A Travellerspoint blog

Canada - Montréal, Québec

semi-overcast 27 °C

It was a nice drive to Montréal, stopping for a picnic in one of the small towns on the way, along the banks of the wide Saint-Laurent River.

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We stayed with some friends who are true 'Quebecers'. We met Chloé during our time in the wine region of Argentina and her and her boyfriend André kindly put us up in his home, which we were pretty impressed to hear has been in his family for 100 years. We felt like we had such an authentic Montréal experience and they and showed us around so well, including some great places to eat and drink! We had some beautiful weather and warm weather, and meandered down markets streets which were closed to traffic on the weekend, along the waterfront and through the old part of the city.

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We spent the mornings enjoying some tasty brunches, including some delicious homemade crepes, and then worked some of it off walking to the top of Mount Royal for a panoramic view across Montréal. We took the opportunity to walk wherever possible, and took in the World Press Photo Exhibition, showcasing the top photojournalism shots of the year, some of which were quite confronting, opening a window into what is going on in the big wide world out there. Paul also couldn't resist checking out the Montreal Grand Prix track (on his bike!), which is build on an island in the middle of the Saint-Laurent River. We loved our time in the Province of Québec, and it was a little sad when it came time to leave!

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Canada - Québec City, Québec

sunny 28 °C

Wow what a change in culture!! We arrived in the Province of Québec and were immediately surrounded by French speaking Québécois, French road signs and French foods!! It really has a different feel to what we've experienced of Canada so far, and we're so glad we had the chance to visit this part of Canada.

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Québec was settled in 1608, making it one of the first places to be colonized in Canada and the architecture of the city reflects this. Beautiful buildings, winding streets, the city is built on quite a hill with a large citadel on the top! We spent a day walking around exploring the old city of Québec, which has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. There is a great wide board walk along the waterfront overshadowed by the grand Château Frontenac, which is now the operated by the Fairmont Hotel. The Château Frontenac was one of a string of hotels set up across Canada by the Canadian Pacific Railway, to promote luxury travel in the 19th and 20th centuries.

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We enjoyed sampling Chocolatine (chocolate croissants), Poutine (local style chips with cheese curds and gravy) and brushed up on some of our high school French.... "parlez vous anglais?" We were staying in a great apartment just outside of the old city, on the top level of a historical terraced house, which we entered by climbing up a winding staircase.

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Canada - Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick

sunny 24 °C

The Hopewell Rocks are nestled into the Bay of Fundy, in The Rocks Provincial Park. The special thing about this area is that they experience some of the highest tides in the world, with a difference of 14 meters between low and high tides!

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We checked out the shore at low tide, where we were able to walk down on the beach amongst the tall flowerpot rocks. When we returned at high tide it had risen covering the beach we had been walking on and coming halfway up the cliff! it was pretty cool to see the dramatic change, and the rangers in the park are so enthusiastic they have some great time lapses to demonstrate just how fast the tides come in and out:

We camped at a sweet campground just outside of the park, with a very relaxed atmosphere and we enjoyed some local fish and chips. The campground had a k-cup coffee machine with a massive range of k-cup coffee and tea, which were fun to choose from...!

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Canada - Prince Edward Island

overcast 21 °C

We loaded up our car onto the ferry over to Prince Edward Island (PEI), which is it's own province, the smallest province in Canada, and is located just north of Nova Scotia.

Charlottetown is the capital of the province and steeped in history as it's the birthplace of Canada where the idea of a Canadian Constitution was formed. Charlottetown itself was a small town with a buzzing atmosphere. We enjoyed the PEI Celebration Zone, a massive area created for live music over the summer months. We caught some great Saskatchewan bands playing in to the evening! We also spent a night at the local drive in theatre (a first for Lucy!) watching a couple of movies which was fun! Anne of Green gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery grew up on PEI and we visited the old farmhouse where the book is set, which is in a gorgeous area of the island, where we also spotted a friendly fox!

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We couldn't leave PEI without trying some mussels which are a delicacy of the area, they were pretty tasty with a garlic and wine seasoning with a local beer! We enjoyed them in the town of Summerside overlooking the colourful shoreline houses with some more live music! Red sands characterise the southern shore of the Island, and we spent our final night camped on the shore before taking the lengthy 13 km Confederation Bridge stretching back to the mainland.

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Canada - Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

semi-overcast 21 °C

Torrential rain appeared just as we were leaving Halifax, and as we jumped in the car to go we found out we have a flat battery... Lucky our buddies had some jump leads, and Paul and Dave braved the downpour to get us on the road again!

The day cleared for some great views out over Cape Breton, the northern tip of Nova Scotia, and we passed through some small outpost fishing villages. During our first night camping in the park we had some mice living in the campground toilets, not to mention some spiders! The following night we hit a beautiful camping spot at Meat Cove, perched on a cliff over the ocean, and we met an Australian couple who were great company around the campfire who shared their wine with us as we star gazed on the open sky.

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The following day we were on the look out for moose and walked the Skyline Trail walk. The fact that a bear had recently been spotted in the area made Lucy a little nervous, but didn't stop us from doing the trail. We were rewarded with a gorgeous view out to the ocean across undulating cliffs, and promptly soaked with a downpour on our return trip...and didn't spot a moose!

That evening we avoided the rain and spent the evening in a local pub in Cheticamp, enjoying some hearty pub food and a few games of and pool.

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Canada - Halifax, Nova Scotia

semi-overcast 20 °C

After our time in Kejimkujik National Park we headed back to some civilisation where we met our friends David and Brenda who live in Halifax. It was so nice to spend some time in a 'home' for a few days, and they were super hosts.

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We had a great lunch on the Halifax wharf, and spent some time visiting the historical city settled by the British in 1746. There were some great old stone buildings, a traditional British Pub and we caught a boat across Halifax Harbour to Dartmouth. A nice walk up to the Citadel gave us some great views across the city, where we learned that much of Halifax was rebuilt after being destroyed by an explosion in 1917.

Aside from this we spent a couple of nights in, playing pool, making home cooked pizza and enjoying some wine and conversations with our friends.

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Canada - Kejimkujik Nat Park, Nova Scotia

sunny 25 °C

Kejimkujik is a small National Park in southern Nova Scotia. It was such a beautiful place to visit, we enjoyed camping next to the lake, and open fires in the evenings.

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Biking and hiking trails line Lake Kejimkujik , and there are several nice beaches dotted along the shores. We followed a trail for a few km's through dense forest and arrived on was on a little peninsula jutting into the middle of the lake with a small sandy beach! During our stay the Super Moon appeared, hovering over the lake, large and glowing. It was so bright we could see our shadows clearly as it lit up the surrounding trees and glistening lake.

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Canada - Lunenberg, Nova Scotia

semi-overcast 25 °C

A scenic coastal road led us along Nova Scotia's east coast and into the towns of Mohone Bay and Lunenberg. Both are popular holiday spots and eclectic fishing towns which must transform to cosy villages during the winter. Lunenberg itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the colourful houses and churches that date back to the late 1700s are still in use today.

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We were lucky to stumble across the Lunenberg Folk Harbour Festival, catching some music in the sunshine. The Bluenose II was also docked in the port, modeled on the original Bluenose sailing ship - which was a Canadian icon in the early 1900's and has been on the Canadian dime since 1937!

We camped at a nearby campground and got some work done over the couple of days we spent in these gorgeous towns. We also had to navigate a rainy night of camping, and managed to string up a tarp to cover part of our campsite - the Canadians seem to be pro's at this!

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Canada - Hatfield Point, New Brunswick

semi-overcast 23 °C

We crossed back over the Canadain border on the last day of our 3 month USA visa. It was a little sad to leave a country we've enjoyed so much. It really outdid any expectations we had, and the natural wonders of America are endless!

Torrential rain welcomed us back to Canada, which was quite fitting it was heavily raining on the day we left! Luckily we were able to dry out with friends at Hatfield Point, a holiday spot known locals of New Brunswick, where the days of riverboats still ring strong. We stayed in a former Riverboat Inn, on the banks of the St. John river system. The ten bedroom inn which dates back to the 1800's still opens it's doors to visitors and was a pretty special place to stay. Tug boats still run across parts of the river system to transport cars back and forth.

We had a great stay, playing cards in the evening and kayaking on the river during the day. A big thanks to Dave and his family for inviting us into their family getaway!

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USA - Acadia National Park, Maine

sunny 25 °C

Acadia National Park is on Mt Desert Island in the gulf of Maine, only just separated from the mainland by a bridge.

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It features beautiful rugged coastline and rocky cliffs against the open ocean. Evergreen trees interspersed with granite peaks and stunning views from Cadillac Mountain, a great area for hiking and biking. There are also a few stunning lakes and ponds inside the national park. Bar Harbour is the main town on the island, which is filled with small eateries and tourist shops during the summer. We had a fun game of minigolf at the Pirate's Cove where Paul only just won!

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USA - Old Orchard beach & Portland, Maine

sunny 26 °C

Driving north we pretty quickly arrived in Maine, the very last state of our American adventure. We stopped in at Old Orchard Beach, a coastal holiday spot, with an arcade hall on the pier.

A couple of years ago when we were in Chile, we saw an episode of the American show Man Versus Food, where the host takes on an array of food challenges. Anyway, one of the restaurants is in Old Orchard Beach, so we couldn't resist popping in to try one of their famous Mother Futcher milkshakes - a big shake with coffeecake mixed in - yum! Hoss and Mary's - thank you!

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Portland is a larger town nearby, and with a historical centre. It's another popular holiday spot for locals, with numerous piers jutting out into the harbour, and a bounty of fresh seafood.

A little further up the coast we stopped in a Young's Lobster Pound, a shack on the water, with a large deck. You go inside, pick your lobster and take it out on the deck when it's freshly cooked for a meal with your BYO salad and drinks - a great idea, we just forgot about the BYO part! It was a beauty of a spot to sit back enjoy the sun.

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USA - Boston, Massachusetts

semi-overcast 26 °C

We really underestimated how long it would take us to drive to Boston - it looked so close to NYC compared to other distances we'd travelled, but the roads were chocker block with traffic!! Friends we met when travelling in Bolivia generously offered up their house as a place to stay, and it was great to catch up with Alicia and Chris who were super hosts.

The freedom Trail runs through the historical sites of Boston, which weaved us amongst Churches, markets and burial grounds, and was a great way to visit the city whilst learning some history. We jumped aboard the USS Constitution, a warship launched in 1797 fitted with 44 cannon guns, and is still afloat in the Charles River today. We stopped in at Little Italy in Boston's North End for lunch before making our way through the city to the Boston Common Park.

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We met our friends in the Common for a picnic where we were treated to some lobster rolls, a local New England speciality, and they were delicious! We were then in prime position to soak up the evenings live performance of Shakespeare in the Park in a pretty magical setting.

On our way out of Boston we stopped into Harvard University and took a walking tour, and ours was actually led by an Australian student! It was great to see inside Harvard, and learn some of the history of the Ivy League.

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USA - New York, New York!

sunny 27 °C

New York has to be the most talked about city of all time. Despite our inhibitions, thinking surely one city can't live up to be as amazing as it sounds, I'm pleased to say we adored our time in this magical place. We could list off everything we did, but really there's too much we packed into our five days and instead I think you should just go!

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We stayed in a spacious apartment in Upper Manhattan and had a short ride on the steaming hot subway to get into the downtown hub. The ferry to Staten Island was a great (free) way to see the Statue of Liberty. The 9/11 Museum has just opened, which has been built below the memorial sites from the two world trade towers - it's an extensive and worthwhile place to visit. We popped up the Empire State Building to watch sunset over the city and the lights come on! And loved the change in Time Square from day to night.

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We enjoyed a afternoon bike ride through Central Park and some authentic New York Cheesecake at a small bakery called 'Two Little Red Hens' tucked into a suburb nearby. (Delicious!) The newly developed High Line was great. It's an old rail line suspended above the city which was no longer needed. Instead of tearing it down they elected to create green space, and have made it a walking spot full of plants, greenery and some pop up stores. Strolling along it in the evening we could see the lights of Jersey City over the Hudson River.

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We couldn't leave without sampling some of the New York staples; pretzels, bagels, hot dogs and a pastrami sandwich. We drove out through Brooklyn, which seemed like a great area with a nice farmers market down by the water. Oh and yes that is Lady Gaga in the photo above. We became groupies as we stumbled across a large crowd of people and asked what was going on. (She'd just performed on the Today show). It really is a must see city, and allow at least a week!

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USA - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

sunny 29 °C

Philadelphia is another fantastic US city we could move to. We found it had a livable yet gritty feel to it! Our host Tiffany (through Airbnb) was fantastic and full of tips and suggestions of things to do and... importantly, eat!

We cycled into downtown from West Philly where we were staying. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is on a hill, with a great view down to the City Hall in downtown, the road is adorned with international flags. Philadelphia served as the temporary capital of the United States while Washington D.C. was being built, and has the original Capitol building in downtown. We visited the Reading Terminal Market for lunch - a foodies dream! A large indoor market with an array of food choices, and a buzzing atmosphere with business people popping in on their lunch breaks and friends sharing meals over counter tops.

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We cycled around the city for the afternoon, and loved the Spruce Street Harbor Park , which has a gorgeous waterfront public space, decorated with shipping container eateries and hammocks! The smaller busy streets of South Street were nice to weave through and Philadelphia's Magic Garden, decorated with walls of mosaic art looked like an interesting place to pop into for a drink.

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We couldn't leave Philadelphia without trying the famous Philadelphia Cheesesteak - a sub full of thin steak strips and smothered with melted cheese. Ishkabibble’s was a great spot to pick up an authentic cheesesteak, and they had a vegetarian option too!

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USA - Washington DC

sunny 31 °C

We descended from the mountains and arrived in Washington DC. We stayed in the suburb of Hyattsville in a super Airbnb accommodation, just a few hundred meters over the Washington DC state border as it's such a small state!

Washington DC is a planned city, and has a generous strip of monuments and parkland. We took our bikes in to explore, which were perfect to cover the sprawling stretch of monuments. Spotting some food carts on our way, we couldn't resist stopping off for a bite to eat from the 15 carts clustered together....now we just had to choose one! We munched down lunch with the Capitol Building as our backdrop, and spent the afternoon exploring the shady monuments, which were a nice shelter from the heat of the day.

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The Lincoln Memorial is impressively situated overlooking the National Mall strip and Washington Monument. Inside it houses a giant sculpture of Abraham Lincoln who saw the states through the Civil War and was ultimately assassinated for his attempt to abolish slavery and achieve equal rights. Two other monuments honor past presidents; The Washington Monument for the first president of America, George Washington, who chose the site where the capital of America would be built, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

Before the day ended we made it to the well guarded White House, which permanently has two police cars pulled up at the front gate. We didn't manage spot President Obama - maybe next time!

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The following day was an early start for our tour of the United States Capitol (although this is free, you need to book it in advance). It's a splendid building, and was great to visit the inside with a guide. After the tour we had the opportunity to sit in on the Senate and House of representatives as they were in session. (International visitors can pick up tickets on the day). The Library of Congress is another impressive building worth popping inside to check out, just over the road from the State Capitol.

Washington is full of museums, and many are founded by the Smithsonian Institution, making them free to enter. We passed a few hours very easily in the National Museum of American History and rubbed the nose of a giant bronze sculpture of Albert Einstein perched on a nearby street.

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