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Fogo Island, Newfoundland

Post Date: May 18, 2022 by josiemounsey

Early on Sunday, May 1st, our group sets out from St. John’s in a private coach, first to Gander and then on to Farewell for the ferry to Fogo Island. We stop for a delicious boxed lunch at ‘Union East’ in Gander Airport. The restaurant is really unique, unlike any airport restaurant you have ever known. Food is fresh and the young staff so helpful and cheerful.

Back on the coach as we head to Farewell, award winning author, Michael Crummey, who travelled with us from St. John’s, keeps us entertained talking about his novel, ‘Galore’.
Almost two hours later, we arrive at the ferry dock. Not a ship in sight! Later, we learn that the ferry has thruster problems at Fogo, and it eventually becomes clear that it isn’t an easy fix!
Jill Curran, the unflappable owner of Maxxim Vacations, works her magic in the background, arranging rooms for us all at the Comfort Inn in Gander – not the five-star luxury we had been anticipating at the Fogo Island Inn, but nevertheless very welcome.

Jill also produced dinner reservations for us all at Sinbad’s Hotel in Gander, where we enjoyed good food and drink while listening to one of the local people relating stories of what happened on 9/11 when Gander Airport’s runway become a parking lot of diverted commercial airliners. Thirty-eight jets, carrying more than 6,500 passengers, descended on Gander, more than doubling the local population. In true Newfoundland hospitality and friendship, local people fed and housed everyone for several days. Anyone who has seen the hit musical ‘Come from Away,’ will be familiar with the story.

The next morning, we are all relieved to see the ferry arrive at Farewell. We are soon all onboard and after docking briefly at Change Islands, we finally make it to Fogo.
Our comfortable room at the world-renowned Fogo Island Inn, complete with locally-made quilt (home from home).
After a welcome snack in our room, we head to the dining room for a late breakfast. Joe opts for shrimps on toast with a soft boiled egg! I am less imaginative, and have toast, eggs, and bacon, and the most delicious seabuckthorn juice.
Wood-burning stoves abound in this beautiful hotel – some bedrooms have stoves, too. Beautiful views over the ocean from everywhere.
The 29-room Inn is operated as a social business and was built using philanthropic funds. All profits are returned to Shorefast for reinvestment in the community of Fogo Island.
Lori McCarthy carves home-cured lamb and tells us what berries, etc., can be foraged on Fogo Island. Lori, together with Marsha Tulk, has recently released a cookbook, ‘Food Culture Place: Stories, Traditions, and Recipes of Newfoundland’.
Friendly and knowledgeable community hosts drive guests around the area. Colour is everywhere on this amazing island.
Dinner on our first night at the Fogo Island Inn is in The Shed, adjacent to the hotel – the most luxurious shed I have ever seen!
Every course at dinner is delicious, accompanied by great wines.
The ‘Daybreak Tray,’ arguably my favourite part of staying at The Inn. No messing around with unfamiliar coffee machines in your room; just open your door and you will find coffee, tea, and pastries still warm from the oven, to keep you going before breakfast. A simple touch, but so lovely.
‘Foley’s Shed’ in Tilting, where we have a delicious home-cooked lunch. Lashings of wine, too!
Musical accompaniment at lunch.
In the afternoon, we all head to the Big Church for a food circle gathering, to which all the local people have been invited. The food circle was inspired by the traditional song circle as a way to start a dialogue and share stories of food and what it means to people. Great to meet so many Fogo Islanders and to hear their stories.
Some of the food provided by The Inn for the food circle.
Sadly, the following morning it is time to leave the Fogo Island Inn. We posed for a group picture.
Time to head back to Gander for our flights home to various parts of the world. Before that, another delicious lunch at the airport restaurant, and a special behind-the-scenes tour by Reg Wright, CEO of the Gander Airport Authority, of the International Departure Lounge, which will soon be re-opened to the public. The lounge is considered to be the most important modernist room in Canada, incorporating a 22 metre mural by Kenneth Lochhead and modernist sculpture and furniture. No photographs, as the inside has yet to be revealed when the lounge is re-opened in June. To learn more about the mural, read Jane Urquhart’s novel, ‘The Night Stages’. As we travel back to Toronto, we take with us so many wonderful memories of this tour and the friendly Newfoundland people.

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