Every year, we're very fortunate to be able to go on one big trip abroad. This is Ray's second, and also his second sojourn to Canada (his first visit was to introduce him to my extended family in Toronto). Our dear friends from LA went to the Fogo Island Inn a few years ago and fell in love with Newfoundland and its culture, so we decided to see what all the fuss was about; however, at 3000 clams a night, it wasn't exactly in our price range. Instead, we opted for a quick stay on Newfoundland Island and then flew north to Labrador, which is on the mainland.
Before I dither on about all the beautiful things we saw in The Great White North, let me just add a caveat to this post: Traveling with a toddler is exhausting. These pictures show a happy baby and fun, tender moments, but make no mistake, our vacation was riddled with tantrums, poopy diapers, and naps that ran all too short. I still feel however, that despite all the constant moving around and lugging of bags with a toddler in tow, it was absolutely worth it and I don't regret for a second that we went.
Our luggage didn't make it onto the last leg of our flights (blerg), so we spent the first morning mulling about the house, while I wondered whether I would ever see my camera again. After we got our bags back and changed into some clean clothes, we headed to Quidi Vidi, a quaint fishing village on the edge of town, where we did some sight-seeing and sampled some authentic maritime fare (i.e. fish & chips and beer – yum!).
The next 2 days were all about exploring the city proper! I love architecture and I love seeing the homes where people live their everyday lives. It really doesn't get much more adorable than the rows upon rows of salt box houses, which come in all the colours of the rainbow! This city totally reminds me of San Francisco, especially since St. John's is also built on steep hills.
And the time difference (4.5 hours!) allowed for Ray to join us for a rare family sunset stroll in the city's downtown core.
After white-knuckling it on the short hop north in a teensy propellor plane, our jumping-off point into Labrador was this small industrial town, located just a quick jaunt from the Quebec border. We arrived just in time to take a quiet evening stroll down to the beach to watch the sunset.
A little note about Ray: The kid doesn't feel cold or wet, ever. I have to confess, it always pains me to see him sopping in his clothes, but since we were only a few minutes from our hotel, I let him explore the seaside for himself. We had to constantly stop him from plunging neck-deep in the frigid ocean.
Falling in Love with Anse Amour
The next morning we headed an hour east to the most beautiful spot on the southern Labrador coast: Anse Amour. It was pretty gloomy when we took to the road, however the clouds parted just in time for our arrival. This amazing spot is marked by an outstanding lighthouse, and anyone who knows me well, knows I have a massive fetish for these haunting sentinels. We actually got to stay in the restored lighthouse keeper's cottage and we were treated to a three course dinner in the lighthouse building itself!
After more than an hour on a bus, Ray was ripe to let off some steam before bedtime, so I let him run around the grounds. The buttercups were in full bloom and their bright yellows provided the perfect accent to the bright red roofs on the adjacent buildings.
The best part, was that once the tour buses left, we had the entire place to ourselves! Time for a sunset walk and for Ray to romp in the meadows some more. Toddlers take the best photos when you allow them the freedom to explore and be themselves.
I was really sad to say goodbye to Anse Amour, but the show must go on (also some other family booked the cottage that night so we were kind of forced to leave). Next up on the way to our final destination was an historical whaling station at Red Bay, where we got to visit an archaeological museum and have lunch. Thankfully, no whales are killed in these parts anymore.
Ray is -obsessed- with numbers right now. He actually makes us read out all the house addresses to him when we go for walks around our neighbourhood, so when he discovered the '5' sign below I could. not. tear. him away. Since we were on a guided walk, I decided to spare us all a major tantrum, and stayed behind while the others went ahead.
Journey to Battle Harbour
Battle Harbour, the highly-anticipated last stop on our vacation, is a teeny-tiny island that is reached via ferry ride. This small fishing village was once the fishing capital of The Maritimes, but now it operates as one of Labrador's prime tourist destinations.
If you're looking for a beautiful, remote, place to while away your hours then this is the island for you! Not a car in sight, no air pollution, no litter, no cares at all. People don't even lock their doors! Wild, right?
It takes about 45 minutes to hike around the entire island and the views do not disappoint. We were also lucky to be in time for the start of lingonberry season! In Newfoundland, they're commonly called 'Baked Apples' for the way they taste (and they actually kinda do, only a little more tart).
A heavy fog rolled in on our last day at Battle Harbour, but that didn't stop us from taking a rainy day promenade to one of the island's two (!) cemeteries. Fun fact about us: We love visiting cemeteries and we seek them out wherever we go.
With our time in this magnificent setting coming to a close, I took Ray for a walk during Golden Hour (my absolute favorite time to shoot photos!). The tall grass and wild flowers made the most beautiful backdrop for his mini session.