Saint John, NB,Canada???? I have to admit, it is not the location I would have chosen to vacation were it not for the opportunity to spend time working there.
Saint John is a lovely community located on the Bay of Fundy in Canada. It is located on an ice-free deep harbor and has the advantages--and the disadvantages--of a waterfront location. The advantage: year round weather that is milder than one would expect for a location this far north. In the summer, the Bay tempers the heat and, surprisingly, the humid air leaves the city proper with temperatures more likely to be in the mid to upper 70's and winter temperatures in the 20's. The disadvantage: the strong likelihood of fog in the summer months when the warmer air temperatures pass over the colder waters of the Bay, fog as thick as pea soup. On the upside, one has only to leave the immediate downtown area to find the fog is gone and the day clear!
The city fathers of Saint John are dedicated to the preservation of the historical areas and buildings in the harbor area. This lends the chance to view the area much as it would have been in the 1800's. New construction and renovations in the downtown area must meet stringent requirements to retain the old city charm. Don't miss the truly authentic Irish pubs near the water front.
The harbor area does sport the contemporary in the form of Museum of New Brunswick which houses archaeological finds from the area, exhibits related to ship building and a modest collection of Canadian paintings from the 1800's through current artists all in a lovely modern building. The Museum is well organized and interesting to visit and has a very nice Museum Shop with interesting souvenirs in a broad range of prices.
Joined to the Museum through a series of enclosed pedways is Brunswick Square, a thoroughly modern enclosed shopping center with multiple floors. Many boutique type stores and an extensive food court are available in addition to regular sit-down restaurants with outside dining facing the Bay.
Many sites are within walking distance in Saint John. Just be prepared to walk up and down hills nearly everywhere you go. The Old Loyalist Cemetary located just above the Harbor area is a beautiful spot to walk and relax. Don't miss the Beaver Fountain, a unique fountain funded by the Irving Company located in this cemetary (now considered a park). Horse and buggy tours are available throughout the city area as well as mapped on-your-own walking tours.
Just across from the Cemetary is the entrance to the City Market and Billy's Seafood Shop & Restaurant. The City Market is a busy, crowded spot to purchase anything from fresh meats and seafood, baked-on-the-spot breads and pastries and vegetables to art work by local artists, souvenirs and great ready to eat carry out food. At Billy's you can get a great seafood meal (moderately priced) or have fresh lobster (even live!), oysters and other seafood products packed to take along or be shipped.
Another not to be missed site in this city is the Reversing Falls. Although it does not truly 'reverse' nor is it really a 'falls', it is a sight to behold when the rising tide from the Bay surges into the fresh water of the Saint John River. The whirlpool and sudden rise in the river level are spectacular. A boat ride is available through the rapids and is not to be missed.
Saint John is a great spot to get away from the heat of summer in the States and is located so that numerous day trips can be taken to area sites. (Don't miss Shediac for lobster cruises or Saint Stephen for the Chocolate Festival.)
Driving to Saint John is easier than one might think. It is located just across the border from Maine. Roads in the area are well marked, some are multi-lane but the majority are 2 lane. While you might be in the habit of watching for deer to cross the highway in your area, you will need to keep a sharp eye out here for MOOSE!!!
Flying in is equally easy. Although you will likely need to take a connecting flight from a major airport, the connecting flights are frequent and moderately priced. You can expect to pay approximately $25CD for taxi fare into the city from the airport. Accomodations in Saint John run the gamut from contemporary hotels to quaint bed-and-breakfasts. Many of the historic downtown buildings have been converted to suites for visiting business people needing a base for several weeks at a time.
Numerous cruise lines now dock in Saint John on a regular basis and a new visitor center is being built in the docking area to accomodate the cruise passengers.