Day 5: I’m in Love with a City

Montreal is such a cool city. There is such a variety of things to do. We started the day with a walk to Plateau and Mile End. We were in search of murals, colorful homes, poutine, bagels, and smoked meat sandwiches. 

Murals: the city has done an impressive job of encouraging mural street art. It can be found all over, but is especially prevalent in Plateau and Mile End. 

Colorful Homes: the Plateau area is home to colorful homes with steep stairs and little gardens. It is an instagrammer’s dream. 

Poutine: La Banquise is supposed to be the place for pouting, and I would agree. Other than the waitress spilling water on me twice, it was a great experience. The gravy and type of fries are what really make this place good.

Bagels: St. Viater is the place to get Montreal style bagels. Getting them in the Mile End neighborhood is unique because you get to see more of the Jewish neighborhood.

Smoked Meat Sandwich: Schwartz’s is the classic place to find this type of sandwich. It is basically a corned beef sandwich.

We needed a short nap after our hike around the city. This helped, but we decided to stop for coffee before the light show at Notre Dame. We found a little coffee shop called Tommy.

We bought tickets the day before for the Aura light show at Notre Dame. As I mentioned yesterday, this is one of my favorite churchs, but the light show made it even better. I found it to be an emotional experience that reminded me of what great achievements can be made through creativity. As if that wasn’t enough, we lingered to take photos, and the guy was nice enough to turn the lights on for us. It was just Michael and I in there. What an amazing feeling.

After having one of best moments so far on this trip, we decided to take a stroll in the night. Montreal has this awesome program called Cite Memoire. There are light shows projected all over the city with audio stories. We came across an interactive one in the alley that was mesmerizing. Feeling a bit hungry again, we stopped for pizza along the port. This was an amazing evening.

Day 3: Checking out the Town

Today was a day of walking, so we fueled up by getting a big breakfast down at Byward market. We may have lingered too long because as we got up, there was a crack of thunder. We found shelter under an awning, and waited the quick storm out.

Then, it was walking time. I set mapped out a circuit to see some of the major sights. We started with Parkiment Hill. As we snapped our shots, I tried to read a little commentary so we knew what we were seeing. Michael and I are definitely fans of the Gothic Revival style. We were looking for Trudeau across the street, but no luck. All we saw was some sort of demonstration.

We passed the Supreme Court and the Veteran’s Memorial. We were origanlly planning on stopping at the war museum, but since we had a break in the rain, we thought it best to keep walking. We continued to cross over the bridge, seeing the Ottawa River and Victoria Island. I wanted to go across the river to get a different perspective of Parliament Hill.

While talking and snapping shots, a man came up to us and started yelling at us with slurred speech. He at first appeared to be a homeless man asking for a light, but then he started swearing at us and talking about how if I put my camera in people’s faces, I’m going to get my skull smashed in. I wasn’t even taking pictures of people. As we tried to walk away, he threw his cigarette at Michael and finally Turned the other way.

Michael and I were surprised about the homeless population here. A lot of what we have seen is not just people with collection cups, but people yelling and acting delusional. I don’t know why we expected there to be less of this. I guess we thought since they seem to have better health care that it would include mental health as well.

Although we were a little caught off guard, we shook it off. We passed the Canadian History Museum, and crossed back over the bridge to Major’s Hill Park. We were getting a little parched, so we stopped for a pint.

Once we completed the circuit, we walked back to the car to blast the air conditioning and head to the next neighborhood: the Glebe.

Feeling refreshed, and a little less sticky, we walked the trendy neighborhood, stopping at shops and grabbing lunch. Then, we got back in the car to visit the next part of town.

Before we got to Westboro, we took a bear break on Wellington Street. Westboro is supposed to be the hip part of town. We thought it was okay. 

We were originally going to rent bikes today, but with the morning storm and the severe thunderstorm watch until 9:15pm, we thought we better not. We wanted to rent bikes to ride along the Roseau canal. We did get to drive by it, and it definitely would have been a nice ride, but sometimes you have to be flexible with the weather.

We ate dinner at Wellington Gastropub which was featured on Vagabrothers. My pork belly was delicious. We decided to get dessert back at Byward market by picking up some beaver tails. These are basically like heavier elephant ears. Our sweet tooth was satisfied.

Day 1: The Road to Toronto

After having an interesting night trying to save a stray dog, 6:00 am came, and we had a date with the road. We stopped to grab a coffee, visited Michael’s mom, and then we hit the road. 

We planned to stop in Detroit for a lunch break, since that was a good midpoint. Small Batch Brewing was our destination for a pint and some grub. Once done there, we hopped over the water, and boom, we were in Canada.

As we continued through Canada, the car seemed to be getting a bit toasty. It seems our air conditioning is not quite up to par. Let’s just say Michael was not lovin it. Fortunately, we opened our windows, and aired ourselves out. Hopefully this won’t be a problem all trip. But, that’s part of travel, too, right. I think sometimes we get this notion that travel is paradise and everything is going to be perfect. Life is not perfect, and there isn’t an exception for vacation time.
When we arrived to Toronto, traffic flooded the streets we needed to go down. You see, I picked this swanky condo in the hip Queen Street West neighborhood, which is also close to Rogers Centre, the home of the Blue Jays baseball team. Wouldn’t you know it, just as we were arriving a game got out, which means thousands of fans poured into the streets. This held us back a bit, but it all worked out.

At 9pm, we had a reservation to visit a Banksy art exhibit. It was a pop up exhibit in an old warehouse curated by a former friend of Banksy. We grabbed a drink, and then headed in for our timed entrance. The exhibit showcased his work through photographs, screen prints, and even some authentic work on a cut out shutter. 

I’m not sure Banksy would have approved of fans paying to see his art, but I did appreciate seeing a chronological sequence of his work and learning more about the street artist. A quote I really liked from the exhibit was: “The time of getting fame for your name on its own is over. Artwork that is only about wanting to be famous will never make you famous. Fame is a by-product of doing something else. You don’t go to a restaurant and order a meal because you want to have a shit.”

After walking out into the night, hunger hit us. We made our way to Korean Town to slurp up some ramen. It was soooooo good. I wish we had a ramen place at home. Feeling tired from the meal and day, we came back to the apartment for the night.

Something we’ve been seeing a lot of while driving, are country flags supporting soccer teams in the World Cup. I’m hoping we can pick a team to support, and get into the action at a bar while on the trip. Who should we root for?

To the Northeast

Planning a Trip

Preparing for a trip is almost as fun as actually going on the trip.  I spend months reading about the places I’m visiting, watching videos, and researching online to determine how I want to spend my time.  Below, you will find a rough view of how I start to put together a trip.  I always plan the rooms ahead of time, but from there the calendar is pretty open.  If there is something in particular I want to do, I will make a reservation, but I try not to tie myself down too much.

Well, we are on our way.  I’ll try to post each day about our adventures.  We’ll see how well this calendar actually holds up.

Calendar

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
16-9 Hour Drive

Leave @ 6am

Stop in Detroit for Lunch
Toronto

Banksy Exhibit @ 9pm

Queen Street West-Graffiti Alley

17-4.5 Hour Drive

Ottawa

Leave @ 8am
Nordik Massage @ 3:00

Gatineau Park

Byward Market

18

Ottawa
Rent Bikes at Rideau Canal

Fairmont Château Laurier

Major’s Hill Park

Parliament Hill

Canadian War Museum

Westboro Neighborhood

Wellington Gastro Pub

19-2.5 Hour Drive

Montreal

Leave @ 9am
-Old Town

Hidden Alley

Notre Dame Basilica

Atwater Market

Rooftop Terrace

St-Viateur Bagels

20

Montreal
Schwartz’s Deli
La Banquise

Ruelle verte

Mont Royal

Oratoire Saint-Joseph

Plateau and Mile End

Biosphere

Mad Hatters

Metalomania

21-3 Hour Drive

Quebec City

Leave @ 11am
Unibroue

Chez Biceps BBQ

-Old Town

-Festibiere

L’Affaire Est Ketchup

22

Quebec City

Île d’Orléans

Wendake Indian Reservation

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac

Le Bouche Réservation @ 7:00

23-5.5 Hour Drive

Portland

Leave @ 9am
Montmorency Falls

Zipline @ 11:00

SchoonerFest

DeMillo’s for Dinner

24

Portland
Allagash Brewery

Bite Into Maine Lobster Rolls

International Cryptozoology Museum

Street and Co. DInner

25-4 Hour Drive

Burlington

Leave @ 12pm

26

Burlington
Beer Crawl

27-6 Hour Drive

Finger Lakes

Leave @ 8am
Ommegang Brewery

-Visit Wineries and Bring Back Food to Cabin

28

Finger Lakes
Wine Tour

29-5.5 Hour Drive

Pittsburgh

Leave @ 8am
-Polish Food

30-8 Hour Drive to Home

Leave @ 10am
-Have Breakfast First

-Stop in Cleveland for Break

Canada 2018 Itinerary

  • June 16-Day One of Vacation, Stay in Toronto (9 hour drive)
  • June 17-Leave Toronto for Ottawa (4.5 Hour Drive)
  • June 18-Second Day in Ottawa
  • June 19-Leave Ottawa for Montreal (2 hour drive)
  • June 20-Second Day in Montreal
  • June 21-Leave Montreal for Quebec City (4 hour drive)-Stop at Unibroue and Trois Rivieries
  • June 22-Second Day in Quebec City
  • June 23-Leave Quebec City for Portland (5.5 hour drive)
  • June 24-Second Day in Portland
  • June 25-Leave Portland for Vermont (4 hour drive)
  • June 26-Second Day in Vermont
  • June 27-Leave for Finger lakes (6 hour drive)-Stop at Ommegang
  • June 28-Second Day in Finger Lakes
  • June 29-Leave for Pittsburgh (5.5 hour drive)
  • June 30-Head Home (8 Hour Drive)

44h Trip

Canada 2018 Ideas

  • Toronto (1 night)
    • Casa Loma
    • Starving Artist-Waffles
    • The Art of Banksy Exhibition
    • Queen Street West-Graffiti Alley
      • Barchef
      • Queen West Antique Center
      • Skyyard at the Drake Hotel
      • Type Books
  • Ottawa (2 nights)
    • ByWard Market-Farm to Table
    • Notre Dame Basilica
    • Parliament Hill
    • The Grand Pizza (VB)
    • Beaver tail
    • Check out Up and Coming Towns (Look for victoire store)
    • Brew Donkey Craft Beer Tours (VB)
    • Wellington Gastro Pub-pair music with food (VB)
    • Spa Outside of Ottawa Nordik (VB)
    • Rideau Canal-Rent Bikes
    • Gatineau Park
  • Montreal (2 nights)
  • Quebec City (2 nights)
    • Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac (Get Old Fashioned Fairmount)
    • Old Town
    • Wendake
    • jacques cartier national park
    • Le Bouche (Quebecois Restaurant with bearded guys)
    • L’Affaire Est Ketchup (cook on electric stoves and heavy metal music)
    • Chez Biceps BBQ (Bacon in Bourbon)
    • Battuto Italian restaurant
    • He boislocal beer crawl
    • Festibiere
    • Snack bar poutine
    • Montmorency Falls
    • Picnic on The Plains of Abraham
    • Quartier Petit Champlain
    • Île d’Orléans-Countryside
    • SCANNER BISTRO-Heavy Metal Bar
    • BATEAU DE NUIT-Heavy Metal Bar
  • Portland, Maine (2 Nights)
    • Allagash Brewery
    • International Cryptozoology Museum
  • Vermont (2 nights)
  • Finger Lakes New York (2 nights)
  • Pittsburgh (1 Night)