Canada

Canada

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  • Day3

    We have finally arrived at our first destination, beautiful Montreal. What a contrast to arriving in LA - no queues, friendly staff and a clean airport. We are staying at the Sofitel, Golden Mile in downtown Montreal. We plan to tour the city tomorrow as it is the pick of the days re weather. I have been awake for about 33 hours but I still feel ok - I find it easier to just adjust to the new time zone if I go to bed the same time I normally would. Snow is predicted to fall overnight - we might wake to a white Montreal!Read more

  • Day5

    Last night was a night of firsts - first time Ian and Angus met my aunt and uncle (Anne & Will Vandenberg) the first time Angus ate duck (Duck a la l’orange) and the first time we used Uber to get back to the hotel (as my aunt didn’t have a taxi number).

    We had a lovely evening, my aunt who is 87 years old cooked a delicious 3 course meal - vol au vent, duck a l’orange and a croquenbouche for dessert - she wanted to prepare a French inspired meal to reflect her heritage (and dishes my grandmother had taught her). We spent about five hours there - it was great to catch up on what my aunt and her family had been up to. My uncle has been diagnosed with PSP - progressive supranuclear palsy which is similar to Parkinson’s in some way and affects your vision and balance and causes tremors and there is no cure - currently my aunt cares for him with minimal assistance but as the disease progresses she will need to bring in a nurse to assist as she plans to keep him at home as long as possible. Will is in good spirits and coping very well with his condition and it was nice for Anne to have company.

    The roads in Montreal are in pretty bad condition and there is so much road works underway traffic is a nightmare and the trip out to my aunts should normally take about 30 minutes took over an hour, luckily the Uber ride back took only 30 minutes. Always nice to catch up with family as they are so generous and welcoming.
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  • Day26

    Spent the day on a private tour wine tasting.
    Unfortunately, he did loose my booking as the expedia calender booking system didn't remind him.
    So I ended up waiting an extra hour and a half, which was not quite how I'd usually plan on spending a morning in a new city.
    But, no point being grumpy about it. There is wine to taste!
    We started off with lunch then moved onto the wine.
    So, because I talk too much and drink too slow, we did only make it to three vineyards. Which was perfect seeming that I couldn't help but purchase something at each place.
    Started off at Backyard vineyards where they have a special sparking wine make from only pinot noir grapes grown on their property and a balanced delicate fruity and biscuity taste. Bought a bottle to share over thanksgiving.
    Also tasted their pinot gris, the noisy neighbour white which is a blend of Gewurtz, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Moved onto their Merlot, their reserve Cabernet Franc, then their port named Porch wine. Delicious!

    Then we went to Township 7 Vineyards where I got to taste 7 more wines. Loved their Reserve 7 red wine so got a bottle.

    Moved into Blackwood Lane Vineyard where I tasted about 8 wines with the wine maker. He actually has an engineering background and his partner a background in science, so they are often trying new things. Interestingly, they make a Riesling with the Sea Buckthorne berry and it works! Got a bottle to try it some more.
    Also got a bottle of their 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon as it was delicious.
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  • Day27

    Our tour continued on to a salmon hatchery.
    Really pretty area. We could see baby fish and then older fish jumping up the waterfalls.
    Then we continued onto the Capilano suspension bridge. Like a really big swing bridge. And it's all lit up for the season looking absolutely beautiful.
    Started off with the cliff walk then moved onto to the treetops.

  • Day6

    We spent a lovely afternoon and evening with my uncle, cousins and their families. We had a delicious meal prepared by Annick and dessert by Genvieve plus great wine, lots of laughing and conversations - not always easy when some don’t speak much English and we only speak basic French but we muddled through.

  • Day26

    It was so good to have dinner plans with a friend. As much as I may love solo travel at times, the dinners by yourself are always boring. Any other meal is fine, but by the end of the day I've already talked to myself too much.
    So it was awesome that Freya saw I was in town and got in contact. I met her during the UK tour. And she was super nice to choose a place that was literally 2min walk in a straight line from my hotel and her train station. Perfect! My phone data doesn't work here, so no maps on the go for me.
    And you know your in Canada when even the pizza has maple syrup on it. Of course I tried it 😊
    Went for a stroll after dinner. Found Gassy Jack, an English sailor that ended up here and made a name for himself. They named him Gassy Jack because of his talkative nature and storytelling abilities. The name stuck and the area around his bar is now known as Gastown.
    There is literally a steam powered clock.
    I think all you need a the night and some fairy lights to make a place look pretty.
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  • Day27

    Checked out Stanley park with the totem poles. So pretty with all the yellow and red leaves.
    Continued onto Lions gate bridge with singe amazing views. Cool to hear about and see the forest history. The trees were too big so they were cut down from a higher height. Leaving the large left over trunk to break down and become a natural pot plant for trees to grow out if it.
    Also saw Vancouver's very own little mermaid statue, only it's a woman wearing a wet suit and goggles to tell the tide.
    There's also a cannon that finally got caged up after the engineering students stole it and held it for ransom. It still goes off, now with a blank, at 9pm every day to let the boaties know it's come to the end of the day.

    Stopped at Granville island for lunch. Had a beef stew pot pie, perfect for this slightly rainy day. The market was really cool. Had to try a cranberry white chocolate cookie for dessert. Which was pretty tame based on what they had to offer.
    Again with the maple syrup everything. They make maple smoked salmon.

    Drove through Yaletown and China town to the Vancouver lookout.
    Finished off with some amazing views of the city, even if it is a bit cloudy.
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  • Day5

    After a very good sleep in very comfortable beds (thanks Sofitel) we treated ourselves to a delicious breakfast in the hotel restaurant - the boys had an omelette and I had bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon (I have been advised that Montreal’s bagels are superior to those of NYC - I will post my results after some further tasting!)

    The concierge suggested a 3 hour tour of the major sites of Montreal - the shuttle was late to pick us up and take us to the tour bus, so by the time we boarded we all had to sit separately. This turned out to be a good thing as both Ian and I sat next to lovely people. I sat next to Yolanta who was visiting from Poland - she was accompanying her husband on a business trip - so while he worked she played the tourist. We chatted like we had been friends for years and she has invited us to visit her in Poland (I also invited her to give us a call if she is ever in Melbourne). Ian sat next to Sandra who was from Toronto and had accompanied her husband who was coaching his ice-hockey team in a regional competition- Sandra hates ice-hockey so she too opted for the tourist thing.

    The tour itself was pretty good as an introduction to Montreal we visited Old Montreal, the Old Port, Notre-Dame Basilica, Chateau Ramzey, City Hall, Place Jacques Cartier, a (slow) drive along the F1 race track, McGill University, St Joseph Oratory, the Olympic Stadium, the Biosphere and the Biodome, a drive through a couple of inner city suburbs and then a lookout at Mount Royal, where there was snow still on the ground from the snow fall overnight, that should give you an idea of how cold it is here! Very bloody cold, but we have the appropriate attire to ensure we remain comfortable and warm.
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  • Day5

    As most who read this would know the McNicol family enjoys food - we try to be adventurous and try new and different cuisines. Today we tried bagels with cream cheese and salmon, smoked meat from Reubens and Poutine a local dish of French fries, cheese and gravy. We had lunch at Reubens today and so Ian tried the Reuben Poutine which included the addition of smoked meat. It is a good thing we are walking everywhere - we need to so that we can burn off all the food we are eating.Read more

  • Day5

    This morning we headed out fairly early and walked to the Museum of Contemporary Art to see the Leonard Cohen Exhibition - A Crack In Everything. It was a very interactive and moving exhibition. I particularly enjoyed the I’m Your Man - a video installation which brings together a community of ardent Leonard Cohen fans to pay posthumous tribute to the late legend. Each of the eighteen individuals featured was offered the opportunity to perform and record his own version of Cohen’s comeback album, I’m Your Man, in a professional recording studio in Montreal. The video installation also included the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir, doing the album’s backing vocals, an all-male choir representing the Westmount congregation that Cohen belonged to all his life.

    As we left the exhibition we watched a bit of the Santa Claus Parade, before walking down to Old Montreal where we explored the cobbled streets and had a late lunch at a French Restaurant- Marche de la Villette - where we had a croque monsieur and Ian tried a croque madame and then we walked across town to find the Leonard Cohen portrait that is on the side of a building - it took us a while to find it - but it was worth it. We also found a great little coffee place - Pigeon - best coffee so far in Montreal, even thought the sign out the front said it was the worst. The barista said that this was to cover themselves, and was very chuffed when we said that the coffee was up to Melbourne standards.)

    Then, as we were heading back to our hotel along a very upmarket street, I noticed a store that had some lovely costume jewellery on display it was called MUTT & JEFF. I went in to find out how much they cost, and met the designer/store owner and so I ended sending Ian & Angus back to the hotel while I stayed to get dressed by Tom in a range of his clothes - it was a great experience and I purchased a number of pieces. His clothes are beautiful, comfortable and so flattering. I walked out of the store feeling fabulous. On the way back to the hotel I ran into the Toronto Leafs - an ice-hockey team in town to play the Montreal Habs. I only realised who they were because of the fans waiting outside their hotel to cheer them on.

    We are going to stay in tonight as it is cold with rain and snow predicted around 9pm.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

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