scrunchions (salted fried pork fat) and served with bread and dipping molasses. I did not know this before we ordered it, but hey, when in Bonavista…
It actually wasn’t that bad, just a little salty and I couldn’t do the whole molasses thing, but the fish was pretty good! 
We spent a couple hours hanging out at the pub listening to a couple kids play folk songs on their guitars, and conversing with the locals. It was a small town so we were instantly picked out as outsiders but everyone was incredibly friendly and eager to proudly tell us about their town and make friends. Just like the previous night in St. Johns, things didn’t pick up until about 11:30pm when it seemed like all of the sudden people began pouring into the pub. Soon, the dance floor was filled with people stomping and spinning to the sea shanties. 
It was a great night, I met lots of really cool people, and eventually made it back to my cozy sleeping bag in the hotel exhausted and happy.
Bonavista coastline

The next morning revealed that our luck in beautiful weather had finally run out and Newfoundland had donned her choice colors of cloudy grey once more. Before heading back to St. John’s though, we took a short trip to Cape Bonavista to see the lighthouse and coastline.

Danger High Cliffs

Cape Bonavista Lighthouse
Little shack near the lighthouse

It was cold and windy, but despite the grayness the water maintained a gorgeous turquoise blue color, clear enough to see ice coating the rocks below its surface.

Ice underwater

Oh hey guys

The Dungeon (with my friend on top for scale)
There was also this really cool geological structure called The Dungeon (I thought it looked more like a dragon!). Carved out by the relentless waves over the millennia, the steep cliff was indeed eerie and deadly looking — super cool!

Eventually we had our fill of Bonavista and decided it was time to head back south again. Also it was Sunday and most places in town were closed. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas and thought it best to make our trip as treacherous as possible, and so about halfway there we encountered rain, sleet, snow, icy roads, and gales of wind, bringing our pace to a crawl. It was pretty miserable and slightly nerve-wracking but we pulled through and eventually made it back to St. Johns by about 7pm. 
With only one more day left in NL, it had already been an incredible experience so far. I met some awesome people, ate some questionable food, heard some incredible music, and basked in some breathtaking scenery. Not bad, Newfoundland. Not bad at all. 


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