Alright, original plan for 2nd year in Toronto was just working and after that traveling. But… it makes me crazy which is not good at all. So I changed my mind and decided to go somewhere. I was almost done anyway.
Most people pick Caribbean as it’s ‘paradise’ close from Toronto. I’ve already been to Jamaica and it was great. However I definitely prefer different climate – so when I checked the map, far northeast was what catched my eyes. And I also got many recommendations from Canadians for this area, either Nova Scotia or Newfoundland are great I heard. I chose Newfoundland this time as it’s quite easier to go there than from Europe. That was my Caribbean 😀
And I also want to thank my friend Izumo that she decided to join me on this adventure. Sometimes can be fun but I 100% more enjoying traveling with a companion than alone. And I could do it this time as well. Also, renting car was much easier then. So thaank you for 7 fabulous days over there! But let’s start from the beginning.
Transportation, weather and wildlife
First of all, transportation. To get there, you can use ferry from continental Canada or fly. We chose flight as the most comfortable option for one week vacation & travelling from more than 2000 kms far Toronto. Cost is usually around 500$ for round trip. Sorry, price for ferry I don’t know…
Due to island, low population and harsh nature, the best for exploring Newfoundland is renting a car or hitchhiking. We chose first option as we had only 1 week and list of places to see 🙂 Other possibilities? Not really – no train and just very limited and expensive buses (i.e. one way from east to west 800 kms around 90$ – shared car is always cheaper, even just for 2 people).
Secondly, weather – that can be one of the NF stereotypes but it’s proven by objective facts. It rains a lot there and even in the summer days can be very cold. So we prepared all-season clothes just in case. But we were superlucky 🙂 Rain only three of four times and only once when we were outside. Otherwise very comfortable, sunny, (windy), cloudy and slightly above +20ºC. Absolutely ideal, that was a paradise for me 😉
And wildlife? Well Newfoundland has very pure nature so you can meet animals almost everywhere. We didn’t see a lot but still – “black-fox”, “normal-fox”, lot of birds and one time in the forest, moose. This animal is like a symbol of the island. There are many warnings on the highway that moose can suddenly appear and collision can be fatal. For example, we saw this year’s death toll – 6 people. Not a small number, so being careful is more than recommended.
Start – Bonavista
So after arrival we rented a car, left main city St. John’s for later and headed up to the north west. To the first Airbnb accommodation in small coastal town Bonavista. Actually we should spend the night over Couchsurfing in the city in the middle of NF – Gander but it was cancelled at the last moment so we took Airbnb instead. And it must be some destiny or something because Bonavista was also the best place of the whole trip for me.
Totally different landscape than I know – ocean, fresh wind, cliffs and colorful fishermen houses. Including very funny Airbnb host Jason. What a special place, indeed. Fantasy, Game of Thrones-like looking for me. We enjoyed afternoon trip to the lighthouse (we didn’t even realize that took 14 kms in total :)) with beautiful views, wildlife (black fox?) and even local thunderstorm.
Btw, lower Airbnb price in NF is 40$ per room & 1 person. Standard is around 50$… Due to island isolation and Canada, prices are generally higher, including gasoline (1,20$ per liter).
Continue to Burlington
The next day, the next Airbnb. Little different one this time, firstly more north than Bonavista, supposed to be in the largest iceberg area and secondly supposed to be in actual private tent. Seemed very interesting though.
But before we checked-in, we stopped in Terra Nova National Park on the way from Bonavista. This park reminded me home actually. Located not by the ocean but inland in the middle of black forest surrounded by many ponds, lakes and hills. Very similar to Czech forest landscape, I even found familiar mushrooms on the trail 🙂 Ideal for short stop and walk around, as we did. We climbed to very windy hill having great views to the whole area. Very nice!
With this stop we arrived to Burlington in the late evening but were very warmly welcomed by Airbnb host Sam. She was really nice, gave us all the information we needed. And tent acommodation? I think really good concept. They offer this as a part of comfort living in pure nature. So you have tent which looks more like normal room and if you really need, you have common house with all technology (wifi, shower, TV) nearby. Owners are successfully trying to build a friendly community.
The only little problem I found could be the area itself but it was just because of timing. We were looking for icebergs as veeery special thing (they actually floating from Greenland for 2-4 years) but middle of July seemed to be too late as most of them were already melted. And we also didn’t have much time there. But anyway next day’s swimming under the local waterfall definitely compensated it!
As well as people there – maybe even more kind than usual “Newfies”. Firstly, woman from Airbnb community offered us moose steak just after I mentioned it (in the end she found that she hasn’t any more meat but anyway) and secondly around the waterfalls we just asked some people where the place is and they immediately invited us to their house and even offered boat trip 🙂 Unbelievable!
I’d definitely like to spend more time in this area. Some other day for sure!
But we had to move to the west end and our most wanted spot – Gros Morne National Park.
We spent 3 nights there, stayed in a hostel dormitory in nice coastal town Rocky Harbour. Cost was reasonable 30$ for that kind of area and most of the time nobody was there but us. Not sure why… 🙂
Because except St. John’s this is the mostly visited area in whole Newfoundland. For obvious reason. It’s just crazy beautiful! Basically you have all the types of island’s landscape at one place. You can see cliffs & ocean, forest & lakes, rocks & hills. So for example one day we visited Tablelands which is orange table mountain looking like from desert and the next day in the same area we climbed up to lookout hill which looked totally different, more like nordic nature with amazing views to sunny bay valley underneath. Check two closest photos for comparison.
And the same day day we also visited the most amazing area – Western Brook Pond. Looking just awesome, again like from some fantasy movie. And that was just from the bottom. You can also attend boat trip further to the water but we didn’t. And if you have time and good equipment, you can do 4-5 days long backcountry trek and see pond from the top. That is the view you can find on Google or any postcard. Newfoundland fjord!
Note: We also finally tried moose meals – burger and stew (around 10$). I think I maybe already had it in Sweden, not 100% sure but what can I say, stew meat tasted like deer, “wild” little hard beef. Nothing special compare to what I had back home actually. But we tried.
Quite far north from Rocky Harbour there was another place from our list. And since we still wanted to see big iceberg we decided to drive to St. Anthony in the end. 400 kms and 4-5 hours one way… I don’t have problem just to go somewhere, spend 3-4 hours and go back, I usually enjoy it and Izumo seemed to be in the same mood so we made it! 🙂 I can say worth it again. Maybe we didn’t see the biggest icebergs ever but we saw some, visited another nice coast and northern fishermen village (don’t know how for my Japanese friend but for me again something special).
St. John’s and Cape Spear
The last destination was capital city of NF for two days. We drove all the way from west to east (800 kms) to stop at Cape Spear located approx. 20 kms from the city. Before we tried to stop somewhere around Witless Bay to see Puffin birds we missed in Bonavista but it was fail. Due to very populated area, there were literally only guided tours and no place to park a car.
Anyway Cape Spear. Ok, the whole St. John’s area is quite busy, in terms of Newfoundland 🙂 So also this place was little bit crowded. Not so much but little bit. However, again, I think still worth to go. It’s the easternmost point and lighthouse in North America, 2100 kms far from Toronto and 3100 kms far from Ireland. Almost non-Canadian feeling over there 🙂
After checking out Cape Spear we returned car at the airport and from there walked (acceptable 1 hr) to our Couchsurfing hosts. It was first experience for both of us. I always wanted to join this travelers community but it’s very hard to start with no references just with friend’s recommendations and specially in western countries. But Newfoundland is different. So we were accepted! By super kind & friendly host family – Ben, Deenaree and their two little sons. They moved in from US, travelled in similar style few years ago so after having own family, they started to host other travelers. I cannot be grateful enough. Everything was perfect, they took care of us and we had absolutely everything we needed. They also hosted another women second night so house was pretty full 🙂 Great experience! Thank you so much!
In the city itself, we had one full day so we went to Quidi Vidi lake, climb up to Signal Hill for city views, explore Qudi Vidi brewery (they have very good beer, one kind even made from iceberg water(!)) and visited colorful city centre.
In the evening we had good talk with Deenaree and she also even drove us back to the airport the next day. Because was already time to go back to big&rush Toronto.
Thank you Newfoundland and see you again some other day!
+ : people, nature, english and location, relatively isolated from continental Canada
– : higher prices, traveling without car, (often can be) weather