One last night in New England, one last chance to experience something Vermont. We had packed up and were ready to leave in the morning but I had read about a local bygone era variety store and talked John into coming with. Stuffed full of an interesting mixture of everything imaginable, we arrived shortly before closing time. Still able to take a quick peek inside, I took pictures after doors closed.
Montreal Canada is our next destination and I am one ecstatic camper! With its overpowering scenic beauty, abundance of wildlife, magnificent historic buildings and statues, delightful food and a seemingly endless amount of spectacular basilica’s, shrines and temples, there is never enough time to explore it all no matter how often we visit. It is also a premium exercise opportunity.
On this entrance, our Canadian arrival was without incident. John thought it best to ship all our liquor to our daughter in Texas, allowing us to cross the border with the allotted four bottles of wine. The one bottle of liquor I use for cooking was forgotten until we had crossed and settled in Montreal. Not even the slightest hint of guilt did I feel about not paying duty on the forgotten bottle. The Canadian border crossing got every penny it was going to get from us on our last entrance.
The roadsides were still awash with fall colors as we stopped for a KatieBug potty break.
For the next few nights, we would stay at Amerique Montreal Camping. Tucked behind the main road, it was homey and housed mostly seasonal full-timers. When I opened the door for John to register and stepped outside in the tepid sunshine, hundreds of miniscule orange with black polka-dot lady bugs attached themselves to the warmth of our windshield and flew about my head.
I watched as they buzzed about in the sunshine. A dainty little lady bug landed on my arm AND BIT ME! If I had known those little winged devil insects bit, I never would have held them so tenderly as a child. The war was on! Keeping them out of the motor home became top priority. We parked, set up camp and I hunted down every one of those dreadful little bitters and tossed them out the front door. Had they not been a beneficial crop insect, they would have been smashed flat instead of being tossed out. Sun setting, it was time to relax for the night.
Online, I booked us a tour and organ concert, the last of the season, for the Basilique Notre-Dame De Montreal’s Organ Music Tour. After settling in at the RV park, it was our first outing for the next afternoon.
A short drive to, and walk from a downtown city parking spot, we set our direction for Place d’Armes, the square (and statue) in front of the Basilique.
The square is is small and overflowing with parental units deep in conversation, small children expending great deals of energy, elders seated and joyfully watching the children and tour guides revealing bits of random knowledge mixed with humor to the eager tourists. Our tour would begin from the steps across the square.
We wandered around the square before crossing over and peering inside the church just before our tour time had arrived.
The back lot concert tour was full, consisting of a mass of foreigners speaking dozens of languages, all trying to converse at the same time. All ages, all eagerly awaiting the experience. The attendees climbed a few flights of stairs and sat in front of an expansion of organ pipes stretching from one side of the church to the other. Seating was on risers with the organ perched closely within our line of site. The organ pipes framed a huge stunning stained glass window.
After a short introduction, the booming chords to classical, vintage musical and religious selections were heard and felt by all. Loud but enjoyable, we were allowed to walk up and view the massive organ and peer out across the church.
After the concert, we descended the stairs and sat quietly in pews, relaxing and taking in the unforgettably splendid detail that surrounded us.
The closer you walked towards the alter, the more magnificent the details.
Exiting the church we began our exploration of the area. Strolling along the cobblestones, we stopped for a lite snack at Pizzeria Jacques Cartier in Place Jacques Cartier. The food was honest as was the price. Street performers kept us entertained and people watching was most excellent. From our table, City Hall was the backdrop for the performers.
The street is closed to traffic, stretches from city hall at one end, to the waterfront at the other. Cobbled and slanted downhill towards the waterfront, it is a beautiful stroll beside well preserved historic buildings.
The square also assumes the responsibility of an historic ambassador, demonstrating to tourists, the finer points of how to lovingly keep a public square vibrant, spotlessly clean, safe and fun.
Adjacent is the Rue St-Paul shopping area. An array of beautiful wares, clothing, jewelry, a few hokey items intermixed with Canadian oddities and delicacies. Artistic expression rose from numerous points along the street.
Statues abound in Canada and my favorite is the three women, Les Chuchoteuses, “The Gossipers”, on rue Saint-Paul.
The sun was gentle as were the breezes and we savored the scent of salty sea air while walking through the district. Home, dinner, pug time and bedtime.
Remembering how much fun we had visiting Canada’s open air markets in years past, we woke early the next morning and revisited our favorite. Jean-Talon Market is on flat ground, mostly protected from rain by overhead tarps and offers premium strolling through fresh produce, meats, fish, plants, baked goods, art and a few five-and-dime store offerings.
I passed up all the tempting fried foods and cream filled desserts but the sweets from one of the multi-national stands, a coconut and date ball of natural goodness, looked too enticing to pass up so I took a chance.
It was indeed yummy. The tarps repelled the rain that followed us throughout our two hour stroll and calm breezes kept us comfortable. An excellent morning venture.
Each time we enter a new city, it is important to pay attention to the laws. In Canada, not only are laws different but you must also decipher the language and its meaning. While I stood under cover, John tried several times to find a person who could explain the parking meter operation in English. Later that day, when we returned, I noticed the directions were in French and English. Paying attention to details is a must. Oh well, off to find lunch.
In each Canadian city visited, we search TripAdvisor for the best restaurant to enjoy Poutine, a dish of crispy potato fries, creamy cheese curds and flavorful hot gravy covering all. Addictively delicious! In Le Plateau Mont-Royal Montreal, MaammBolduc Café was one of the top picks so we left the Market and drove to this little hole in the wall diner.
Eclectic décor, quirky but comfy, we were invited in and ordered via pointing to our choice from a large and varied binder style menu. John in broken French, our waiter in broken English, our order came out exact, hot and delicious.
With our tummies gently stuffed, we wandered through the neighborhoods admiring street after street of fascinating condo’s before driving back to LilyPad and packing up for travel.
Bright and early next morning, we would depart for Camping Transit near Quebec City.
A crisp and clear morning, the fall colors were still gorgeous and holding their radiance adjacent the rivers and continuing along our route. I enjoyed the view while traveling over the Saint Laurence Seaway but John’s eyes were glued to the road.
The weather was pleasant for our entire trip.
Even the weeds were colorful.
Arriving early afternoon, we set up camp, stretched our legs with KatieBug and relaxed for the remainder of the day. It was the end of the season so campers were scarce but fall colors were plentiful and extraordinarily vivid.
First thing in the morning we would take the ferry from Levis to Old Quebec. Nothing could spoil my excitement about visiting Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, not even power spike issues with our RV’s power pole. Experience, over the past five years, has taught us we can do without 50 amp for the short term. Should anything short out, our generator would automatically kick on.
Next morning the ferry ride across the St. Laurence River was brilliant with color, smooth sailing and unhurried.
When we reached shore, I fell in love all over again. How could you not?
We stepped off the boat and into Quartier Petit Champlain, wandering through the cobblestoned streets, past century old stone buildings, enticing our imaginations to drift back though time.
Not an ancient treat but Canadian, Queues de Castor or Beaver Tail, was our breakfast. Consisting of a stretched piece of fried dough covered with a Baskin Robbins array of flavor choices, the treat originated in Canada in 1978. We washed it all down with coffee and began our self guided walking tour of the city.
Strolling at an easy balancing pace for me, through Basse-Ville, a.k.a. Lower Town, weaving our way down narrow streets, poking our heads into cozy shops as the day began. Each boutique was packed with unique wares, neatly stacked from the floors to the ceilings against 17th century stone walls.
The cluster of art galleries are accented by one of the eye deceiving murals painted by talented artists on building exteriors in Old Quebec. Life like scenes from Quebec’s past decorate the blank space where buildings have been removed, the scenes paying homage to the history of Quebec City. Pausing to view La Fresque des Québécois with a guided group of tourists, we learned it was completed in 1999, was painted on the wall of Soumande House on Notre-Dame Street and the gigantic mural encompasses 420 square meters. Fresque des Quebecois recounts the city’s story, with its unique architecture and larger-than-life personalities. Windows in the buildings show 15 historic figures along with Quebec’s writers and artists.
Throughout the town, musicians settled in shaded spaces vying for the attention of locals and tourists. We heard a variety of tunes, Bach, rock, polka etc., played on an assortment of foreign and domestic instruments.
Notre-Dame-des-Victories (1823) is a small Roman Catholic Church and the oldest stone church in North America. It was disappointing that the church was unavailable as we had only heard snippets of the tour speech in previous years.
Place Royale is a step back in time to the early days of New France. The square is a picturesque pedestrian street filled with shops and eateries.
We stopped at a small café tucked into one corner of the square with its tables edging onto the busy flow. Relaxing with a cup of coffee and a sweet treat, we watched tourists meander in and out of the shops.
Streets of the city are somewhat difficult to walk over for the balance challenged, so when we finished our coffee, I held tight to John, not letting my tipsiness stop our explorations. We continued downward to the waterfront where dozens of antique shops faced the St. Lawrence River.
In one window I spotted an adorable antique glass tea set my mother, an avid antique collector, would have loved. The box even bore her name, “Jeanette”.
The street corners in the art gallery section of Old Quebec City reminded me of The Woodlands, art pieces on nearly every corner, although some selections were a little quirky.
Taking a sharp left at the last corner before the underground tunnel, we hiked up several streets to Haute-Ville, a.k.a. Upper Town, choosing to walk the rise and save riding the Funiculaire du Vieux Québec for the trip back to Lower Town.
From the top, the view was refreshing and expansive.
Fort-Lewis cannons, dating back to 1813, faced the river’s mouth and lined the walkways. Benches, spaced over the next few blocks, provided tourists with scenic resting places.
Pausing just short of the statue of St. Francis-Xavier de Montmorency-Laval (1623-1708) we sat to read about the first Roman Catholic bishop of Quebec, appointed when he was 36 years old by Pope Alexander VII. A member of the Montmorency family, he was one of the most influential men of his day. He was a candidate for canonization by the Catholic Church after his death and was beatified in 1980 by Pope John Paul II in 2014, Pope Francis made him a saint by “equipollent canonization”.
It was obvious, looking skyward in Montmorency Park, Fall was alive and well in Old Quebec.
Resting under the trees is a statue of Guillaume Couillard (1591-1663) who migrated from France to New France and was one of the first to settle permanently in the colony. He married and had 10 children. Because of the numerous descendants of these children, Couillard appears in the genealogy of almost all the old French-Canadian families. Philippe Couillard, the 31st and current Premier of Quebec, shares the same surname.
Continuing our walk, we came upon Cathedral of Holy Trinity in Upper Town. A charming, simple yet elegant church, the first Anglican church built outside England.
We paused to rest and savor the tranquility. Inside, interesting wood work details, stained glass and charming old world touches. An impressive group of organ pipes decorated the back of the church.
Historic information was detailed on plaques inside the church along with showcases of silver artifacts presented to the church by King George III. A nice plus was the docent at the door who was helpful, friendly and spoke excellent English.
Permanently tucked between two centuries old stone walls is Rue de Tresor, an open air art market. Each time here, we encounter the works of a variety of talented artists. One particularly interesting artist paints various scenes on a copper sheet. She paints summer, fall and winter side by side. Her works are lovely and remarkably unique.
Nearing the front of the magnificent Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac Hotel and after the sidewalk ends, we strolled onto Terrasse Dufferin, the expansive wooden walkway that faces the Saint Laurence River.
Having done the hotel tour a few years past, we chose to sit on a bench and gaze out at the sweeping views of the river and enjoy the refreshing breezes on this lovely mild day.
Beginning to tire from a full day on our feet, we took the funicular down to lower town. The electric funicular cableway opened in 1879 & rises 195 ft. between the upper & lower towns. It is a fun ride up or down and surely beats using the Escalier Casse-Cou, a.k.a. Breakneck Steps, an alternative way to traverse between the two towns.
The funicular empties onto one of the oldest streets in North America, Quartier Petit Champlain. Continued walking led us to the site of the second mural we viewed, Fresque du Petit Champlain. The mural depicts milestones in the history of Cap-Blanc, Quebec City’s working class water front neighborhood. The scene begins at the start of New France until the present day.
Nearby is my favorite restaurant for rabbit. It resides snuggly pressed between a centuries old neighbor’s stone wall on one side and a gardened gathering and resting area abutting its open air seating on the other. If you love rabbit, dining at La Lapin Sauté is a must.
This visit, John had rabbit poutine and I had the rabbit sample platter. The rabbit is tender and moist, perfectly flavored and has delighted our taste buds enough times to bring repeat dining over the years.
Hubby’s choice had plenty of meat and cheese and the fries were crisp and hot. My plate had an assortment of rabbit hash, maple fried egg, fruit compote, warm brie, maple bacon, maple sausage, maple ham, fruit and a portion of grilled ciabatta. Each visit we try another menu item and we have yet to eat something that isn’t exceptional.
Inside it is warm, cozy and inviting. Disney’s style of authentic décor depicts a 17th century café. The staff and servers are friendly, speak English and provide excellent service. Although the line was long, we were seated quickly, our order placed with a minimal wait time even with seating inside and out completely filled. We left full, happy and warmed to the core. The entire café area was decorated for fall, inside and out. We sat letting our food digest without the waiter hovering for our check.
The streets were filled with sightseers and a group stopped in front of one shop to gawk. Surprised it was still here, the name stopped me in my tracks nearly 7 years ago and yes, you read the name correctly.
Pausing momentarily at the garden area next door to listen to tranquil tunes, we made our way back towards the docks.
A must-stop for me, the chocolate shop to savor a whiff of fragrant cocoa offerings.
Another pause to watch Maple Jack-Whack taffy being made on an open-air ice trough. Sampling a few maple goodies and purchasing several for Christmas, our backpack was becoming weighted down with stocking stuffers. Continuing, the streets were beginning to empty of tourists.
Slowly heading towards the dock and boarding the boat at the Quebec City Ferry Terminal, we turned to bid Adieu, until we meet again Old Quebec.
Evening was quickly approaching. Tomorrow would be a grocery shopping, laundry and rest-up day. Normal everyday life was pulling us back to reality. Our next destination, Ottawa, Canada
Up early, John drove an easy pace for the next four hours, pulling into Recreationland in Cumberland, Ontario early afternoon. Nothing fancy, our first site was short and small so we moved out from under the trees to an open area. I am continually puzzled as to the reason why RV park employees misunderstand our size. We tell them “the size of a Greyhound Bus, forty-five feet long, the same size as a tour bus” but no matter, they try to squeeze us into that which we do not fit, forcing us to move. Thankfully, at the end of the season, sites are plentiful. A few friendly stragglers from the full-time seasonal group still remained and John chatted with them as we settled in for the night. Pug time, dinner and bedtime.
Extended morning walk for KatieBug, breakfast in town at The SconeWitch then onward to Parliament Hill for a tour of the Parliament Building and an elevator ride to the top of Peace Tower.
Obtaining tickets across the street, we took the free vouchers and walked towards the Parliament Building. Standing in front of the Parliament steps, I spotted a diminutive Asian gentleman beaming widely as he held two hand painted signs. He nodded to us as we approached and gestured for us to stop and chat. Friendly and eager to speak with an American, well-informed and knowledgeable about our elections, he and I struck up a conversation while John perused the area.
A 30 year legal Chinese immigrant, he questioned Americans who claimed they would leave the USA for Canada if that “certain someone” won. He thought they should first speak with Canada’s legal Chinese immigrants whom are, to this day, being persecuted. Illegal immigrants are not tolerated in Canada, period. I normally do not talk politics on my blog but I must agree with his logic for the protest. If you are a legal immigrant, your government should not treat you unjustly. His cause, the unfair treatment of legal Chinese immigrants, had merit.
Joining back up with John, we entered the line for the Parliament building tour. Waiting in line, we had time to chat and read the corner stone dedication.
Our persons and belongings searched, we were gathered together in the hall for the tour. Each hall was impressive but the massive stone structure and stained glass windows kept the building in pale light, even with the many giant ornate lighting fixtures.
Walking quietly from one area to the next, my genuine love of grey, white and black décor was fulfilled by the hallways gothic architecture, so incredibly awe-inspiring.
Our guide gave us a brief history of the commons chamber, the Senate, based on the British House of Lords, with an overview of Canadian government history.
The entrance and door to the Library of Parliament was intricately carved and a precursor for the incredible wood carved details inside.
A towering domed ceiling, walls loaded with ornately carved bookshelves and a magnificent timepiece enveloped in wood carvings kept everyone pivoting for Kodak moments.
Ending the tour on the second floor, we were steps away from the elevator that would whisk us up to the top of The Tower of Victory and Peace, or Peace Tower. The glass fronted elevator would pass and reveal the interworking’s of the clock through a window in the elevator shaft. The focal bell and clock tower is a Canadian icon and has been pictured on the Canadian twenty dollar bill.
At the top, the outlook in all directions was magnificent.
The small chapel near the elevator is a memorial chamber and dedicated to those who fought in Europe in the First World War (1914 through 1918).
Back down to the ground floor, we walked the Parliament grounds, stopping at the statues dedicated to women’s right to vote in Canada. Women’s right to vote banners hung proudly on light posts.
To the right of Peace Tower stands Eastern Departmental Building, or East Block. Built in Victorian high gothic style, it is one of three buildings on Parliament Hill containing offices for parliamentarians with some preserved pre-Confederation spaces. Along with the Library of Parliament, it is one of only two buildings on the hill to survive mostly intact since originally constructed. It was unavailable to visitors this day.
To the left stands the gothic revival office building, the Confederation Building. There was a fire drill in progress when we walked near so we continued around the entire building taking in the structure and surrounding scenic views.
Across the street, the Wellington Building House of Commons. Probably no relation to the family where we had recently workamped in Lee New Hampshire.
In 2017, Canadian’s celebrate 150 years as a nation. This year they are busily cleaning, repairing, painting and power washing everything “Parliament” in preparation for next year’s celebration.
Stone was being cleaned in sections and you could see the “before and after”.
Even stained glass windows were being detailed.
I very much appreciated the Iron gates with elaborate detailing. Strength and beauty.
It was an enjoyable day for strolling but when we reached the Supreme Court of Canada, our tummies started grumbling so we reversed our direction and pointed ourselves towards the market for lunch.
Our path to the Market took us through Confederation Park and Majors Hill Park before emptying onto main pedestrian friendly streets that surround Byward Market.
Love their solution for keeping skate boarders from damaging cement. Securing metal maple leaves all over the city’s cement planter edges is completely appropriate.
A mixture of foreign and domestic, the merchandise, produce, bakery items, flowers and dining offerings fit every budget and cater to an assortment of nationalities.
I opted for a cheese croissant from the bakery, spotting a poster of the outgoing President staring blatantly back at me from the bakery wall. I had no interest in Obama cookies.
John tried the Shawarma Poutine from the Mediterranean fast food shop.
Back to the car, driving toward LilyPad but not quite out of the city, we stopped to feed my passion, visiting places of worship.
We entered Notre Dame and quietly sat down, taking in all the details. A gracefully beautiful rest stop.
This church too was built with unbelievable attention to detail.
Across the street, the National Gallery of Canada with a spine tingling gigantic iron spider out front, her sack of eggs tucked under her belly. The Gallery would have to wait until next visit, as would the Canadian Mint Building next door.
At the end of our exhilarating full day of exploring, we walked back to our parking spot, eased achingly into the car and drove back to LilyPad to put our feet up and relax for the balance of the evening.
One full day of rest and recuperation was due us before we readied ourselves for the next leg of our trip back to Texas.
The usual early rise and on the road by 8 am. As we left Ottawa, our journey down the rolling hills of Hwy 417 was lined with perfectly structured blue spruce pines.
We passed miles of sun tanned fields of hay. The further south we traveled, the more leaf colors began to change.
Only one time in over six decades of life, did I reach a point of saturation from fall colors. When John and I first married and moved to Massachusetts, we took a Fall Colors Trip that exceeded 12 hours. Excessive amounts of red, orange and yellows caused my eye-brain connection to overload and my head throbbed at our journey’s end. Too much of a good thing then, was a welcome treat for me now.
Our overnight stop was North Bay Ontario at the North Bay Elks Lodge.
We settled and searched for a grocer and found the biggest candy store I have ever seen!
That night we visited with the folks at the Elks Lodge and were given the friendliest welcome from everyone at the bar. After a few beers, we returned to our lovely shaded and quiet spot near the Lodge and slept peacefully throughout the night.
Bette Midler’s, From A Distance, our get-up-and-get-moving music for this early rise, was John’s “surprise me” choice. We were on our way to Sault St. Marie, Ontario for an complimentary overnight in Lowes parking lot.
Stopping for all three of us to stretch, we checked out the Indian wares at Agawa Crafts.
A detour along the way added a few miles to our next stop.
Sun and gentle rains followed us all the way to Lowes until we parked and set up camp. The weather clearing enabled us to give KatieBug an extended walk and us to have an enjoyable dining out experience without getting drenched, some local TV then sleep.
Cold and rainy, it’s going to be another Bailey’s Irish cream and coffee morning, at least for me. Rolling along narrow roads, other day of slow going. Our overnight would be at Ney’s Lunch and Campground in Marathon. They were technically closed for the season but we were told we could pick any site and plug into the electricity if we decided to stay.
Usually pausing at towns with quirky names that catch our attention, Wawa sounded intriguing but storms were in the area so we continued toward our next overnight, continually cautious of wildlife crossing the roads. We have heard stories about the damage a moose will do to a vehicle.
The rain temporarily ceased when we arrived at another one of those fascinating little s#!t holes John occasionally plans for our overnights. He dubs them, “OK for an overnight”. Absolutely not the words I use.
The other campgrounds in the area have been closed for weeks, Ney’s Lunch and Campground was barren and deserted, hardly something one would consider inviting. A more accurate description would have been, “for desperate campers only”. And of course there are the “it’s always somethings” to add to the experience. We parked and walked down the narrow rutted road leading us to small muddy sites with hairpin turns for exits. Both agreeing the spaces were treacherous for us to attempt, John set up camp in their parking lot.
The highway-hugging, no electricity parking lot, still cost us $15.00. When John turned to straighten out the car for our early morning exit, the car dolly jammed, forcing John to struggle with the jack to lift up the car, take it off the dolly and straighten out the turn plate. The task gave John something to do until darkness fell.
Somehow, John has managed to select our past several overnights in locations that are within a few yards of a rail road. Loud train whistles every few hours makes sleep near impossible even with a generous helping of Bailey’s Irish Cream in my nighttime cocoa.
Next morning our journey started in a torrential downpour, drenching LilyPad and cautioning us to slow to a creep. Facing the possibility of 20 tons of recreational vehicle and towed accidently hydroplaning off the narrow curvy road was terrifying. After several miles we spotted a turn-out to stop and let the rains subside.
Falls multi-colors were fading, partially from age, partially from the constant downpours, the wind snapping leaves off their branches and twirling them to the ground. Simon and Garfunkel’s song plays in an unending loop through my mind…”And the leaves that are green turn to brown; And they whither with the wind; And they crumble in your hand”.
Traveling under cloud cover with intermittent spatters of rain, we wound our way over the road, following Lake Superior’s edge.
Up and down over the road, popping in and out of the mist and fog.
We passed streams and rivers flowing to the Lake.
Occasionally the weather cleared enough to make the journey less depressing and us more appreciative of the scenic beauty.
Carefully watching for wildlife, none was spotted. In fact, we had passed surprisingly few travelers our entire drive while skirting the Lake. The extended hours of travel and unending days on the road made us both weary and produced flashbacks of road trips with our kids anxiously asking “are we there yet?”. John drove at a reduced speed as we did have the entire day to reach our next destination, crossing back into the United States at Minnesota for the coming evening’s overnight.