Archive for September 2017

Final Day and Recap of Vacation – Canada

My final day of vacation was spent traveling, not as bad coming home as going.  I did get up and ‘at em’ at 3:45 (couldn’t sleep), and was at the airport by 5:30 am.  The security and check-points leaving Canada were a lot more secure and thorough than when I left St Louis.  Shortly after 9/11 the security at St Louis rivaled that coming out of Canada, but this trip I basically walked through with no issues.  In Montreal they herded us through like cattle, asked and re-asked what I had been doing and what had been purchased while I was gone.  I went through three “check points” each one verifying that I was who I was and had a ticket.  It took about 45 minutes, and there was not that large of a crowd, I would hate to see it on a busy day.

The one time I missed my large digital SLR camera this trip was when I was flying into LaGuardia airport in New York and was able to see the bay and Lady Liberty holding the torch high, was not able to get a good shot with my new Sony quick shot camera I purchased.  I love Lady Liberty and all she stands for, I had the opportunity to explore her when I was about 7 years old when my family vacationed in New York (and visited my Uncle Alder and Aunt Becky).  We also had a blow out on the Brooklyn Bridge and a bomb threat at the play in Central Park (Much ado About Nothing), among some other teachable/learning situations…so that trip was very memorable.

Flying to St Louis we arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule, had a great tail wind coming form New York.  Called for my motel shuttle and went to get my car.  Was nice to be behind the wheel again.   Grabbed some lunch at St Louis Bubble Tea and headed home.  Of course I topped my day off with unpacking, doing laundry, and relaxing with my feline friends who were happy to see me (I guess, at least they didn’t bite me). <LOL>

Recap of Vacation:

If you like to travel, don’t think you can afford going across the seas to a foreign country, but want the feel and experience…I suggest Quebec City/Montreal Canada.  Quebec City over Montreal (Montreal has a TON of traffic — to many people, but neat non-the-less), but either will work.  To be immersed in a city that has a different language being spoken as the primary is an experience worth having.

I flew round trip for $269.00.  If you watch airline flights you can more than likely get a good deal.  If you have a large family you want to experience the whole thing with, you can drive.  Montreal is not far across the boarder, and Quebec City is just three hours further north.  Quebec City is approximately 20 hours from Missouri, easy accessible and there are a lot of things to see between here and there (the northern states are full of history and things to see — before they decide it all needs to be torn down too, like the southern statues).

I had a great time exploring the city, walking the cobblestone sidewalks and seeing the old city.  Some of it had been commercialized, but for the most part you could still feel the personality of the place.  I enjoyed getting to view old churches (some where better than others, because they too have been commercialized).  The food was amazing.

Things to keep in mind:

Travel when you can.  Make it happen.  Don’t wait till “tomorrow” because sometimes tomorrow never comes.

If you are in certain states, you will need to update your driver license, even to travel within the states.   Missouri License will not be accepted after January 2018 and you will need to have a second, acceptable, form of identification.  Please be vigilant in what is needed, it is sometimes complicated to travel without draw backs…not make it harder than it should be.

I love to travel, and will continue to do it as much as possible.  It keeps one mind open and allows for new experiences that would otherwise be lost.

Until later…ERM

Montreal, Canada — Day Four Vacation, 2017

Today is my last day in Canada…I’m happy and sad.  I’ve totally enjoyed my time here, but I am ready to be home in my own bed and to see my cats.  I’m sure that they will voice their displeasure with me being gone all week when I return.  My mom and dad has been taking care of them for me this week, and keeping an eye on my house (THANK YOU mom and dad…for being willing to take care of my animals and allowing me to get out of dodge for awhile and explore the wide world outside of Ripley County).

Today we traveled the two and a-half hours to Montreal via car, much better than the bus ride to Quebec City on Tuesday.  We started the visit off with a stop at Mount Royal.  This is the highest point in Montreal, with a huge cross on top that was placed in 1643 , the initial cross was replaced in 1924 with an illuminated cross, and accepted as a park in 2014 with trails being added and it becoming more accessible to the public.  We walked a 3 1/2 mile trail to view the cross and to overlook the city.  Very neat getting to see it all from a birds eye view.

We left Mount Royal and headed down town for the opportunity to check out Maison Christian Faure pastry shop.  Doing what has become par for the course of eating dessert before dinner.  The desserts were beautiful to behold…and tasty.  We walked through the old town of Montreal.  After dessert we went to Suzette’s for dinner.  CREPES!  I asked for a coffee with a pretty top, I wanted hot chocolate, but he said the top would not be pretty so I opted for a latte. <lol…crazy I know>  Our waiter went to and told them that I wanted “something pretty”…they did not disappoint, my latte came out with a maple leaf and two hearts on top <happy>.  I again experienced eating my meal in a window seat over looking the street activity.  I have decided that that is what my life is made for, to be where I can eat in little cafe’s that overlook streets.  They make one feel cozy.  I had a lovely crepe, that was totally worth the walk.

We were walking along Rue Saint Paul, the oldest street in Montreal.  Part of it was cobblestone, and for pedestrians only.  It was a very neat area.  The whole water front was very neat.

The evening was topped off with as top at Wal-Mart, so I could pick me up some snacks.  I rather enjoy me some Canadian candy called coffee crisp and fuzzy peaches.  I sometimes am able to talk others who are traveling to Canada, and one person who has a connection to supplies of them to obtain coffee crisp for me.  But today I was able to purchase them myself, and they had a new flavor!  I was a little excited about it.

We arrived at the Crown Plaza to crash out for the night so I can start my journey home tomorrow, and they had wedding parties everywhere.  We stopped and peaked into the room for the wedding tomorrow, very beautiful.  We contemplated being wedding crashers, and even contemplated methods with the couple that we shared the elevator with on what would be the best method.  We decided that if we wore our pj’s they would undoubtedly know that we were the crashers. <haha>

It was a great day to top the week off with.  I have packed my bag to verify that I can carry all my goodies home…so far it works.  If not I am afraid that clothes will be left behind and not my cookies.

Until later….ERM.

Quebec City, Canada – Day Three Vacation 2017

Oy Vey!  Today I bummed around the house for a bit then headed out for a day in lower “Old City“.  The lower part of the old city is more tourist, though it does have several older buildings that are marked with placards that show the year the building was built.  A lot of rock structures, that have been turned into restaurants or souvenir shops.  There was a cruise ship that had docked that has A LOT of people milling around, but they cleared out after a short bit (they were called back to port) and it was just a basic number of people.

Prior to making it down town I stopped in St. Roch, the rehabilitated district of the city.  I perused the streets here and stopped in the Eglise Saint Roch church.  The care and work that went into constructing such a magnificent building amazes me.  The era that they were built, wooden scaffolding was used.  Being raised in a carpenter’s home, and building a house myself, I often look past the basic and absorb what is behind the actual building.  What it takes, how it was put together, and just the awe of the actual structure.  They had a pipe organ that was being played at the time of my stop in to view the church, it was interesting to hear the music being played, the natural acoustics of the building allowed the music to reverberate throughout the place.  Outside the church was a box set up with a refrigerator and cabinets that churches and other organizations put food in for the homeless people that live there in that district.

Hoped back on the bus and headed down to the lower district.  Did the whole tourist thing (snapped pictures, purchased a souvenir, and mingled in with the crowds).  I then took lunch at a quaint little cafe Casse Cou (which means ‘break neck’), with a window seat that overlooked the street.  I felt like I was further away, in a place that would have actually stamped my passport, and it was a relaxing lunch getting to watch the street traffic and enjoy my poutine.  Walked back through the Old town, contemplated walking up the steps to the upper level, and then headed back out to catch the bus back to the industrial neighborhood where I am currently staying.  My calves, heart, and fat self voted NO to walking up the steps. <hehe>

Side note:  It’s a small world.  As I was browsing in one of the shops, I met a couple (the DeRamus’).  They were off one of the cruise ships.  They currently pastor in Pennsylvania, but hale originally from Louisiana.  While they lived in Louisiana, they pastored at a church where two guys I grew up with (Chris and Bobby Turner) attended.  So two people that had connections to Doniphan, MO, ran into one another in a souvenir shop in Quebec City, Canada. <play Disney’s “It’s a Small World After All” music here>

The bus system.  For a girl that lives in a town with NO public transportation system at all.  That is trying to navigate in a city that all the signs are in French.  That the bus drivers speak ‘some’ English.  Who did not have a bus map available.  Today was an adventure.  The buses only stop at certain stops, and you have to catch the bus with the number (1, 800, 801, etc) that will take you to the next stop, to catch the bus that will actually go to where you want to go.  Then the bus stops themselves are little cubicles, with plexiglass walls that act as a magnifying glass to scorch the fair Irish skin of the foreigner in their midst.  I barely missed my #1 bus when I FINALLY found the bus stop (the guy at the museum said “See that light, go there and it’s there” (while pointing to the stop light across the road).  In reality, it was up two blocks and turn left, the stop I needed was across the street and half way down that block.  But I persevered, found what I needed, and got myself back where I belonged. <smile>  And, hey, now I can say I can navigate the public transportation system of Quebec City. <bleh>  Oh and by-the-way…definitely sit in a seat that is facing forward, or have your yoga core ready…you will be thrown out of your seat if you sit in the sideways seat and are not properly braced (just saying).

We headed out this evening to the neighborhood of Levis, to get ice cream, watch the sun set over the city, and then we grabbed dinner.  Very cool little neighborhood, great view of Quebec City from across the water, and great ice cream at Chocolats Favoris, the original location.  We did it a little backward and had dessert prior to dinner, but that’s how I roll.  I was a glutton (I do love my ice cream) and I had a dipped cone and some gelato.  I got the baby size in both (and didn’t completely finish the gelato).  Watching the sun set over the city, and the “old city” coming to life with lights was cool.  We also saw some kayakers in the river.  When we left the water front, we stopped in a Cosmo’s for dinner.  Very interesting, eclectic, restaurant.  Great food!

All, in all, it was another great day.  Full of soaking up the city and enjoying just being without a schedule or needing to be at work.  Tomorrow I head to Montreal.

Until Later…ERM

Quebec City, Canada – Day Two Vacation 2017

Merci!  I would like to think I learned how to say “thank you” but I believe that is what my feet are saying after walking six miles around town (just the ‘upper’ part) today.  When I say “town” I mean the “Old City” of Quebec.   It was an interesting, beautiful, day with a lot of wind, hills, steps, and scenery to soak in.

First, I want to say something I forgot to mention yesterday.  I renewed my passport in 2011, after having my first one filled up after taking trips to about seven different countries.  I had yet to get a stamp in my passport (due to being in nursing school and not traveling, then when I did start traveling again the trips were within the boarders of the US).  I was excited about “FINALLY” getting a stamp in my otherwise very empty passport when I crossed the boarder into Canada.  DID NOT HAPPEN!  I was so disappointed. First off, I did the boarder patrols job by feeding my claims paper into a computer and answering all the questions by pushing buttons; then I walked to a guard, handed him my passport and he said “hello” and checked my picture and let me go.  I wanted a stamp!  Oh well, just means I will have to go somewhere more foreign to get a stamp.

Also, I was welcomed to my week’s abode with some fluffy northern comfort Canadian socks.  They are supper fluffy and comfy.  Will definitely be a hit this winter relaxing around the house. (Thanks Mel!)

I started my morning off at Paillard, a coffee shop/bakery.  Grabbed a cappuccino and a sticky bun before hitting the sidewalks to see what I could uncover.  Then I walked around, found the Notre-Dam de Quebec Basilica Cathedral and stepped inside for a look around.  Very ornate, and commercialized…they had a souvenir shop in the back of the church.  It was very neat to look around in though.  After that we checked out the Chateau Frontenac, after walking up several flights of stairs and along the river walk promenade.  It was beautiful.  I stopped and assisted other tourist couples to get a picture together in front of either the Chateau Frontenac or with a view of the river and their cruise ship in the background. <hehe>  After leaving the water front I walked further inland to the Parliament building.  It was under construction, but the gardens were still assailable and very beautiful.

Then I was able to meet up with Mel and we grabbed some lunch at Spag&tini (Italian) before heading out of town to the water falls.  The Montmorency Falls were beautiful.  I chickened out and did not ride the cable car from the top to the bottom, so my pictures are all from top views of the falls…but great non-the-less.  <afraid of heights and things that move when suspended>.

The day was rounded off by some ice cream before heading back into the city for church service that is being held at Mel’s house.  I may or may not get much out of it since it will be in French.  <smile>

It is a beautiful city!  Have enjoyed my day immensely and look forward to day two exploring tomorrow…much better than ‘traveling’ all day.

Until later…

ERM

 

Quebec City, Canada – Day One Vacation 2017

Day one is here…finally vacation, time away to just be and explore.  I love traveling…but not so much the actual traveling part. Bleh!  Today was a day of travel that included delays, turbulence, two planes, and two different buses.  But I finally arrived to my destination, after a day that started at 0400.  Needless to say my bum was sore and I was tired.  BUT…I’m in CANADA!

I had delays out of St Louis, due to weather.  I was glad that my pilot is instrument trained because we flew out in a blanket of nice white dense fog this morning.  Then from Philly the captain tells us that they have “rerouted us due to weather, and I had to type the coordinates in before take off”.  It was reassuring that my pilot was depending on google maps to get us where we were going. LOL.  All in all, other than my mad dash out of terminal F to terminal A in Philly, and almost missing my flight due to an update on the American Airline App I downloaded, it was all good.  I did get 20 minutes of exercise in due to my sprint through the terminal though. :)

The language barrier is interesting to say the least.  There are some with ‘very’ heavy accents that make it difficult to understand, and I’m sure they wonder what spaceship beamed me into their world with my southern Missouri vernacular.  Needless to say the lady at the coffee shop did not know what powdered sugar was, though it was plainly sprinkled on the croissant that I wanted to purchase — apparently here it is confection sugar.

When in contact with my friend about my whereabouts, I told her I was in the middle of nowhere because I couldn’t read the signs.  I stated that I assumed I was on the correct bus, but “I could be on a bus of a traveling gypsy circus group” for all I knew.  They scanned my ticket said “merci” and let me board.  We realized I was on the correct bus, because I eventually arrived at my location.

All in all the majority of the people I have come into contact with are bilingual, which is helpful.  I am excited about getting to explore the city and spend some time here soaking up the culture.

Until later…

ERM