We did a summer road trip last year to Erie PA and thought we would do another this year. Our Canadian Facebook friends have been telling us how the US dollar is enjoying a very favorable exchange rate so we set our sights on a road trip to Canada. The question was where? We scoured the internet and came across the itinerary for a one week bus trip starting in Montreal then making a couple stops in Quebec then onto Ontario then back to Montreal. As amateur photographers we can't stand bus trips but thought, why not follow the same itinerary but do it on our own? The only change we made was to cross back into the states at Kingston near the 1000 Islands instead of crossing back into New York state near Montreal. Basically, we made a loop through Canada above New York state..
We looked up each location on travelocity and began booking rooms If the bus tour had a 2 night stay, we booked a 2 night stay. If the stay was 1 night, we booked 1 night. Beyond that, we simply showed up and enjoyed whatever we found in a given location. No effort was made to get some Canadian currency in advance, ATMs were available everywhere. Any charges would be on our Capital One card because they do not charge a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Canada is a
very easy place to visit, even in French speaking Quebec. We
committed a few simple phrases to memory but found, especially the
young, could speak some English. Most restaurant menus had
English "sub titles", etc. In general, we found prices to be high
even when factoring in the exchange rate advantage and, of course,
there was a 15% tax added on top. We especially like the way a
"machine" is brought to your table when using a charge card, the card
never leaves your sight as it does here in the states. I should
mention that our Capital One card has a chip in it, something on the
verge of becoming the norm here in the states but is already the norm
in Canada and Europe.
Please Note: Click on any image for more specific information about it. Clicking on the little map will bring up a satellite image showing where we were when the image was taken. Camera setting information can also be found.
Mont Tremblant, Quebec:
The longest drive of the trip was going all the way from home to a hotel just over the border above Plattsburgh NY, about 8 hours of drive time. The next morning we drove into a nearby town in search of an ATM which we found. The bus itinerary referenced driving through three "villages" on the way to Mont Tremblant. We found two of the villages and stopped to walk around and even had lunch in one of them. From there it was on to Mont Tremblant which turned out to be a ski resort. We stayed two nights at the "Sommet des Neiges" in what turned out to be a one bedroom condo with a complete kitchen and even a washer/dryer. We were amazed! We checked in, parked the car in an underground garage (for a fee), and set out to explore the village. Much to our surprise, we picked a fabulous location because everything of interest to us was walking distance from where we were staying. While in the area we rode the cable cars to the top of the mountain, saw a birds of prey show, went for a boat ride, and walked to the tune of 13,000 to 15,000 steps per day. Be sure and click on individual pictures for more detail on what we did during our stay.....
The Village, Mountain, Boat Ride....
Birds of Prey Show...
The bus itinerary called for staying two nights at the "Le Chateau Montebello", the worlds largest log structure. Staying at the chateau was a bit pricey for us so we stayed at the "Auberge Montebello" in town. Our hotel for the two nights was old but clean, provided breakfast, and was adequate for our stay. On our way into Montebello, we stopped at the "Parc Omega", a drive through nature preserve. It was fun feeding carrots to the animals until one of them slobbered all over Kathy. Another thing we did that first evening in Montebello was head over to "Kenauk Nature" where we boarded a safari styled bus to do some bear watching. Most of our full day in the area was spent on the chateaus property where we did some hiking and spent some time kicking back reading our Kindles.
Le Chateau Montebello....
The Bear Safari....
Other things around Montebello.....
We checked out of our hotel in
Montebello and followed our GPS directions directly to Ottawa. At
some point we would be crossing over into Ontario but exactly when
became apparent when we found ourselves taking a short ferry ride
across the Ottawa River. It was unexpected but a fun diversion
none the less. We arrived at the Lord Elgin Hotel
morning, turned our car into valet parking, checked our bags, and set
out to enjoy our day in the city. We got out front just in time
to see the changing of the guard parade on it's way to Parliament Hill so we followed to see the action. In the course of the day we watched some boats locking through on the Rideau Canal, wandered through ByWard Market, checked out Sparks Mall, and ended the day on Parliament Hill for the Sound & Light show.
On the way out of Ottawa we toured the
Diefenbunker Museum, a throwback to the cold war days. All in all, our day in Ottawa was great.
Rideau Canal Locks...
Parliament Hill, Changing of the Guard, Sound & Light Show...
Other Ottawa Features...
Our next stop was in Kingston where we had booked a one night visit to the Hochelaga Inn. It took longer to get there from Ottawa than expected so our arrival was early in the afternoon. It was Saturday and there was some sort of power boat show and race going on along the waterfront. We wandered around the downtown area checking out some amazingly colorful cigarette boats, walked through a farmers market, and settled on a place for dinner before going back to the inn. Once back at the inn, we kicked back on the front porch and listened to some ghost stories surrounding the public hangings that used to take place in the field out back. While at breakfast, we heard about, and decided to try, the free ferry to Wolfe Island where we could get a ferry boat back to the states. One of these days we're going to return to Kingston for 3-4 days and also spend a couple on Wolfe Island as well.
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