|Its tricky trying to get photos of both of you|
Day 8 – 11/09/2010 - Toronto. It was a different kettle of fish and completely daunting being back in a city after spending the last 10 months working in Jasper which only has a full time population of 5,000. We had decided before we left Jasper that we wouldn’t use a GPS either (and when I say we, I mean me since I am a man and can navigate by the stars). Since I did the majority of the driving it was left up to Adela to navigate us through the city to find a parking spot. She did an outstanding job but by the time we had parked we were playing a fun game I like to call “silence”. Basically we enjoy each others company while slowly fuming away in silence until about an hour later one of us will laugh at the other for being so grumpy. Its a great relationship builder…
Unhitching our bikes we set off for the day along the waterfront to the city centre to catch a ferry out to Toronto Island. I love the bike lanes in countries such as America because they actually work and don’t unexpectedly stop down the middle of the road. NZ government and local planners take note. We spent the better part of the sunny morning biking around Toronto Island and it was amazing that there are a small number of houses that are actually on the island. Great views over the water as well to the CN tower and cityscape.
The almighty CN Tower
We donned the blue Maid of the Mist ponchos, which seemed a bit tacky and unnecessary to begin with but boy did we need them! We piled onto the boat, which we decided looked like a refugee boat with the hundreds of other tourists and set off. The Americans must be gutted that the “American Falls” are actually smaller than the “Horseshoe Falls” which belongs to the Canadians. However, they are both incredibly impressive and the boat drives right into the mist. The water hitting the rocks creates a crazy effect of strong winds and heavy spray that feels like you are in the middle of a storm. Two oldies elbowed their way in front of us as we drove up to the first falls but were quickly cowering behind us after a few minutes of getting pounded by the water in the heart of Horsehoe Falls. Well worth the money we spent and such a cool experience.
Chappelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours was next on the hit list. The old sailors used to come in and pray for safe journeys across the ocean. During their travels at sea they would often past the time by fashioning wooden model boats that they carved or made and these would be donated to the Chapel on their safe arrival back home. Marche-Bon-Secours had been converted into a high-end shopping mall with little boutique shops and staff who turned their noses up at us as we wandered past in our jandals. Definitely no chance of shopping there. The old town roads were still the original cobble stones with heaps of street artists selling their wares. I had to drag Adela off before she brought anything that we would then have to squeeze in to the cramped car.
The final, and most impressive building was left to last, the Basilique Notre-Dame. Its one of, if not the most famous landmark in Montreal and well worth the donation at the end for a tour explaining the history, which included the 6,000+ pipe organ, the hidden stained glass window, the wedding chapel, Priests staircase and the largest bell in North America.
KM travelled = 94 km.
Spending = $8 (car parking), $32 (brekky), $10 (tour of Notre-Dame), $22 (camping), $10 (more food) = $82 total.
Day 12 – 15/09/2010 – We had found a campsite just outside Montreal so returned again to the city in the morning. This time turning off the tourist trail to explore and educate our minds at the Montreal Science Centre. The main exhibits consisted of a glass area, sex exhibit and a hands-on area, obviously not all in the same place… Not quite sure what the sex part was all about but we were pretty much in hysterics the whole time. Somehow we managed to spend about 5 hours taking it all in but it was nice not to be rushed for time. Dinner was located in some funky French pizza cafe where again I established that I really wish I knew a second or third language. As a Kiwi I have hardly even mastered the English language, yet we would often met French-Canadians or other travellers who could speak 2/3 or more languages.
I had heard of a surfing spot in the heart of Montreal on the St Lawrence river so decided we better go check it out. AWESOME. There were about a dozen surfers milling around on the shoreline patiently waiting their turn all having a good laugh. Basically everyone takes turns to paddle straight out into the middle of the river current faces upstream and starts paddling like mad so that once you hit the perfect spot on these natural river waves you will remain stationary and can then stand up. The ride can be endless but every minute or so a new paddler would jump in and they would just rotate out having to paddle back to shore before running along the track to the put in again. I still wish to this day that we had stuck around for one more day so I could hire some gear and have a crack. Hopefully we will visit again in the future!
KM travelled = 113 km.
Spending = $50 (petrol), $24 (Science exhibits), $10 (parking), $28 (dinner) = $112 total.
Day 13 – 16/09/2010 – No traffic thankfully as we headed away from Montreal via the St Lawrence river to Quebec City. Some cute little towns that I wish we had time to explore but as always not enough time and too many k’s to do. Straight onto our bikes around the Parc des Champs-de-Batallie (Abraham’s Battlefields Park) which was the site where the British defeated the French many moons ago. I seem to have a fascination with old military weapons as you can see…
The Parliament building was pretty neat as was the St Jean Church that had been converted into a library. A great use of space for an old building that was no longer used. Some how our noses, and the guide book, led us to the Chocolate Museum where we had to indulge in some tasty treats.
Locked the bikes up to explore on foot and wandered down the Rue-St-Jean (very pretty french street) with little side streets tucked away and some cool houses around. My favourite was definitely checking out the battlefields and the history there while Adela enjoyed the chocolate (surprise surprise) with Rue-St-Jean coming in a close second.
KM travelled = 271 km.
Spending = $22 (food), $8 parking, $12 (chocolate treats), $8 (clothes washing), $22 (camping) = $72 total.
|Adela intent on buying some art|
Day 14 – 17/09/2010 – Back to Quebec City in the morning for some more touristy delights. Biked through the Battlefields again to the Quebec City Citadel, which is still an occupied and functioning Army base and one of only 2 in the world still active. Walked all the way along the humongous perimeter walls into the walled Old Quebec City stopping in for lunch (starting to get sick of peanut butter sandwiches) in Place de Armes Square outside Le Chateau Frontenac. A classic Frenchman was belting out a little bit of Andrea Bocellia who just happens to be Mum’s favourite Opera singer so I was tempted to sing along. Alas we ran out of time but he deserved a tip for for entertaining us.
Le Chateau Frontenac is the most photographed hotel in Canada. It was gorgeous, but we decided we have seen better. Adela soon spotted the local artwork in a side alley and promptly fell in love with every piece there. I restricted her to one item which she browsed over for about an hour while I lazed in the sun. Started to get hot and bothered so wandered down the aptly named “Breakneck Stairs” to the narrowest legal streets in North America for some gelato and jumping. Adela had been hanging out for a coffee all morning but we didn’t find them until it was early in the evening after the University area and Latin Quarter had been explored. The Basilica Notre-Dam-de-Quebec was good and pretty inside but the Montreal one trumped all over it.
Walked our way around the rest of the wall and I found the Parc de L’Artillerie (no translation required here) with several old cannons and tonnes of photos for me! The final stop of the evening was the Citadel where we managed to jump on the last tour of the day. We always prefer getting a tour around areas including cities and buildings as I always think for the money you spend they are definitely worth it. The Citadel is designed as a star shape so that you have loads of points to defend from covering all the different angles of approach. The walls are all built into the ground with slopes leading up to them so that the enemy can’t actually pinpoint where to fire. Very effective, all though the French still managed to lose it somehow.
Exhausted after a heavy day of walking and sightseeing throughout the cities around Quebec and Ontario provinces.
KM travelled = 226 km.
Spending = $7 (car parking), $18 (dinner), $10 (treat), $10 (tour), $25 (painting), $55 (petrol) = $130 total.
Weekly KM travelled = 1669 km.
Spending for the week = $672.
Atop the Citadel walls
Citadel looking back towards Le Chateau Frontenac