This post was written less than three days before my trip back in 2010. Six weeks earlier I had no idea I’d head to Canada for my summer vacation, but then it just happened. I was almost 100 % sure that I’ll stay in Europe for that summer, but somehow a cheap Air Canada ticket appeared out of nowhere and after some discussion at Tripadvisor, it was decided that two weeks are not too little to see some of the highlights of Québec and Ontario.
As usually my trip started at Frankfurt International Airport from where I took the plane to Ottawa. There I had three hours to clear immigration, before taking a short two hour flight to Québec. I was flying home with the same connection, but my trip ended in Toronto.
Trip details and preview
Québec (500,000 inhabitants, 4 nights)
Québec is the capital the French speaking province Québec. Widely regarded as one of the most scenic and historical cities in America, it became a must visit stop for me when I saw photos of Château Frontenac and the mighty Saint Lawrence River. Québec has the only still existing city walls north of Mexico. I got lucky and will even live inside those city walls. There should be plenty to see and experience in Oldtown, but if weather is fine I also plan a day of hiking in the Laurentides mountains and cruise on the river, maybe to Isle of Orleans or even further towards Tadoussac. It will be interesting to see how my school French is faring in Québec, but I hope locals show mercy. I’m also curious to try the local speciality poutine.
Montréal (1,600,000 inhabitants, 4 nights)
Montréal is Canadas second largest city and will certainly give me some unusual “lost in big city” feeling. Nevertheless the visit here could be the cultural highlight of my trip. The Montréal Jazz Festival (also other music is performed) is one of the best worldwide and I’ll also be in town for Canadas National Day. A visit to Olympic Stadium (home my former favourite baseball team – the Expos) and Botanical Garden (how does it compare to the one in Singapore) are also on the agenda. I really hope for good weather so I could just sit on the slopes of “Mont Royal” and chill. Even if New England is just around the corner, it’s unlikely I’ll enter the US.
Ottawa (800,000 inhabitants, 3 nights)
Some people say Canada’s capital is a bit boring, but after what I read I decided it’s well worth spending three nights here. Ottawa offers some of Canada’s best museums and of course all the Parliament related attractions. Its location near Gatineau is quite special. Speaking of Gatineau – for me as geographer a visit to Gatineau Park is a must. Especially as I’m not making it to Algonquin Regional Park. If I get bored, which I doubt, I can make a day trip to Montebello village and to the famous Mont Tremblant a couple of hours East of Ottawa.
Kingston (120,000 inhabitants, 1 night)
Kingston is the gateway to the 1000 Islands region, where Saint Lawrence River and Lake Ontario meet. Of course a boat cruise on the lake is on the agenda, but if weather is bad the city offers also a fair deal of historical options. Depending on time I also might do a guided night walk through Old town. I doubt Kingston native Bryan Adams and my idol from teenage days will be met, but who knows. One night in Kingston is not much, but I might also need some rest before heading to Toronto the day after. Also here the US are close, but I won’t cross the border.
Toronto (2,500,000, 3 nights)
Americas most thrilling and interesting city? It has to be seen, but what I read sounds exciting. I’m especially curious about the ethnic neighbourhoods and who knows maybe I even find some Mee Goreng there? Of course my main focus here is baseball and got three tickets for Blue Jays games. I have been dreaming on watching a real baseball game since that sports ruined my ligaments more than a decade ago. From Toronto I’ll also make a day trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake and of course to Niagara Falls. Even if my time there is quite limited I hope to visit Toronto Islands as well.
Note: This post was written before my trip to Canada and Québec back in 2010 and just slightly modified for my new blog.