A Travellerspoint blog

Canada

Canada - Toronto, Ontario

semi-overcast 20 °C

After 24,000 kms of driving for the past 4 months we're nearing the end of our North American adventure. Our final stop, Toronto! There have been so many great experiences and awesome people that made our trip! Our good pal Raky lives in Toronto now and generously let us stay with him in Etobicoke. We got to enjoy some beautiful sunsets from his 30th floor apartment ('condo'). Toronto is by far the biggest city in Canada, a sprawling metropolis full of a huge variety of cultures and people from all corners of the globe. Modern and fast paced, it doesn't have the beauty of Vancouver but makes up for it with it's buzzing culture.

The 'hipster' Kensington market was great and we also enjoyed High Park and the distillery district. We had a good time exploring Toronto, there's a great music scene, and we got to also catch up with Aaron and Nikki - pals we met in South America.

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We drove down and saw the 'must see' sight: Niagra Falls. The amount of water pouring over is astonishing. It's hard to comprehend just how big the lakes and waterways there are in this part of the world. It's a far cry from Australia which has 200 lakes. Canada has 3,000,000! The only downside was how commercialised the area of Niagra Falls is. Hotels, restaurants, casinos and other tourist establishments crowd this world wonder which takes the shine of it. It's also no match for the mighty Iguazu Falls in terms of sheer size.

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We had to get ourselves organised so we could once again fit into our backpacks. It meant we had to try and sell Franklin, our bikes and all of our camping gear...Paul ended up staying an extra week to make it happen. It was a sad day when the van drove away but it went to a good home - an Australian girl who was about to embark on a trip to Alaska! The next leg of our trip? A comparatively short stay in Europe. I decided to return to England to spend time with friends and family, followed by Spanish studies in Valencia, Spain. Paul on the other hand decided to venture to parts of Eastern Europe that he has not been to before!

North America, you exceeded our expectations. Geographically and culturally diverse, incredible wildlife and jam packed with endless adventures. It's unlike anywhere else on earth and wonderful place to explore.

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Canada - Prince Edward County, Ontario

storm 20 °C

On our way to through Ontario we drove along the St Lawrence River and we could see New York State over the water! We were also able to check out the Thousand Islands National Park. A stunning place where the islands are actually the worn-down tops of ancient mountains. Our final camping spot was at Qunite's Isle Campground in Prince Edward county - part of Ontario's lake district. The district is where many of the locals go 'cottaging' on the weekends from Toronto. It's a beautiful and peaceful place to get away from it all right by Lake Ontario which is known for it's wineries, scenery and beaches.

We had a picnic dinner on the edge of Lake Ontario. We were camping for the last time on our trip, but as a storm approached we could see a lightening show threatening in the distance, so we reluctantly opted to sleep in the Van... we made it through the night without being blown into Lake Ontario. The area is an up and coming wine region which we checked out on the way out and learned that they have to bury the vineyards completely in winter because of the cold! We then set of for our final destination...Toronto!

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Canada - Ottawa, Ontario

overcast 25 °C

Arriving back into 'Canadian' Canada we arrived in Ottawa, the Capital of Canada. The Government is housed in a beautiful ' Gothic revival' building, which was a visual contrast to the capital of America. Parliament Hill is perched on the bank of the Ottawa River along with some other buildings of the same era, including the Chateau Laurier, built by the Grand Trunk Railway. The Rideau Canal runs through the centre of Ottawa and travels all the way from Ottawa to Lake Ontario 200kms away.

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We took a tour of the Parliament building, followed by catching the rickety lift up to Peace Tower which is a tall clock tower in the Capital commemorating the end of WWI- with nice views across the city. Around the corner is ByWard Market, where we grabbed a snack at a popular bakery, and enjoyed sunset overlooking the river from Nepean Point. We also crossed over the Ottawa River arriving back in Montreal, and spent an afternoon in the Canadian Museum of History learning about the indigenous history of Canada.

We were just in time to see one of the last showings of the summer an evening sound and light show Mosaika tells Canada's story through impressive projections onto the Parliament building itself. It was very impressive!

We feel so lucky we've got on so well with all of our hosts through Airbnb, and we really recommend it as a great way to travel and meet locals. We had some great conversations with our Ottawa host Marina over a meal we shared together on our last night.

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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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The Start Of Our Next Adventure - USA

rain 16 °C

It's been a great 14 months, we've seen all 4 seasons and we're still not sure which is our favorite. We'll miss the mountains overlooking the city and the Stanley Park seawall, the great Couch Surfing scene and of course all our super friends.

After a busy few weeks we managed to pack our belongings into our Van (along with our bikes) and bid farewell to all our "Vancouverite" friends, ready for our road trip into the USA! In true Vancouver style it was pouring with rain as we drove out of the city and over the border...

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Canada - Three Valley Gap to Vancouver

overcast 18 °C

We were edging closer to the end of our road trip but we were still in for a treat. The Three Valley Gap town has a very good open air museum with original buildings and artifacts from British Columbia's early settler days in the 1800's. Trains, cars, old stores, workshops, you name it. A great stop off.

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After a night in Kamloops we headed back to Vancouver via 'Hell's Gate' with some spectacular scenery on the way. It's much drier in this part of British Columbia, so very different to the Rockies. The Thompson Canyon was very impressive and so was the meeting of two rivers in Lytton (check out the photo). Further along the Fraser River we arrived at Hell's Gate. A narrow passage which has been a popular salmon fishing ground for Aboriginal communities for centuries. In 1914 a large rock slide triggered by construction fell into the river at Hell's Gate, obstructing the passage of Pacific salmon needing to swim upstream to spawn. To help with this a fish way was built in 1944. Now there are huge volumes of salmon that travel 1,400km upstream from the Vancouver area! There is a cable car which unfortunately was closed when we arrived but we were able to scramble down via a trail to check out the bridge. Luckily this was the salmon spawning season so we could see up-close the masses of salmon swimming against the raging rapids. Quite a sight!

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We checked out the 91m long Alexandra bridge built in 1863 which was nearby and Yale before grabbing a bit to eat in Hope. Before long we found ourselves back in Vancouver. A great trip that we highly recommend!

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Canada - Golden to Revelstoke

sunny 18 °C

The weather was starting to turn as we departed Lake Louise and ventured towards Golden so our stop at Takakkaw Falls was a wet one! The third highest waterfall in Canada at 260m, a huge amount of water was gushing out of a fairly small spout creating masses of spray to ensure we were fully soaked. Arriving ravenous in Golden we stayed at the cosy Kicking Horse hostel and devoured a delicious meal at the very nice 'Island' restaurant. It was a fairly quick stop in Golden so we pushed on after checking out the famous Kicking Horse pedestrian bridge. There are mountains all around so it would have been great to get some mountain biking, perhaps another time! Skiing in the winter is also meant to be very good.

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Next up was the Glacier National Park. Very very scenic. The visitor centre was excellent, showcasing some of the large local animals and we learnt about some of the railway history in the area. It was a huge task to build the railway a century ago, over and around these huge mountains with the constant danger of avalanches. We did a few short walks that start along this stretch of road checking out the original railway on the 'Loop Brook Trail', loads of boulders on the 'Rock Garden Trail', and an old growth forest at 'Hemlock Grove'. Very nice.

We rolled into Revelstoke late in the afternoon and stayed at Poppi's Hostel - a very comfortable private room hostel which is more like a B&B. An historic town we had two nights in Revelstoke, wandered the streets and checked out the wetlands by the Columbia River where supposedly hundreds of birds can be spotted - all we saw was a snake! The railway museum was very cool packed with old steam locomotives and other trains, along with old-timers who use to drive them that now volunteer their time to explain what life was like.

On our final day we went to the Revelstoke National Park and drove to the summit of Mt Revelstoke for some fantastic views. There are loads of walks up there, a great place for lunch with a view. Even better? The 26km downhill ride back to town on the mountain bike, 1,200m altitude decent - brilliant!

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