Oh Canada! My Mom Marvels

I’m Erin’s mother and love to travel. That shouldn’t surprise you. As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I have done a great deal of traveling over the years.  In the past 20 years a good bit of that travel has been with Erin.  It works well.  We love to do the same kind of things while on the road.

Needless to say, when we travel together we stay at 4-star accommodations. I’ve never stayed in a hostel and don’t plan to at this stage in my life. Most of our travel has been planned by me with lots of input from Erin.  We don’t do tours, except for the occasional city tour when we get somewhere new and want to get the lay of the land.

Peggys Cove, photo by SamVisiting the Northern Neighbors

This summer I had the opportunity to travel with 2 of my friends whom I’ve traveled with before. Our first trip was to southern Africa. This time, our destination was Canada. I’ve traveled from Toronto west, but never east. This was my chance to explore the eastern provinces of this vast country.

Maritime Marvels

My friend Nancy and I booked an 8-day Tauck tour (a type of high-end coach tour) to Nova Scotia and the Prince Edward Islands.  This was a new experience for me, never having been on a coach tour before.  The Maritimes Provinces are beautiful and abound in lakes.

Not to be missed: Maritimes

  • Historic Halifax and harbor area
  • The Citadel, a British fort built in 1856.  (We had a great dinner there and were treated to a

special display of the firing of the cannons.)

  • Lunenburg, which is a delightful town and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Peggy’s Cove and lighthouse
  • Ferry from Nova Scotia to PEI
  • Charlottetown, where we had the local COW ice cream (delicious)
  • Digby/Port Royal in Nova Scotia.  We stayed at The Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa which was lovely, although very quiet.  Maybe a good honeymoon destination.

Boomtown Toronto

Toronto Skyline, photo by Sam MichelsonOn the 8th day Nancy and I flew to Toronto to meet our friend Eileen. We explored Canada’s capitals and Niagara Falls on this leg of the tour.

I had been to Toronto many times before, but not in the past 20 years.  What a surprise!  They were building massive glass condo towers everywhere. Unfortunately the older lovely buildings were not preserved but demolished to make way for the new ones.  The theory is that all the Baby Boomers are moving into the city to be nearer their children and grandchildren.  The question is what happens when that generation dies off.  Answer: Many empty buildings.

Not to be missed:  Toronto

  • The Royal Ontario Museum
  • The CN Tower where you can pay a hefty fee and harness yourself and hang off the side of the building.  I passed on this one!
  • The Historic Distillery District, which was fun and had many temping stores.  I succumbed and bought a lemon-flavored toffee candy bar.  Yum yum
  • The Hockey Hall of Fame
  • Niagara Falls
  • The Fairmont Royal York Hotel (where we stayed)

Outdoors in Ottawa

I absolutely loved Ottawa!  It is beautiful.  The Rideau Canal runs through the town, flanked by bike paths.  The canal has locks (but missed seeing them in action) and in the winter the people ice skate to work down the canal.  What a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoor life.  This is on my list to visit again!

Not to be missed:  Ottawa

  • Thousand Islands, photo by Sam MichelsonBoat Cruise of the Thousand Islands
  • Tour of the Parliament Building
  • The Civilization Museum (wonderful)
  • Le Chateau Vaudruil which is an inn and restaurant.  It is on the road between Ottawa and Montreal.  The inn was lovely and the food was fabulous.  A great treat.
  • The Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel (where we stayed)

Mounties in Montreal

Montreal is dual English and French cultures and most people speak both languages.  It is one of Canada’s most unique cities.  Another visit to this special city is in the future.

Not to be missed:  Montreal

  • On the way from Montreal to Quebec City we stopped at the Police Academy and were given a presentation by a retired officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  It is also where they train and practice with the black horses for the precision show that travels all over Canada.
  • Walking tour of Old Montreal (we stopped at various neighborhood eateries for tasty nibbles)
  • Sherbrooke Street (lots of shopping)
  • St. Catherine’s Cathedral

Civilization Museum, photo by Sam MichelsonQuaint Quebec City

Quebec City is another beautiful city. Mostly French speaking, although everyone speaks at least some English. I rank it #1 on my must repeat visit list, #2 is Ottawa and #3 is Montreal.

Not to be missed:  Quebec City

  • Tour Old Quebec, the 400 year old walled city. They have done a fantastic job keeping the old buildings intact.
  • Artist Alley is a small open air market with great finds by local artists and nice restaurants.
  • The Funicular.  Catch it from the boardwalk from Dufferin Terrace.  It takes you from Upper Town to Lower Town.  Great shopping and eateries.
  • Wander down Rue St. Jean to find local artisans, larger retail shops and cafes.
  • Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac Hotel (where we stayed)

Considering Coach Travel?

Is a coach tour for you? If you like a detailed itinerary and everything taken care of (luggage, transfers, dining) and enjoy traveling with a larger group (Maritime had 41 and Capitals had 39), you will probably enjoy this type of travel.

Ottawa Parliment, photo by Sam MichelsonBoth of our tour guides and coach drivers were great and had vast knowledge of the area. As for myself, I really prefer to travel with one other person and arrange my own itinerary. Doing your own thing you can be much more flexible and wing it a little. If something is not to your liking, you have the option to move on.

My Next Adventure

I have to say, this first experience on a coach tour was wonderful. And I might do another one if I were traveling by myself. I’m thinking about a coach trip that travels through Vietnam and Cambodia.  As you know Erin has already been there and done that and I can’t seem to talk my friends into this adventure.

My next 6-week adventure is coming up. I will again be traveling with my favorite buddy, my daughter Erin. In December we’re heading Down Under. Can’t Wait!

Au Revoir, Sam

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This entry was posted on Friday, September 13th, 2013 and is filed under North America.

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