December 15, 2014
(See my Photos at the Bottom :D)
If there are two words, four syllables, that can give any reader anxiety this time of year, it’s this –“Christmas shopping”. Before today, I would have shuddered at those words as well. Crowds, lineups,awkwardly fighting an angry Mom for the last Skylander, we’ve all been there and we’ve all hated it.
This year I decided to do things a little differently; I tried to enjoy the Christmas shopping as much as I enjoy seeing the eyes of loved ones light up at the sight of that perfect gift. Where better to go to find that perfect gift than downtown St. John’s. It’s not a crowded mall, it’s not filled with anxious shoppers, and it’s not filled with your typical franchise fast food to scarf down in an angry rage during a five minute shopping break. It’s actually quite the opposite – quite magical to be honest. From the sparkling snowflakes adorning each light pole, to the colorfully decorated festive store fronts, each step draws you more and more into that fairy-tale Christmas spirit.
My Saturday morning Christmas shopping began as all should, with a quality Americano and almond croissant from my favorite coffee shop Rocket Bakery (I was not paid to say that, I’m just embarrassingly obsessed with croissants). A piece of advice - if you start the day with something absolutely scrumptious, you’ll immediately elevate your mood and reduce the risk of becoming a holiday Grinch.
What I didn’t realize was that I could have my croissant and eat it too – Rocket has an amazing selection of gifts. They have Cookbooks with signature Rocket Bakery recipes, Christmas cakes, mini cookies, and all sorts of cute, local-feel gifts for any café lover in your life. If anyone reading this still hasn’t bought me my gift – hint hint!
With a full belly and more gifts than I imagined having at this point, I continued on down the road. Ballistic Skate and Snow, Whink, Johnny Ruth, Le Boudior, Freak Lunchbox, Downtown Comics - there is literally something for everyone on your list, all packed into the one enchanting area. As each door opened, I was greeted by a smiling, genuinely happy employee. As each door opened, my visa quivered as my Christmas Spirit grew. By the end of the day, I was so festive I could have passed for Buddy the Elf– practically waltzing down Water street, spreading Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear.
There are many reasons why I love Christmas shopping downtown. Maybe it’s just the magical sights and sounds. Or the unique selection of gifts I may have never chosen, the quaint cafés for when your hands and feet are frozen. The buskers playing Christmas carols for all to hear, The face splitting smile from Holiday cheer. Realizing that maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, that maybe, perhaps, it means a little bit more.
(I wasn’t kidding about the Christmas spirit hey?)
P.S – I didn’t want to post pictures of my gifts and ruin the surprises, so here’s a few of me in my happy
place (with delicious coffee and treats).
August 4, 2014
This past week in Newfoundland has been unbelievable, with temperatures consistently dancing around the high 20’s, with the humidex almost always making it feel above 30 degrees. This week also had me chuckling at the people of Newfoundland, who once complained for the better half of nine months about the cold winter; now hiding away at the hands of a newly charged Air Conditioner or brand new portable fan set on maximum speed.
Being guilty of this myself, I decided to head outdoors, leaving behind the comfort of my AC to pursue a combination of exercise and sight-seeing at the historical Signal Hill hiking trails.
There are many trails in the one area, all with different distance and skill levels. After my embarrassing attempt at driving a car on a small road, we decided to start at the bottom of the hill, beginning in a small parking area on Battery Road.
This trail never ceases to amaze me, as it meanders through a series of houses along the coast, taking hikers onto the doorsteps and patios of the characteristically welcoming residents of the Battery. While hiking, it is not uncommon to stop and chat with residents; hosting barbeques, playing guitar, or sipping on a cold Black Horse while chatting with friends and family. Each hiker is made to feel like welcome company, as opposed to annoying trespasser.
Before continuing on with the hike, I always take the time to look back and soak in the view of the Battery juxtaposed against the ever growing city of St. John’s. Great place to take a few pictures and update your Instagram.
Continuing on to the rocky trails just meters above the Atlantic, it’s not out of the ordinary to see a heavy flow of boat traffic coming and going into the St. John’s harbour. The sights and sounds of the trails are often so intriguing that you actually forget you’re getting exercise.
That is until you reach the stairs. I was going to count how many there were, but once I surpassed 100 I lost count and gave up. Atop the stairs however, it’s totally worth it. You get the view of the endless Atlantic Ocean on one side, and the entire city of St. John’s on the other (given it’s not a foggy day).
So whether you’re a first time tourist or a lifelong citizen, the hike along Signal Hill and the Battery is both visually and physically rewarding. I would highly recommend it to anyone home, or “from away” and looking to make the most of their day.