Five things I love about St. John’s, Newfoundland

St. John’s is one of my favourite places to visit.  Anyone who has been there probably understands my love for this city, and those who are from there will know that I am just scratching the surface about all of the great things the city has to offer.  There are so many things I could mention, but I have narrowed it down to my top five:

  1. The People
    You are guaranteed to make friends when you go to St. John’s.  I have concluded they are the friendliest people in Canada (as a Canadian, I should mention that we are all pretty friendly).  Don’t be shy, strike up a conversation with anyone you meet.  It might take a few minutes to get used to the accent and understand what they are saying!  Some people have a pretty strong accent, and Newfoundland slang doesn’t always make sense to a mainlander.  But you’ll get the hang of it by the time you leave.
    The people in St. John’s are smart.  I met so many people with master’s degrees and had some intellectual conversation at the pub.  They are all so proud of their home, and they have every right to be.  Meet a Newfoundlander anywhere and they will boast about their home.  As a visitor, I have a special place in my heart for St. John’s and when I talk about it I secretly wish I was part of their community.
  2. The Music
    St. John’s is the perfect destination for any music lover.  You can refuel on caffeine at a coffee shop while hearing a great solo artist, or frequent one of the many establishments on George Street that have live music each night.  I was lucky enough to visit St. John’s when Auntie Crae’s still existed, where you could stop in for lunch and hear live music while you eat. The Rocket Bakery now owns this space, and it is making it’s own marks on St. John’s music scene.
    Newfoundland traditional music makes me happy.  As you go in and out of the shops on Water Street, you might hear some classics.  Listen closely to the stories these songs are sharing to learn the history of Newfoundland and Labrador.  Traditional music resembles Celtic music, and you might feel like you are in Ireland, but it has a unique sound that you will only find in Newfoundland.  Every time I go to St. John’s I stop in at O’Brien’s Music and dream about being able to play some of the fine instruments they have there.  Fred’s Records is a beloved store in town and is your place to buy something by a local artist. There are so many great local artists of every genre, it is difficult to pick!  I could write another post about my favourite Newfoundland artists, but this is not a music blog, so I’ll leave that discussion for the comments below.
  3. The Colours
    St. John’s is such a colourful place.  Every time I go I spend a lot of my time just walking the streets passing the rainbow of painted homes.  Before I ever went to Newfoundland, I intently watched their brilliant tourism ads on television, in awe of the beauty that exists in this province.  The ads showed streets full of colourful houses, and I thought that they were tricking me.  That there was just one particular street that they used in the commercial to make you want to visit.  I was wrong!  Those colours are everywhere, and they definitely reflect the colourful people that live here.  Everyone is happy when they see a rainbow right?  You kind of get the same feeling in Newfoundland – ALL THE TIME.
  4. The Nightlife
    St. John’s is the only place I have ever been out all night and gone to bed at 6am.  Maybe that means I have a boring life, or maybe it means St. John’s is where you are guaranteed to have a good time!  In one night I went to a pub, an art show, a house party, and another bar.  I met friends of friends at each new place.  It seems that everyone knows each other in St. John’s.  There are bars that are open after hours where the parties continue, and then you can finish it off by watching the sunrise over the harbour.  The combination of things to go, and people you meet can keep you going all night long!
  5. The Independent Feel
    There are so many unique stores and restaurants in St. John’s.  Local businesses are thriving.  I already mentioned the music stores in #2, but I’ll add one more thing about Fred’s Records – it really says something about the store, and the people in St. John’s that a record store remains such an icon of the city in the days of digital music.  There are great t-shirts from Living Planet (now available at Johnny Ruth & Living Planet), where locals design the artwork that is  printed on the shirts.  While shopping for a souvenir on my first trip to St. John’s, I ended up purchasing a painting directly from the artist in one of the shops on Water St.  This is a place where entrepreneurs are supported by their community because the community is proud of what they have to offer.

I hope to go back to St. John’s many more times, and one day I will explore more of Newfoundland and Labrador.  One day I will see a glacier while I am there.  One day I will visit Gros Morne National Park.  One day.


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