A Travellerspoint blog

Victoria, British Columbia

September 5th to 19th

We left Calgary on Saturday, a slight change to our normal Sunday re-location. The main reason for this was due to the relatively short period of time we would have in Victoria city as we plan on renting a car on the middle weekend and exploring part of the Vancouver Island coastline. So arriving in Victoria on Saturday would allow us to sightsee on the Sunday.

A visit to Downtown Victoria would not be complete without visiting the Inner Harbour and Fishermans wharf, home to 33 float homes, shops and eateries. Downtown was also the sight of a Blues Festival and we had the opportunity to sit at the Harbour and listen to a few of the musicians whilst the paying customers sat only a few metres away. Bonus. After walking the streets, admiring the architecture and visiting a few of the Sunday markets, it was time to catch the bus back to our accommodation and get ready for the next week of school.

Inner Harbour

Inner Harbour


Fishermans Wharf

Fishermans Wharf

Thursday was our 10th Wedding anniversary so we ventured 20 minutes down the road to the 5th Street Bar and Grill for dinner and a few drinks.

Anniversary Dinner

Anniversary Dinner

On the weekend we decided to rent a convertible for a couple of days. We figured since we are driving the coastline, we might as well enjoy some open air comfort. Our Saturday destination was Nanaimo and their Annual Harvest Festival. Along the coastline we made stops at Cowichan bay then to Chemainus, known for having over 40 giant wall murals and sculptures. The next stop was Duncan, home to numerous First Nation Totem Poles. The Nanaimo Harvest Festival was held in the Old City Quarter with local stalls with food and craft, a speakers tent, a number of live music stages and a chap using the suns rays through a prism to burn art onto wood. Quite significant as Alyssa is studying light reflection and transmission for her Science subject. Following we had a relaxing walk along the water front where we saw seals and Alyssa had a play at the spacious Maffeo Sutton park.

Convertible

Convertible


Cowichan Bay

Cowichan Bay


Chemainus

Chemainus


Duncan

Duncan


Sunlight art

Sunlight art

On Sunday we drove to Sidney, known as Canada's only booktown with 6 unique book shops. We had a stop at the Roost Farm Bakery for lunch and then headed to the Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse for a sample tray of ciders, finally deciding to purchase a bottle of Applejack for our Sunday Funday treat.

sea-cider-farm-ciderhouse

sea-cider-farm-ciderhouse


Cider tasting

Cider tasting

Thursday we needed to re-locate to Downtown Victoria as our previous accommodation was double booked. Anyways, as it was virtually Alyssa's last day of school before holidays, we had plenty of time to explore more of the Inner Harbour and had a visit to Miniature World, home to over 85 dioramas and displays including the Great Canadian railway, 2 of the world's largest doll houses, Fantasyland, a tribute to Charles Dickens and the wonderful world of circus. Most displays had special effects of lighting, sound and animation. Dinner was had at Barb's Fish and Chips at Fishermans Wharf.

Miniature World 1

Miniature World 1


Miniature World 2

Miniature World 2


Miniature World 3

Miniature World 3


Miniature World 4

Miniature World 4

Our final day started with a couple of hours of school and then a visit to the Parliament House of British Columbia. Built in 1864 we decided on a self guided tour visiting the reception hall, the legislative chamber, the memorial rotunda, Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee window and the outdoor speakers chair. We followed this with some lunch at the Food Trucks located at the BC Museum during Summer and then an Inner Gorge boat cruise on one of the mini ferry's that frequent the Harbour. The peaceful narrated cruise up the historic Gorge waterway allowed us to see historic homes, working shipyards, travel under the Johnson Street Bridge and under the Selkirk trestles. We finished our stay with dinner at the Steamship Grill and some seafood overlooking Victoria harbour.

Parliament House

Parliament House

Posted by V3USA 14:35 Comments (0)

Calgary

August 23rd to September 5th

Calgary

Calgary

Ah, summer! The time of the year in Calgary when pancakes are acceptable for breakfast ten days in a row, denim is considered ‘work attire’ during the Calgary Stampede; and the word ‘festival’ shows up every weekend. Tassels, fringe, turquoise, and flashy western wear are not just welcomed during the stampede, they’re encouraged. Calgary loves its Stampede (or as the locals like to call it – the city’s favourite 10-day stint of debauchery), they even put together a Stampede Survival Guide. Here’s what we found out: 1. They have a parade of cowboys, cowgirls, floats, dancers, musician and horses; 2. The rodeo (where cowboys and cowgirls face off against some of the wildest animals in the west) costs between $40 - $293 entrance fee; 3. They have a sideshow (Midway Rides) which costs $1/ticket (usually 5 tickets per ride) or $54/day pass (not included with admission) and 4. They hold an evening show with chuck wagon races, dance, music, acrobatics and the grand fireworks finale for $56 - $132. P.S. Don’t forget to bring your MasterCard. Cha Ching!!! After the Stampede though, it is back to normal and the cowboy boots, cowboy hats and denim gets put back into storage. So it turns out that Calgary is not quite as ‘cowboy’ as I was expecting.

Calgary Downtown

Calgary Downtown



We didn’t get here for the Stampede but we did manage to check out the Devonian Gardens, a large indoor park and botanical garden located in the downtown core of Calgary. It is located on the Stephen Avenue pedestrian mall and is completely enclosed with glass and covers 2.5 acres on the top floor of The Core Shopping Centre. We also checked out Stephen Avenue where historic sandstone buildings are set against a backdrop of steel and glass skyscrapers on Calgary’s busiest downtown pedestrian work. The avenue is the heart of Calgary’s arts culture and is lined with major shopping centres, not to mention an eclectic mix of boutiques and pubs/clubs/restaurants etc, and they are all within walking distance to where we were staying in the suburb of Inglewood which was named Best Canadian Neighbourhood in 2014.

Devonian Gardens

Devonian Gardens

From Inglewood there is a lovely, shaded walking path along the Bow River where you can go for a stroll, meet Canada geese on the path and, on weekends, watch folks floating down the river on all manner of water craft. Inglewood is a neighbourhood that centres on 9th Avenue SE (Calgary's original Main Street) to the east of the downtown. The community is blessed with over 200 pre-1914 buildings and is a fun, funky neighbourhood just South of the Bow River. It has an interesting mix of shops, restaurants and we even managed to find one of the four best Markets in the area. So on Friday afternoon, we jumped on the cruisers Michelle and James (our hosts) let us use and headed to the Crossroads Markets. The Crossroads Market is a historical building home to a year-round farmers market, antique market, international food fair and flea market. Very eclectic and the fresh produce was fantastic.

Bow River pathway

Bow River pathway

We arrived in Calgary during GlobalFest, which is a five-night international fireworks competition similar to the one we saw in Montreal. We opted out of this one and instead decided to spend our first Saturday in Calgary going to the Village Square Leisure Centre for Alyssa. The leisure centre features a safari-themed water park with a wave pool, slides and splash zone. After that we went for an hour stroll at Fish Creek Provincial Park. In a certain way this park is "in the middle of the city", but you think you are in the middle of a national park! Very nice area and great for a stroll. We even saw a deer walking around. It’s a lovely urban park with paved and rough paths and we enjoyed our leisurely walk along the dry parts of the creek bed.

Fish Creek open space

Fish Creek open space

On Saturday night we celebrated Michelle and James’ 6th wedding anniversary with them, with steaks the size of a small condo and a chocolate cake from Bite Groceteria and Café that Cash (their son) had picked out (lots and lots of chocolate). What’s an anniversary celebration without 3 bottles of wine and the install of a window at 9pm at night involving 2 Aussies and 2 crazy Canadians? In the cold light of day, it turned out the window was installed upside down – need I say more! …..What happens in Calgary, stays in Calgary!

How can you come to Calgary and not see a rodeo? So we decided to go to the Okotoks Pro Rodeo on Sunday. Okotoks is a small town situated on the Sheep River, approximately 18 km south of Calgary in the foothills of Alberta. The Okotoks Pro Rodeo (OPR) is held annually and in 2015 they celebrated their 24th year. The OPR brings the same competition, skill and excitement as a regular rodeo except it is held on an ice-skating rink inside a recreation centre on the outskirts of Okotoks. They hold nine events (Bareback, Barrel Racing, Bull Riding, Tie Down Roping, Saddle Bronc, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping and of course the crowd favourites: the Wild Pony Race and Mutton Bustin’.

Okotoks Rodeo

Okotoks Rodeo


Okotoks Rodeo 2

Okotoks Rodeo 2

What do you get when you combine three young cowboys and one wild pony? A fan favourite. The entertaining wild pony race sees a team of kids between the ages of 8-12 try to tame a pony long enough for one of them to jump aboard. And the pony almost always wins. More often than not you see one or two kids holding on to a rope as the pony drags them through the dirt. And this usually goes on for quite a while.

Okotoks Rodeo 3

Okotoks Rodeo 3



Then there is the Mutton Bustin'. This event offers kids aged between 5 and 8 a chance to begin their own rip-roaring rodeo careers. Helmeted cowpokes have an opportunity to ride a ‘wooley bulley’ inside the rodeo arena. Here's how it works: With a sheep readied in the ‘chute’, a child is set on its back - arms wrapped tightly around the neck. When the chute gate opens out comes the sheep and rider. The small cowboy/cowgirl will hold on and ride the sheep for as long as they can! A little girl (she looked like she was 3) won the day when she managed to hang on across the arena and fall off after about 8 seconds. What fun!

Okotoks Rodeo 4

Okotoks Rodeo 4

Back to school on Monday, but on our afternoons we made sure we squeezed in as much of Calgary as we could.

On Monday we went to St. Patricks Island with Alyssa and Cash on the cruisers where we chilled and watched them play in the playground before they rolled down ‘the rise’, a reclaimed hill that is utilized for performances, movie nights and tobogganing in winter. There is also a fire pit on top! S’mores anyone?

On Tuesday we went to the Esker Gallery and saw some interesting art in an architecturally gorgeous space with views of the city from huge floor to ceiling windows. A wonderful space to see local artists display their works for six months at a time or simply just to sit by the windows and spy on the world outside. After that Alyssa and Nick were taken for a wild ride by James and Cash in a buggy pulled by Hunter their dog. Then we managed to squeeze in dinner with David and Hattie (friends of Richard and Dianne who we travelled with in Boston and Quebec City).

Check out James and Hunter, aka the Urban Musher in action below:

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Calgary/ID/2433050406/

On Wednesday Alyssa stayed with Michelle to play with Cash and baby daughter Scout so Nick and I took the short walk to see Fort Calgary. In this museum the visitor will find information about the life of old Calgarians from more than 100 years ago. A great glimpse into the past and it gives a good insight into both the history of Calgary and the Mounties. On the way home, Nick and I took the opportunity (sans Minor) to go to the Hose and Hound for a beer. It is the neighborhood pub inside a historic fire station. We capped off a great day with some S’mores in the backyard with James, Michelle and the kids.

Fort Calgary

Fort Calgary


Cash loves S'Mores

Cash loves S'Mores

Friday was a leisurely walk along the Bow to the Peace Bridge. Built in 2012, the bridge accommodates both pedestrians and cyclists and connects Downtown Calgary with the Northern community of Sunnyside and is used by over 6,000 people each day.

Peace bridge

Peace bridge

Even though Nick had 3 visits to a local Dentist to get a replacement Crown, we had such a relaxing time in Calgary topped off by making some great friends in Michelle, James, Cash and Scout.

Posted by V3USA 15:48 Comments (0)

Toronto

August 2nd - 23rd

We opted for a 3 week stay in Toronto to give us sufficient time to explore both the city and surrounding area and as usual, give us some stability for Alyssa and her schoolwork. As it turns out, most of the above was accomplished.

Our accommodation was a 3 bedroom Townhouse in Little Portugal, just on the fringe of Downtown (We could walk to Downtown in about an hour). Our house has all the modern amenities; gas stove, high speed internet and a wonderful back room where both plenty of bouldering (Alyssa) and world exploration (Nick) took place. Sadly though for Alyssa, no TV was present so she had to resign to watching TV shows on Youtube after dinner each night.

The world of Bouldering

The world of Bouldering

As we arrived on a Sunday, we promptly found the nearest Supermarket (about a 20 mins walk away) and then prepared the week's worth of study. Our host left us an extensive list of activities in the neighbourhood, one of which was a Farmers Markets on the Monday afternoon which Ronnie and I attended. It turns out that there are 3 Farmers Markets in the area, all in different locations, on different days and for the most part, with different vendors. As usual, the first week was mostly schoolwork and the occasional walk around the neighbourhood. Thankfully for Alyssa there was a wonderful park/playground just across the road which was frequented regularly when her school work was completed.

Our first trip to Downtown was on a Friday via the local Streetcar. We caught up with an ex Townsville friend, Mark McGregor who was in Toronto for 6 weeks as part of the organization group for the PanAm and Para PanAm games. He recommended we catch up at a great and cheap Thai restaurant and we ate, drank and just wondered how Townsville was copping without us. We also visited the famous St Lawrence Markets where meat, poultry, seafood, breads, pastas, fruit, vegetables, you pretty much name it was sold by the numerous vendors.

St Lawrence Market

St Lawrence Market

On the weekend we decided to partake in our usual activity of renting a car and travelling into the countryside. Our Saturday destination was the small town of Fergus, about an hours drive West of Toronto. The reason was the 70th Annual Fergus Scottish Festival & Highland Games. Highlights were the Tug of War, the hammer and stone throws with competitors from all over the world, Highland fling dancing, bagpipes (we missed seeing/hearing the Red Hot Chilli Pipers) and a Guinness World Record attempt for the most Cabers tossed at one time. Thankfully for the 15,000 people in attendance a new record of 69 was set.

Fergus

Fergus


Parade

Parade


Caber toss World Record achievement

Caber toss World Record achievement


Outdoor curling

Outdoor curling


Tug of War

Tug of War

Sunday's destination of choice was Niagara Falls, a mere 90 min drive away. A few things should be noted about Niagara Falls. Firstly, the town of Niagara Falls is tacky. Its basically a small version of Las Vegas, mostly with a view of the falls but it definitely feels over commercialised and out of place. Secondly, the falls are amazing. They may not be the highest waterfalls in the world, but the sheer volume of water cascading is intense. The Canadian side provides the most complete view of both the American and the much more impressive Canadian falls. We cannot really fathom visiting the falls from the USA side without crossing the border to get a better view of the Canadian falls to gain a greater appreciation of the amount of water that flows over the waterfalls (more than a million bathtubs per second). Afterwards we promised to take Alyssa out for lunch and we visited the Rainforest Café, a themed restaurant that is designed to depict some features of a tropical rainforest including plant growth, thunder and figures of rainforest animals. To enhance this theme, some of the figures are animatronic. Our lunch order was misplaced and took longer than normal to be delivered so we were provided with a complimentary sparkling Volcano dessert.

Niagara Falls 1

Niagara Falls 1


Niagara Falls 2

Niagara Falls 2


Rainforest cafe

Rainforest cafe


Sparkling Volcano dessert

Sparkling Volcano dessert

The following weekend we ventured Downtown for our second and last time for the Inaugural Annual Sweetery festival were a wide variety of sweets and drinks were on offer with many stalls hosted by the students of a Culinary School. Following the sugar fix we headed to the historic Distillery district, home to many of Toronto's hottest designer boutiques, unique cafes, artisan shops, art galleries and the Mill Street Brewery, the destination for Dinner along with a sample of a few of their beers.

Alyssa love

Alyssa love


Sweetery festival

Sweetery festival


Mill Street Brewery

Mill Street Brewery

Our last full day in Toronto we decided to attend the 130th Annual Canadian National Exhibition, the Canadian version of the show or Ekka which is actually one of the largest 'fairs' in North America. Highlights were the Mardi Gras Parade, International Sand sculpting competition, Rising Star talent competition and the Big Bang Theory Art exhibition.

Sand sculpting

Sand sculpting


Big Bang Theory Art exhibit

Big Bang Theory Art exhibit


Rules to Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock

Rules to Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock

Next stop ..... a 4 hour flight West to Calgary.

Posted by V3USA 15:55 Comments (0)

Ottawa

July 21st to August 2nd

The answer to the trivia question of 'What is the capital of Canada' is ....... Ottawa. After travelling from Montreal and Quebec City, predominately French speaking areas, we are quite happy to be arriving in Ottawa, located in the Province of Ontario and the familiarity of street signs in English.

Although we are staying in Ottawa for a week and a half, we are actually staying in 3 different places. We firstly booked an apartment in Kanata, a suburb in Western Ottawa for 4 nights, Wednesday to Saturday. The apartment is located in a fantastic neighbourhood with the grocery store about 15 mins walk away, bus from right out the front door and a park/playground/water play area right across the road. That said, as we are here during the week, school work is the priority but Alyssa did get a few opportunities at the park.

After our stay in Kanata we hired a car for a weekend in the country in the small town of Renfrew. Now Renfrew isn't on most people's radar but it is actually the birthplace of the National Hockey League. Hard to imagine for a town of 8,000 people but I digress. We are actually visiting Renfrew to stay with new friends Bob and Shelia. We met Bob and his son Dharma when we were travelling in the RV through Colorado. I happened to notice the number plate on Dharma's car showed British Columbia and I asked a few questions about Canada in anticipation of our future journey North. Long story short, after a few suggestions from them both on the best locations in Canada, Bob requested we stay with them for a weekend as they are only located an hours drive from Ottawa. The irony of our stay though was we stayed in their RV for the 2 nights, so the visit was a little reminder of our larger RV trip. The good news for Alyssa was their 10 year old grand-daughter Gilian was staying for the week so Alyssa and Gilian played together the entire weekend. Alyssa has made so many new friends on this trip.

After a great weekend with Bob and Sheila, we decided to drive a more country route back to Ottawa. Our journey took us through White Lake and Almonte, a small town on the Mississippi River (not the famous one). Here I was amazed to discover that it is the hometown of Dr James Naismith, who you may recall from our Boston blog was the inventor of Basketball. Actually, Almonte is a wonderful little town with a great atmosphere and laid back feel. A good couple of hours was enjoyed exploring the galleries, boutiques and antique shops.

Naismith

Naismith

Anyways, we arrive back in Ottawa and are staying in an apartment on the Northern side of the Ottawa River, Gatineau in fact, which is actually in the province of Quebec where you guessed it, they predominately speak French. What are the chances of that. Now here's the thing. Whilst we were staying in Montreal we often saw TV ads about visiting Outaouais, which is the French prenounciation of Ottawa...'Only a 2 hour drive from Montreal' they kept saying. Turns out the marketing was to only visit the Northern side of the river and not Ottawa itself. You see, we have never really stayed in a location that is separated by 2 cities, little alone 2 provinces and especially considering the 2 provinces are so different. Its kind of like alternate worlds. The good news is the apartment, although being across the river, is only a 15 minute walk to Downtown Ottawa so the need for public transport was redundant.

Being the Capital city you would expect Ottawa to have wonderful sites and plenty of history. This is certainly the case. The Parliament building is high on the bank of the river and overlooking Gatineau. It is located right near the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, a building that looks like a castle directly from a Disney movie and the 2 are separated by the Rideau Canal, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and in Winter, when frozen, becomes the worlds longest ice skating rink. This 175 year old, 202 km long system connects Kingston with Ottawa through 47 locks.

Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal


Rideau Canal2

Rideau Canal2

Gatineau (North side of the river) is home to the Canadian Museum of History and after getting a tip from Bob to visit after 4pm on a Thursday when entry is free, we ambled the 5 minutes from our apartment to visit. The Grand Hall of the museum is the architectural focal point and house the world's larges indoor collection of totem poles. The First Peoples of the Northwest Coast is an exhibition that shows traditional houses, contemporary and historical works of art, ceremonial clothing and also includes recreated archaeological digs that were undertaken between 1966 and 1978. The children's museum is a world of fun and discovery with activities designed to excite their interest in the world around them as they are presented with Passports on entry and have to collect stamps as they travel through the International Village.

Totum poles

Totum poles


Museum

Museum


Childrens museum

Childrens museum



Parliament Hill, overlooking the Ottawa River is where the Parliament building is located. The main building, known as the Peace Tower is the highest structure in the city and during summer the Northern Lights show is projected onto the Parliament building and is presented in both English and French. We caught the 30 minute show on our last night in Ottawa and it is a sight to see. Hopefully the couple of photos that follow, including a short video gives you an idea of how magnificent the production is.

Parliament hill

Parliament hill


Parliament building

Parliament building


Parliament building2

Parliament building2

Next stop ...... Toronto.

Posted by V3USA 17:13 Comments (0)

Montreal

July 1st to 21st

We arrived on a Wednesday, settled in and then spent Thursday planning our 3 week visit around the multitude of festivals and Alyssa’s school holidays. On Friday we visited Old Montreal. Old Montreal is a must for all visitors to Montreal with historic architecture, old port animation, cafes everywhere, good food and a nice compact place with great atmosphere. Old Montreal is similar to Old Town Quebec…like being in Europe and once again the most prominent language being French. In fact, we have found ourselves picking up various French words simply so we can get through our stay. And again we have found ourselves in a predominantly French speaking suburb. Interesting when you have to go shopping, let me tell you!

We visited the Old Port whilst in Montreal. The old port offers a nice walk around the waterfront and if you are in luck, there will be something going on at one of the piers - perhaps a Poutinefest like we managed to stumble upon. Now Poutine is not just Poutine (a dish of French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy originating in Quebec and possibly the cause of many a hardened artery). And before you ask…..yes! we did give it a go. If I can eat guinea pig in Peru, it is only fair I try the Poutine in Montreal, Quebec. However, most of the cafes/restaurants have been re-creating the Quebec culinary staple with the person seeking variety in mind. No longer is poutine just fries, gravy and cheese curd (as if this is not enough to give you a heart attack) because now you can get a variety of toppings including sausage, bacon, onion, turkey, mince, jalapenos and much more. I can categorically say – NEVER again.

20150709 Montreal (32)

20150709 Montreal (32)



While we were in Montreal, we just happened to arrive during the final few days of the largest Jazz Festival in the world. With a who's who of artists, the 33rd Edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal was a fantastic way to spend 2 afternoons in the city where we listened to several free Jazz bands and got to witness a dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment. One of our favorites was West Trainz, a fusion of Retro-futuristic multimedia in a show the band ‘takes on the road’ on an old Mad-Max like train.

20150709 Montreal (36)

20150709 Montreal (36)



Always seeking to just happen upon something a little out of the ordinary, we decided to venture to something known as the Tam Tam on our first Sunday in Montreal. Every Sunday Montreal has a free unofficial festival in a park at the base of Mount Royal. There are artisans who sell their products (including drums etc) and across the whole park you can see several groups playing musical instruments. We also saw Frisbee, slack lining, a pet ferret, hacky sack games, skipping, hula hooping, juggling, a Buddhist playing a drum, sword (with shield) play fighting/acting, inflatable bumper balls, peeps walking around with beers and we smelt Marijuana whilst walking through the park. All in all a happy time was had by all and it appears they have this fun every Sunday. Albeit for the olfactory bit, it reminded us of Alex Salvador’s Full Moon Drum Circle held at the Gregory Street Amphitheatre in Townsville every month.

On Wednesday 8 July we went to an area of Montreal known as Mile End. Here we simply wandered and enjoyed the neighborhood filled with great coffee shops as part of a student neighborhood. Mile End is a quaint spot in the city where you can see the old world architecture, some hippie shops and some great art places and enjoy the "montreal bagel". The two main players in the 'Who has the better Bagel' game are St. Viateur (1957) and Fairmont Bagel (1950) - we chose St. Viateur. The great debate is whether the New York bagel is better or worse than Montreal’s bagel. For now, I think we are sitting on the fence because in all honesty, they are both very different and both very yummy!

20150709 Montreal (83)

20150709 Montreal (83)



After wandering around Mile End for an hour or so, I decided we had sufficient energy to walk to the top of Mount Royal. Mount Royal is a large hill or small mountain in the city of Montreal and has a nice view of the Downtown area. Elevation is not too high, but it has plenty of walking/jogging trails and a refreshing view of the city from the Chateau. We could have opted for the gentle gradual path with lots of switchbacks, or straight up the middle with a shortcut. We chose to do a bit of both. At the end we had the option of 2.3km up the gradual path or 257 steps straight up. We chose the steps. The stairs are quite steep and there are a lot of them but the view of the city when you get there is worth the climb! On the way back down we walked through McGill University back down into the city. All round we walked almost 19km today.

20150709 Montreal (86)

20150709 Montreal (86)



On Friday we took the Montreal Metro to the Old Port again. We decided to do Voiles en Voiles (sail sails). This is an aerial adventure course ranging from 1 to 10 meters high between two 18th century Pirate Ships. There are 7 aerial courses where you are attached to a zip line and have to traverse your way around various routes ranging from a simple ladder or plank to free swinging logs and cargo nets. I managed to last 1 course only before being overcome by my fear of heights (or was it a fear of falling???). Alyssa and Nick stayed the full 2 hours and I think managed to cross all but 2 of the really high courses and the zip line. We then continued to walk around Old Town and got down to one of the 4 man-made beaches in Montreal. The latest addition to Montreal's handful of beaches is the Montreal Clock Tower Beach, a place where locals and visitors can wet themselves by the misting stations and then lounge in the sun or under a parasol in the comfort of a long chair. They even have a bar at the end of the pier/beach.

20150710 Montreal (21)

20150710 Montreal (21)

On Saturday we decided to something a little more low key and rented a car for a little road trip. We didn’t get out of the Avis office until an hour after planned and then the traffic north was at a snail’s pace. We didn’t quite make it as far north as we wanted, but ended up having lunch at 12:30pm (they offered us both the breakfast and lunch menu) at Resto Du Coin. We opted for the breakfast menu and after we ate we strolled down the main street of historic Ste Jerome. With a little time left before we had to head home, we jumped back in the car and drove further north and stumbled across an artisans market in Ste Adele. It was a great day for a road trip. When we dropped the car back in Downtown Montreal, we then ambled along Rue Sainte Catherine because they had blocked the entire street for yet another festival/celebration … la Sainte-Catherine celebre! That night we stayed up late to partake in the L'International des Feux Loto-Québec 2015 (Montréal International Fireworks Competition). On Saturday night it was Italy’s turn to impress and we got to see it all from our own private Terrace. The fireworks displays are on Saturday and Wednesday nights over a period of 3 weeks with 6 countries competing. During summer, Montreal is all about the celebrations that’s for sure!

fireworks

fireworks

fireworks from terrace

fireworks from terrace



Our last Saturday in Montreal we decide to take Alyssa to see a movie at the Montreal Forum. The Montreal Forum was an indoor arena called "the most storied building in hockey history" by Sporting News, it was the home of the National Hockey League's Montreal Maroons from 1924 to 1938 and the Montreal Canadiens from 1926 to 1996. The Forum has been refurbished into a cineplex with more than 20 cinemas.

20150718 Montreal (16)

20150718 Montreal (16)



After that we decided to get lost in the Montreal Underground City. Montreal's Underground City (officially RÉSO) is the set of interconnected complexes (both above and below ground) in and around Downtown Montreal. It is also known as the indoor city and is the largest underground complex in the world. It is very confusing but we managed to traverse our way through a series of underground malls. We stumbled around several ‘tunnels’ that connect several commercial buildings downtown. It's kind of a maze under there and we only managed to walk 6 1/2km of the 32km before heading home on the Subway for the evening. Once we got back to our suburb though we opted again to wander a different route and came across a little street with a variety of outdoor games for kids to participate in such as hopscotch, snake and ladders and the bean bag toss. Pretty cool find!

20150718 Montreal (1)

20150718 Montreal (1)

20150718 Montreal (9)

20150718 Montreal (9)



On our final Sunday in Montreal we walked to the Olympic Stadium to go to the ‘free’ Jackalope Action Sports Festival. Fun for the whole family this weekend with urban and action sports including rock climbing, slack lining, wakeskating, skate boarding and Montreal’s answer to the mechanical bull ride – the mechanical surf board. There were bars set up in 3 different locations, pop up shops and food trucks and free samples of coke, cliff bars, ice blocks and protein snacks (salami sticks for yuppies). Turns out is has been on for the last 5 years and Canadian, American, Brazilian, French, Moroccan, and Japanese athletes come to Montréal to compete in skateboard, climbing, wakeskate, freestyle, motocross, fixed gear, slackline, and highline events for prize money as high as $10,000. If only I didn’t have a fear of heights (or is it falling!). Montreal sure knows how to party in summer.

20150719 Montreal (24)

20150719 Montreal (24)

Posted by V3USA 14:19 Comments (0)

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