Sunday, July 14, 2013

This and That

Here are a few bits and pieces of this and that I think you might find interesting.

These little fluffy plants were just so cute!  They "flew" in the wind. 
These are carnivorous plants.  The leaves keep water and when bugs go in, the plant closes up and eats it! - like a venus fly trap.

  • If you decide to go to Newfoundland bring clothes for every type of weather!  We lucked out and didn't get any rain.  Some days were REALLY cold below 10.  While in St. John's area it was about 20 degrees.
  • Be ready to walk - most places you have to walk to - for example the fjords you have to walk 3 km there and 3 km back.  Same for L'Anse au Meadow.
  • If you don't like fish, you don't have to eat fish! 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Cape Breton

We took the ferry at 5 pm.  The first ferry was much better than the second!  This time, the air conditioning was broken - it felt like it was 100 degrees in our room.  All this extreme heat gave me a headache from hell.  At 12:30 I couldn't take it anymore so I went to see the nurse.  He took my blood pressure gave me some Advil and Tylenol and I was back in my room.  I went and sat in one of the lounges where it was a little cooler.  Not a fun ride... but on the bright side, it took 2 hours less than expected!

This 2 hours extra sent us on our way to go around the world famous Cabot Trail - a 200 km scenic drive around Cape Breton.  I've been told this scenic route is quite scary as you drive right on the edge of cliffs.  Well, if that's what you expect, like me, you will be disappointed!  Those who found this scary better never do the drive between Jasper and Whistler! They will dirty their pants for sure! 

It's a pretty drive that's for sure.  From time to time you see the ocean, you drive "close" to the edge where the view is spectacular.  There are quaint little stores and tons of restaurants to choose from.  The best part was the 2 hour hike we did.  It was called Skyline.  When you get to the end, you end up at the edge of a cliff.  When you look out you can't tell where the sky starts and where the ocean ends - it's very neat!  You also see the "terrifying" hill you have to drive down... just like in magazines.

At the bottom of this mountain is a beach - not that you would swim there... it's all rocks.  Very pretty.  We stopped for a couple pictures.  We continued our drive to Cheticamp - a very cute acadian village.  We had yummy ice cream - which we really deserved after hiking for 2 hours!  We did get a glimpse of a moose - or a moofalo as we like to call them - the signs to tell you to be careful of the moose looks like a cross between a moose and a buffalo hence the new name!

This 200 km drive ended up taking 8 hours!  The fastest you ever drive is 60 km/hour!   It was a nice way to conclude our trip.  We arrived in Moncton at 12:00 am... to see that every single room was already rented!  We lucked out and got the last room in town because the young lady at the counter had made an error in someone else's room!  Thank God for mistakes!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cape St. Mary is on highway 100, about 2 1/2 hours from St. John's.  It's a ecological reserve where tens of thousands of gannets and other birds come to court and have their chick.  After driving on this little winding road you finally make it to this amazing place!

The first thing you see is a welcome center and a little store of course!  The first thing you smell is the ocean.  The first thing you feel is freezing cold!  It was 7 degrees with a blustering wind - brrr!  We put on our sweatshirts and jackets!  The first thing you hear are
thousands and thousands of birds - that are a mile (literally) away!

It's a nice hike to see the birds.  It's one mile there and obviously a mile back.  The view is spectacular!  On the way, I kept seeing these "patties" and wondered what they could be from... caribou maybe?  The mystery was soon solved when we turned a corner and what what standing there?  Sheep!  Sophie had to take 10 000 pics of them!  Thank goodness as I didn't have one to share with you =)

That's the goal.
We continue on to see what we came all this way for... the gannets.  All I can say is OMG!!! It's truly unbelievable!  You only see this on tv documentaries - and I have seen this exact spot on docs!  There are so many birds it makes you dizzy!  They fly in and out with their beaks full of "stuff" for the nest and for the babies.  You are standing 10 meters away!  Enjoy the pictures...

birds 10 meters away
coming back with lots of goodies!
The babies are quite ugly!

That's how close to the edge I am!

When one came back, they would rub their beaks together as if they were kissing!
The view
humpback whale we saw from shore!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sea Kayaking

We went sea kayaking in Cape Broyle today!  That was fun!  We didn't get to see any whales but we got to see and touch sea urchins - and even eat one!  Did you know that sea urchins don't have a brain or lungs or anything else for that matter?

The guide used a knife and cut it up for everyone to taste.  She said it would taste like a fruit - and it sorta tasted like cantaloup or mango - but I thought it tasted like mussels - yuck! Raw sea urchin - who would ever think I'd eat that?!

We kayaked for 2 hours.  We went between rocks making sure we didn't get caught on the rocks of death.  The swells were getting quite big for us beginner kayakers - 3 and 4 feet!

 We then arrived at insanity cliff (213 feet high cliffs) where a boat was waiting to get us and take us back to the dock.  Great sunny day!

After our adventure kayaking, we went to Ferryland.  There is a lighthouse there.  It's at the end of a cove so you could see whales.  We think we saw minkes but not 100% sure.  I took pictures of the lighthouse - will add them later.

We are now off to St.John's haunted walk.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Witless Bay - Bird and Whale Watching

Another fabulous day spent outside!

We embarked on a boat today to go bird watching.  You want birds? OMG!!!  You've never seen anything like this I'm sure!  500 000 puffins at the same spot!!! Incredible!  Thing is, there aren't only puffins here! There are razorbills, murres and various types of gulls - even some with their babies.  It's noisy, smelly and wonderful! Sophie was in heaven with all those birds around!  We also got to see minke whales (they are kind of boring as they don't do much - no spout, no fluke) and a beautiful humpback (they are the "fun" ones - they come right up to your boat, show off their flukes and can even be seen breeching).

On the first tour, I was talking to one of the crew members mentioning how I would've loved to have seen a whale... so, he offered to give us a second tour for free!  Wow! What a nice man!  Of course we didn't refuse and on the second time out is when we saw the gigantic humpback - right beside the boat!

Newfoundland is turning it out to be a wonderful place!

Cape Spear and Signal Hill

This morning we got up to lots of RDF (rain drizzle and fog)!  We made our way to Cape Spear - the Eastern most tip of Canada.  We didn't see the sunrise but that's fine.  We did see gannets diving for fish, and some whales - right from shore!  The cliffs here are big.  There are signs everywhere to remind you of the danger.

There is a lighthouse here and a house that was used by the operator of the lighthouse and his family.  We didn't pay to enter the house but we did see the outside of it.

After doing the trails here we continued our journey to Signal Hill.  We parked our car at the bottom - Geo Johnson Center and started walking up.  What a view of St. John's!  It's stunning!  We made it all the way to the top by walking in hiking trails and kept the longest one for the end - when going back down (thank goodness as it has over 800 steps - going up would be a killer!!!)

Our hike down was beautiful and scary at the same time!  Some points are so close to the edge there is a chain for you to hold on to!  I didn't really like that... but I did it!  We ended up at the bottom in some dinky little village and had to ask for directions to get back to our car.

What a wonderful day outside!  We concluded with a seeing World War Z at the theater.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Back in Nfld

Not much to talk about today!  We got up this morning, got ready, had breakfast and walked around for a long while, waiting for the ferry to get going.

We arrived in Fortune, Nfld at 2:30.  The funny thing is all the locals that go to the dock to see the people coming off and getting on the ferry!  It's like the folks that go to Timmies everyday!  It's the big action of the small town!  We saw the same people today we saw yesterday when we were leaving!   They just show up, and start chatting with you!  Too funny!  It's kind of nice actually!  The old man that chatted it up yesterday came up to ask us how our trip went.

We drove all the way to St. John's - about 4 hours away - found our hotel, settle in, went for dinner and completed the evening with a walk downtown St.John's.  What a quaint city!  The ships in the port are HUGE!!!  I will take pictures tomorrow as it was too dark tonight.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

St.Pierre et Miquelon

Got up this morning and took the ferry to St.Pierre et Miquelon, a French archipelago.  The ferry ride was about 1 hour long... and you felt like you were sitting in a roller coaster -  not the best feeling...

The island of St.Pierre is cute - lots of coloured houses - orange, blue, yellow, red - you name it they've got it!  There isn't much to do here.  Stores close from 12:00 to 2:00 and on Saturdays, many stores are closed in the afternoon.  What's left? Not much!  We walked around for a while, ate an ice cream cone and watched a movie on tv.

The town is set on the flank of a "mountain" so the streets are all on a steep hill.  We walked up to a lookout - where you could see the whole town.  We then hiked a little higher to get an even better view point.

I wish I'd had known everything was closed - I would've picked a different day to come!  Oh well - a relaxing day (except for that uphill walk!).

For lunch I had green salad - this means lettuce and dressing!  Sophie had a Ceasar salad and Remi had some kind of crêpe with cheese and ham.  For dessert Sophie and I shared a very yummy crêpe with ice cream, caramel and whip cream - which was the best part of lunch!

You can't have dinner until 8pm!  I would have a hard time living here as we usually have dinner at 5 or so!  We will be eating French pizza for dinner.  I wonder what that will be like!

I'm back to tell you about my pizza... What a joke!  Here's the story:  when you order a pizza they ask you for how many people (no such thing as small medium large).  We answer 4 as there are three of us.  We give the address - they know we are at a hotel.  They deliver the pizza - 1 1/2 hours later (people don't have dinner until 8pm).  Do you think this pizza could feed 4 people? No way!  It was a small pizza (8" if even!!) - and it tasted like those cheap frozen pizzas you buy at Loblaws!!  Plus, it wasn't even cut - they know it's for 4, and at a hotel so we wouldn't have utensils... Moral?  Don't buy pizza in St.Pierre and Miquelon!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Icebergs and Whales Oh my!

We slept in St.Anthony's last night.  When we arrived, Sophie and I decided to go for a hike as there are beautiful trails here.  If you are patient enough, you can see whales in the distance.  You can also climb 476 stairs to the top of a mountain.  It's hard work but the view from up there was unbelievable!  After the hike at the top, we decided to continue our trek and completed a second trail.  Both were beautiful!

The next morning, we had our boat tour to see icebergs from up close and whales.  Right in the bay, there were icebergs - big ones!  We got really close to them.  Interestingly enough, one of the icebergs had this rock stuck right in the middle of it!  The guide told us he's never seen anything like it before.  It's interesting to see!  It's also incredible that we only see a small fraction of the actual iceberg. It would be quite a sight if we could take it out of the water and see the whole thing!

Once every saw the iceberg, we moved on to see whales.  It didn't take to long before I yelled "There she blows!"!  A big puff of whale breath in the distance!  We got to see the magnificent humpback whale!  What a beauty!  There was three of them.  We followed them for a while and got to see them quite a bit!  After a while, just before we were turning back to get back to port, they (the whales) decided to have a closer look at who was following them!!!  They came up right next to the boat, let out a big breath and of course almost gave me a heart attack!  WOW!!!  They followed alongside the boat for a while and ended with a show of their fluke (the correct term for what we typically call tail).

Thursday, July 4, 2013

L'Anse au Meadow

Off we go again to visit L'Anse au Meadow - an old viking settlement.  Being at the most northern tip of Newfoundland is pretty cool - no pun intended!  It's quite chilly here.  There isn't too much in terms of vegetation - lichen,  some very small pine trees, a few wild flowers -I didn't know that irises grew in the wild - these cool little puff things and a few leafy bushes.  The tundra is not a friendly place - lots of bogs, small lakes - or ponds as they call them here.

 It was a long drive to get here - but well worth it!  What an amazing place!  We saw our first icebergs on the way - huge ones too!  We stopped to take pictures and who did we see?  This older couple from New Brunswick that we keep bumping into!  Too funny!  What are the chances we stop at the same place at the same time?!   Weird!

After chatting for a few minutes, taking pictures for another few minutes we got back in our car to get to the viking settlement - about 2 minutes away.  It's a great place to visit! I wish I could bring my students here!  Lots of history to be heard and seen!

Of course, it's a "remake" of the settlement as a 1000 years is a long time for something to last.  You can still see where the original buildings would've been - the walls, the benches and the fire pits.

After visiting the little village, you could take a 3 km hike.  We went for the hike and loved it!  What a beautiful place!  The ocean on one side, the tundra on the other... beautiful!  It's amazing to think we stood where Lief Erickson stood!  History is fascinating!  I wish my teachers would've been able to make me like history in school...