A Travellerspoint blog

New York! New York! Quebec, Monday, 17 June 2013

rain

The Hotel Chateau Laurier, Quebec - Room 538. The view from our room. This hotel has five floors and only two balconies at the front of the building and we have one.

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Woke up to a drizzly morning. Met Lou and Judy in the lift on our way to breakfast and all arrived in the foyer, looking for the dining room. Just as well Deb was there as she walked us around to the restaurant. The corridor just went on and on and on, around corners, past the indoor swimming pool and then finally we arrived! It was pretty full so we went into another room which was very dimly lit. We settled in and then another table became available in the main room, so we moved. Judy and I asked the waiter for oatmeal and he said yes. So we waited and waited and waited some more, and then he delivered two jugs of warm milk. So we waited and waited and waited some more and asked him again for oatmeal. Yes, he said, it's up next to the cereals. Okay, so we go to the cereal table and can't see oatmeal anywhere. So we headed over to the hot food section as some hotels have a big container at the end of this section. No oatmeal! So we ask the waiter again. Oatmeal? Yes, he said, up next to cereal. We can't find it, we said. So he came with us and pointed to a brown paper sachet that was full of dry oats and a jug full of hot water. Oh, right, we finally got it! Can you just imagine what it tasted like? Raw dry oats, luke warm water and warm milk. It was yukky but we were running out of time by now so we had to eat it and suffer in silence! And all this before 8.30am!

It was just as dramatic trying to find our way back to the foyer to the lifts. Phil and I got lost twice. Judy went on her own, ended up in the kitchen, then out on the street, then couldn't find the front of the hotel so had to get back into the restaurant and negotiate her way back to the foyer! We must be getting tired or silly or something!

On the bus at 9.00am with our local guide for our tour of Quebec. We are so disappointed that it is drizzling because this is such a beautiful city, it would be so nice to photograph it in sunshine.

First stop Parliament House.

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Some important dates for Quebec. 1608, Quebec founded by the French. 1759, the British took over Quebec after succeeding in battle after five tries! 1867, the Dominion of Canada was formed. Quebec has a population of 700,000. 95% of the population is French speaking. (As non French speakers or readers, don't we know it!) To be employed here, you have to be bi lingual. Quebec means 'where the river narrows'. They have a community pigeon house that is air conditioned in summer and heated in winter AND to control the pigeon population, they put contraceptives in their food!

We wandered around the old town. I took hundreds of photos and I am going to down load some.

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It was such a shame that it was raining, as the buildings are lovely.

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We called into the Christmas shop. Talk about glitter.

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This is the oldest house in Quebec. It was built in 1600 and something.

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This is a photo of a canon ball stuck in the base of a tree.

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We had lunch in an Italian restaurant. I had soup and salad and Phil had a Calzone.

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Tonight most of us attended an optional excursion to Ile d'Orleans. The Island of New Orleans is located a few miles east of downtown Quebec in the St Lawrence River and was one of the first areas occupied by early French colonists. The houses nestled among the trees are just so lovely. First we visited the Cassis Monna and Filles Winery where they have mastered the art transforming Black Currants harvested on the island into a variety of wines. We sat outside and listened to the story of how it all began. It was very interesting but the wind was freezing, so it was good to go inside for the tasting. It was very nice, especially the Sangria and the alcohol content got stronger with each tasting. I needed to be 'hands free' to take a photo!

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We arrived at the Moulin St Laurent restaurant and went upstairs to our private dining room. We sat with Judy and Lou. We had a great night. The food was good but the entertainment but fabulous. Two guys, one playing a guitar and one playing a violin entertained us all night. We sang and danced and place the spoons and generally had a wonderful. We called into a waterfall on the way home for a photo opportunity and then sang on the bus all the way home. Then because it was Fathers' Day yesterday, Ben made all the guys get off the bus first, then closed the bus door and drove off with all the women. We only went around the block but by the time we got back, not one of them was out the front waiting for us! We all had a fun night and we only have three days left and we are going to be sad to say goodbye to everyone.

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Posted by gaddingabout 20:48 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

New York! New York! Quebec City. Sunday, 16 June 2013

rain 20 °C

Awoke to a sunny day and breakfast was complete table service which means that we were given a menu and everything was brought to the table.  It's takes a lot more time for everyone to be served so just as well we were up early and had plenty of time to get on the bus.  Both Phil and I have tried to send a couple of emails but they won't go so we're not sure what is going on there.

Our local guide joined the bus and off we went on a tour of Montreal.  Of all the Canadian cities we have visited, Montreal would be my least favourite.  Yesterday walking around the city was nice but I think the architecture in the other cities has appealed to me more. Our guide's name was Dennis Britain and it was his birthday.  I am guessing that he was well into his eighties but he was spritely enough and very knowledgeable.    Unfortunately, everyone is getting a bit tired and as we didn't get out of the bus very often, a lot dozed off!  Montreal is in the middle of an island, not that you would know and it has a mountain on it, or rather a large hill.  It is a French speaking city and there are signs in French everywhere.  Too bad if you don't speak French like us!  Formula One races were held here recently and the international tennis will be held here in August. The streets were almost empty this morning as the shops don't open until 12.00 noon on Sundays.

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We went to the World Trade Centre where there is a lovely statue and reflection pool, with the water flowing over the edge and hardly making a ripple.  We all had to put our fingers in the water just to check that it was there.

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The group, listening intently to our guide.

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There are two pieces of the Berlin Wall in the centre.

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We passed Notre Dame Basilica again and our guide told us that Pavarotti performed a Christmas concert in there because the acoustics were so good.  It would have been amazing to hear that. We went to St Helen's Island, which is a natural island and took photos back towards the city.

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First there were none ... and then ...

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These buses bring school children to this area to an amusement park and when the kids are ready to go home, the buses are called to pick them up.  All school buses Canada and America are yellow, because when families move to a new town, the children always know what the school bus looks like.

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This dome on St Helen's Island and is called a biosphere.  It houses the Museum of Nature and teaches people how to conserve water and how to save the environment.The agricultural industry is the biggest employer in Montreal, followed by IT, then the service industry, eg health, education and tourism and lastly, diamonds and fashion.

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McGill Hospital Complex

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After the tour we all went to a shopping centre for lunch then hopped on the bus for the drive to Quebec.  It started raining at about 11.00am and is now quite heavy. Ben played a movie, Cool Runnings which is very funny, but I dozed a lot on the bus.  I had a lovely minestrone soup for lunch, and a cinnamon scroll and a mocha coffee, so with a nice full tummy, warm and snuggly inside the bus and pouring rain outside, it was a perfect time to have a snooze.

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We arrived in Quebec in the pouring rain.  This is the Quebec bridge.  They built this bridge and it fell down.  They built in again and it fell down.  They built it again but no one would go on it, so just the trains use it.

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Quebec is just beautiful.  It is so French.  I am looking forward to exploring it tomorrow and having a guided tour.

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Our hotel, the Hotel Chateau Laurier Quebec is nice and in a very good position overlooking the old armoury.  Our room is a bit small by recent standards but still perfectly okay.  We are here for two nights.

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We all went out to dinner to the La Cremailliere and it was very nice.  Phil took a bottle of Australian wine with him but they wouldn't allow him to drink it as they don't have BYO here.  We had dinner with Louise and Doug from Canberra and Linda and Derrick from Adelaide.  I had watercress soup, salmon and creme caramel and Phil had the soup, chicken and creme caramel.  It was all very delicious. We drove around the streets on our way home from dinner.  Quebec is just lovely.  I hope it is fine tomorrow so we can stroll around the streets because it is a photographer's delight.

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Posted by gaddingabout 20:24 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

New York! New York! Montreal, Saturday, 15 June 2013

sunny 23 °C

Had a little sleep in this morning and we had our own designated breakfast room. Not a big choice and I had to request oatmeal/porridge. The waiter was a scream; like a Basil Fawlty type. He had us in stitches. When I asked if there was any oatmeal, he said no but I jokingly strangled him and we just laughed and laughed through the whole meal. What a great way to start day.

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On the bus and headed for the Parliament Building. What a fantastic building. I am getting sick of saying this but it is true. The architecture in these Canadian cities is superb!
To think all these buildings were built by manual labour, without cranes etc is just remarkable. And they have stood the test of time.

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After the visit to Parliament House, we went back to the market area for a stroll around and a few of us had another Beaver Tail. Some still thought it was a real beaver tail but when we told them what it really was, they all lined up for one too. My favourite is still the cinnamon sugar one. So, that's two within a 12 hour period! When I can't fit into my winter clothes back home, I'll remember my foolishness in eating TWO beaver tails in Ottawa!

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We left Ottawa, heading for Montreal.

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On the way to Montreal, Ben played the last half of Anne of Green Gables. It was lovely to see it again, especially driving through the lovely Canadian country side. The ladies on the bus had a few tears and the blokes just booed, but it was a very enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours on the bus.

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Arrived in Montreal around lunchtime and had a couple of free hours to have lunch and wander around the streets. The weather is warm and the streets are full of people and street performers. Montreal is the largest French speaking city outside of France and this is very evident. Most people are speaking French and it's not hard to imagine you are wandering down a French avenue. It is very nice.

First of all, we had our group photo in front of the Montreal City Hall.

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A street performer swallowing a balloon!

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Halina and Yasmin wandering around Montreal on Yasmin's birthday.

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Tony and Deb enjoying a snack in one of the lovely alfresco restaurants .

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We had lunch in an Italian restaurant. Phil has a pizza and I had bruschetta. It was very nice. The photos on the toilet doors were very interesting!

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We strolled around the streets soaking up the lovely warm weather and the atmosphere of Montreal on a Saturday afternoon. Phil couldn't resist buying an icecream!

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We all met up and walked up to Notre Dame Cathedral and went inside. What an absolutely wonderfully beautiful place.

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Tonight we all went for a special dinner Montreal. It was a very nice restaurant and the food was lovely. We sat with KC and Madeline from Singapore and had a lovely evening chatting about their lives and travel. We both had tomato and basil soup and Phil had steak and I had salmon. The wine prices were horrendous. A bottle of Australian wine that costs about $20 at home was $130 here! Consequently we drank water!

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Posted by gaddingabout 19:47 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

New York! New York! Ottawa, Friday, 14 June 2013

24 °C

Left Toronto at 8 am, and we have finally made it to the front seat! The traffic was pretty heavy both ways and not very long after leaving the hotel, we stopped for a comfort stop. As we got back on the road, Ben played a movie for us, Anne of Green Gables, which most of us have seen or read the book. It was lovely to see it again, but every time we went over a bump, the volume went low and Debbie, the bus driver had to keep adjusting the volume.

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We arrived in Kingston for lunch. What a lovely town. There was a festival going on commemorating Capital Day which occurs on 15 June. Kingston was the first capital but Montreal and Quebec wanted to be the capital. After looking at the topography of the region, Queen Victoria decided that Ottawa should be the capital, and so it is.

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We wandered around and up a lane found a great little Irish Pub where I had a nice salad and Phil had bangers and mash and a couple of drinks. It was yummy and was only $25. We chatted to a couple of locals while we were eating lunch and they were taxi owners so they told us all about the taxi industry in Kingston. It was very interesting.

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On the way back to the bus, we came across a small amphitheatre where a play was taking place. The leading man was about to be hanged for something that he did to Canada. We weren't quite sure who he was or what he had done but it was obviously serious!

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There was an Indian Medicine Man at the festival.

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After lunch, we went to visit Fort Henry. Fort Henry is up on the hill overlooking Kingston and the Royal Military College is next door. It has a huge moat all around it, with no water in the moat, which made the fort impenetrable.

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Judy and me at the fort. Judy reminds me very much of my friend Karolyn from primary school days.

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We are now in the area called the thousand islands. An island is an island if it is surrounded by water, is above the water, is 10 feet by 10 feet and has a minimum two trees on it. People have built little cabins on lots of these islands and some pretty grand homes too. George Boldt, the millionaire owner of the Waldorf Austria hotel in New York bought Heart Island and constructed a Rhineland Castle on it for his wife, Louise. Before the building was completed, Louise died and Boldt stopped all building. He never returned to the island. However, a dressing was invented to eat with all the lovely fish caught in this area, and today it is known as Thousand Islands Dressing! True!

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We went up the top of this tower, recently purchased for $700,000 and had a great view of the islands.

We drove on to Ottawa,the capital of Canada. The buildings are wonderful. We stopped at Rideau Hall, the house of the Canadian Governor-General. We took photos outside the gates and then surprise, surprise, we just walked through the gates and up the main drive to the house! Wouldn't happen in Australia. Our Government House is behind locked gates guarded by police. I just couldn't believe it. We strolled up the drive, taking photos of the lovely trees and the plaques of people who had planted them. Couldn't find one planted by an Australian GG, but I don't think one has visited there for at least 40 years.

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This is Robin, my new face book friend!

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On the way to the hotel, we had a photo stop to take shots of Parliament House. It is superb. The buildings really are wonderful here.

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We are staying at the Sheraton, Room 414. It is quite nice with free wifi in our room, which we like very much.

We had a G&T and then, because we are having a free night, caught a taxi down to ByWard Market for dinner. After dinner we had a Beaver Tail. Apparently it is a local delicacy. From the way Ben described it, we thought it was deep fried meat, however it is a flat thing, shaped like a beaver tail, and is made from donut dough and covered in cinnamon or chocolate or lots of other sweet things. I had a cinnamon one and it was delicious.

Having a reasonably early night, at last!

Posted by gaddingabout 19:48 Archived in Canada Tagged ottawa Comments (0)

New York! New York! Toronto, Thursday, 13 June 2013

rain 22 °C

Thursday, 13 June 2013

What a difference a day makes! Woke up this morning and it's pouring rain and foggy. We seem to be travelling just ahead of a "tornedic" front. New word and I don't know how to spell it!

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On the road and it's pouring and the traffic is moving very slowly, which is probably better in these conditions.

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Arrived in Toronto. It is a really nice, clean city. It is full of sky scraper apartment buildings and a lot of very modern buildings in the city.

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We went to the Eaton Centre for lunch and I had a lovely salad. Then back on the bus for our optional tour to the CN building, the tallest tower in the world. Tower, not building. That would be the Burj Kalif in Dubai.

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The views are stunning. We were lucky that it had stopped raining by the time we went up the top because we had great views of Toronto. There is a glass floor section but unfortunately the photos don't really show how scarey it was. Amazingly I felt okay walking on it but Phil went a bit weak at the knees. I actually lay down on it but the photo isn't that clear.

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We went for a dinner cruise this evening on Toronto Harbour. As usual, when we go on harbour cruises, it was raining and we all got wet boarding the boat. Some clever people had umbrellas. The cruise went from 7.00 pm to the10.00 pm and we had a buffet dinner and dancing. We had dinner with Gerald, Halina and Yasmin. Everyone had a pretty good time. The Toronto skyline is really quite lovely. Early start tomorrow, so it's off to bed.

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Posted by gaddingabout 20:37 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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