To catch the afternoon ferry from North Sydney we headed south from Ingonish, leaving the national park, coming across a newly opened gondola at Cape Smokey, primarily aimed at capitalising on the ski season but equally useful for obtaining an effortless good view looking back across the bay to Ingonish.
Continuing eastward requires crossing peninsulas and valleys, all with suitable photo opportunities and risking meeting wierdos at the viewpoints..
Stopping for lunch we came across a lobster fisherman unloading his catch. The season only lasts 2 months, starting May and finishing mid-July. The lobster pots are baited with mackerel imported from Spain and the lobsters are processed in a local facility and are kept alive until orders are received from as far afield as the Middle East.
The harbour at Little River Road was clean, unspoilt and empty of people, a wonderful place to spend some time.
Finally we arrived in North Sydney to board our ship, the Atlantic Vision. A bit rustier than the Queen Mary 2 but with the advantage of having parking on board. There are 2.5 km of parking available on the ferry and they make the most of every inch. Every type of transport is squeezed into spaces and angles that P and O would be proud of. We set sail, heading for the eastern Newfoundland port of Argentia, 16 hours away..as yet blissfully unaware of how much could go wrong and yet be so much fun…..
At first it looked so easy:
Two bars, not overly busy
Two restaurants, not overly busy
A drink, a meal and then spend the evening planning the rest of our trip across Newfoundland
Bar 1 had a problem with the card machine. The “a la carte” restaurant had a problem with a) waiting times for a table, b) hopeless staff and c) payment and tips, due to the problem with the card machine. We waited an hour for a table and probably the same to be served but whilst waiting in the bar we met some great people including a number who were travelling over to St Johns for the inaugural NASCAR Pinty series, notably an aging Rock Hudson look-alike who insisted on ringing the bell at the bar, signifying he’d get a round in for all of us..this improved the mood no end…
In the restaurant we got speaking to a delightful family who’d been waiting for much longer than us, with 2 young children in tow. They were determined to bring their children up to understand the world from a wider perspective than most Canadians. They had a beaten-up VW camper and had an open ended trip to Newfoundland planned. The only wierd thing was that he was a Newcastle United supporter, a bit of a throwback in this day and age.
Ora had told us about Come Home a festival of sorts celebrated by Newfoundlanders every 5-10 years when they are encouraged home to their communities for a celebration and party.
In the gift shop on the boat were an incredible amount of COME HOME 2022 souvenirs and chatting to the assistant she explained that it should have happened in 2020 but due to the pandemic it had been postponed until this year. It occurs mainly in July so we probably wouldn’t experience anything.
And so to bed in a cabin with no windows but we both slept really well. Woke up to announcements, we were docking in 45 minutes, at 9.30 am which didn’t correspond to our watches or phones. Another interesting quirk of Newfoundland is they have decided to be 1\2 hour ahead of the rest of eastern Canada.
We were greeted with our rather daunting first view of Newfoundland
Plan A was to drive south to Cape St Mary but the heavy fog ruined that idea so we found a cafe just outside the port and enjoyed a breakfast of bacon, eggs, fishcake, home-made beans and fried bread dough…our introduction to the wild and wacky world of Newfoundland cuisine. We then set off to the capital, St John’s..