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A Proustian Travel Guide: Bonavista Peninsula, Newfoundland

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A Newfoundland couple tells us all the best local eats.

Name: Sonja Mills & Alicia MacDonald

Profession: Brewpub owners; also lawyer (Sonja) and nurse practitioner (Alicia)

Age: 37 (Sonja) & 33 (Alicia)

Location: Port Rexton, Newfoundland

Married couple Sonja and Alicia started a brewery and pub in Port Rexton, along Newfoundland’s Bonavista peninsula, luring a new legion of younger travelers to the quiet fishing villages over three hours outside of the provincial capital, St. John’s. Here, we get better acquainted with these maritime natives and their cool new hangout.

What are three things you wish people knew about you? 

Sonja: Oreo ice cream makes me happy in all situations.

Alicia: I consider nachos a food group. Also, I love naps.

What are you most proud of? 

Sonja: Having the courage to leave my legal profession and start a business in an entirely different field (basically, following my passion rather than my profession).
Alicia: Probably completing my Masters in Nursing. Although I'm not currently working in the profession, it was a grueling and exhausting program that I'm excited I completed. Either that, or the fact I organized my tool bag yesterday. 

Related | Road Trip: One Week in Newfoundland

What is your most cherished possession? 

Sonja: An old wooden Norwegian cross-country ski that my father used when he skied the Birkebeiner race many moons ago. I proudly display it in our living room.

Alicia: I try not to put too much emphasis on material things because I tend to lose them. But if I had to say one thing, I'd say a baby mouse wearing pink and gray pajamas. It was a Christmas ornament I received as a child from my Aunt that makes me smile every year I decorate the tree. 

What is your favorite thing to splurge on? 

Sonja: Travel. Whether it’s weekend trips around Newfoundland, brewery-focused road trips, or extended trips to another country with Alicia.

Alicia: Food. I love dining out and sitting across the table from Sonja and talking about life. 

When traveling, what do you never leave home without? 

Sonja: Headlamp. It has come in handy so many times!

Alicia: Tweezers. Same!

Where is your all-time favorite travel destination? 

Alicia: I can only accurately answer that question after I've travelled everywhere in the world. Perhaps you can ask me again in 328 years?

Describe the perfect weekend along the Bonavista peninsula.

During the summer, a perfect weekend would start with breakfast at Fisher's Loft Inn. Fisher's Loft does a wonderful breakfast that includes a choice of either eggs, toast and bacon or the special of the day (e.g. blueberry french toast) or you can help yourself to their breakfast bar of many different cereals, granola, fruit, dried fruits, yogurt, etc. Then a hike around the Skerwink Trail. Then pick-up a lunch to-go from Two Whales Coffee Shop and a growler of Port Rexton beer for an early afternoon hike around the Fox Island Trail with a stop on the top of the Island to laze in the grass and have a picnic. Two Whales Coffee shop is a delightful vegetarian cafe that also grows many of their own vegetables. They offer several different homemade soups (that change daily) and a large selection of panini sandwiches. Then we'd check out the music scene at Two Whales Cafe as there are many live shows of talented musicians from around the country.  Dinner plans would then include a 4-course meal at Fisher's Loft followed by a short walk to the brewery to grab a few pints to close the night. 

What makes someone a local in Port Rexton? 

There are a few different ways to considered what makes one a "local" - there are those who grew up in the area and still live here, those who never grew up here but have moved here and now call it their year-round home, and those who spend their entire summers here each year. Maybe the test is whether they've been to the Parkside Lounge and gotten a meal of moose from Debbie.

What is the most unique experience in the area? 

Probably hiking the Skerwink Trail. The sea stacks and scenery along are so incredibly beautiful and unique! It’s rated as one of the top hikes in this country.

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