Sojourn in St. John’s, a city of superlatives

No visit to Newfoundland is complete without a trip to the oldest English-founded
settlement in North America. As well as being the oldest, St. John’s is
also Canada’s cloudiest (1,497 hours of sunshine a year), snowiest (359
cm a year) and wettest city.

St. John’s is also home to North America’s oldest annual sporting
event, the Royal St. John’s Regatta. If you plan to attend the event,
be sure to book accommodation and car rentals in advance; the day of the regatta
(the first Wednesday with fine weather in August) is a civic holiday. In fact,
it is the only civic holiday that is weather-dependent. A crowd of up to 50,000
gathers on the shores of Quidi Vidi Lake to watch rowing competitions or simply
to enjoy what has been called “the largest garden party in the world.”

The night before the regatta, the pubs and bars on George Street are hopping
with Newfoundland’s “other wildlife.”

Signal Hill symbolizes the history of St. John’s since the 18th century
and is a must-see for any first-time visitor. Its Lookout Trail takes you over
the Narrows on the city side, then out to the seaward side with spectacular
views of the Atlantic Ocean. As you leave the attraction, stop in at the Johnson
Geo Centre, which offers a history of the planet through the unique geology
of Newfoundland. Most of the centre is underground — inside the excavated
solid rock walls.

A must-see in the city is The Rooms, which combines the Provincial Museum,
the Provincial Art Gallery and the Provincial Archives in one impressive building
designed to look like the “fishing rooms” where, in the past, fishing
families gathered to process their catch. In The Rooms Café, each table
has a pair of binoculars so you can better enjoy the views over the harbour
and to the ocean.

Drop into Newman Wine Vaults on Water Street to see its two massive brick
and stone vaulted cellars where port wines have been aged since the early 19th
century. Newman’s ports have been aged in Newfoundland since 1679.

Go twacking (window-shopping) on Duckworth and Water Streets.

Enjoy a traditional fish and chips dinner at one of three Ches’s in the
city. A family-owned business for more than 50 years, Ches’s offers a
good old-fashioned feed.