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June 12

A restless night dealing with a bed that has properties which contradict the concept of comfort. Iím told theyíre gradually replacing them with pillowtops which are the norm nowadays. Where hotels ever got the idea that hard edged, rigid sprung mattresses is probably due to those dated ideas that a bed must be hard to be healthy. The lunacy weíre fed by experts who know nothing never ends.

This hotel provides a free continental breakfast which has a variety of items including cold cereal is a treat considering the price of the rooms and that they have kitchenettes too. Itís a pleasant place and the dining room is just a few steps away so I grab a coffee and muffin and head back to my room to wallow in privacy. The upside of hotels is there usually is space to spread out and relax while B&Bís cater to the sociable crowd with lounges and such. This isnít as common a feature in England and Iíve not used B&Bs outside of Newfoundland but will begin because you meet more of the locals.

My tour isnít until the PM so I choose to take advantage of the laundry facilities available. This is something I havenít done since 1996 when my husband and I travelled to England. Finding a laundrette somewhere in an unfamiliar place wasnít my idea of a holiday highlight but he was a high maintenance soul in so many ways. At least he came along to lug the bags but once weíd found the place he vanished to the nearest pub. For so many reasons I donít miss his presence at all. Being able to use an on site facility was impossible to resist. Knowing I could have done this further along in my holiday for free didnít dissuade me at all. Granted, I have to go up and down in elevators to accomplish this chore and use up all of my change and then some to feed the machines but itís an adventure. Itís a pleasant task made even more so when one of the hotel staff offers some time on a machine sheíd finished using. These people are always thinking of others. Iím reminded again about Linda in Placentia and how self-absorbed she was. When people are in pain whether physical or emotional it often brings out a need to focus inward and console myself with the idea that Linda is usually more hospitality motivated but firmly believe sheís not as adept at it as Newfoundlanders are. I can guarantee you Iíd never take on a B&B because Iím not that sort of person. I wonít forget about her for a very long time because Iíve adopted her woes which rankles me.

Once my clothes are washed, dried, folded and packed I spend a few minutes getting ready and then go to the lobby where the tour guide is already parked and Iím thrilled because heís an early bird like me. Dave of RJ Tours is a jolly fellow who lost one leg due to incompetent doctors who heís suing. He used to be a contractor, heís been married for a long time, has three sons, has lived in St. Johns all his life, comes from a family of eight or nine because now itís information overload. No worries though, he shares his lifeís history in an upbeat manner. The other trio are a family from Iran via Toronto by way of Australia. Been away from home for thirteen years and their daughter is of an age that says she was born away from the homeland. Immigrants intrigue me and they are charming people with a degree of melancholy about being separated from their families due to their decision to leave. Home is home no matter what its nature. Their daughterís name is Eileen which made me smile because itís right at home here in Newfoundland.

We are taken to Cape Spear, Petty [pronounced Pity] Harbour and Signal Hill. The weather is splendid so I climb stairs and hike up hills to take in the views on the first and last stop. Petty Harbour is a short walk on a pier admiring the charming boats and prosperous looking houses. This isnít Twillingate which was grittier. I was very taken with the views of the open Atlantic where whales are often spotted from shore. Thereís a path out to Signal Hill which begins in the heart of St. Johns. Signal Hill used to be used to signal ships by hoisting flags and then became famous for being the site where Marconi received the first wireless transmission from Europe. Cape Spear is the most easterly point in all of North America. On a fine day there couldnít be two more scenic spots. The tour lasts over three hours which is excellent value for the $45 it cost. I suppose I should confess that I almost always tip cabbies and Ray is no exception. While I was astounded this fellow had never heard of Gibraltar he certainly knew enough about where he lived to answer questions with an easy conviction. I just figured if one lived on a Rock theyíd know about the other two and heíd heard of Alcatraz. I get him to drop me off by George Street and I try another pubís grub. The server is from Nottingham UK and I know immediately because she suggests Iím knackered when I tell her Iíve had a full day. The food is better than the night before but itís not a patch of Phillips cafe in Placentia. I catch a cab back for another early night with little sleep. I suppose the lack of my normal thirty winks is tiring me out a bit too.

June 13th

I spend the morning lounging around and doing a bit of writing while slurping free coffee thatís on tap all day. I begin my walk downtown when I come upon a city bus and I canít resist. I hop on, pay my fare and am taken away to a perfectly hideous looking mall that canít tempt me with its Dollarama store. Thereís lots of those in Newfoundland for sure. I transfer to another bus which takes me downtown and I hop off and begin browsing windows and shops. I find a very posh jewellery store - The Golden Tulip - which sucks me in because I can never resist expensive sparkly coloured baubles. I like cheap sparklies too but rarely buy them because Iím a high end kind of bauble shopper. This shop has itís own designs and a jeweller on site which has a suitable idea for a present for someone dear to me and they make it up within the hour while I go for coffee. If you google The Golden Tulip youíll get a sample of what they offer. They had an original design of a golden fish with an orange sapphire eye that bedazzled me but I didnít buy. I got the price within $65 though. Beautiful store. Then there was the candy store with Freak in their title that I browsed through impressed with the variety they offered but didnít buy so much as a jellybean. I visited a few more shops but nothing else wooed me into parting with my money. Then I chose another George St. establishment - Yellow Belly Brewery. Their food was upscale but too pretentious to be appreciated. There was a women on staff who was one of those plain faced beauties that belongs on an impressionists canvas. She was wearing a simple cotton frock, a subdued yellow cardigan, and flat ugly shoes but she had such confidence and moved with such ease. Normally a woman like that wouldnít stand out in a bar but she held the attention of most everyone with her low key charisma. My waiter said he thought she was Dutch but she lived in St. Johns with her family and he heartily agreed with my assessment of her beauty. Women are lucky, they can notice a person of their own sex and appreciate their appearance without being stigmatised. There are a lot of attractive people in Newfoundland but not in a movie star way. Their way of looking right into your eyes, their smiles, their lilting accent with an edge, their rough hewn faces, their clarity. A lot to admire without trying very hard. I like them a lot. I grab a cab back to my hotel and spend quite a few hours going over my visit and wishing Iíd chosen another B&B in Placentia.

Iíd written an honest review for Tripadvisor and Linda e-mailed me with another raft of excuses. During my stay there Iíd met a couple from Ontario and the husband was one of those sort whoís much like me when it comes to being frankly sincere. I donít regret for a minute posting a less than flattering review of the Rosedale Manor because itís my nature and I suppose itís Lindaís nature to respond the way she did. Ah well, she did say she was going home to Vancouver Island because she missed her family. I could see that from a mile away so perhaps I helped her reach a difficult decision. What did flummox me is how she shared what it cost her to pay her husband to feed the guests of the B&B and how generous he was to charge so little! Excuse me?

Before I forget, St. Johns has a lot of visual perks for sightseers. Houses that are tagged with a jellybean moniker because theyíre gaily painted. Some have wooden storm doors too which is an unusual sight for someone from away. In some ways the city reminds me of San Francisco and in others Burano a town close to Venice known for its lace making. Thereís deep sea ships moored right downtown so close you could throw rocks at the seamen if you were brave. Thereís other indications of a port city which are seedier but not visible on a sunny day. People are out on stoops, sloped roofs, sidewalk cafes and strolling down the main drag on sidewalks and cruising in cars. Sunny days are not wasted in St. Johns. I heard a black woman on the bus with a tropical accent tell her young friend it was the first time she hadnít felt cold. Made me smile openly because it was meant to.

June 14th

Well, itís my departure day from Newfoundland and Iím away to Halifax for the next leg of my journey. Another flight, another car rental, another list of landmarks to visit before I get to my visiting of friends and family. Signing off for now.

"Tigers bloom where there's oodles of room." Zodiac Zoo

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