I leave for the Congo in a few days and just finished reading an unofficial trip advisory that I got by email from a local. While a trip to the DRC has a different set of concerns then a trip to NL, I was surprised no one had added one to TA, so here goes:
MOOSE: Moose are very common in all areas of the island including in the metro area. Most active at dusk and dawn its best to avoid these hours and drive after 9am and before 7pm. Moose vehicle accidents unlike deer vehicle accidents are frequently fatal for both driver and moose.
WILDLIFE: Newfoundland has no poison ivy, poison oak, deer, skunks or snakes. Avoid feeding foxes as rabies, while not common, does exist on the west coast and Labrador. Avoid contact with black bear and moose both will attack humans. Avoid striking caribou herds as they cross the roadways.
OCEAN: Cliffs are inherently dangerous. Many areas where people frequent are dangerous and eroded, proceed with caution. Currents, waves and low water temperatures pose some risk to swimmers and kayakers. It is not uncommon for waves to wash people off shore. If there is a sign advertising this risk, like at Cape Spear, it’s not an over exaggeration.
DRIVING: Obey the rules of the road, Highway traffic enforcement is common, RNC in metro and RCMP in rural areas. Because of the layout of the downtown traffic flow and parking can be confusing but is strictly enforced. Know what “one way”, “no entry” and “all traffic must go ______” signs look like.
POLICE: 911 works in most areas of the province. The number of the RNC in the metro is 729-8000. The number for the RNC and RCMP varies by community. In an emergency try 911 first then ask a local for a secondary number. Parking tickets issued to you can be paid or contested at City Hall. Traffic tickets issued can be paid or contested at Provincial Court on Water St.
HOMELESS: There are no homeless people in the province although there are a small number of panhandlers. Most are benign and lack of eye contact or a “sorry I have no cash”. Some will try and engage you in a conversation first, if they look like a panhandler, keep walking and they will give up.
GEORGE STREET: George St. isn’t the same place as yester year. Random violence is not uncommon and weapons are often present. This is mainly a concern for people under 35, however people of all ages are advised not to get too intoxicated and don’t engage in conflict with other patrons. Leaving the bars at 2 am rather than 330 will avoid a lot of the conflict and make it easier to find a cab.
CRIME: There is very little random crime in Newfoundland that a visitor would be exposed to. Most can be prevented by sobriety and basic situational awareness. Theft from vehicles in the metro area is VERY common. Belongings left visible in a parked car will be gone within an hour. Leave belongings at a hotel or B&B, thefts from these locations are rare. Pack non important belongings in the trunk. Carry valuable or important belongings on your person, muggings are unheard of. Items such as passports should be left in your hotel room safe. Break-in’s at campsites do occur so don’t consider a camper or van as a safe place to store valuables.
PROSTITUTION: The prostitution stroll for women is on Church Hill, for men it’s on the east end of Duckworth St. If you make new friends on these street expect there to be a price tag.
SCAMS: There aren’t any true scams currently operating in Newfoundland. Guard your PIN numbers while at interact and ATM’s. If you hire a taxi and stop somewhere mid fare they will leave the meter running so ask for a flat rate. Waiters will sometimes add an automatic 15% gratuity to a large table’s bill, check you bill so you don’t over tip. If you put a stranger’s drink on your credit card tab at a bar make sure the bartender knows that it is just the one drink, some people will drink for free on your card the whole night on the mistake of the bartender.
WATER and FOOD SAFETY: No concerns here. If camping or hiking be aware of water borne pathogens. Most areas of the provinces still dump raw sewage into the ocean. Don’t contact the water or contaminate your clothes when boarding boats or kayaks until you reach the open ocean.