Saturday, March 12, 2016

St. John's Scenic Journey

While in St. John's to see the IceCaps, I had some time to visit several scenic sights. The city is right on the eastern tip of Newfoundland, and with a short drive, you can reach Cape Spear, which is the easternmost point on the continent. As we flew in, I had a great view of the area. Cape Spear is the topmost protrusion, near the passing ship. It looks slightly west of the bottom bit, but that is just the angle from which the photo is taken.

During the winter, the visitor center is closed, but you can still walk the trails. There are two lighthouses here, the taller one is currently active and was constructed in 1955.

The smaller one is a restored version of the original lighthouse that was built in 1836. It is open to the public during the season, so if you want to see inside, visit during the summer.

Cape Spear was used as a military installation in World War II and the bunkers are still present along with some rusty cannons.

Below is a picture of the easternmost point in North America. One advantage of going in the winter is that there are few other tourists and you pretty much have the run of the place. However, you probably wouldn't stay long; despite the sun and air temperature of about -4 C, wind off the ocean was harsh and the wind chill was around -25C. There are barriers to prevent you from walking to the actual easternmost point out on the rocks, but some foolhardy tourists have tried, and on occasion have been swept away by sudden waves.

The other cool site is Signal Hill, just northeast of downtown. This is where Marconi received the first wireless transmission back in 1901. Below is a picture of Cabot Tower, which was opened in 1900. However, Marconi's transmission was actually received near the tower in what is now the parking lot. Cabot Tower now houses some displays on Marconi, but it too was closed for the winter.

There are great views from both sides of Signal Hill, with the Atlantic lying to the East...

...while St. John's and the harbour are to the west.

There are a few other things to see and do here, including The Rooms, a collection of museums that also offers great views of the city and harbour. You can barely make it out as the large beige building with green windows in the middle of the picture above. Quidi Vidi Lake hosts the Royal St. John's Regatta, North America's oldest annual sporting event, which takes place every August. Quidi Vidi also has a microbrewery that offers tours.

Overall, St. John's is a wonderful place to visit. People here are friendly, the scenery is beautiful, there is good food and drink as well. It is nice to get away from it all and still have the chance to watch sports, and St. John's is one of those places that allows you to do both.



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