Having just returned from an amazing trip to St. John’s, I feel compelled to give this cool Newfoundland city props for being everything that Halifax isn’t (but could be) and here’s why:1.No city-sanctioned bagpipers or tartan hanging on downtown street corners. Sure you can hear “Brown Eyed Girl” oozing out of George Street pubs, but tourism crap is not forced down your throat.2.There is a St. John’s version of a Harbour Hopper (I only saw it once) but it doesn’t mouth off about Tim Hortons, etc.3. Speaking of Tims, there is a Tims and a KFC downtown, but otherwise, I couldn’t find any other chain shopping or eating.4.And there’s amazing shopping (for women) too. Not a lot, but enough places to make you feel like you’re not headed for a life of Suzy Shier leggings.5.The Rooms. A modern, multi-venue art gallery, museum and archives. Oh yeah. Still thrilled from the experience and the view, I picked up a newsletter from the provincial crafts council with happy news. Apparently the provincial government is doubling—doubling!!---funding to the arts. $17.5 million over three years. And there’s even a strategic cultural plan. Go Danny!6.Stunning hiking trails that are easily accessible.7.Amazing restaurants. Some of the best Thai and Indian I’ve had in awhile. If you go, be sure to stop at International Flavours on Quidi Vidi Road for the best dhal around and the sprout café for fine vegetarian cooking.8.St. John’s knows what it is and seems to be content with it now, even if it wasn't in the past. It doesn’t try to be Toronto like other smaller cities. I could be wrong, but it also doesn’t seem like the type of place that would recruit The Rolling Stones a year after they were in Moncton. Just sayin’ is all.