It’s been one year since my very first visit to St. John's. One year, four stays and a heart and head still filled with unforgettable memories and breathtaking landscapes. One year, four stays and a collection of people so nice it’s hard to believe. In my last post on St. John’s, I wrote that its colourful houses brighten up this often grey island - and that's still true. That said, the real sun in Newfoundland, comes from its people. Let me introduce you to a few of my favourites.
Carol-Anne and her husband Barry run Iceberg Quest Boat Tours which offers iceberg and whale watching cruises departing from St. John's and Twillingate. Meeting Carol-Anne, is like meeting an extraordinary sea unicorn (I looked, but I couldn’t find any other comparison that made sense). She welcomes everyone she meets, and who comes on board her boat, with open arms. I can’t recommend a tour on Iceberg Quest highly enough during your next trip to St. John’s.
There was a moment, on board, off the coast, where this song played on the boat and where time literally stood still.
When the imposing Nick Walters, the chef at Merchant Tavern restaurant, opens his arms wide to give us a kiss and welcome us into his kitchen, right away we feel at ease, and as if we’re at home, in his restaurant. He is an exceptionally talented chef and an extraordinary host. During your next visit to St. John's, make sure you book a space at Merchant Tavern’s kitchen counter for a fun experience, close to all the action (not to mention the fact that the kitchen is huge and, if you’re a gourmet like me, beautiful).
The knitters at NONIA
The NONIA shop, in St. John’s, has been selling knits in every colour, and in every style, for every size since 1920. NONIA is an acronym for Newfoundland Outport Nursing and Industrial Association. This organization was created almost a century ago to help outport communities access health care. The money raised by the sale of knitwear served then to pay the salary of nurses. Today, NONIA is still a non-profit organization that employs more than 175 knitters from across the province (and who knit the most comfortable tuques in the world).
In St. John’s Jeremy Bonia is quite simply the king of wine. Co-owner, with Jeremy Charles, of Raymonds and Merchant Tavern, he oversees the wine lists and manages service for both locations. As humble and incredibly kind as his partner, his level of generosity as a host makes guests feel welcomed.
Thanks to him, I had a wonderful experience with my family this spring, as we shared an excellent bottle of rosé on Signal Hill, staring at the immensity of the sea.
My taxi driver
On my last trip, I took a taxi to the airport and the driver who came to pick me up had his province tattooed on his heart and was so kind, so positive, and so happy. He told me that, like many of his compatriots, he had been raised to have respect for others and to help one another and that he couldn’t understand why some people did not simply choose to be kind. “I forget people like this as soon they step out of my taxi," he said. This gentleman, whose name I don’t know, but who represents St. John's for me, was a perfect finale to a perfect stay.