Only in St. John’s

New­found­land cap­i­tal is truly one of a kind

Winnipeg Sun - - ENT-SHOWBIZ - LIKE A LO­CAL JIM BY­ERS Spe­cial to Post­media Net­work jim@jim­by­er­stravel.com

ST. JOHN’S — New­found­land’s cap­i­tal is one of the best des­ti­na­tions in Canada — a city with a real sense of place.

The set­ting is mag­nif­i­cent, the peo­ple re­mark­able and the food scene is get­ting bet­ter all the time. Toss in gor­geous houses in colours that would make a rain­bow en­vi­ous and you’ve got a re­mark­able, one-of-a-kind city.

Here’s a look at how to en­joy St. John’s like a lo­cal:

Must do

Lo­cals and tourists both en­joy a walk or hike along The Bat­tery, where colour­ful wooden homes cling to rocky cliffs that rise steeply from one of the world’s great har­bours.

You’ll pass homes in shades of Golden Gate Bridge or­ange and sun­ny­side-up yel­low as you stroll along ad­mir­ing the wa­ter views. The trail to Sig­nal Hill snakes along the cliffs and then fol­lows a se­ries of stairs that go up, up and up some more to Cabot Tower, where the views of the city and out to the At­lantic Ocean are as­tound­ing.

An­other great walk is from Quidi Vidi to the end of Cuck­olds Cove Road, where there is a short trail that re­veals amaz­ing coastal views. Be sure to check out Quidi Vidi Har­bour, too.

The Rooms is a mag­nif­i­cent mu­seum on a hill: A gor­geous, mod­ern and airy struc­ture that tells the story of New­found­land and Labrador. You’ll find won­der­ful dis­plays on nat­u­ral his­tory and na­tive and Euro­pean his­tory in the prov­ince, as well as thought­pro­vok­ing mod­ern art.

One of the re­cent pop-up ex­hibits fo­cussed on New­found­land slang, with a young girl who holds up cue cards and makes you guess what the words mean. I found out if you have a scoff and a scuff, you’ve had a time. (A scoff is a meal, a scuff is a dance and a time is a fun evening). The mu­seum of­fers great views of the city as well. See the­rooms.ca.

Ge­orge Street is said to have more bars per square cen­time­tre than any street on the planet, and al­most all fea­ture live mu­sic at night. Kelly’s is a low-key spot where you’ll find a good num­ber of lo­cals. I find the beer se­lec­tion bet­ter and the am­bi­ence nicer down the street at Birdie Mol­loy’s, a more tra­di­tional-look­ing Ir­ish pub. Try them all and pick your own favourite.

Great eats, sips

The Mer­chant Tav­ern is a trendy spot in an old bank­ing hall, filled with a smartly dressed, young crowd. The Hawai­ian poke comes with per­fect spice and crushed Ma­cadamia nuts for a nice crunch. The cod is sweet and ten­der, and the drinks menu fea­tures op­tions like the Bon­av­ista Buf­falo, with bour­bon, espresso-in­fused Cam­pari, pineap­ple and gin­ger beer. See the­mer­chant­tav­ern.ca.

Mal­lard Cot­tage — in the Quidi Vidi area — is a beau­ti­ful spot with weath­ered floors, high ceil­ings and big win­dows. Brunch fea­tures crazy-good pas­tries and sweets, but we opted for the flaky pork pie and spicy pork tacos. See mal­lard­cot­tage.ca.

Ches’s — a fish and chips spot started in 1951 — is a New­found­land in­sti­tu­tion. There are sev­eral lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing one on Ken­mount Road. The fish was ex­cel­lent and so were the fries (two pieces and a gen­er­ous serv­ing of chips for $14). You can or­der your fish with dress­ing (like stuff­ing), gravy and fried onions if you want to flirt with dan­ger. See chess­fis­hand­chips.ca.

Yel­lowBelly is a craft brew­ery on Wa­ter Street, across from The Mer­chant Tav­ern. The Fight­ing Ir­ish Red Ale has a nice, mel­low malty flavour. They have a nice out­door pa­tio. See yel­low­belly­brew­ery.com.

Chinched Bistro is a small vi­brant spot down­town. The pork shoul­der is cooked for days and then heated in a skil­let with oil, lemon and brown sugar. The miso-chili roasted cau­li­flower is fab­u­lous. See chinched­bistro.com.

Shop­ping

Wa­ter Street has a great mix of goods and funky stores. Johnny Ruth and Liv­ing Planet is a bright cheery spot with New­found­land dog shirts, pretty pil­lows, vanil­la­cas­sis can­dles and more. Next door is Relic, with Blue Jays and Ex­pos socks, Her­schel back­packs and caps, Bur­ton sweats and more. Twisted Sis­ters, right af­ter that, has lovely books, lo­cally made jew­elry and cool shoes, in­clud­ing rub­ber boots in shades of pink, ca­nary-yel­low and deep-sea blue.

Duck­worth Street has sev­eral cool shops. Fred’s Records of­fers out­stand­ing vinyl and CDs from the likes of Muddy Waters, The Bea­tles and The Trag­i­cally Hip. Livyer’s An­tiques has old ce­ramic plates, puppy-dog salt and pep­per shak­ers and books. Rosie Row of­fers pretty jew­elry, cat watches, ce­ramic yel­low pineap­ples (doesn’t ev­ery­body need one?) and more. New­found­land Choco­late Co. serves up ex­cel­lent sweets wrapped in pa­per that fea­tures St. John’s row houses.

Sleep­overs

Mur­ray Premises is a beau­ti­ful down­town ho­tel with stone walls, wood-beam ceil­ings and more. Our room had a mon­ster spatub and a fire­place. They serve break­fast and have an all day lounge with cof­fee, fruit and bis­cuits See mur­raypremise­shotel.com.

JAG ho­tel is a fun down­town place with large rooms, a nice bar and rock-an­droll photos. See steele­ho­tels.com/our-ho­tels/ jag/#sect-overview.

Sneak peek

For a video of St. John’s, see youtu.be/dq-LsExFQ1M.

JIM BY­ERS PHOTO

With sen­sa­tional views of the city and the har­bour, the walk along The Bat­tery area of St. John’s might be the finest ur­ban walk in the world. The Rooms, right, is a lovely mu­seum with thought-pro­vok­ing art and dis­plays on New­found­land his­tory. Shirts sport­ing images of New­found­land dogs, top, are just some of the fun items at Johnny Ruth and Liv­ing Planet on Wa­ter Street, said to be the old­est street in North Amer­ica.

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