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LETTER: Swiss couple have fallen in love with Newfoundland

The Cape Spear Lighthouse built in 1836.
The Cape Spear Lighthouse built in 1836.

We are a Swiss couple that has travelled far and wide between many countries such as Japan, Greenland and South Africa.

We discovered Newfoundland — this place far from Switzerland — in the spring of 2017 and late autumn 2018. This island is unlike any other country.

It is unique, impressive and has the most lovable inhabitants.

We kissed the cod

Where else in the world is one warmly baptized a native during one of their “screech in” ceremonies? There are others reason for it, of course. Such as our swim without wetsuit around icebergs in the bay near Port Rexton where locals came to the beach and spontaneously invited us into their home afterwards. We encountered such warm and welcoming gestures everywhere we went between Port aux Basques, L’Anse aux Meadows and St. John’s. As a result, friendships were formed during our first stay, which have stood the test of time and distance.

It is the Newfoundlanders’ warmth, open-mindedness and readiness to help that we have experienced nowhere else in the world. Newfoundland’s inhabitants have given us a new lighthearted attitude towards life. This genuine warmth, be it in the countryside, in villages and even in St. John’s, has been a lasting source of fascination to us.

Stops at gas stations or buying local food in shops always led to spontaneous, friendly conversations with locals about their country or our origins. Every stay at B&Bs, be it in Twillingate, in Trout River or in a hotel elsewhere, always resulted in a long, cordial exchange of stories between the hosts and us.

We were welcomed and received as if we had always been members of their community. Where else in the world does this happen?

Potholes and moose ahead

We love the Trans-Canada Highway. No one hastens, no one honks. Every drive is relaxed and offers magnificent views of the island’s unique, multifaceted and rough beauty. Even gales near Wreckhouse culminate in suspense and fascination on the Trans-Canada Highway. We, as visitors from crowded old Europe, with encounters with a moose can only marvel at the presence of such unspoilt and varied landscapes.

However, in remote areas we became acutely aware of the extraordinary effort the Newfoundlanders have to make faced with the harshness of the climate in order to maintain the island’s infrastructure.  Such as the maintenance of the road network by filling potholes. This, to us, is reflected in the islanders’ strenuous daily routine and the island’s history. We were very impressed with the exemplary design of the hiking paths in the national parks. Be it in Gros Morne, Spiller’s Cove or on the East Coast Trail, the trails allowed us to discover the breathtaking landscapes. On hikes lasting for hours we experienced the most magnificent presence, where the future and the past, troubles and restlessness seemed to become insignificant.

Where else in the world is a visitor still lucky to experience such outstanding scenery?

St. John’s, our love
To us, St. John’s reveals a discrete beauty that is both attractive and harmonious. The city can readily count itself amongst the most multifaceted cities there are. We experienced St. John’s as refreshing, elegant, distinctive, open and unique. Regardless of whether we strolled along its iconic Water Street, its grid of parallel and perpendicular streets or through its outskirts. Its rows of houses composed of decorative, stylish, historic, elegant and bold buildings are harmonious in their brightness and well-maintained appearance. St. John’s is unlike any other place. It is a melting pot of the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby Arctic: container ships and seamanship, history of discovery and modernity. Whoever hears the sounding of the foghorn in dense fog for the first time will, like us, want to return to this fascinating place again and again. In St. John’s, we also encountered warm and open locals who took an interest in us. While looking for a food shop and holding a map, a car stopped just for us. The driver asked if he could help us. Where else does one experience such helpfulness?

We can hardly await our next journey to Newfoundland. We have become Newfoundland’s passionate ambassadors in Switzerland.

Until then, we will soothe our homesickness by listening to “Anchors Aweigh.”

Dr. Adrian and Inge Meyer

Zurich, Switzerland

Related story:

Letter: Thank you Newfoundland and Labrador

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