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Reports

Saturday, 26 April 2003
--> Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada (day 2)

When I woke up this morning I was amazed. I saw actual sun light! Hidden between the few clouds that were drooped over Saint John, there was the sun that I have been missing since I entered the province of New Brunswick!
This morning Melanie and her mum were off to a wedding shower. After doing some major updating on my website (this report for example is written on the 29th so I am almost always behind) Sarah took me out for a walk. Actually I planned to go for a run, so I also dressed up in my jogging suit and had my sport shoes on when Sarah showed me around downtown Saint John.

From her house we walked over the King Square, which is surrounded by a cinema and the almost prehistoric but majestic Imperial Theatre, but also has a British Loyalists graveyards down one of the lanes. And people walk along the graves to their destinations like it is just a park. I don't think the British Loyalists fled from America to be buried in a park, but then again, Saint John must have grown quite bigger since the 18th century.

One of the major tourist attractions of Saint John is the City Market on Charlotte Street. The inside of this roofed market complex contains fruit stalls, butchers, bakeries and souvenirs shops all together in a lively setting. At Billy's Sea Food Sarah bought some salmon and mussels for tonight's dinner (those folks are really friendly there!) and she introduced me to the local New Brunswick treat named dulse.

I had never heard of it, but dulse is a vegetable that is grown at low tide and takes root on rocks. It is harvested by hand and sun-dried on a drying ground. You might know it as that green leafy stuff that you see on rocks and poles if you've been to the ocean. I call it just a sea weed and that's what I will keep calling it.

Sarah bought a bag of dulse, which is eaten as simply as potato chips, but after one bite I knew it wasn't something for me. It taste like eating salty tree leaves, for as far as I can remember having ever eaten tree leaves. And it was so salt! The rest of the bag was for Sarah, who eats them as they were chocolates from Belgium… Incredible.

From the City Market we took the escalator down into the Lancaster Mall in Saint John, where every notion of an old town disappeared and I was surrounded by all types of modern brands stores. But the strange thing is, when we walked to the other side of the mall, we were suddenly one floor up. Oh yeah: the Saint John city centre is built on a hill and it goes down hill to the harbour.

For lunch we had a cheeseburger with fries and root beer at Reggie's Restaurant. Reggie's is one of those typical fast food restaurants where they make the food like old Mr. McDonald's had probably intend it to be. You order at the register and when the food is ready, they will scream your name so you can pick it up at the counter. Inside it looked like I had ended up in a soda fountain in 1955.

You can understand that there wasn't much more running to be done by me after a cheeseburger with fries, but at least I looked all sporty all day.

Back at home, Melanie and her mum were back again and I joined along in watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on DVD.

It was quite a long movie, because at the end the house was again filled up with friends of Sarah and Melanie, who introduced themselves to me, but which names I soon forgot. They mingled around, sat down, had a drink and watched along with the movie or talked to each other.

For dinner Sarah's friend Tammy brought over fiddleheads, another local vegetable I had to try. I had no idea what it was, but it was green and looked like a shellfish-like substance. And it taste like green beans. Together with salmon from the oven and fresh mussels it was actually a very good meal.

When the night fell in and all the people in the house started talking about weddings, marriages, kids and all the works that come with that, Sarah gave the sign of going out. First we would just go together, but after a while the whole group gave in and came along.

I was taken to O'Leary's Pub, Sarah's favourite pub to hang out. It was of course, as the name goes, an Irish Pub with a drinking area in the front and a cave like setting in the back. A band was preparing to start playing around 10pm when we got in and Sarah ordered me a drink.

Now there I was. Stunned. From all of my travels around 18 countries so far, I had entered the first Irish pub in another country that did not sell any Irish beers. Not at all! The barkeeper came with a story that there was a problem with the distributor, but some other folks said that simply nobody drinks 'that shit' anyway! Remember me to write to Mr. Guinness in Dublin to tell him about this town down the Canadian east coast!

The evening progressed slowly and I sipped on some local dark beer that I had to try out. The band had started playing at the back and when I went to the toilets down there, I was happy we were sitting at the front of the pub, because there was this Jim Carrey-face trying to sing cheesy country songs with a hand-sized guitar in his hand. No wonder it wasn't crammed full here!

Sarah apologized a bit for the pub. Together with her friends the conclusion was drawn, they had never seen the pub like this before. "Normally it would be much more fun!" Sarah said. "I have never experienced a night like this."

When we escaped the place after midnight to head home again, I heard a live band playing inside another pub and disco lights swung over the streets and the voices of many people. "That's another Irish pub," Sarah confessed. Oh…

But we were all too tired to make it a big party night and even I had enough after one big pint of that black stuff. I became the guy that drunk Pepsi for the rest of the night.

Back home I was tired enough to fall asleep immediately. I offered to sleep on the couch tonight, but Sarah still offered up her bed room to me. Okay, one more night then, as tomorrow I will hop to an island along the New Brunswick coast for a few days.

Good night Saint John!