100 Places · Canada · Travel

№ 14 – The Tablelands, Newfoundland, Canada

We walked the Tablelands Trail on our last full day in Newfoundland. The weather wasn’t the greatest. It was overcast, windy, and drizzly. It was supposed to be an easy 4 km hike, but I was a wimpy hiker (still am!) and the gentle slope soon made my legs feel all crampy. I told my travel companions to walk ahead of me and not to worry about me. I might make it to the end of the trail, I might not. I’d just walk at my own pace (which is a snail’s pace, to be honest).

By the time I got to the boardwalk leading to the end of the trail, my travel companions were already on their way back. My husband happily walked back with me to the end of the trail where the view was glorious and the benches looked very inviting. The picture above was taken from the end of the trail.

I don’t know if it would be possible to explain the science of the Tablelands without using all sorts of fancy words that I’m not even sure the meaning of, so I’ll just copy the explanation from this page:

“The barren Tablelands, found between Trout River and Woody Point in Gros Morne National Park, look more like Arizona than forested Newfoundland. This is due to the ultramafic rock – peridotite – which makes up the Tablelands. It is thought to originate in the earth’s mantle and was forced up from the depths during a plate collision several hundred million years ago. Peridotite lacks the usual nutrients required to sustain most plant life, hence its barren appearance. The rock is very low in calcium, very high in magnesium, and has toxic amounts of heavy metals. Peridotite is also high in iron, which accounts for its brownish colour. Underneath this weathered zone, the rock is really a dark green colour.”

So now you know, and I think you should go there! It’s such a uniquely beautiful spot. In fact, the whole Gros Morne National Park is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s one of my most favourite places on earth. Definitely a must-see!

100 Places · Iceland · Travel

№ 13 – Hraunfossar, Iceland

Hraunfossar is a series of waterfalls in West Iceland where the water comes from springs in a lava field. I was unable to capture the whole thing due to the lack of a wide-angle lens. It’s a lot of waterfalls in one and really wide! We kind of stumbled upon it on the third to last day of our trip in Iceland. It was a nice pick-me-up since I was a bit bummed about the trip being almost over, even if we were already waterfalls-d out by then. Iceland just has sooo many waterfalls! There’s another waterfall nearby called Barnafoss but it’s probably my least favourite of all.

Hraunfossar pours into the river Hvítá. The river has a light sea-green colour because it’s glacier-fed. “Hvítá” itself means “white river” in Icelandic. The area around the falls is quite pretty. It’s close to a spot where Icelandic (Reykjavik?) people go for a vacation in the summer. We passed one area with a large number of cottages/summer homes, a few were quite fancy. I think that’s their cottage country.

Of all the waterfalls in Iceland, Hraunfossar is definitely one of my favourites.

100 Places · Canada · Travel

№ 12 – Squamish, British Columbia, Canada

While my husband was stuck in Richmond having fun at a conference, I was out with his parents exploring (getting lost in Vancouver was a lot of fun). I think the original plan was to go up to Whistler but all the construction work going on (they were getting ready for the Vancouver Winter Olympics) made the drive too slow for our liking and we only got as far as Squamish before we decided to make our way back to Vancouver.

I read somewhere that there was a nice beach there in Squamish so we drove around trying to find it and somehow ended up at this spot that apparently was a set for some TV show. There were some people doing work on the set but no filming was going on. The TV show was called The Guard and it only lasted two seasons. I’d always meant to watch an episode but never got around to it and the next thing I knew, it was cancelled.

I wish I could show you a 360° view of this spot because it was really quite stunning with a big rocky mountain on one side and a fjord — Howe Sound — with sea green water on the other side (as you can see in the picture). Since I can’t, you just have to take my words for it. :-)

100 Places · Canada · Travel

№ 11 – Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia, Canada

This picture was taken during our honeymoon almost nine years ago. We spent most of the time in our 2-week honeymoon road trip in Nova Scotia and the drive through the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Island was certainly one of the highlights. It was a very scenic drive.

Our friends who lived in Halifax (the capital of Nova Scotia) at the time and whom we met earlier in the trip told us that we might see some moose there. I was really excited about that. I had never seen a moose in its natural habitat before. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any. In fact, I had never seen any moose in the wild until three years ago. Strangely, once I saw one in the wild, I keep seeing them when we are up north in the cottage country. Maybe I broke some kind of a curse somehow.

To quote Wikipedia, Cabot Trail “is named after the explorer John Cabot who landed in Atlantic Canada in 1497, although most historians agree his landfall likely took place in Newfoundland and not Cape Breton Island.” When he landed in Canada, he actually thought he had landed in Asia! John Cabot is the English name for Italian explorer, Giovanni Caboto. His biography is pretty interesting.

100 Places · Iceland · Travel

№ 10 – Búðir, Snæfellsnes, Iceland

I had been looking forward to taking pictures of this church at Búðir in Snæfellsnes Peninsula because the location is very picturesque, but earlier in the day, the boat that was supposed to take us on a whale-watching tour left without us because apparently Icelandic people are not the greatest at at marking places so we missed the area where we were supposed to board the boat. When we finally found it with a help from a local Icelandic family we met at the harbour, the boat already left even though it was still before the time it was supposed to leave. We’d already had a whale-watching tour cancelled when we were in Northern Iceland (and the tour operator didn’t even bother to notify us about it being cancelled so we had a hurried breakfast that morning for nothing — could’ve had more of that tasty, homemade skyr at the B&B otherwise) so I was feeling extra bummed about it.

Anyway, when we got to Búðir, I was quite the Ms. Grumpy McGrumpsalot and my heart wasn’t really in it when I was taking pictures of the surroundings. We could have taken the path to a nearby beach but didn’t because I was grumpy and now I kind of regret it. Oh well. Some other time. When we go back to Iceland to explore the Westfjords (the only region we didn’t get to see in our first visit), we will have to give Snæfellsnes Peninsula another chance for sure.

Addendum: We’re one-tenth of the way through the 100 Places Project! Hurray!

100 Places · Canada · Travel

№ 9 – Spirit Island, Alberta, Canada

You don’t have to have the ability to walk on water to get to Spirit Island by foot from the mainland. You could just simply walk there. But you probably don’t want to do that or you would make a whole bunch of tourists angry for ruining their pictures of one of the most photographed spots in the Canadian Rockies.

You can only get to Spirit Island by taking the Maligne Lake boat tour (well, you could probably hike there but it might take a while). The boat tour was a little pricey but I guess the beautiful scenery we saw during the tour made it worth it.

We had to sit around waiting for our boat for quite a while. I remember us making some stupid videos while waiting because we were bored. There wasn’t really much to do there otherwise. Well, we could’ve rented a canoe or a kayak, but that would’ve been redundant. At least the surrounding view was pretty.

Spirit Island is located on Maligne Lake within Jasper National Park, which is one of my favourite Canadian national parks. If you have to choose between Jasper and Banff National Parks to visit, go for Jasper. You won’t regret it! It’s just as beautiful but not as touristy. Too bad it’s about four hours away from where we will be in June.