Have you lived in Canada all your life, but you've been feeling like you haven't uncovered enough of it? Well, that's exactly how V and I have felt for a very long time now. Whenever we've talked about taking a trip together, we'd instantly jump to another part of the world. The older we've gotten however, the more curious we've become to explore the country we get to call home. We all know how ridiculously expensive traveling within Canada can be. It really isn't fair. It shouldn't cost us less to go to Europe than one of our own provinces. When we got the opportunity to take a trip with Porter, we knew in our hearts we had to pick a destination within Canada! After debating between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, we decided to take our seafood-eating-hiking adventures to St.John's!
Traveling can be expensive, so doing so on a budget has always been important to me. I love to feed my wanderlust while saving money wherever possible. If you've been meaning to see a part of Canada but haven't been sure where or how to begin, I hope this post will inspire you to get out there! The people living in NL are some of the sweetest people I've ever met. Even with very little planning, it can be the perfect little getaway this Summer! We were there for a total of four nights, which I have broken down for you below.
We got up early Sunday morning to make our way to Porter, for our 9AM flight. As per usual, we stayed up late the night before trying to decide how many sweaters to pack and whether or not we should check in our luggage. V is an over-packer and I'm an under-packer, so with both of our packing skills combined, we were ready to go. I adore how easy it is to travel through Billy Bishop and even consider myself a Porter lounge expert at this point, ever since my trip to Chicago. The two most important things I've learned is that it's never too early for Porter cookies, and it's always better to stock up than deal with the after effects of regret!
Our flight to St.John's had two quick stop overs in Montréal and Halifax. We were a little worried about all the time we'd spend on the plane, but thanks to the complimentary drink and snack that came with every stop (and the impeccable service provided by Jayden) we made it to St.John's before we knew it! I'm not sure if it was all the wine I had (jk... I do know), but that was the most fun I'd had on a flight in a very long time!
Since we wanted to save as much money possible on our accommodation, it made more sense for us to stay at a hostel. I've stayed at hostels in both Miami and Colombia, and use Hostelling International for all my hostel bookings. We knew the Hi-Hostel in St.John's was in a fantastic location, and was the perfect fit for us! We booked two beds in a four person room and got bumped to a private room. I'm sure this was only possible since they weren't overly busy. If you're thinking of staying at a hostel during the peak months of summer, make sure to book ahead of time. Rooms do tend to fill up!
Of course there are many different options out there if you're not quite comfortable staying at a hostel. Finding a package through Porter Escapes is a great place to look if all you wanna do is hop on a plane and have Porter handle all the dirty work! I have yet to use a Porter Escapes package, but I do know they're always answering questions and positively interacting with their customers via social media!
We got to our hostel around 5pm, and decided to drop off our stuff before heading out for dinner. A week before our trip, we put together a personalized Google Map where we pinned all the places we wanted to check out directly onto there.
The "my maps" section run by Google is my favourite travel tool because it allows me to create and save custom maps that I can bring up on any device I have on hand. If I want to go from point A to point B to point C, all I have to do is open up the map and get all the info I need! There's no reason to search up restaurants individually because all the info is right there! If you want to make your own customized map for your next adventure, you can create your own by clicking here. The best thing about creating your own map is that you can share it with your friends if they ever ask for recommendations.
On our way to the Adelaide Oyster House, we walked by the St.John's harbour. There is something so serene about being in another part of Canada and feeling like you're on the other side of the world somewhere. I've read about Newfoundland countless times in history books, and to finally witness it in person was simply breathtaking. Although Sunday was more on the gloomy side, it was pure magic experiencing a dose of true spring!
Adelaide Oyster House
Let's just say that our oyster cravings were successfully dealt with at the Adelaide Oyster House. The Baked Oysters ("Casino Royale") were our favourites, it's a shame I didn't end take pictures of them. I'm an oyster lover through and through, so this place really hit the spot. Aside from the taco, we decided to stick to oysters. The AOH had a great Sunday night vibe, and we definitely recommend ya hit this place up if you're ever in the area. The food is a little on the pricier end (which is typical for seafood), but it's a great spot if you feel like treating yourself to some fresh oysters that taste like the ocean! Believe me, you do.
So remember how I said to stock up on cookies at the Porter lounge or else you'd regret it later? Well, I should have taken my own advice and grabbed a couple of water bottles too. That night, after dinner, I woke up in the middle of the night so dehydrated that I spent about two hours day-dreaming about a cup of ice water and conducting dehydration pinch tests on my finger as if I was back in elementary school. Stock up on water y'all.
I had 8 glasses of water at breakfast the next morning at Rumpelstiltskin's, and was reminded how grateful we are to have access to clean water just about everywhere. If I really wanted, I could have just drank the tap water at the hostel but I wasn't sure if it was "safe" or not. Privilege. Like many others, I take the simple things in life for granted (#keepinitreal.. cause we're all a work in progress).
If you want a super affordable but filling breakfast (with a beautiful view of the harbour), then Rumpelstiltskin's is your place. We knew we would be hiking later, so we had a big breakfast to tie us over. On our way back to the hostel, we stopped by a grocery store where we met the sweetest strangers named Bev and Dave. I'll get to them a little later.
Pippy Park + THe Mun Botanical Garden
Monday was more on the windy side, and we didn't anticipate to hike so much. We ended up hiking more than 10km within Pippy Park before ending up at the Memorial University of Newfoundland's Botanical Garden (MUN Botanical Garden). It was so refreshing being outdoors surrounded by trees. If you're ever running low on money and still want to do something fun, opt to do more hikes! Even if you're not traveling, there are so many awesome trails in Ontario you can easily dedicate a day to.
During our hike through Pippy Park, there was a little lookout with a gazebo covered in all sorts of drawings. I'm not sure what the artist meant by this one, but I like to think it's a reminder to ease up on the timelines we often set for ourselves and to be okay with how things unfold. Woah, dude, you've got a lot of time! Don't you ever forget it.
Although I'm glad we got to check out the MUN Botanical Garden, I felt as though the experience would have been a lot more enjoyable during the summer months, when all the flowers were fully bloomed and there was more sunshine to go around. Remember to bring your student card when traveling, you never know what random perks you'll come across. Every dollar saved just means more money for food - duh!
Since Monday was a civic holiday, not a lot of things were open so it was the perfect time for us to go on a hike. If you're planning a vacation around a civic holiday, that may be something you want to be mindful of.
Ches's Fish and Chips
By the time we finished our hike, you best believe we were pooped. I'm not sure if it was how hungry we were but these fish and chips have become the most talked about meal from our trip ... which is saying something because we ate some really great things!!! Plus, unlimited tarter sauce?! There's no way you could go wrong.
We dedicated Tuesday for Cape Spear (the most eastern point in Canada) due to the lovely sunshine we were blessed with! Unfortunately, our ride cancelled on us last minute and without a bus route that'd get us to Cape Spear (there's no Uber in St.John's... I REPEATTTT, there is NO Uber in St.John's), we needed to figure out another plan.
We learned from the locals that getting to Cape Spear (which is only a 25 minute ride from the hostel) could easily cost us 100 bucks! Cabs are very expensive here so if you know you'll be driving to most locations, RENT A CAR! We knew that most of the spots on our itinerary were accessible by bus, so we opted for no rental.
We decided to stop by good ol' Tim Hortons for a quick breakfast before going back to see Bev and Dave to get some advice on hitchhiking. Remember Bev and Dave? The sweet strangers from that grocery shop we met? I told you I'd get around to them. I can't adequately explain in words how soul filling our interactions with Bev made us, but she embodied the truest form of hospitality we've ever experienced. I don't know anything about auras, but if I were to guess, I would say Bev's aura was the colour yellow. She told us to ask cab drivers for a flat rate and that if Dave was here, he would have totally offered to drive us there himself. I'm telling ya, the sweetest people live here!!!! Throughout our trip, we were asked a countless number of times what we enjoyed best. Every time the answer was the people. The kindness sprinkled by strangers on the street, the bus drivers we met, and the soul filling conversations we shared with strangers is what made this trip such a success. If you ever go to the Caine's Grocery Deli and Eatery, please tell Bev and Dave we say hello!
While trying to hitchhike ( a pretty normal practice in St.John's), we met a lovely cab driver named DJ who offered to take us for $40 round-trip! DJ was such a pleasant surprise, I'm so happy our original ride fell through. V and I were both feeling blue from the news of the Manchester shooting that morning, so talking to someone like DJ was exactly what we needed. We talked about the importantance of organ donation, the need to celebrate differences, but above all else how similar we humans are at the core. Race, religion, and money will never change that. Yet, it's one of the biggest things humanity really struggles to comprehend. No matter what happens around us, we just need to choose good over, and over, and over again. We can go to the church/ mosque/ temple a thousand times a day but if we aren't nice to the people around us (like really genuinely nice), then what good are we really doing? No matter how scenic a vacation is, people like Bev, Dave, and DJ make traveling worth it.
Even the ride to Cape Spear was out of this world. Pulling into the parking lot gave us chills - the beaming sun, the sound of the waves, and the smell of the ocean... we'll never forget it. It's hard to explain how it feels to stand in a spot surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, and know the entire population of North America is just west of you!
We didn't realize it before DJ mentioned it, but an hour max is definitely enough for Cape Spear if you don't plan on doing any hiking around there. He waited for us to finish exploring, and dropped us back off at our hostel!
St.John's Style Shoot
I don't want to give away too much about this next little bit because I'm putting together an entirely separate post very soon! For those of you who have been following along, you'll know that style shoots have sort of become our thing. I'm so happy with how the pictures turned out, I can't wait to share the rest. Till then, here's a little sneak peak of some of the accessories we were wearing. St.John's is a fashion blogger's dream - each and every corner is so Insta-worthy !!!!!
Catching the Sunrise at Signal Hill
Our last full day at St.John’s consisted of catching the sunrise at Signal Hill! We had originally planned to do so at Cape Spear but with no car, it would have been quite difficult to find an early morning ride. We set our alarm for 4AM, and started our walk about thirty minutes before sunrise. According to Google Maps, the walk should have taken us roughly 30 minutes from our hostel. But, with allllllllllll the uphill walking, we should have left a little earlier than we did. We were still making our way up to signal Hill, as the sun started to come up but it was still so so worth it. I wanted to practice some morning mindfulness, so I made the choice of leaving my DSLR behind. Even though waking up early can be difficult, I recommend everyone try catching more sunrises in their life! I don’t just mean the sunrise you inevitably catch while on your way to work or school, but the kind you genuinely catch from being totally and utterly present!
Breakfast At Bagel Cafe
We chose to come back to the hostel to take a nap before breakfast (smartest idea ever, thanks V). Personally, I was very excited for the Bagel Cafe, and it unfortunately did not live up to my expectations. I love brightly lit places, and this was really dark for a morning breakfast spot. There’s not a lot of room to move in terms of seating, and the food was kind of on the pricier end for breakfast. The portion sizes are quite big though, if you’re looking for a hearty meal.
We tried a touton here, a traditional pancake that is made in Newfoundland. Since this was our first touton experience, we don't quite have a touton standard to compare it to lol
Quidi Vidi Village
Quidi Vidi is a quaint little neighbourhood in St.John’s that is home to the Quidi Vidi Battery as well as the Mallard Cottage. We took a walk around Quidi Vidi Lake before heading to Mallard Cottage for dinner. There is something so soothing about Quidi Vidi, that is hard to put into words. I'm not much of a beer drinker, but there is the world famous Quidi Vidi Brewery for all you bonafide beer drinkers!
Dinner at Mallard Cottage was the perfect way to end our last full day in St.John’s! Mallard Cottage is a restored 18th century cottage turned restaurant. The coolest thing about this place is that a new menu is made everyday and posted onto their Instagram page! Since the restaurant is focused on using local ingredients, they make dishes using the absolute best quality from local product that is available to them. How amazing is that! I love dining in places with such rich history, where it’s obvious that the experience goes beyond the food placed in front of you. The dining experience was cozy, the customer service was phenomenal, and it’s so evident that Todd Perrin, the chief cook at Mallard Cottage is truly passionate about what he does. Whenever I have a great experience at a family owned restaurant, I make sure to go back and do more research to learn more about the history of the space and the story behind the chef!
Everything from the wooden walls to the colored plates caught our attention!
When we got to the Mallard Cottage, we were told there was only one whole lobster left. I remember shooting V this look after our waiter had left to get us some water, and she knew exactly what I was thinking. We had been talking about wanting lobster since day one of our trip, and all of a sudden we’re at Mallard and there is only ONE lobster left?! On my way to the bathroom, I was literally trying to flag down our host to let him know we wanted it. As I slowly walked back to our table wondering if we were able to catch our waiter in time, V turned around and flashed the biggest grin I’d ever seen. I knew then we “naiiiiiiiiled it”! It was settled; we were having a whole lobster for dinner! An orange dish to match our orange lobster? Yes please! Can you tell how excited I was?
There was an even bigger family room portion I wasn't able to snap a photo of. When you walk through the family room portion, you really get a feel for what this restaurant is all about.
Our last day consisted of waking up early, stuffing our luggages to the best of our abilities, and grabbing breakfast at Zachary's! Did I mention that the potatoes in NL are amazing! UGH, so good.
Since we had to be at the airport by 4, we took our last day slow. We stopped by the Newfoundland Chocolate Company to grab a few chocolate bars for the lucky loves at home, and went by a cafe called Coffee Matters (literally 30 seconds away from the hotel) for some pre airport drinks. Since we didn't want to cab to the airport we opted to take the bus, which was no problem at all if you wanna save some $$!
On our plane ride back to Toronto, we made friends with our flight attendants Donna and Jim who were the aboloute sweetest. How is very Porter staff the absoloute sweetest?! Every single person we came across on this trip reminded V and I how easily we can add a dose of happy to a stranger's day. In Toronto, we are constantly so go go go, and to see how others in Canada interact with each other is quite refreshing!
I'm so excited to explore more parts of Canada, and it's a true privilege that I even get to. I feel incredible lucky to call this country my home and I'm proud to be Canadian! Is there a part of Canada you've been wanting to uncover? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear all about it! If you want our custom map we made for this trip, please send me a message and I will send the link your way!
Love & light,
A 24 year old Canadian living (& teaching) in Shenzhen, China.