All the love for the West Coast of Newfoundland

Looking back …

Thursday of last week – our merry band of Newfoundland tourists (ok some tourists and some local and acting like tourists) took a break from the pea soup fog hiking conditions and decided to explore the best of the west coast in the glorious 24 degree sunshine Mrs Mother Nature offered us!

We started out with a yummy breakfast at our cabin in Norris Point and the headed in the direction of Steady Brook with ‘Nick our tour guide’ at the helm. First stop – the lookout of Gros Morne Mountain!

We climbed that sucker the day before! Wow it looks amazing when it’s not half hidden in fog and when I am not Gollum-ing up that gully on the left. Urgh what a climb and what a memory!

Next stop – Pasadena Beach! Oh this beach is nothing like the one in California but it is a very close second. As we arrived we scrambled out of the truck (I don’t think we have ever unloaded so quickly) and made our way across the hot sand to dip our after-a-hard-won-hike toes in the water. The sun was shining and temp at 24C – I could have stayed all day … or long enough to enjoy the ice cold Rolling Rock Lager our resident, happy go lucky comedian Chauncey bought us!

This beach is a real beach! Complete with an awesome amount of sand for castles and lounging, clean crisp water, a marked off family friendly swimming area and a full service, large beach side restaurant at its centre. If you have a day in west coast Newf and it’s warm enough for the beach – this is definitely a good way to spend that day!

Well, before Chauncey’s fish belly white legs could get crispy in the hot sun we high tailed it out of there to our next destination.

Next stop – Corner Brook and the James Cook monument and look out! Despite the perhaps less than ideal things some of the colonialists of the past have done, we do have to give credit to Mr Cook for his skills at literally putting Newfoundland on the map. Crazy to think about how much time he would have had to spend in and around the 10,000 square kilometers of Newfoundland’s amazing but harsh coast to get it all mapped out. Wow!

Next stop – lunch! Now his was extra special and extra delicious! Our very own Nick has a friend who owns, operates, and makes all the amazing sushi creations at Newfound Sushi in Corner Brook. Can you say yummy? I can and did about b-zillion times over lunch. Yummy! No joke with the menu this sushi-whisperer as created this restaurant would be slammed in big cities like Vancouver, Montreal, and more!

We started with some pork belly boa buns (drool) and then I moved into a yummy California roll topped with chunks of delicious (cooked) lobster, the yummiest tuna sashimi ever, and of course had to have The Yamocado (yam and avocado) roll because I love them and the name made me happy! All washed down with a local pint that had the best glasses ever – check out the marking on the side ‘high tide’ and ‘low tide’

Next stop – caffeine! We headed to an awesome little coffee roaster Nick bragged up called Brewed on Bernard. Loved it! Loads of fun coffee options, sweets and all kinds of fun lunch ideas. The roasting coffee was particularly fabulous to smell and I loved see all the games and books they had available. Wish we could have spent the the afternoon but we had things to see!

Next stop – another little amazing path and look out which sadly I do not remember the name of (oops – travel writer fail! I know it’s near the old hospital?! lol) In any case this one was also a gem! A great little path and an amazing look out over the town and bay. The big bonus? We even had a chance to Geocache on this one. Cheryl, Shar and I have geocached but I don’t think our other peeps have. It so fun and the first few times is especially exciting!

Geocaching is such a great way to add a little more adventure to your travels – for adults as much as kids! If you have never done it, so worth a go! Oh and if you need someone with you who is willing to poke about spider webs and places with bugs for the cache … call Charmaine! Rock star!

Next stop – some waterfalls! We made our way out of Corner Brook and headed to Steady Brook to see the falls. They are really proud of their brooks in this part of Newfoundland. There is even a Hughes Brook but two brooks is enough for a day, any more than that would be brook overkill really.

First though a quick stop at 2 tourist attractions – the Old Man in the Mountain and the tree of Newfoundland. Let me explain …

The Old Man in the Mountain is a rock formation on a cliff face that absolutely, without a doubt looks like a fisherman looking down over the nearby river. Legend says he is looking over the treasure that has been buried on the small island in the middle of that river. Seems some people find it hard to find him so they offer a little help at the pull over site – once you do find him though it’s so obvious! It’s a great story and cool spot!

Now this Tree of Newfoundland business – this is a massive tree trunk, think totem pole on steroids, that was shipped from west coast Canada to Newfoundland and a very talented artist has literally carved the history of the province into it. Pretty cool! There is even a few blank spots with just ‘future event’ carved in it lol.

The only odd part about this tree/pole thing was the strange doppelgänger of our resident Swede, Chauncey… perhaps Chauncey has a wood carving modelling career he needs to come clean on?!

Now onto Steady Brook Falls – so great. A short hike up (totally flip flop compatible) and voila there were the falls!

I could not believe that some folks, not in our crew this time, take the path farther up and then swim in the pool at the top of the fall – a sort of natural infinity pool! Ok that’s basically what we did in the Devil’s Pool on the Victoria Falls a few years back but that’s not the point. Cray-cray! I prefer a full panoramic view of rushing water from massive heights and will therefore stay right her on this purpose built platform!

Now I have to say as great as the waterfall was … the highlight was definitely the little fairy door we found! Complete with some moss and a little box of fish. So super cute and in Newfoundland, with its fairy and gnome legends, sort of believable. Mr and Mrs Fae live there – I am sure of it – but were off collecting fallen flower petals for their dinner salad so we didn’t have a chance to say stop in but next time we are in town we will say hi for sure.

Next stop – dinner and amazing conversation with Nick’s dad and stepmom. Can you even believe volunteered to host the 6 of us for dinner? Oh and what a dinner it was! We pulled up to balloons for Charmaine and Cheryl’s bday – cute! For the rest of the evening we sat on their deck having beers, eating all the cheese toast you could dream of as a yummy side to the delicious chilli, and finished off the meal with a bday rendition and some cake! Perfection! Happy birthday twinsies!

Before leaving this little spot on Steady Brook heaven, the 6 of us walked down to the water (about a block away) to check out this great place Nick lived in as a kid. What a community. Oh and we also accidentally geocached one more time! This time it was a nano size cache (think of a thimble as reference for size) and Charmaine in her awesome-not-scared-of-spiders way found this wee gem hanging from a tree branch!

What a day! After some goodbyes and thank yous, we departed Steady Brook and made our way the 1+ hour back to Norris Point for some evening pints and games at our cabin.

While we didn’t get to see all the amazing things the west coast of Newfoundland offered, I have to give total kudos to our tour guide Nick for showing is a day of highlights!

Now let’s see what the east coast has to offer…

Brande

Camino Portugal Coastal Route Begins

Yesterday was a horrible, no good, very bad day … we had to walk along beach after beautiful beach and enjoy endless sunshine here on the west coast of Spain. Tough, right?

We started what could be considered our fourth Camino yesterday, the Portuguese Way. We are not doing to full route which is from Lisbon to Santiago. But rather the costal portion only and in reverse. Walking from Vigo to Porto. As we get closer to Porto the weather will get warmer making our post Camino tourists days in Portugal that much better. We will be celebrating our Camino adventures with some days in Porto, Lagos and Lisbon before heading home to reality at the end of the month. Again, tough right?

The morning starting as usual – up around 7 and out the door of our home, Hotel Aquila, around 8. Leaving our extra duffel of the heavy stuff for transport. On this Camino we will be using Santiago Backpack Express and so far the owner of the company has just been so great helping is out!

Our Hotel was a real gem – super old but clean and had all the amazing original features. Check it out:

For breakfast we stopped at the Hotel Bafia Cafe right on the waterfront where the Camino begins. They didn’t really offer a hot breakfast but the waiter asked what we would want and said he could try and make it happen. He did! Cafe con leche; bacon and eggs and bread; and for breakfast dessert (yes that is a thing) chocolate and churros. This has been on my list to try while here in Spain – it’s a pretty standard breakfast here and I can see why. Delicious! Too much chocolate and not enough sugar and cinnamon, if you can believe that! I was pumped with sugar and ready to walk!

Oddly, once we did start out at around 10am, we couldn’t find any way markers for the route We decided we will just keep the water to our right side and stay as close to it as possible and eventually we will find the Camino arrows. We knew the little towns and milestones we needed to hit as per our very high level guide book, so that helped give us something to aim for. We are walking in reverse so do have to look back to find arrows and then do the opposite thing – but there was not an arrow to be found in The city of Vigo.

Our first hour was spent walking through the industrial, port area of Vigo which left much to be desired really. We powered through it as quick as we could to get it over with. Thumbs down for this section.

At about the 6th kilometer we came out of Vigo and into a little town called Bouzas and that is where the beauty of the Coastal route started to really show it self. Thumbs up!

Here are some highlights of our amazing, sunny, beachside or directly on the beach walk yesterday. I would say 15 of the 22kms was basically a dream!

We took a brief break mid-afternoon for some fruit and nuts from our pack. But by about 3pm a craving for a sea side cold one overcame us. You can only walk by that much beauty on your right and amazing cafes on your left before you give in to a ‘sit and sip by the sea’ moment.

That out of our system (for the day anyway), we made our way the final 4-5km into Nigran our new village for the night.

We are staying at the Albergue Pazo Pias which is an 1600s monastery of sorts refurbished into a type of hostel. Wow, amazing, maybe it’s haunted, how awesome, and cool! Check out the hallway and all me the first two words that come to mind? Starts with a colour and ends with an alcohol. Ha ha

We did our usual feet up for a bit and check in with the family on our safe arrival. Then out for a couple of drinks and some eats. Here in Spain during certain hours of the day, you get a wee tapa when you order a drink. Yesterday’s were super yummy!

We were back at the room for 900 to journal, social media and wind down for the night. Oh and full disclosure – this is a bit of a confessional. We were (ok I was) too hungry for the kitchens to open to get dinner. Here in Spain you cannot get a cooked meal between usually 3 and 8 sometimes even 9pm. The kitchen staff are off on siesta. So you either eat early or wait, which after walking all day can be tough to do. So we, no joke, had a pizza from Pizza Hut – yup Pizza Hut in Spain, first one we ever saw. It was so good! The crust and sauce are very different than home and way yummier (more fluffy and way more oregano and the cheese is so good). If it makes it any better, I did wash it down with a a Spanish red wine!?

Well that was yesterday and we loved it. Today we are up and at it for a 20km day walking from Nigran to Villadesuso. It is not as sunny today but this blondie is secretly happy for a little cloud cover once in a while (don’t tell Lana – she loves all out, hot hot hot sun).

Buen Camino!
Brande

PS We finally found some way marker arrows about 15km into our 22km day – let’s see if today is a little better!