Photo description by Katherine Marando
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There are two ways to get to Newfoundland – by “short” ferry or “long” ferry. Taking the trip overnight, you arrive at Port-Aux-Basques very early in the morning, and as the sun rises over the stark landscape, a glimpse of Newfoundland’s rugged beauty is revealed. Like its landscapes, Newfoundland’s people are an open, welcoming and unique. Everyone has a wonderful sense of humour and a smile, and no visitor will feel like a tourist, rather, you’ll feel like family. Even the many moose who call the island home are friendly (don’t get too close though!).
Though it is a small bit of land, Newfoundland is abundant in natural beauty: it has two places designated UNESCO world heritage sites (Gros Morne National Park & L’Anse-aux-Meadows), heritage sites and natural parks such as Terra Nova National Park, Ryan Premises National Historic Site, and many more, each unique and captivating in its own way.
Each of every specific drive in Newfoundland is distinctly different, yet equally lovely and exciting. Trails such as the Viking trail and the Irish Loop Trail boast fishing villages, lighthouses and seaside charm. Stacks of firewood and vegetable gardens line the roadsides, where the peat is thickest. The Baccilieu Trail has towns with amusing names, such as Cupids and Heart’s Desire, and the Cabot Trail is regarded as one of the most beautiful drives in all of Canada – it goes through village and forest to rocky cliffs and ocean.
Taking the Sea Cape Trail from Placentia (the other ferry port) took us to Cape St. Mary’s, an ecological reserve. To get to where the birds are, you hike a small distance through fog-covered fields filled with sheep, along a path that borders the ocean and a lighthouse. Even when you can’t see the ocean you can hear the crash of the waves against the rocks and the birds’ cries. The experience was otherworldly, almost as though one had wandered off into legend.
At the end of the trail you come to an outcropping that overlooks the rock where the gannets nest – there are thousand of birds nesting, flying, and circling the air above you. At first the experience is a little overwhelming, but once you settle in and watch the birds for a few minutes, you can see them performing unique behaviours in their natural habitat – much like a nature documentary – but with all the smells and senses. Cape St. Mary’s was just one gem in the spectacular and unique world apart that is Newfoundland.