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Saturday 12 May 2018

When to make absolutely certain that you have booked the right flight

We've all heard tales, probably apocryphal, of travellers who have booked themselves to go to Newcastle and ended up in another Newcastle on a different continent.

That's why it pays to be 100% alert when booking flights to either St. John's or St John. 

It’s a confusing coincidence, but there are two similar-sounding cities in Atlantic Canada. When you are booking your flights, car rental, and any accommodation, make sure that you are booking for St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador (YYT), and not that other one, St John, New Brunswick (YSJ). Or vice versa.

This useful tip is one of several for anyone planning to visit St. John's - a wonderfully quirky city that is home to several of my uncles and cousins.

First thing to note is that Newfoundland is cold in winter. Not a little cold; seriously, bitterly cold. 

One piece of local wisdom is to never assume anything. There might not be enough rental cars or accommodation if you arrive on spec (just like Tasmania). 

So, if you want to fulfill that dream you have of standing on the most easterly point of North America — well, you’d better book ahead to avoid disappointment.

Again like Tasmania, only much more so, it’s big. Really big. People don’t always realise that. 

And with over 400,000 square kilometres of land, you never know where you might find yourself. 

To put things in perspective, Newfoundland and Labrador is a little smaller than California, slightly bigger than Japan, and twice the size of the entire United Kingdom. 

There is a story about a conversation in Corner Brook once overheard where somebody said “yes, we plan on driving to St. John’s tomorrow morning, and then stopping by L’Anse aux Meadows in the afternoon.” 

That’s not going to happen. (It could happen if you had some sort of quantum physics inspired transportation device, or discovered a wormhole that could move you vast distances in no time at all.) Otherwise, no.

Driving time from St. John’s to Corner Brook is about 7.5 hours, give or take an hour or two. It really depends on your ability to resist side trips, amazing views, and home-style food you’ll pass along the way (seal flippers, anyone?) 

Travelling from St. John’s to L’Anse aux Meadows puts you into the 12.5-hour range; not a short trip. And if you want to continue your drive on to Labrador, there are ferries to account for as well. 

There is a lot to see and do in Newfoundland (a second trip is very much on my radar). Just make sure you are properly prepared.

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