St John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada – Maritimes 2018 – Day 4-5

06/14/18

The airport is super tiny and we had absolutely no line to get through security. We ended up taking the smallest plane I’ve ever been on with Air Canada using a EVAS – everyone had a window seat (minus the first 2 seats – which I had one of) and you can see the pilot and all the gears and buttons. It was a relatively smooth flight however because of the geography of where PEI is located and Newfoundland & Labrador, we had to stopover in Halifax before making it into St John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador.

We stayed in downtown St John’s at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland (115 Cavendish Square, St. John’s NL A1C 3K2). Since we arrived in the evening, we took to Signal Hill to catch the sunset. We definitely did not pack appropriate clothing for St John’s weather having gone from 25 back home to 8-22 in Nova Scotia to PEI to 3-5 degrees in St John’s. The view is spectacular from Signal Hill both sides (water side and city side).

St John’s reminds me of San Francisco with all the hilly streets but the beautiful coloured homes makes this town so much more enchanting. We made our way down to George St – one of their famous streets condensed with all the pubs/bars you would ever need. We ate at Piatto Pizzeria (377 Duckworth St, St. John’s, NL A1C 1H8) that night. We started off with Bruschetta and olives and among the 3 of us, we ordered 3 pizzas. We ordered the VPN Margherita ($15CAD) A base of San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh fior di latte mozzarella, fresh basil, EVOO + Grana Padano.), Americana ($17CAD) (Fresh fior di latte mozzarella + garnished with pepperoni) and Dolce e Fumoso ($17CAD) (Roasted garlic cream base, chili flakes, smoked mozzarella, crispy prosciutto, finished with a drizzle of honey + chopped parsley). The best overall of the night – Dolce e Fumoso.

 

06/15/18

We had spoken about waking up early and taking in the sunrise at Cape Spear (The most Eastern point to take in the first light of day) however the weather called for rain. I ended up waking up at 430-5AM to find a layer of fog taking over the skies.

Our final breakfast before getting to our last shoot location of the week long trip was at Bagel Café (246 Duckworth St, St. John’s, NL A1C 1G8). This place is known as the spot for breakfast and no not just bagels. St John’s is also known for their local favourite dish of Touton – (pronounced “tau-tin”) which are deep fried pancakes that is considered a breakfast food. To me personally, it tastes and resembles the Chinese dessert fried dough sticks (Yeoteww). Such a comfy restaurant with all the kitschy interiors you want. I ordered the Harbour main deep fried cod with hollandaise and smoked salmon touton ($17CAD). It was a little heavy but so worth it.

After our shoot, we had a few hours left before we needed to depart to the airport to head back home to Toronto. We had to return to the hotel to check out and once we did, we ventured out to Quidi Vidi (a small fisherman’s village). We went down a steep single laned road and came upon a quaint little neighbourhood. We wanted to have our final meal at the Mallard Cottage (8 Barrows Rd, St. John’s, NL A1A 1G8) but the place was packed and booked up. We walked over to QVFC (Quidi Vidi Fish & Chips) (31 Barrows Rd, St. John’s, NL A1A 1G8). Regina ordered the single piece of fish and poutine as I ordered the Fresh fried Cod bites – the tartar sauce was intense but in a good way and tasting the fish was super fresh and the poutine had more than a good amount of cheese curds to make anyone happy. We drove back up the road and ended up taking in our last sights at Quidi Vidi Battery before making our way to the airport and finally flying home.

I will be back one day to explore more. Our goal of seeing Puffins, Whales and icebergs was not fulfilled. However, from St John’s, a 3.5 hour drive to Elliston you can find the trifecta. Fishers Loft is the best accommodations in the woods but there are also many Airbnb’s out there too. If you want the true feel of Newfoundland & Labrador – visit Trinity Bona Vista.

Charlottetown, PEI, Canada – Maritimes 2018 – Day 3-4

06/13/18

Back on the road we went enroute to Prince Edward Island (PEI). We drove across the Confederation bridge into PEI with such a scenic view. The sky was surreal. If you are driving over, there is a $47CAD toll upon returning across the bridge leaving PEI.

We took the first exit off the highway once we had gone over the bridge and stopped to see the bridge in all its glory by a small lighthouse.

Back on the road towards Charlottetown and when I mean road, there is only one road and this road is like a roller coaster – up and down and up and down – extreme angles at times.

We finally arrived to downtown Charlottetown and oh boy the architecture is stunning with all the old houses and all the colours. We stayed at The Holman Grand – (123 Grafton St, Charlottetown PE C1A 1K9). Unlike Nova Scotia & New Brunswick, the weather started to get a little colder.

The downtown seems to run on a nice grid like system with everything within walking distance. I ended up walking around a bit by myself and found myself walking on Victoria Row which I guess is the Chinatown area of Charlottetown. Many stores of Anne of Green Gables. Cows Creamery also originates from PEI. Cows Ice cream is to Canada as Ben & Jerry’s is to USA.

After a quick rest, we walked over to Hopyard (151 Kent St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1N5) for dinner. This was by far the best experience we had in terms of East Coast hospitality. Once we walked in, the atmosphere was laidback and cool. We took to a booth seat and was approached by a server. The server was amazing. He let us know the rundown of the restaurant and the food and drink list. Hopyard is exactly what their name says – Beer – Food – Vinyl. There is a table of vinyls in the middle where you can browse and find a record you would like to play and bring it to the bar so they can put it in the queue. If you feel the need to own the record, you are more than welcome to purchase it as the vinyls are brought in directly from a nearby records store.

The menu itself is complex but great value and a variety of flavours. The menu changes every few weeks and the top of the list are the vegetarian options while the bottom half are the meat options with some fun dessert options. Majority of the things on the menu are $8CAD each. The menu is a complex fusion of Asian flavours and a play on new mixes. The theme for the dishes during our stay was Qingdao to Incheon. The beer menu is also a long but great list to choose of for local and slightly further Canadian brewed craft beers.

Among the 3 of us, we ordered a bunch of dishes and they all had distinct flavour.

What we ate:

-Nuoc Cham Spring Rolls (Crispy Veg Rolls, Nuoc Cham, Fresh Cilantro, Black Sesame Sour Cream), – the black sesame sour cream was AMAZING!

-KoKuma Yam Fries (Crispy Shallots, Garlic Sauce, Hot n’ Sour Sweet Stuff.)

-Bun Mi (Marinated Roasted Tofu, Salted Cauliflower Relish, Shredded Carrot, Cucumber Kimchi, Hoisin Mayo, Spicy Salt on a Brioche Bun)

-Qingdao Fried Broccoli (Fried Broc, Shoyu Mayo, Cherry Sauce, Hot Salt and Scallions) – The biggest surprise in taste was the broccoli – it tasted like candy.

-Sesame Hot Wings (Sesame Candy, Chili Salt Mayo and Cilantro BBQ Sauce)

-Crispy Fish Taco (Flour Torts, Iceberg, Black Bean Sour Cream, Wontons, Jalapeno Ginger Tartar, Cashew)

06/14/18

Unfortunately one of our subjects bailed so we had the morning free to explore PEI. We found ourselves indoors at Receiver Coffee & Co on Victoria Row (128 Richmond St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1H7)  because it was raining outside. We had breakfast in the cute little coffee shop. I ordered the Smoothie Bowl (avocado based smoothie with cinnamon, blueberry, strawberry and cucumbers) and paired it with a chai latte. We ended up staying here for majority of the morning before we hit the road to explore a bit before catching our flight.

The server from the previous night mentioned that we need to check out Brackley Point beach and drive through (shoe horse) via the PEI national park before making our way to the airport. With our laidback morning, we ended up not really having enough time to explore. We drove 20 minutes to Brackley Point beach but unfortunately we only had about 30 minutes before we needed to get to the airport and because it is part of the national park, we were unwilling to pay the fee to see the beach for a few minutes and drove to the airport. We were told that once you make it to Brackley Point Beach, if you go under the bridge, you can walk on the sand dunes. The park itself is suppose to be worth its while and should not be missed if you have the time.

Halifax – Windsor – Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada – Maritimes 2018 – Day 1-2

06/10/18

Our first stop was Halifax, Nova Scotia. We stayed at the Prince George Hotel in downtown Halifax (Halifax 1725 Market St, Halifax, NS B3J 3N9).

After flying and driving a bit, we found ourselves looking for a good meal. We ended up going to  The Five Fisherman (1740 Argyle St, Halifax, NS B3J 2B6). We all ordered The Five Fish ($44CAD) – Scallops, shrimp, lobster, asparagus risotto, salmon and swordfish. It was the best way to taste a bit of everything and the start to our East coast food experience.

We ended off the night with a nightcap at Economy Shoe Shop Halifax (1663 Argyle St, Halifax, NS B3J 2B5).  Neon sign outside with a funky interior dimmed look with a giant Mona Lisa on the wall insde.

06/11/18

For a great breakfast and coffee spot, we went to Steve O Reno’s Cappuccino (1663 Argyle St, Halifax, NS B3J 2B5). I had the Chai Latte and Homemade Granola bowl ($6CAD) (made in house with almonds & maple syrup with plain yogurt and Nova Scotia blueberries).

We took a day trip to Windsor & Falmouth, Nova Scotia for work. While there, we ate at Fry Daddy’s (109 Gerrish St, Windsor, NS B0N 2T0). I ordered the Seafood Chowder ($9.95CAD) – Scallops, local haddock and shrimp all simmered in a potato chowder base . Served with homemade biscuit.

After heading back to Halifax from our day trip, we had a reservations to The Bicycle Thief (1475 Lower Water St, Halifax, NS B3J 3Z2). It might be a little touristy but this place is a MUST! By the harbourfront, you get great views overlooking water but also come upon a cozy interior with great energy and even better food and staff. We got a round of NS oysters and they were so tasty! I also ordered the The Infamous BT housemade chopped Tenderloin Burger, double smoked Bacon, Caramelized onions, very old Cheddar cheese, lettuce & tomato, Sea salted Frites ($20CAD).

The following morning, we ate at Bird’s Nest Café (1547 Barrington St, Halifax, NS B3J 1Z4). I ordered the Tatertot Waffle ($9CAD) (with cheddar, bacon, sour cream, and scallions) – It tasted like sour cream and onion chips and it was absolutely delicious.

After our delicious breakfast, we started our adventure to Peggy’s Cove on our day off.

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

It is a long yet windy 45 minute drive to get to Peggy’s Cove from the core of downtown Halifax. We walked to the Lighthouse and rested on the rocks taking in the sounds of the waves crashing and the warm sun beating down with the wind blowing over us. We hopped back into the car and went back down the road (Prospect Rd) to an area where there were a few spots alongside the road. We parked and followed the trail into the roads and trees towards the water. It’s like a different world and looks amazing. The lighting was absolutely perfect however the breeze was strong but the sun was warm. Bring a sweater!

On our way back to Halifax, we stopped at Shaw’s Landing (6958 Peggys Cove Road, West Dover, NS B3Z 3S8). It is definitely a hidden gem of a restaurant to find. You will see a giant Lobster in a yellow rain jacket standing on the roof that marks the spot. The portions are quite large and the view is great in the patio to overlook a small inlet while you eat. We ordered fried pickles and I ordered the fish and chips (Fresh deep-fried haddock). The tartar sauce had dill in it and was very tasty.

Before heading to Moncton, New Brunswick, we stopped back in Halifax to meet up with a friend who moved to the East Coast at Seahorse Tavern (2037 Gottingen St, Halifax, NS B3K 3B1). It has a Kitschy interior that continued out into their patio. Perfect for a summer day with a laid back atmosphere and is attached to Propeller Brewing Company. I ordered the Cove Kombucha.

Other places to check out for drinks & food that I have been recommended in Halifax: Shuck Oyster Bar, Lot Six for drinks, Edna for brunch or dinner & Brooklyn Warehouse.

Itinerary – Contiki – 2011

0911-2411 European Horizon

I joined Contiki tours for their 7 countries in 10 days tour – European Horizon. I added on 3 days in Paris. I travelled with my friends Klarice and Crystle.

What you need to know about Contiki:

-you need to be between the ages of 18-35

-your itinerary is already planned for you (there are optional activities provided) a schedule for each day will be provided by tour guide

-Bus driver and Tour guide aren’t paid too well so tipping is much appreciated at the end of the tour (they get accommodation and maybe a stipend for food during the tours)

-You are allowed one luggage to go under the bus but it will be has to meet restrictions and weight.

-Depending on your journey, a Contiki sleeping bag will be provided (which adds to luggage)

-Travelling solo is great in these tours as you meet people

-If you are travelling with a group less than 4, it is usually 2 or 4 to a room so if you are an uneven number, you will room with different people each time

 

09/11-12 – YYZ – London

-Arrival at Gatwick

-take train towards Victoria

-Hostel: Royal National London Hotel

-Oxford St – shopping

-Contiki Group Meeting

 

09/13 – London – Amsterdam

-Check luggage

-Take Contiki bus enroute to Amsterdam via ferry

-Enroute via Belgium

-Hostel: Hotel Slotania

-Booze cruise down the canal

 

09/14 – Amsterdam – Rhine Valley

-Dropped off at Centraal Station for free time

-IAMSTERDAM sign, museums etc

-Meet up and enroute to St Goar, Germany

-Hotel: Winzerhaus

-Wine Tasting – Urbarer Winzerkeller

 

09/15 – Rhine Valley – Munich

-Enroute to Munich

-Dropped off at Marienplatz for free time

-Peterkirche church

-Bavarian Beerhall – Munchner Haupt Gastuhaus Biergarten Festsall

-Hotel: Haus International

-Party in the basement of Haus International

 

09/16 – Munich – Austrian Tyrol

-Enroute to Hopfgarten, Austria

-Rafting option

-Hotel: Haus Schnoneck

-Paragliding or Mountain biking option

-Party night with another Contiki bus

 

09/17 – Austrian Tyrol – Venice

-Enroute to Venice, Italy

-Camper – Trailers: Camping Fusina Hotel Venice

-Speedboat to Venice

-Gondola optional

-Meet up with Samantha

-Free time

-Speedboat home

 

09/18 – Venice – Swiss Alps

-Enroute to Lauterbrunnen with stopover in Luzern

-Chalet: Camping Jungfrau

 

09/19 – Swiss Alps – Interlaken – Jungfrau

-free day in Lauterbrunnen

-optional cable car ride up the mountain

 

09/20 – Swiss Alps – Paris

-Enroute to Paris

-Champagne and escargot

-Hostel: Etap Hotel Paris Porte de Montmatre by metro avenue de saint ouen

-free time

-Eiffel Tower with partial group

 

09/21 – Paris

-Champs de Mars

-Fragonard – Perfumery

-Drop-off by Arc de Triomphe on Du Champs Elysse for free time

-Goodbye dinner at La Bonne Franquette

-Pass by the Moulin Rouge

-Cabaret – Nouvelle Eve Cabaret

 

09/22 – Paris

-Final goodbyes with Contiki group at breakfast

-Optional bus ride to airport

-Hotel: Novotel Vaugirard Montparnasse

-Shopping Rue de Sevres & Galleries du Lafayette

 

09/23 – Paris

-Meet up with Luis

-Notre Dame

-Galleries du Lafayette & surrounding shopping

 

09/24 – Paris – CDG- YYZ

Homebound via Charle De Gaulle Airport

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