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St. John's wrap-up
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2013-06-17 18:42:10 | St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Keywords: Capital, Coastline, Harbour
Normally when you think about a city on the border of the ocean, you think about stunning water views, beaches, wonderful sunrise or sunset (depending on the orientation), high temperatures, great seafood and the list goes on and on. Nothing like this when it comes to St. John's, but it's still a great city to visit other other reasons.

First, you could be in the city and not even notice the ocean is nearby. The city is nested in a protected bay totally occupied by the harbour. No public access to the water except for a tiny park less than 50 m wide. Even if you are next to the harbour (or higher up), you might not see the ocean... because of the cliffs all around the bay. Huge ships come and go though a tiny opening at the end of the harbour... the total opening is just about 200 m wide. You're on a coastal city, you see huge trans-oceanic ships... but it's possible you don't see the opening to get out... wondering how those boats got there!

With that description, you're not surprised to learn there's no beach in town, and since you are totally surrounded by various hills, you can also forget the stunning sun views. Even if there was a beach... I doubt you'd be laying on it to get a tan... it rarely gets higher than 20 C (in July and August) and there's often a breeze coming from the invisible ocean all around you. Of course, it gets much worst when you go out on the water.

BUT... St. John's is a great city to visit if you're interested in history, in colourful wooden houses and in seafood of course!

Newfoundland was the first area to be explored in North America... by the Vikings, 500 years before Cartier, Cabot or Vespucci were even born. Everywhere here you see indicators of this rich history. On the other extreme, Newfoundland was the last province to join Canada, in 1949, enjoying until then its status of separate country under the Commonwealth.

One of the reasons why Newfoundland joined Canada was their poor economy. For decades, Newfoundland was a very poor province. Nowadays, St. John's lives at the beat of the oil exploitation from oil rigs sitting out on the ocean. The oil is brought back either by pipeline or by boats... and the local Irving refinery converts it to gas to power up cars of course but huge ships as well.

Everywhere, you see great houses with wooden exterior painted in various bright colours.   They are often built on the rocks of the hills around the harbour.  These surely contribute to bring in some joy in the residents heart... especially during the winter which is long and harsh here. I wouldn't want to visit here in winter with all those hills that must be very icy in winter time.

Of course, there are also the seafood... being close to an ocean has its rewards... and one you can expect (and find!) is great seafood. I didn't eat much of them, but I had a delicious fish and chips, where you could taste the freshness of the fish... even better when your nose is still filled with salty air coming from the ocean :-)

Overall, great city to spend a few days in... lots of hills to walk up and down, great for pictures inside the city, not so much from the water or above because of the omnipresence of the harbour.

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