1: IT’S HARD TO PARK IN DOWNTOWN ST. JOHN’S
A day trip to the capital city of St John’s is always fun. There are great places to eat, it’s a pilgrimage to visit the world-famous George Street, and there are really cool shops you won’t find anywhere else. Something you’re unlikely to find, however, is a parking spot. Driving around St. John’s can be difficult and frustrating since the streets don’t follow a logical grid or city plan. Some streets are narrow, one-way streets that seem to run into each other. You can literally find yourself doing loop after loop before finding a parking spot that’s reasonably close to where you want to go. Most likely, and especially during concerts and festivals, you will have to walk a little distance from your parking spot to your destination. At least the city is built for walking, and every corner has something interesting around it.
2: NEWFOUNDLAND IS THE CANADIAN PROVINCE WITH THE MOST POTHOLES
It’s true if you live in Newfoundland, you’ll get more flat tires from potholes than if you lived in any other Canadain Province. Because of the climate that regularly flips from above zero to below, the freeze/thaw cycle wreaks havoc on the roads, splitting apart the pavement as soon as it’s laid down. Our advice? If you get a rental car, take it easy driving or you may find yourself spending part of your Newfoundland vacation fixing a flat tire or two.
3: PUBLIC TRANSPORT IS NOT VERY GOOD
Just search Reddit for “Metro Bus Newfoundland” and you will find people complaining about the transportation service in St. John’s. The second largest city in Newfoundland, Corner Brook, used to have a public transportation service, but it was discontinued. There used to be an amazing train that you could take straight across Newfoundland, but in 1988 the province decided to sell the railway cars to Nigeria and countries in South America. The province then decided to dismantle all of the railway tracks and sell them for scrap. Don’t get us wrong, there are busses you can take across the province, reliable taxi services, and shuttles. Things are improving, but Newfoundland has a long way to go before its public transportation catches up with other famous places in Canada.
4: NEWFOUNDLAND HAS A SHORTAGE OF RENTAL CARS IN THE SUMMER
If you haven’t booked your rental car yet for your upcoming trip to Newfoundland, you really need to get on top of it. Every year, rental cars sell out. There is nothing better than having your own car to explore a massive island like Newfoundland. With so many places to go and things to see, the freedom of a rental car means you can go wherever you want whenever you want, but if you wait until the last minute to book one, you’ll be out of luck. Each summer many visitors land at one of Newfoundland’s three international airports and try to book a rental car last minute at one of the car rental counters only to be turned away. Don’t miss out and book your rental car early for the best rate and selection.
5: THE MAIL IN NEWFOUNDLAND TAKES A LONG TIME TO ARRIVE
If you like online shopping and have gotten used to next day shipping from places like Amazon, you can forget about it here in Newfoundland. At a minimum, add a day or two to your anticipated arrival time, and if you live in an ultra-remote part of the Province like Joe Batt’s Arm on Fogo Island or the Daniel’s Cove on The Great Northern Peninsula, add on even more. You can still take advantage of great online shipping deals, with prices being generally standard across Canada, but because of the nature of being an island province way out in the Atlantic Ocean that’s known for unpredictable weather, delayed packages are more of a rule than an exception.
6: NEWFOUNDLAND HAS MORE ONE WAY STREETS THAN YOU CAN SHAKE A STICK AT
If you’re a novice driver, nominate someone with more experience or make sure you have nerves of steel and an eye for signs. This is especially true for the capital city of St. John’s but also relevant in other metro areas across the Province. Newfoundland has a lot of confusing one-way streets that can drive even the best drivers bonkers. The city of Corner Brook has two one way loops that almost intersect, one running clockwise and the other running counter clock-wise. The area in St. John’s known as “Rawlins Cross” was home to so many confused drivers and accidents, the St. John’s City Council took up a major remodeling of the triple one-way street bowtie in 2018 to help bring back rhyme and reason to driving in St. John’s. Some say it’s better than living in a boring laid out grid found in newer planned cities like Calgary and Edmonton, but we’ll let you be the judge after you’re finished navigating Newfoundland roads. It doesn’t take long to realize the roadways in St. John’s and Corner Brook are based on the twisted horse path routes of previous centuries and modeled around the rocky landscape. It’s beautiful and very confusing.
7: NEWFOUNDLAND CAN BE SUPER WINDY AND IS THE WINDIEST PROVINCE IN CANADA
Hold onto your hats, because Newfoundland can be very windy. To give you an example of just how windy Newfoundland is, we’ll tell you the story about our dog groomer friend Jennifer who is from Newfoundland and took her first trip overseas to Ireland last year. While Jennifer the dog groomer was in Ireland visiting her friend, she deiced to give her Irish friend’s dog a haircut outside in the back yard of her Irish friend’s townhome as a surprised while her friend was sleeping. In the morning Jennifer woke up and saw her friend outside in the backyard picking something up.
“What are you doing?” Jennifer asked her friend
“Oh, thanks for giving my dog a hair cut, I’m just cleaning up the dog hair from the backyard.” Jennifer just stared and looked puzzled before saying
“That’s so funny, I never clean up the dog hair when I groom dogs in my backyard, it just always blows away“.
8: SWIMMING IN ST. JOHN’S HARBOUR
Newfoundland is famous for clean air and clean water. Our tap water is better than any bottled water you will find in the grocery store, and our freshwater lakes and rivers are pristine. The ocean surrounding the island of Newfoundland is also ultra clean, with 20,000-year-old icebergs floating by all spring. Everything here is pretty clean unless you’re talking about the water in the St. John’s Harbor. That water is too polluted for swimming. Locals know not to swim in the harbor, but each summer a few tourists can be seen unknowingly getting into the water for a quick dip only to be warned by locals not to go as soon as they spot them. Because this harbor has been used as an industrial shipping port for hundreds of years, it has built-up some waste. Until recently, it was used as a dumping ground for St. John’s sewage. It’s beautiful to look at, but if you want to swim, choose to do it anywhere except for St. John’s Harbor.