Thursday, August 17, 2006

Adventures in Newfoundland: The Rooms, Chess’ and the Haunted Hike Day 2
Nice summer weather in Newfoundland is apparently 16 C, which is just fine for us. It’s perfect weather for wandering, which is what we did today.

We woke up and finally got down to breakfast for 8:50. We thought this was fine since Olga had said breakfast was between 8 and 9. And technically we were still on Ontario time – 7:20am – early for a vacation. But Olga was angry, she said “I thought you’d NEVER get up.” She was already clearing away the plates. (The next day we would get there too early and there wouldn’t be enough seats.)

After breakfast we roamed and explored some more of the town uphill of Gower Street. We met another tourist, a lady from Vancouver, who was traveling alone and was a bit lonely. We talked about our plans and her plans and quietly congratulated ourselves later for having booked a rental car early – she’d be bussing it across Newfoundland. What an inconvenience, we’d think. Good thing we’re so planned ahead!

We went to a place called The Rooms. It’s a museum and art gallery and has a beautiful observation deck where we took pictures. We were wandering around a display in the museum when a security guard approached us and told us there was a movie starting in the theatre in a minute. Great, we thought, a quick synopsis of the history of Newfoundland. We went in and joined the four other people who were in the little theatre. Then the movie began. It was about the rainforests. And we didn’t want to appear rude, so we stayed for the whole thing and learned all about the intriguing symbiotic relationships between various plants, insects and birds.

Everyone who’s from Newfoundland says you have to eat at Chess’ Fish & Chips. So we asked the lady at the information desk for some directions and meandered until we found the place. Mark had the famous fried cod and I had seafood chowder and biscuits shaped like little fishes. They also have EXCELLENT lemon meringue pie.

Then we did some wandering up and down Water Street and Duckworth street, the main shopping districts in downtown St. John’s. And our meandering brought us down to the pier, where we inquired about boat tours for tomorrow. We saw a military ship from Montreal called the HMCS. There was a soldier standing the deck with a machine gun – weird.

Then we went back to Chatter’s cafĂ© for hot chocolate and green tea (too much coffee last night made us both have a difficult time sleeping) and to use the free internet. Now we’re just chilling a bit before we go to dinner and then on the Haunted Hike tour.

p.s. Mark has given me creative freedom over the trip’s photography responsibilities. Yay!

* * *

I took a nap and Mark went to Fred’s – the local “record” shop. They don’t sell records though, they sell CDs. This matters to an avid collector like Mark. And when Mark asked a local guy who looked like he could be into the punk scene, where he could find a DaSlyme record (one of the very first punk bands – and they’re from Newfoundland), the guy said “Uh, maybe at an antique store?” Mark was not impressed. He did pick up a “Pointed Sticks” CD which we listened to again and again later as we traveled to Gros Morne because it was the only CD we had.

Apparently, even on a Thursday evening in August you have to make a reservation to dine in St. John’s. We must have gone into and been turned away from six or seven restaurants before Devito’s gave us their last table – nestled away in the corner behind the cash register. I was beginning to get a “no room at the inn” complex.

Then we congregated with no less than 150 other people at the Anglican Cathedral for the haunted hike. It cost $5 a person, which was excellent value for the entertainment we got. However, we couldn’t help but notice that these local actors made a KILLING in an hour and a half. They came dressed in costume – old fashioned cape, staff and one of those tri-pointy hats made of felt (I feel like I should know that word). Their voices boomed and carried easily over the crowd. They never broke out of character, never paused, or ummed or stumbled on a word. They told us creepy and funny and intriguing legends of ghosts and buried bodies and hangings as we walked around the town. It was excellent entertainment and good exercise too.

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