Luxury at the corner of the earth

It took me forever to fall asleep on Tuesday night. The bed a little too uncomfortable and a little too squeaky. I managed to doze off sometime around midnight so I still got a good amount of sleep, rising at about 7am. I showered, packed my luggage, loaded the car and headed off before most of the hostel were awake. I had another day of driving ahead.

In search of beavers

My first stop of the day was Terra Nova National Park. Highway 1 (The Trans Canadian Highway) cuts right through the national park so you’ve got a number of turn offs along the way that take you into it. My Lonely Planet said there was a spot that was meant to be good to spot beavers, but I decided to check out the visitor centre first and ask.

I was early, a half hour before they were due to open. Luckily, someone who works there rocked up just as I was considering getting back into the car and giving the whole thing up. I asked about beavers. She said they were nocturnal (I did not know that) so I’d be unlikely to see one, but if I went for a walk from Newman Sound I’d be able to walk right next to one of their dams. Information gathered, off I went.

The walk went along the edge of the river (it’s called the Coastal Route). Having never seen a beaver dam before I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for…until I found it. A bunch of dead twigs and logs piled up, their ends all gnawed down to a point. I had found the dam. Along the route I also saw a half-gnawed tree, more evidence of a beaver or beavers. Unfortunately, there was no beaver sighting.

I also didn’t see any moose, caribou, Newfoundland martens, birds, or bears. C’est la vie! I returned to the car, and zoomed up to Farewell to board the ferry to Fogo Island.

Luxury on Fogo Island

Fogo Island is, according to Flat Earthers, one of the four corners of the earth. It’s certainly in the middle of nowhere. The ferry went via Change Island to Fogo Island, docking some time around 2:45pm. It just started to rain as we drove off the ferry. I headed north, then west, then north again to Joe Batt’s Arm. I was spending a night at Fogo Island Inn, a recently constructed luxury hotel on the shore of the island.

The philosophy behind the place is to provide employment and industry to Fogo Island. It employs local people, both on staff and also suppliers, with profits going back into the community. I think that’s great considering how, without the cod fishing industry, the community here would probably have been struggling.

My room, with full length windows, looks out over the Atlantic Ocean. The room has a small stove that, if it were too cold inside, would be stocked with wood and lit to warm me up. There are binoculars for looking out over the water (it’s whale territory here though sadly, no sightings now). The bed is big. The bathroom too (with a bidet and a rainfall shower head). Upon arrival they brought up fresh green tea. There was also a small brioche waiting, with a serving of molasses.

Going from last night’s budget accommodation, I was in heaven.

I lounged in my room for a little while before heading out to take some photos of the architecturally distinct building. It’s kind of like a post-modern reconstruction of a beach shack, what with its stark white weather board sidings. I walked down to the water’s edge and put my hand in. It wasn’t as cold as I was expecting. I then went to the gym for a while, before heading back to the room, showering, and getting ready for dinner.

My seating for dinner was at 7pm. I had a gorgeous view out to the ocean, with a stunning sunset. I felt a little awkward sitting by myself but I soon struck up a conversation with the couple sitting behind me. The husband’s a retired orthopaedic surgeon from Sick Kids in Toronto so there was a bit of a link there. The wife couldn’t believe I was here without Glen. I do wish he was here to see this place though. We swapped travel stories and discussed various other things, leaving each other to focus on our meals when they arrived.

For starter I had snow crab with a bit of locally grown specialty greens, followed by Cod Pot Cod (cod caught using a special technique that is supposed to be the most sustainable method) with some more locally grown vegetables. All quite delicious. I was surprised that there was much growing on the island as it seems that Newfoundland can’t really grow much. However, there are some berries here, and they harvest spruce (whatever that is) and use it in cooking.

Dessert was a real treat. I complained (jokingly) that I couldn’t decide between the four options and so said they needed to have a sample plate. The waitress agreed and said they could do it for me. I felt so bad for the chef but soon enough, out came this gorgeously arranged plate with the four desserts. I have no idea how much it’s going to cost me, but it was really special.

The option I would have chosen not to have actually turned out to be one of my favourites, a pepper anglaise meringue thing. The cheesecake with native bakeapples was my second favourite. The third was a chocolate bar with raspberry sorbet (also good), and last was a doughnut which was my least favourite. I totally undid all the good work I did in the gym, but what the hell.

And now I’m going to sleep with the sound of the wind and the ocean outside my window. C’est magnifique!

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