Canada - Newfoundland - Part 1 - 24th of April till 8th of May 2024

Newfoundland is not a destination for mass tourism and if it is, then only in the summer months from mid-June to the end of August. Throughout the year, there are just about as many visitors here as New York has on a weekend in peak season. We are early in April and have our angora underwear and thick jackets ready. From Sydney in Nova Scotia, it's only a comfortable 6-hour crossing to Port-aux-Basques in the southwest of Newfoundland. The Vikings found their way here around the turn of the millennium, 500 years before the English and French. Long before that, there were still indigenous people, but they were completely wiped out by the colonial powers. The ratio of the 500,000 or so inhabitants to the moose is 5:1, with an upward trend for the moose, which were only settled here at the beginning of the last century. So there is a good chance that we will come across one or two of them on our tour.  


We arrive in the evening and find our first place to sleep near the harbor. There's not much to see in the town and in the morning we drive on to Stephenville, 170 km away, and spend the afternoon in front of the library with free internet.  In the evening, heavy rain sets in with temperatures around zero degrees and strong winds and we are glad to be warm at home. The next day is even worse, with sleet and icy winds that feel like minus 5 degrees. We drive via Corner Brook to the Dorset Trail and the sun returns just in time for our arrival. We're looking for icebergs and the app says there's one in Harbour Round, so off we go. We park the car at the harbor and walk around the headland and suddenly it's right in front of us. A beautiful large iceberg is bobbing in the bay in all its glory. What luck. We can hardly believe it and are completely amazed. 


After an extensive photo shoot, we drive on to the next bay to La Scie. There is a viewpoint at the top of the mountain with a wonderful view over the bay. An iceberg bobs around in the distance and at sunset another small iceberg turns the corner and slowly drifts up to our level the next day. We make the most of the beautiful weather, go for a walk and spend the day reading and lazing around. On the shady side of MOMO it's just 9 degrees, but on the sunny side, which is sheltered from the wind, it's almost 20 degrees. Unfortunately, the first clouds start to gather in the evening and it rains in the morning, and the weather forecast says it will stay that way for the next few days.  


The smoking chimney of one of the world's largest paper mills in Grand Falls Windsor can be seen from afar. The town doesn't have much to offer. Only when the salmon migrate upstream over the Grand Falls in July is there anything going on here. The rain has now subsided and it is a "pleasant" eight degrees. As far as temperatures are concerned, people here are very modest. With a population of 11,000, Gander is almost a big city by Newfoundland standards. When transatlantic air traffic was still handled by propeller-driven planes, Gander was the first stopover for refueling. During the Second World War, it was developed into a huge military base by the USA due to its location. Today, transatlantic air traffic only uses the airport in emergencies, such as on September 11, 2001, when the Americans closed the entire airspace after the attack on the World Trade Center and 10,000 passengers were stranded here and had to be cared for for days. We make a stop at the Aviation Museum where the history of the airport is documented in detail. 

We find a nice spot nearby by the lake for the night. We briefly consider shamelessly taking advantage of the 8 degree air temperature and plunging into the water, but decide against it when we realize that the water temperature is the same as the air temperature. Instead, we take a nice hike along the lakeshore. We continue on the Trans Canada Highway in heavy rain and fog. To make matters worse, the windshield wiper gets stuck and won't move. This is a major problem in the weather in Newfoundland and is just short of engine failure in terms of value. Fortunately, only the screw on the linkage is loose and the whole thing can be repaired in half an hour. 

We arrive in Bonavista and despite the fog and constant rain, the landscape is breathtaking. The place really lives up to its name. We take a long walk and then look forward to our warm and cozy home. We spend the night in the parking lot of the lighthouse with a great view of the cliffs. 

We continue along the coast to the cliffs of Dungeon Ridge and Elliston. We would like to see the puffins there, but unfortunately they haven't arrived yet. Erik, who calls himself "Puffin Man", tells us that the birds don't arrive until after Mother's Day. We couldn't find out how they know when Mother's Day is. Too bad, we would have liked to see them and you can't usually get as close as there. There are advantages and disadvantages to being out and about so early in the season. Museums, national parks, many restaurants and even the campgrounds are still closed, because the main travel season doesn't start until June, when the country slowly wakes up from its icy torpor. But then the blackflies and mosquitoes come in droves. 

On the way to Trinity, we stop for lunch in Port Rexton at the Brewery Pub. Anyone in Germany who thinks that beer or food is expensive hasn't been to Canada. A half pint costs a whopping $10, plus a sandwich each and $50 are gone. Well, we don't have to pay for overnight stays and find a nice spot near the lighthouse with a view of the beautifully renovated houses of Trinity. 

On the way to St. John, we absolutely have to stop off at the Micro Brewery in Dildo. Maybe the weather will improve with a few beers. Unfortunately, the Dildo Donkey Weather Forecaster (see picture) doesn't give us much hope. In addition to the standard fish and chips and other fried foods, the pub also serves fish gratin and pasta with scallops and shrimps. The pub is obviously a trendy hotspot and is packed at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon. For the bargain price of $78, I pick up 12 cans of beer. We can't drive any further and spend the night on a nice pitch on the beach, just around the corner. 

Today is summer in Newfoundland and we have a steel-blue sky, 5-8 degrees and a strong wind. We take advantage of the beautiful weather and drive to the very south of the Avalon Peninsula to Cape St. Mary's. There is a gannet colony there with thousands of animals that make their home on the cliffs. After taking plenty of photos, we make ourselves comfortable in our deckchairs in the lee of the tourist center. The season hasn't started yet and we can enjoy the sun all day on our own. Only towards evening does a motorhome come and delight us with its generator. 

What we could still see yesterday under a blue sky is shrouded in thick fog this morning and we are woken up by the tooting of the foghorn. But after two hours, the sun comes out and it's an incredible 16 degrees. We decide to shorten the big loop around the Avalon Peninsula and take the direct route to La Manche Provincial Park. In glorious weather, we hike a beautiful trail to a suspension bridge and on to a bay surrounded by waves. We are back at the car in the late afternoon and soon find a nice campsite by one of the many lakes. Definitely an appropriate location for our 37th wedding anniversary, which we celebrate with pork tenderloin and a delicious wine. 

The fine weather is history again for the time being and so we unfortunately only see the easternmost point of the American continent at Cape Spear in drizzle and dense fog. Here stands the oldest lighthouse in Newfoundland and bunkers and defenses from the Second World War. 

From there, it is only a few kilometers to St John, the capital of Newfoundland with a population of around 100,000. From Signal Hill you have a spectacular view of the sea, the narrow harbor entrance and the city. It was here that the first transatlantic radio message was received from Cornwall in England on December 12, 1901, ushering in the age of telecommunications. We park in the parking lot and in the evening, when all the visitors have disappeared, it is wonderfully quiet. The next day, it's time to do the laundry and replenish our supplies. In between, we take a look at the colorful houses in downtown and take a picture at the 0 km point of the Trans-Canada Highway. It is 7821 km from here to Victoria on Vancouver Island. In the afternoon we visit the Iceberg Brewery, picturesquely situated on a fjord.  They actually make beer there using water from icebergs. A subcontractor goes out to sea during the iceberg season, collects the ice and sells it melted to the brewery. The brewery then checks the quality, because only genuine iceberg water is completely pure and free of pollutants. We each enjoyed a pint and had delicious tacos to go with it. The beer is sold in iceberg blue bottles at top prices. We spend the night again on Signal Hill and tomorrow we're back on the Trans Canada Highway, because we have to get back the whole way somehow. 

This marks the end of the first part of our Newfoundland trip. We have saved a few highlights for the way back. We will report on these in the next blog. Until then, enjoy reading and looking at the pictures. 

Our route for this part of the journey - 2000 Kilometer

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