Screeched In (St. John’s, NL), 48 Hours

by Jun 27, 2018Canada, Stopovers & Layovers, Weekend Getaways84 comments

It’s been a long and winding 334 km drive along the Trans-Canada Highway from Gander International Airport in Gander to St. John’s, the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador. My brother and I were actually coming back from Fogo Island after spending time at the beautiful Fogo Island Inn. Gander International Airport is where we were able to join the Trans-Canada Highway and head South-ish.

We just received a go-ahead from the star or Republic of Doyle, Allan Hawco (A popular TV show filmed in and around St. John’s) regarding our mission explore St. John’s and becoming an Honorary Newfoundlander by getting Screeched In!
Screeched In
Get the complete series on Amazon

LET ME GET YOU SCREECHED IN But first a little bit about St. John’s

St. John’s is the largest city in Newfoundland and Labrador and came into existence in 1830. Being one of the oldest settlements of North America, St. John’s is culturally and traditionally rich with its roots well-engraved in history as well. There are many things about St. Johns which attracts visitors and travellers from all around the world.

Where to stay in St. John’s

View from Sheraton Newfoundland
Booking.com

When I travel with my brother he’s not particularly a fan of Airbnb. He prefers the bells and whistles of a Hotel; concierge, mints on pillows, origami swan towels, pools on decks and room service. As you know, I don’t care much for that sorta thing but I have to admit after staying at the Fogo Island Inn I became a bit spoiled. We decided to meet in the middle and settled at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland

Day 1

Two things you need to know before we get started. # 1 If you know me well then you already know that when it comes to food, one of my favourite places to visit are markets. Well, that and breweries and coffee shops. Right up there with coffee shops are bakeries. I’m not sure what it is but there is something about the smell of freshly baked bread and the waves of steam that slowly floats out when its broken open. #2 Some of the friendliest people you will ever meet in Canada are here or from St. John’s and Newfoundland. These people will eventually become your friends for life. Case and point: During our Screeched In Ceremony (more on that a bit later in the post…trust me you don’t want to miss it) my brother and I befriended a really cool local named Danielle. Danielle and I are still friends. Here is where I bring it all together…

Rocket Bakery & Fresh Food

When I needed a couple of local recommendations to add to this itinerary I reached out to Danielle and she was more than happy to help me out. This is Danielle’s 1st recommendation and in her words, she explains why she and other locals flock to Rocket Bakery when for their daily morning fix.

“Rocket Bakery and Fresh Food is locally owned and operated with great coffee/tea, lattes, you name they got it. They also make lunch (salads, quiche, pasta salad, sandwiches, soups) and of course the bakery section!! My lord!!! Staff are great, friendly and always give you service with a smile. Inside looks very hipstery. (It’s a new word, I made it up!) The tables and chairs are all miss matched and it’s just a fun vibe, with an at home feel. If all that wasn’t enough they also offer live entertainment. One more thing. If you can’t find an empty table, don’t be shy to join others at theirs.”

– Danielle

Photos by: Danielle
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Signal Hill

Our first official stop for day one is Signal Hill.  Signal Hill, which looks over the whole city is a great spot for panoramic views of St. John’s colorful jelly bean houses and mighty waves crashing up against the rocky walls of The Narrows. The other interesting thing about Signal Hill is its history. Part of the final battle of The Seven Years War in North America was fought on this hill which takes us back to the year 1762.

Also situated on Signal Hill is Cabot Tower. Built-in 1898 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland, and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. In 1901, Guglielmo Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic wireless message at a position near the tower, the letter “S” in Morse Code sent from Poldhu, Cornwall, United Kingdom.

Quidi Vidi Premium Iceberg Beer

This refreshingly light lager is brewed with 25,000-year-old iceberg water harvested from Newfoundland’s awe-inspiring icebergs.
Screeched In

For Beer Tasting Dates & Times (Click Here)

Quidi Vidi Honey Brown Ale

Quidi Vidi Honey Brown ale is created with a precise combination of Chocolate Malt and Crystal Malts, then embellished with the richness of honey and gentle hopping.

Quidi Vidi 1892 Traditional Ale

Brewed with the finest two-row malt and a generous helping of hops. This is a full-bodied, reddish amber ale that will be enjoyed by those who prefer European-style beers with substantial flavour. 1892 Traditional Ale commemorates the year of the great fire in St. John’s, Newfoundland. (For more info on the fire, click here.)

Quidi Vidi

I have to admit that the first time I heard of Quidi Vidi Brewery was during my stay in the Fogo Island Inn I was able to try and enjoy the three beers (pictured) while the gentle sounds of the North Atlantic Ocean sang softly in my ears. The smell of cold sea salt filled my lungs and while large icebergs drifted in the distance. I first learned that those beers were brewed by the local brewery Quidi Vidi right here in St. John’s “The Quidi Vidi Brewing Company Limited (QV) was established in 1996.

QV is a Newfoundland-based independent brewing company focused on producing world-class quality beers for the mainstream, specialty, and now the premium segment of the beer market.”

– Quidi Vidi

Gypsy Tea Room

When someone mentions drinks and a quick meal the first place that comes to mind is the Gypsy Tea Room. Locally owned and operated the small restaurant, located downtown on Water St, has an appreciable atmosphere. The dark wood featured in the interior, mixed with eccentric lightening adds to the mood as soon as you walk in! Staff are patient and friendly, and willing to describe a selection of the menu if you cannot decide on your own! The best part of this gem, is during the summer, the courtyard is opened up to allow us the opportunity to dine outside. With this comes an outside bar and grill, so you can watch your food being prepared. It’s an absolute delight. They also provide be heaters for when the heat dies down on those cool Newfoundland nights.

– Danielle

Photos by Danielle
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Cape Spear

Welcome to the Easternmost part of Canada, so technically speaking this is where Canada begins or ends depending on which way you are going. It is also the Easternmost part of North America

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The Basilica-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

The Basilica-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is the mother church and symbol of Roman Catholicism in Newfoundland. Excavation started in May 1839 and was consecrated on September 9, 1855.

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The Rooms

The Rooms is a cultural facility housing the Art Gallery, Provincial Museum and the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Bacalao Nouvelle Newfoundland

I’ll be honest, St. John’s has some steep hills and Bacalao is on one of them. However, it was worth it. It was recommended by a friend of mine (born in Newfoundland) back in Toronto. She also happens to be related to the head chef. While Andrew went for the catch of the day (a decision that is rarely wrong considering Newfoundlands proximity to the ocean) I took my friend’s recommendation – Chef Matt’s favourite cut. ITs so popular its actually on the menu.

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Day 2

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Bay Bulls

Just outside of St. Johns, is a town called Bay Bulls which provides for a good fishing area. It is a small community and just as culturally deep as any other place in St. John’s. If you get the chance to visit Bay Bulls check out O’Brien’s Whales and Birds Tour. You will not regret this tour as you will see a wide display of wildlife which will leave you gasping with beauty. We were lucky to see an Iceberg here as they usually don’t visit these parts. I guess that made up for not seeing whales.

For more info on O’Brien’s whale and bird tours (Click Here)

The Narrows

Screeched In – George Street

George Street is a must visit in St. John’s. It is a small street indeed, but it is famous for all the bars and pubs that it has. It is almost a two-block-long street full of bars, clubs, restaurants, dine-inns, and pubs. It is also the location for the Mardi Gras celebration, which is held every October. Another festival called the six-night George Street Festival is usually held in August. What is even more interesting is the fact that drinking has been made even more fun by turning it into a ceremony called ‘screeched in’. But the rule is, you have to be a visitor in Newfoundland. The visitor drinks a shot of Screech, makes a small recitation and kisses a cod. It is not an obligatory ceremony, but it will make for a good memory.
Screeched In
Screech In

The ritual after the shot of screech varies in every pub as well. “Kissing the Cod”. It is either a cod or any other ugly fish held to the participant’s lips and he/she has to kiss them and it marks the success of this ceremony called the Screech-in. If you are a fan of drinking, don’t forget to visit Christian’s Bar which is one of the oldest bars on George Street. It is a place where anyone can find their favorite drink and have a great time and it is also one of the bars that hold the Screech-In Ceremony. (Click here) for the daily Screeched In times.)

Screeched In
Screeched In

Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to see all my latest videos!

St. John’s and Newfoundland and Labrador, in general, is an amazing place with very friendly and funny people.

Do get Screeched In, do try the local beer and do try the lobster. The place is full of history, stories, myths, and incredible nature and wildlife, I came back to Toronto with new friends from St. John’s!

When in Newfoundland be sure to visit Fogo Island and St. Anthony & Twillingate where Spotting Icebergs and getting Up Close and Personal with Icebergs is a common thing!

Screeched In
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