Sunday, September 30, 2007

Something Else On The Menu

Recognizing the unhealthy rate at which I am consuming saltfish n' brewis, I figured I would try to mix things up a bit. For dinner, I now substitute with a little cod au gratin. Healthy right? It is from the same great people at Atlantic Gourmet who make the saltfish n' brewis dinners I have come to enjoy so much. This is what the cod au gratin meal looks like:

Albeit a little on the salty side, it is very tasty, has large chunks of cod, and costs less than $2.00 at the Dominon. It is Newfoundland's answer to Michelina's.

I should also mention that this past Friday I went out with a couple of friends from MUN to the Guv'nor Pub. For dinner I started off with their seafood chowder and then went for their moose burger. No beef filler - all moose. It was very tasty! I suppose the mushrooms, onions, and cheese helped a little. I figured the moose would be fresh, after all it is Newfoundland. It was a nice pub with great food at good prices. We agreed that we will certainly be back to throw down a few pints to celebrate the end of midterms.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Swimming Was Never An Option

For the past couple of weeks I have been shopping around for a plane ticket back to Ottawa for Christmas. I've compared major carriers and regional carriers. Plane, train, ferry, and bus from Halifax to Ottawa was also briefly considered. But after all of the research and fare hunting, the best option was to fly from St. John's to Ottawa. Unfortunately matters were complicated and things stacked up not in my favour.


1.) Newfoundland is an island. The Atlantic is always cold. The mainland is too far to swim.

2.) Exams end on Friday December 14th but I have a presentation to give and simulation to participate in on Saturday December 15th. This will be a long day and will not end until 5:00pm.

3.) My attendance is mandatory this last day. No skipping out early.

4.) The latest flight out on Saturday with any carrier is at 5:10pm.

5.) Seat sales over the past couple of weeks have remain unchanged at 30% to 50% off flights until December 15th only.

6.) To take a flight out on Sunday as opposed to Saturday with a seat sale will cost $250 more!


1.) The only travel option considering time and cost is to fly.

2.) WestJet offers flights from St. John's to Ottawa via Toronto. This means a longer flying time in both directions because of having to backtrack from/to Toronto to/from Ottawa. On the other hand, Air Canada offers flights from St. John's to Ottawa via Montreal. No backtracking required. Smart!

3.) The earliest flight out of St. John's with WestJet on Sunday is at 6:15am, arriving in Ottawa at 10:01am. The earliest flight with AirCanada is at 5:35am, arriving in Ottawa at 8:53am. Why is this important? I will have been in Newfoundland for nearly four months. I will want off as early as possible. Fog (or moose on the runway) may delay the departure time.

4.) On the return, WestJet does not offer any Saturday January 5th departures. A Friday departure is too early and the Sunday departure does not arrive in St. John's until Monday at 1:00am. This is too late because classes start first thing Monday morning. However, Air Canada offers a late Saturday departure. It does not arrive until early Sunday morning, but at least I will have most of Sunday to recover before classes start on Monday.

5.) Air Canada is $10 cheaper than WestJet. That's at least a coffee at Starbucks!

Decision: fly Air Canada and hope that my luggage and the checked scallops and lobster arrive with me in Ottawa. The final damage was $766.41. Ouch! The taxes will get you every time!

Here are a few screen shots, just because...

And here is something that I have not seen before - an emissions offset initiative, asking if I want to offset the total CO2 emissions from my trip by making a contribution to a not for profit organization called Zerofootprint. You enter in your flight details, how many people, and then it computes the total tonnes of CO2 emissions per flight. On this trip I will be spewing out 0.4 tonnes of CO2 per flight. The "offset cost" was $6.40 and would go towards funding certified environmentally friendly projects.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

That's 4031km To Be Exact!

The other day I took a picture of the odometer just to see exactly how far we drove during our ten day "vacation" to Newfoundland. It turns out that we drove 4031km! That includes driving from Ottawa to North Sydney, Nova Scotia and driving around the island of Newfoundland (up to Bonavista, down to Cape St. Mary's, up to Brigus, and then in and around St. John's). That's a lot of driving! On that note, I think it is time to get the car serviced.

The proof is in the pictures:

With a full tank of gas, we are off and out of Ottawa on August 23rd.

Just an hour later we arrive in Québec.

Later that evening we arrive in New Brunswick.

Early morning, August 24th we arrive in Nova Scotia.

At last! August 25th we make landfall in Newfoundland.

Gas tank empty, we end our journey in St. John's on September 1st.

What's For Dinner?

Since the start of the fall semester, by diet has primarily consisted of cod, Quidi Vidi beer, cod, scallops, cod, fish cakes, and cod. Forget the pizza and hamburger chains. Did I mention cod? What about cod tongues? Yes, I think I am well on my way to eating the Grand Banks clean of its remaining cod stocks. Tongues and all. I guess that is to be expected when a land-locked Ontarian moves to Newfoundland!

To give everyone a quick taste of what constitutes as "study" food - Newfoundland style, I have posted a few pictures below. If it's a busy night and there is a lot of reading to do, I often microwave an Atlantic Gourmet saltfish n' brewis dinner. I like to think of it as the Newfoundland equivalent to the tv dinner. Only much better! If it's the weekend with a bit more time to spare, I indulge in a little honey brown from the local Quidi Vidi brewery. Very nice! Dinner has been known to include fresh pan fried scallops and a side of... saltfish n' bewis or pan fried cod. Dessert for me now consists of anything Purity brand. Cookies, biscuits, and the like. My favourite to date are the lemon cream biscuits. Why aren't these available in Ontario?

The MUN student staple of saltfish n' brewis.

A typical "the weekend could not have come sooner" celebratory dinner of fresh scallops and a side of saltfish n' brewis.

The honey brown from Quidi Vidi breweries helps to wash down the saltfish n' brewis.

I should also mention that since moving here, I have now been to Ches's for fish n' chips three times! The usual - two pieces of cod and instead of the chips I get a side of cod tongues. Is that wrong? That said, there are somethings that I have yet to try, like the seal flipper pie and Jigg's Dinner. So many things to try!

Another place that I like to frequent is Aunty Crae's down on Water Street. I went here a couple weeks back and picked up a light breakfast and something for an early lunch. Blueberry scones and coffee for breakfast, and a really thick and creamy cod chowder for lunch. This place came with high recommendations and it has yet to disappoint!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Beginning of Something New

Lucia returned to Ottawa on Saturday September 1st. The remaining days leading up to orientation were busy: unpacking and grocery shopping consumed a lot of time. The two day orientation event was great fun, but soon it was time to get down to business and hit the books!

Classes started on Wednesday September 5th. Since then, I have taken advantage of the few warm and sunny days we have had in St. John's. So, digital camera in hand, I went on a photo walk of MUN so that everyone at home could take a virtual tour of the campus. Enjoy!

Welcome to Memorial University of Newfoundland! Become...

Burtons Pond residence, my new home for the next year.

Another view of Burtons Pond and the many ducks who call it home.

Looking across Burtons Pond towards Paton College residence.

Paton College, Hatcher Square, and the Gushue dining hall. Sweep! Hard!

Walking across campus.

Arts and administration building.

Mathematics building and garden.

Inco Innovation Centre - where a lot of innovating things happen!

The Memorial clock tower - great for when you do not have a watch!

Now, which way was it to orientation?

This is a MUNnel (MUN + tunnel = MUNnel). Clever!

The view from the Marine Institute can be very distracting while in class!

For more information about MUN, see their website.

Our Last Day: Friday August 31st

This morning began at a much slower pace. We enjoyed breakfast at the inn and then made our way north towards Logy Bay, Outer Cove, Inner Cove, and Torbay. Very scenic! While in Logy Bay we payed a visit to the MUN Ocean Sciences Centre where they have touch tanks and aquariums with seals for the purpose of research. When we visited, several graduate students were conducting research on the ability of seals to see objects out of water. Interesting!

For lunch we stopped in at the Beach Cove Restaurant. Located across from the Bell Island/Portugal Cove ferry terminal, we enjoyed pan fried cod for lunch, and indulged in figgy duff for dessert. Finding ourselves with a few hours to spare that evening, we returned to St. John's to shop for souvenirs. Otherwise, it was early to bed as Lucia was to fly out of St. John's the following morning at 7:15am!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Puffins and Humpback Whales: Thursday August 30th

This morning we were up very early so that we could take in the sunrise at Cape Spear. It is incredible to think that today, we were at the most easterly point in North America, and were some of the first people to see the sunrise on the continent! We arrived at Cape Spear with time to spare before the 6:15am sunrise. It was simply spectacular!

From Cape Spear we returned to the inn and prepared for a morning at sea. From St. John's we travelled south to Bay Bulls. Along the way, we stopped in to Bidgood's, a local grocery story that specializes in selling traditional Newfoundland food prepared in the store. Seal flipper pie, saltfish and brewis, cod tongues, and salted beef were a few of the items that could be found on store shelves. Onwards, we arrived at the dock in Bay Bulls where we were looking forward to boarding the S.S. Atlantic Puffin with O'Briens Nautical Experience.

With a full boat, we sailed from Bay Bulls to the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve. Once there, we began the slow process of making our way around the bay, all the while keeping an eye out for spouts and fins. Although the whale watching season was near its end, we were lucky, and soon after arriving we were on the trail of a humpback whale! We soon learned that the humpback whale we were following was well known in the area, and had been nicknamed "Bob".

Without intruding on the whale, we spent the next hour following at a distance as it surfaced for air, raised his tail out of the water, then descended. We were fortunate to see several cycles (each 5 minutes apart) of the whale surfacing, and each time was just as amazing as the first.

Saying goodbye to "Bob" we made our way over to a nearby island that was literally covered in thousands of puffins. Swooping down from the cliffs to the ocean below all the while surrounding the boat was an incredible experience. After taking hundreds of pictures, we made our way back to Bay Bulls - in Newfoundland style, singing mariner songs. Fun!

From Bay Bulls we made our way back into St. John's. The remainder of the day was spent seeing the many other sites in and around the city, including Pippy Park, the Fluvarium, the MUN botanical gardens, the Marine Institute, the Confederation building, Fort Amherst, and the Johnson Geo Centre.

After visiting nearly all of the major attractions in and around St. John's, we thought, what better to do than check out a local Dominion grocery store and see the neat things they have here in Newfoundland that are not available in Ontario? A good example of this were the four whole corn on the cob. Canned, ready to heat and enjoy. This, I will certainly have to try!

With a little shopping done, we were starting to get hungry. Short on ideas, we ended up back at Ches's a second time for more fish n' chips because it was that good! This time around we skipped the side of chips, instead opting to order two pieces of cod each, and share a sampling of cod tongues. Truthfully, they were delicious! From Ches's we explored George Street but realized that not much was happening because classes at MUN and the local colleges had yet to start! Exhausted we turned in for the night at Witt's Inn.

The City of Legends: Wednesday August 29th

While anxious to make our way to St. John's this morning, we did take a little time to enjoy breakfast at the inn and snap a few photos with Captain Dildo.

From Dildo we made the (now familiar) drive into St. John's. While we did enjoy the past couple of days exploring the smaller communities of the Avalon Peninsula, we must say that we were happy to be back in an urban setting. Once in St. John's, we made our way to MUN and the apartment so that we could unload the car.

With everything unloaded, we spent the remainder of the morning running all those errands around campus that would be so much more difficult and time consuming come the first day of classes and 20000 students! Finishing up in the early afternoon, we made our way downtown and checked into At Witt's Inn. This beautiful inn was just what was needed to help us enjoy our last few days together in St. John's. From the inn, we explored Duckworth and Water Streets (said to be the oldest commercial street in North America).

For lunch we treated ourselves to The Cellar. Tasty fish cakes, scallops, and jumbo shrimp! From there we explored the many streets with colourful "jelly bean" houses, as well as the Newman Wine Vaults, the St. John's waterfront, the Roman Catholic Basilica and Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the Government House and Commissariat House. With all that we accomplished today, we decided that another treat was in order. So, we stopped in for a couple of scoops of home made ice cream at Moo Moo's Ice Cream. It was very good!

Exploring a city with so many hills left our feet and legs aching. Recovering back at the inn, we then prepared for a night out on the town. Later that afternoon we made our way to the top of Signal Hill and Cabot Tower. This was an incredible experience as the Atlantic Ocean lay to the left and the city of St. John's to the right.

While at Signal Hill, there are sign posts marking how far it is from St. John's to various destinations - sobering to see that the Titanic was only 584km offshore when it struck an iceberg and sank. From Signal Hill we made our way to The Rooms; a beautiful building housing a museum, art gallery, and archives. The building is perched on a hilltop and thus offers amazing views of downtown St. John's and the narrows. Best of all, admission is free at The Rooms on Wednesday nights!

From The Rooms we decided that our craving for fish n' chips had yet to be satisfied. So, we were off to try another very popular place, the Big R. Tasty! With a long day behind us, we made our way back to the inn for some much deserved rest.

The Baccalieu Trail and Onwards to Dildo: Tuesday August 28th

This morning we enjoyed a home cooked breakfast of hot blueberry pancakes at the Brittoner Bed and Breakfast. It wasn't too long after breakfast that we started making our way north along highway 70 (aka the Baccalieu Trail) to Bay de Verde. Along the way there were many scenic lookouts. We climb nearly every hill in the small towns that dotted the coastline, each offering a beautiful ocean panoramic.

Further along the way we saw several racks, each with cod that had been laid out for drying. Interesting! While it may have looked odd at the time, we also snapped a couple of pictures of clothes drying in the warm sea air. Very artistic!

From the tip of the peninsula, we turned south onto highway 80 and made our way though the picturesque towns of Heart's Desire and Heart's Delight. We eventually made it to Dildo - an oddly named town where we would be spending the night. Checking into our room at Inn By The Bay, we were surprised to see a card and bottle of wine waiting upon our arrival - thank you Nicole!

From Dildo we made our way over to Rodrigues Winery in Markland. We tasted several wines, all made on site from local berries, including: blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, and our favourite, black currant wine. With several hours of daylight left, we decided to make the one hour drive into St. John's. While we had not planned to visit St. John's until the following morning, we thought that I may want to get a jump start on getting acquainted with my new home for the next year. We also heard that the fish n' chips at Ches's were excellent and well worth the drive. Obviously this was the deciding factor.

Hungry stomachs in tow, we made our way into St. John's - the city of legends! Once we arrived in St. John's we made our way to Memorial University of Newfoundland (aka MUN). While the new surroundings will take some getting use to, I was pleased with everything. After a quick tour of MUN, we made our way to Ches's. While downtown, we saw a few things that struck our attention.

Question: what happens if ever you need pickled wieners but the store is closed?


Each of us had a plate of Ches's famous two piece fish n' chips. With traditional Newfoundland music playing, our dinner arrived and we were soon fish n' chip fans. The cod fillets were large as was the side of chips. The experience could all be summed up in one word: delicious! A special mention should be made regarding the tartar sauce. Yes, it was that good.

From Ches's we made our way back to Dildo and turned in for the night.