Monthly Archives: May 2012

Wolfville: Canada’s Cutest Town?

I stayed a night in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, as I was passing through to the Annapolis Valley and I’ve gotta say, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a more friendly, polite and all-round adorable town.

People wave to you from their cars and greet you as you pass them on the street. When they say “have a great evening,” they actually mean it.

Even the signs are friendly!

The sign at Pete’s supermarket checkout.

The gorgeous Blue Shutters B&B. There were no hostels in town so I was “forced” to live it up for a night!

To add to the adorability, the whole town seemed to be colored in high saturation. Lawns were greener, tulips redder and cherry blossoms pinker than I’d ever seen before.

Walking around town, I felt like I’d been transported back to a simpler era: a time when good manners and perfectly manicured gardens mattered.

I later came to realize that many Nova Scotian towns share these characteristics (seriously, they are always mowing their lawns!) but at that moment I felt like I’d stumbled onto something so unique. I left Wolfville determined to start saying hello to people more often!

 

 

Disclaimer: When I visited, most of the uni students had gone home for the summer. It’s entirely possible that the town’s quaint vibe gives way to a “frat party” atmosphere once school resumes.

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Bear Grylls Has Nothing On Us! (Camping In Gros Morne National Park)

Ok, ok, so we were carrying more than just a knife and a water bottle. But we did only have summer tents and the campsites weren’t even open yet, so yeah, we justifiably felt pretty tough camping in Gros Morne in early May!

And by “we”, I mean me. When it comes to camping, I’m pretty hopeless – pitching a tent anywhere outside of a caravan park feels like “roughing it” to me. But travelling with camping aficionados Katie and Aidan, I knew I was in good hands.

Aidan found us a brilliant little spot near Berry Hill, just up from a beautiful rocky beach.

We got the tents pitched and the fire going.

My brand new tent lasted a whole 15 minutes before a rogue ember put a hole in it!

I even fashioned a wine cooler out of sea water and a plastic bag! (It was so cold that we didn’t really need it but I was enjoying the feeling of being somewhat resourceful!)

Makeshift wine cooler. I’m so Bear Grylls.

Warmed by a few wines, a couple of hotdogs and an open fire, I was really getting into this whole camping thing.

Mmmmmm

Unfortunately, sleeping wasn’t quite so fun! Between reassuring myself that I wasn’t, in fact, going to be eaten by a bear in my sleep and trying to  stay warm by cramming my body into what I’m convinced was a child-size sleeping bag, I didn’t sleep a wink that night!

Not my finest hour. Cold, tired and grumpy after my first night.

But thanks to Katie and Aidan (who kept morale up with a constant supply of yummy camp food), I managed to tough it out for a second night. (Although night two was definitely an improvement on night one – more booze probably helped!!).

The 1,805 km² National Park is a UNESCO heritage site and there is heaps to explore (although I’m sure it’s more enjoyable if the weather’s good!). Here’s a selection of what we saw.

It’s Newfoundland, of course there’s a lighthouse!

Berry Hill

Western Brook Pond

If you squint really hard, you can just make out a moose!

Tablelands – rock that was forced up from the earth’s mantle during a plate collision several hundred million years ago.

As for me and camping? Well, let’s just say it’s a fledgling relationship. But I have been stoically carrying around my tent and sleeping bag for a few weeks now so I’m ready for round 2 if the opportunity arises (or I start going broke!).

…Stayed tuned for camping (mis)adventures!

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Cod Tongues, Anyone? Eating and Drinking Newfoundland-Style

There’s no getting too fancy with the menu here; simple dishes using local ingredients is what this province is all about. Here’s a run-down.

Seafood:

Seafood is right up there on my list of favourite foods so I knew the fresh-off-the-boat produce would be a highlight of the trip. My favourite seafood haunt was J&J’s Fishmarket in Twillingate. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but hot damn, the food is good! It’s got $6.95 fish ‘n’ chips (with “proper” chips like home), lobster burgers

and a seafood platter for two with lobster, crab and mussels ($30!!!)

Before.

After.

Soup and Sandwich:

This comfort food combo features on most lunch menus, but the best I had was at The Rooms cafe in St John’s. (As a sidebar, the art gallery was great but the museum itself was a little sparsely curated for how big the place is).

Newfoundland pea soup and a sandwich of roasted chicken, crispy pancetta, cheese and apple – amazing!!!

Local Specialties:

Newfies march to the beat of their own drum and food is no exception.

Enter, cod tongues…

Cod tongues

They looked harmless enough (kinda like chicken nuggets) so I jumped right in with gusto! They had a chewy, firm texture and what felt like a gelatinous layer around them; I’m not going to lie, they weren’t my favourite dish. But the locals love them so they must be an acquired taste!

Then there was the fisherman’s brewis (pronounced “brews”. Don’t make the same pronunciation faux pas as I did!). Made from cod, hard bread, and scrunchions (fried salted pork fat), it was a bit more my cup of tea.

Fisherman’s brewis

Alcohol:

With a drinking culture that rivals Australia’s, I can’t really talk about Newfoundland without mentioning the booze.

When it comes to rum, there’s only one real contender.

Screech: apparently named for the sound emitted after knocking back a shot!

There are a couple of microbreweries around as well. The beers from Quidi Vidi were easy to knock back, if a little watery (if you’re a fan of IPA, apparently theirs is rated 90/100. Wasn’t to my taste though!). Yellow Belly was more my style and they do a great wheat ale. The Dominion Ale (now produced by Molson after they bought out a smaller brewery) is a cheap and tasty beer (although all the beer snobs slam it).

Grapes don’t grow in Newfoundland but that doesn’t stop them making wine! Grapes are imported from Ontario and blended with the myriad of berries that grow in abundance in Newfoundland. The result is sweet concoction that can be anywhere from sickly to yummy depending on your tastes and the berry blend that is used. The pick of the bunch for me was the Krooked Cod from Auk Island Winery in Twillingate.

Auk Island wines

If you love simple, homestyle cooking, Newfoundland’s your place. Just don’t try to order avocado at Subway!*

*apparently they had avocado for a week and no-one ordered it so they stopped getting it in!

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