East Coast Road Trip
Two years ago my brother was accepted into a master’s program in Newfoundland and a couple of months later he and his wife were expecting their first child. Luckily, he was able to defer for a year and in the summer of 2017 they travelled across Canada to their new home in St. John’s with little baby Owen. Craig and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to check out the East Coast and were the first to tell them we'd be coming for a visit. A colleague of ours suggested travelling through the USA, as she had road tripped through the Northeastern States stating how beautiful they were beautiful, PLUS that way we wouldn’t be travelling the same road twice. I have to admit Craig planned the WHOLE trip. He loves looking at maps, figuring out distances, planning the driving route (mainly scenic as opposed to interstates and highways), as well as fun activities to do along the way like hikes, wine tasting and historical sites. Obviously, it was a lot of work and he did a phenomenal job (thanks again Bear, you’re the best!!)
Both teachers, we were fortunate that we could take half our summer holiday (1 month) for the road trip, which allowed for us to travel through 4 states; New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine and 5 provinces; New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ontario. Being active and getting into the great outdoors are two of my favourite things so Craig carefully planned the trip around that and on the days we didn’t I was usually able to get in a run or workout.
We booked our flights through New Leaf a low cost Canadian airline, now called Flair Air. Two return flights from Abbotsford to Hamilton (Niagara Falls) with baggage fees, taxes etc. for $1000!! The crew was AMAZING!! Don’t listen to the media (mainly West Jet and Air Canada PR saying that the airline sucks-it’s NOT true!) It was a really quick 2.5 hours to Winnipeg, Alberta where some passengers got off and others got on, then another 2 hours to Hamilton, Ontario. Because the flight was low cost they only have snacks for purchase so we grabbed some food in Abbotsford but could have easily picked up something in Winnipeg as we were able to get off the plane at the airport. When we arrived in Hamilton it was dark and when we went outside to get in our economy car from National Car Rental it was not only covered in dents and scratches but it was filthy inside and out. Although tired we went back in and told the person behind the desk about it and he immediately upgraded us to a Nissan Rouge at no extra cost!! I wish I got his name because I would totally have contacted National about his awesome customer service!
After the 1st day with the Rouge we realized we never could have done the trip in the Micra and vowed to always get the larger SUV whenever we road trip again (even if it costs a little more it was DEFINITELY worth it). That night we drove from Hamilton Airport to Niagara Falls which was about an hour. We stayed at a really crappy motel (Craig swears the pictures online made it seem nicer but he loves dingy motels so I’m not convinced he didn’t love it). At night the falls are lit up so we ditched the bags and drove to check it out. The falls were massive (not that I didn’t think they would be) and it was super cool to see them at night. What wasn’t cool was the crazy carnival town that has been developed just behind the falls.
It was super trashy and actually took away from the natural beauty of the place. The only redeeming thing was the big boulevard and gardens beside the falls that you can walk down which hides most of it.
Day 2: The next morning we got up really early and did the most touristy thing, we took the Hornblower (the Canadian version of Maid in the Mist) boat right into the falls. If you ever plan on doing the tour, here are my suggestions: -Get there early (1st ship leaves at 8:00am) it gets super busy -Stand outside. You will get absolutely soaked even in the sweet plastic poncho they provide but it’s part of the fun. The water is actually quite warm because its source is a lake not a glacier. -Wear sunglasses. They kind of act as a barrier to the intense flow of water. I had mine on but Craig didn’t and he basically kept his eyes shut the entire time.
Afterwards we walked the promenade to the top of horseshoe falls.
Later we crossed the border to New York State and went to Target to pick up a cooler, Trader Joes for delicious and cheap food, and Dick’s for a couple of camping foams for on top of our camping cots. While in Trader Joes there was a crazy rain storm that we luckily didn’t get trapped in but when leaving Dick’s we got soaked dashing for the car (just the first of many rain storm experiences to follow). From there we started our drive through the state to Sylvan Beach. On the way we stopped by a visitor centre at a motorway service station (we don’t have them on the west coast but they have them in England. They’re great. It’s a rest area with free WIFI, washrooms and usually a fast food restaurants, coffee shop, corner store, and gas station). The man at the visitor information suggested getting off interstate 490 and taking the more scenic I 90 which, luckily for me, went through wine country! We took the opportunity to check out two wineries.
One on Seneca Lake called Ravines Wine Cellars and the other on Cayuga Lake called Three Brothers Wineries & Estate. The 1st winery was very picturesque and would be a great wedding venue but the 2nd was super cool. It was actually three wineries, and a brewery (as well as a coffee shop) all on one property. For $15 you could go to all of them and have 5 tastings at each.
It was a super fun experience but by the time we got to the brewery I just sampled their sodas because we still had a 3-hour drive to get to our campsite. While at the wineries and for the drive to the campsite the weather was stunning but as soon as we set up the tent the skies opened and the rain pounded down. This video is from the first night in our tent!
Day 3: The rain didn’t stop until the early morning. This was the first time using our new MEC camper 3 tent and it was awesome at keeping us dry, not only our first night, but for many nights throughout our trip!!
Such a great little tent! I totally recommend it for anyone in the market for a small, light, compact, and rainproof tent. It wasn’t even that expensive (comparatively).
After going for a run through the campsite we packed up and headed off to the Adirondack Mountains.
Along the way we stopped by a little market in Tupper Lake and Craig sampled one of the best IPA’s he has ever tasted from a brewery called Raquette River Brewing (he never was able to find it in a store and I think he is still cursing).
That night we arrived at the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mnt KOA. It was GIANT!! They actually had people working there that escorted us to our campsite on ATV.
The original plan was to go for a hike but because we arrived later than planned we drove to Lake Placid to check it out. It was super busy obviously a major destination for many but for us we didn’t really see what all the fuss was about. Instead of getting a drink in town we instead chose to just go back to the campsite with a couple beers for Craig and some delicious alcoholic Rootbeer for me.
Day 4: Today we planned to do a hike in the Adirondacks and it took a while to pick the perfect one. If we were staying longer we definitely would have taken the opportunity to do more but because we only had one full day we wanted to make sure to do a good one. We ended up deciding on the Great Falls Hike which was spectacular. It was about 4 hours round trip and took us through the forest and along the river to a beautiful waterfall called Rainbow Falls.
Day 5: I thought it would be fun to do the little foot trail walk around the KOA before leaving because on the camp map it looked relatively small and we had a bit of time to kill, but the little walk was actually a pretty decent hike! It was especially pretty along the Ausable River. The walk-in campsites were right along the river and are undoubtedly the best sites in the campground.
Ausable Chasm wasn’t too far away and when we got there it was still early and not very busy. It was cool but was quite commercialized and actually kind of expensive at around $17.00 each. The best part was the Inner Sanctum Trail which took us right into the canyon along the river.
After the Chasm we headed to Burlington, Vermont. Instead of taking the ferry from New Hampshire to Vermont we drove up and around through the Grand Isles.
Burlington was cool, although the weather wasn’t. As soon as we got the tent set up it down-poured. We ended up sitting in the car for a bit bleeding the WIFI.
It was pretty early (around 3:00pm) and we didn’t want to end up just sitting around the campground (which was actually really nice and would have been cool to hangout in b/c it was right on the lake) so I searched online for a yoga studio and registered for a flow class at Sangha Studios a non-profit, donations based studio with the mission "to build an empowered community through the shared practice of yoga". The class was packed. After Craig and I went for dinner at American Flatbread.
Not sure what happened but the pizza came out with a slice missing (maybe burned in the wood fire oven) but they made a second pizza for us and put it in a to-go box! For two people on a tight budget it was a real treat to have dinner and lunch for the next day AND the best part was it was the best pizza we have ever had! After (still raining) we checked out the new film An Inconvenient Truth: The Sequel which is the follow up to Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth 10 years ago. It was interesting, surprising, sad, and exciting all at the same time.
The rain never let up and once again the tent excelled at keeping us dry. SIDE NOTE: we camped on dirt and the rain was so intense that the mud splashed 5 inches up the base of the tent-it was a real mess but lucky for us it wasn’t raining in the morning and we were able to dry it out.
Day 6: After doing a workout and drying out the tent we left Burlington and took a scenic drive, outfitted with covered bridges, through Vermont to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. It was a long day and although beautiful it was a lot of driving. When we got to the campground we set up camp and then headed down to the river to make dinner. This was my least favourite camping night it was super cold and the campground only had outhouses. I was definitely ready to leave the next day and move on.
Day 7: From the White Mountains we drove to Portland, Maine. Craig’s original route didn’t include Portland but the Lonely Planet really talked it up so we ended up going there which added about 3 hours to the drive.
It was nice and the vegan doughnut from Holy Doughnut was UNREAL but I don’t think it was worth the added time on our trip. By the time we got to Acadia we were both beat. Craig had a hard time with the shitty Maine drivers. He swears they are worst that BC drivers and that’s saying something! We quickly set up camp and went to the sister KOA down the road to catch the sunset and dip our toes in the Atlantic for the 1st time. Both were lovely.
Day 8: I think this is one of my favourite days of the whole trip. Acadia National Park was breathtaking and the weather was amazing.
Again, like the Adirondacks, we didn’t have a lot of time there (just the day) and we needed to decide what to do and not do in the park. After visiting the information centre and buying our ticket, which was $25.00 for a week, we set off on the one-way park loop drive.
Our first stop was at Sand Beach. It was 8:30am and the parking lot was pretty much full. We ended up getting the 2nd to last parking spot. As we walked down the stairs to the beach we could tell why it was so popular. It was a beautiful sandy beach in a picturesque cove with steep cliffs coming out of the ocean. We walked across the sand and up the far sides cliffs onto the Great Head Loop. The view was stunning and the 2km hike was great. From the cliffs we could see a lady swimming and I thought it could have been my mom!
After we continued along the loop road past Otter Cliffs to Jordan Pond to do another hike. Again, parking was crazy but this time we didn’t luck out and it took us a while to find a spot. We ended up parking at the upper lot and hiked down to the pond. Jordan Pond is actually a really big water reservoir which was about a 4km hike around. Although we did it in really good time we got a bit lost and ended up having to backtrack a bit to get on the right path to the car. We were both ready to continue on to Cadillac Mountain which is the largest peak in Acadia. We had our lunch up there and took a look around before getting on the road to head back to Canada.
That night we camped just outside the city of St. John New Brunswick which was not like regular camping where you hear things like crickets at night instead the sound of car on the highway and trucks using their engine brakes kept me awake from 2:15am making it the by far the worst sleep on the trip. The only good thing was that we were getting up at 6:00am anyways to get the 1st ferry from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia.
Day 9: Getting the early ferry was good because after the three hour ferry ride the drive to Halifax was another four hours. When we got to the campsite Craig and I both hit a wall. Craig was so tired from all the driving and we couldn’t imagine setting up the tent to then immediately heading into Halifax. Instead we took a couple of hours just to chill out and regroup before taking the ferry from Dartmouth to Halifax leaving the tent for later.
The ferry was a great suggestion from the camp host. It was cheap, quick, and made us feel like locals commuting to the city. It was roasting hot when we got there and because the Citadel closed at 5:00pm we had to power up the big hill. Being Canada’s 150th birthday many historic sites across Canada have free admission and this was one of those places. It was super cool with people dressed up in traditional clothes and talked about the history of Canada. *Note: I would like to acknowledge that Canada is much older than 150 as this land was inhabited LONG before Europeans arrived. Inside the Citadel was an exhibit about the 1st World War and Canada's role in it. The exhibit included replica trenches built to exemplify what it was like for soldiers during the war. Fabulously done!
Both Craig and I were glad we went but were ready to leave by the time in closed. After leaving we headed to a park to sit down and decide on a place to eat. The Lonely Planet didn’t have many vegetarian suggestions and scrolling the internet was not resulting in any restaurants we liked. Craig asked a passerby if they were local to get a suggestion of a place to eat that was good (but not touristy) and she suggested a place called 2 Doors Down. It was UNREAL!!
To start we had Spicy Cauliflower with a Blue Cheese Wiz (think hot wings but instead of chicken they used cauliflower) and fish tacos. For our mains, we shared a Mushroom Veggie Burger with fries and Veggie Thai Red Curry. The flavours in every dish were astounding just thinking about it now has me salivating.
Afterwards we walked along the waterfront. Halifax is really pedestrian friendly with lots of things to do in the city that are cool and fun.There were tons of people out enjoying the city and it was hard to leave but it was getting late so we caught the ferry back to our campsite.
Our favourite thing that night, that had us laughing so hard, were the people next to us nailing in the tent. Craig made a comment about looking forward to the gale force winds that were coming and I lost it. About a minute later (still hammering) they broke the hammer and I literally fell on the ground laughing. I hope they didn’t think we were laughing at them in a malicious way, it was just so hilarious. I think he was just trying to impress her with his sweet camping skills.
Day 10: I got up early and did a run through the trails behind the campsite. The paths along the lakes were really nice and no one was on them except for me. While I showered and got ready Craig took down the tent and made breakfast (have I mentioned he’s the best husband ever!). From there we drove directly to Louisbourg which was a bit of a long one but the fort was spectacular.
Again, like the Citadel, entry was free and had people dressed in character sharing information about the fortress.
As we were leaving we could tell the weather was shifting and by the time we got to Sydney to pick up a couple groceries it was a freezing torrential downpour. I just couldn’t imagine setting up the tent in the rain and then sitting around the campsite. We headed to the local Tim Horton’s and used the WIFI to find a place to stay for the night. I found a place on Airbnb that looked ok and was really cheap. When we got there it was a total DIVE!! The place was super run down and there were fruit flies throughout the whole house, no toilet paper, and the kitchen cupboards were lined with junk mail flyers. The place had a totally creepy vibe too.
The ONLY good thing was it was out of the rain and the bed was comfier than the cots and my hips got a rest for the night. Day 11: We couldn’t have got out of that place quicker!! Lucky for us we had an early ferry to catch and we headed to North Sydney to take the Marine Atlantic to Newfoundland.
The crossing was long. We boarded at 9:00 am and got off at about 6:00 pm. The best part of the journey was coming into port at Port Aux Basques. Everyone was out on the deck staring at Newfoundland. It's what I think the early settlers coming from Europe would have done when they first laid eyes on the land.
After disembarking we drove about 30km to Grand Codroy Campground. It was the first place we built a fire. The wood was wet and it took a lot of work but we were able to roast our veggie dogs over the flames.
This senior Robin hung out with us at our campsite for a while. He was so old and scruffy and just too cute we couldn't help but take his picture. Long gone were the days of his beautiful round red chest but to us he was as handsome as ever.
Day 12: Our travel plans had changed due to the weather forecast. Originally we had planned on going to Gros Morne before visiting Lucas but it was supposed to be raining (would definitely suck to hike in the rain for 2 days) so with a couple of travel/camping adjustments we hit the road from the Codroy valley straight to St. John’s.
The drive was LONG (837 km to be exact) but Craig was a great driver and it only took us a mere 10 hours to get there (with rest stops). We arrived in St. John’s around 7:00pm and were greeted with delicious veggie burgers and Bud Light Radlers YUM!! Unfortunately, Owen was already asleep but I went to bed excited to see him early the next morning.
Day 13: I could hear Owen when I woke up so I quickly got out of bed to see him. He greeted me with the biggest smile and my heart melted. It’s hard enough with Lucas and Kelsey living on Vancouver Island but for a year they were across the whole of Canada. I had to soak up every moment of Owen time I had because I won’t be seeing him again until next spring (at the earliest). Lucas, Kelsey, Owen and I (Owen in the stroller, obviously) went for a run along the river in the morning which was really nice. Later Lucas had a lab meeting for his masters so Kelsey took us for a tour around Memorial University’s campus. It was really nice to get to know the area and school where they will be for the next year.
Afterwards Craig and I walked into St. John’s from their place (about 30 minutes) and checked out the jellybean row houses. They were so cool and colourful. We learned that originally the fisherman used the same paint for their boats on their houses and that is why they are so bright. Newfoundlanders, aka “Newfies” are known to be friendly but when Craig asked a local woman about her houses we were both pleasantly surprised when she invited us in to have a look. It was gorgeous!!
After taking what seemed like 100 pictures and petting the cutest cat, Lucas and Kelsey picked us up and we went for a hike that they had done the week before. It wasn’t very long but it went out onto and down one of the bluffs. Being afraid of heights it definitely tested my courage (the wind obviously didn’t help)! From where we stopped we could see humpback whales, a little preview of what was to come the following day.
Before heading back to their place we checkout out Signal Hill which overlooks St. John’s harbour. That night Craig and I made dinner for Lucas and Kelsey.
Day 14: Newfoundland, particularly the Avalon peninsula, is known for puffins. There is an ecological reserve in Witless Bay that protects the breeding grounds of puffins as well as other seabirds. As a fun little activity Craig booked a tour for us to see the puffins and whales.
It was so much fun! The company Craig booked the tour with was called Gatherall’s. There were 2 big tour groups to choose from but Gatherall’s had a great review on Trip Advisor, was about $30 cheaper, told fun/interesting stories about the bay & the animals, and sung songs (by far my favourite part). You could tell they enjoyed their jobs.
We saw SOOOO many whales!! We saw Minki, Wright, and Humpback whales. Granted, they said it was the best year for whales in about 5 years, we must have seen about 30! It was non-stop breaching, tail flapping, fin slapping, and feeding.
There wasn’t a bad spot on the boat to see them!! The puffins were just hanging around the island in the water catching fish and bobbing around. Their take off from the water was hilarious. The tour guides referred to them as RCF, really crappy fliers, which was 100% the truth!! They kind of waddled along the top of the water wings flapping until they either gave up and just bobbed on the top of the water or finally got air lifted after which many almost flew into each other.
On the island, there was 1000’s...200,000 to be exact.
Puffins return to the same place they were born after 3 years at sea alone. They find their same mate and make their nests laying their one egg in the hillside. After breeding they again returned to the open ocean solo.
After the tour we met up with Lucas, Kelsey and Owen and hiked part of the East Coast Trail from Bay Bulls to Witless bay which was about 7 km.
The views were spectacular and we got to see more whales from the cliffs. Owen may not have had the best hike as Lucas had forgot the soother in the truck☹
Day 15: Our last full day in St. John’s was grey and drizzly so we decided to check out the museums and art galleries at Room. It was interesting learning about the local history and to see the art installations from a couple of famous local artists. After we went to Qudi Vidi, a small fishing village just outside St. John’s which hosted the local brewery, Qudi Vidi Brewing Co. We arrived in time for the 3:00pm beer tasting and had a great time sampling the beers and learning about the making of the beer as well as interesting stories about the different brews and their marketing, in particular the story about Dick the professor.
If you are ever in St. John’s the brewery is definitely worth a visit even if it’s just to pick up a 6 pack of their Iceberg beer made from 25,000 icebergs and bottled in beautiful blue glass.
Day 16: The hardest day of the trip not because of the miles we had to drive but of the little person I had to say goodbye to.
Since Owen was born I’ve been able to see him about every 6 weeks but leaving St. John’s meant I wouldn’t see him again for at least a year. I held it together as we said our goodbyes but about 10 minutes down the road I absolutely lost it. If anyone knows how hard it is to say goodbye to family it’s Craig. His entire family lives in England and he only gets to see them once every year or so for a week or two. He was so understanding and held me as I sobbed uncontrollably. Honestly I don’t know how I was going to cope not seeing him for so long!! The remainder of the day was spent driving from St. John’s to Gros Morne National Park in the pouring rain. We were both worried about getting to Gros Morne and the weather being crappy but when we took the turn off the T.C.H the rain let up and it ended up being a really nice evening. Once we arrived at the park we stopped at the visitor centre to get a map. Craig and I were so stiff from sitting for so long we probably looked like a couple of old fogeys getting out of the car.
We camped at Berry Hill Campground which was situated half way through the park, which was good because the park's about 120 km in length and the places we wanted to check out were throughout, not just in one area.
It was getting late when we arrived so we quickly set up the tent and did the Berry Hill lookout and Berry Hill pond hikes before it got too dark. It felt so good to get to move our legs!
Day 17: While we were visiting Kelsey in St. John’s she mentioned doing the boat tour in West Brook Pond. Had she not mentioned doing it we probably wouldn’t have because we were been pretty tight with our money and it was a cost we hadn’t factored in. With her recommendation we booked the 10:00am sailing and wow what an amazing experience, so glad we did it. After driving to the parking lot there's a 3-km hike into the “pond” (actually an ancient Fjord now cut off from the ocean and a lake with what they said is one of the freshest water sources in the world). The hike in was beautiful but we kind of powered through it because we had to be there for the sailing. The scenery was amazing, almost looked fake, like a movie set backdrop.
Kelsey mentioned getting a seat on the top deck but when we arrived at the dock there was already a big line up. We ended up standing at the front of the boat which was fine. I don’t even know how to describe what we saw vividly enough to portray it’s incredibleness so I’ll just insert pictures☺
As someone with a geography degree I was literally in heaven!!! Once we got to the end of the lake (about an hour) we dropped off a couple hikers that were doing the 3-5 day hike from there up and over to Gros Morne Mountain. Maybe someday we’ll do that, I think it would be a super cool experience. Once back at the dock we took a bit more time walking the trail out. No moose to our dismay! From there we stopped to have lunch at the beach just 5 minutes south down the road. It was marked as the site of the SS Ethie ship wreck.
The ship had grounded on the shore during a storm years ago and what was left of the ship was littered along the shore. The rust of the hull had turned all the rocks along the edge of the water a red colour. After lunch we did the long drive to the other end of the park to the Tablelands. The Tablelands are a geologically significant area because it is the only place that the earth’s mantle is exposed on land not deep in the ocean (again geography nerd fully geeking out!!)
Originally we planned on do the Green Gardens hike as well but it was getting late and we were ready to get back to the campsite to make dinner and relax before going to watch the sunset at Lobster Cove, which was incredible btw!! Again, here are pictures to prove it!!
Day 18- The weather changed overnight (as forecasted) and we opted out of doing part of the Gros Morne hike as it would have been pretty lame in the rain. It did make for a long day though because we had about six hours to kill, outside of the 5-hour drive, before getting the night ferry back over to Nova Scotia. We spent a lot of time in Tim Hortons bleeding wifi and when we finally boarded the Marine Atlantic we were ready to get to bed.
*If you ever plan on taking the ferry to Newfoundland GET the cabin if you are crossing at night. It did cost about $140 but the people who didn’t looked soooo tired getting off whereas Craig and I were refreshed and ready to get back on the road to do the Cabot Trail.
Day 19-Driving off the ferry into the bright sunshine and blue sky was a pleasant change from the extreme rain and fog we had left behind.
We pulled off the road to have breakfast not far from the ferry dock on what we thought was a nice quiet spot right by a lake but it was beside the highway so the sound of trucks driving by at 100km an hour wasn’t very pleasing to say the least. We hit the road again pretty quickly as we knew it would be a full day of driving the Cabot Trail and what a beautiful drive it was! The road winds along the cliffs and through the forest of Cape Breton’s National Park.
We stopped for two hikes along the way. The 1st pretty much right after the entrance to the park called Middle Head and the other, the most popular hike, Skyline trail which starts in the forest and ends up, similar to the hike we did with Lucas and Kelsey, along the bluffs but this one was much higher up and had a stairs and platforms for people to check out the view from.
Again, lots of signs posted about moose but no sightings for us☹ We did get to see a family of grouse and they were pretty cute and entertaining to watch so the made up for it!
Between hikes we got out of the car for a bit and hung out at a deserted beach which had beautiful white sand. It was really windy so we didn’t stay too long just long enough for Craig to capture a couple of great shots of the Plover’s hanging out along the shore.
After leaving the park we had a bit of a drive to get to Antigonish and by the time we got there I was ready to get out of the car!!!! Craig’s colleague Dan grew up there and talked about it not being that great but it was a really cute little town and we were glad we stayed and got to see it.
Day 20- Had a good workout at the campsite while Craig checked out Antigonish then we were on the road by 11:00am en route to Fredericton New Brunswick. Craig ensured me it was the last day of long driving but about half way through the day it came out that tomorrow would also be long although he tried to soften the blow by adding in that there were wineries along the way. The drive from Antiginish to PEI was about three hours.
The Confederation Bridge is just shy of 10km long and connects the island of PEI to New Brunswick. We didn’t stay too long but we got the impression that PEI had a laid-back vibe. We had lunch at Chelton Beach Provincial Park where we recharged our batteries whilst enjoying the sun then got back in that car driving for three more hours to our final camping destination just outside Fredericton.
We arrived a little later than planned and after dinner we drove into the city to check it out. Although most things were closed the city seemed pretty funky and if we had more time we would have liked to have spent time there in the day. Day 21- Fredericton to Quebec City was a bit of a trek so as a way to break up the drive we stopped by a winery to try some ice wine (something Quebec is known for).
It was really good but we settled on a bottle of red. From the winery we made our way across the river to the city centre where we had booked an Airbnb. It was in a phenomenon location!! We both fell in love with the city as soon as we got there. It was very European, reminded us a lot of France. We ditched our stuff and headed out to explore the city.
In the twilight we checked out Hotel Jardin du Gouverneur and the surrounding downtown area. Our Airbnb hosts neighbour Paul told us there was going to be fireworks that night and we could see people walking down to the ports to watch them but instead we headed to the busiest pub by our place called Le Project, a microbrew house. We ordered in French and got a Poutine, yes Craig had cheese!!
Day 22-In the morning I headed out for a run but the streets were a bit like spaghetti on a plate so it was disrupted with frequent google map checks.
After Craig and I headed out to explore the city on foot checking out Old Quebec City and the historic site Plains of Abraham where the English defeated the French. The weather was great! For lunch we hit up the local version of Whole Foods and got lots of delicious little things to nibble on. That night we headed the opposite way out of our place to a little restaurant called La Cuisine, with delicious food and drinks.
Day 23-Had a great workout running through the Plains of Abraham in the morning. On the way out of town Craig hit up a bakery for some road fuel and we said au revoir to Quebec City and bonjour to Montreal. It was a bit crazy getting to our hotel which was a solid 2-star hotel but it was right in the heart of the city. Just like Quebec City, we got in and ditched the bags and headed out to explore. We quickly noticed the vibrancy of the city and its full embracement of the Arts. A block away from us was an outdoor fashion show, DJ’s playing in the street, performers, with music coming out of every bar and store.
We decided to explore our local area that night which was the Downtown and Latin Quarter area. EVERYONE was out it seemed like. Definitely a big eating out and social drinking vibe. We obviously joined in!! Starting with a drink in the Quartier Latin and then music and veggie pizza at a a live music club.
That night, after we went back to our suite, the party raged on into the wee hours of the night at the clubs along St Catherine Street and I was really happy to have brought my earplugs!!
Day 24- Did a great run in the AM!! From our place I went straight down St. Laurent to the waterfront where the ports for the cruise ships and for people with their own boats (very similar to Coal Harbour in Vancouver) are. There were tons of other people biking and running just like in Vancouver. It was a beautiful sunny morning and I was loving it.
As I ran Craig checked out Chinatown and took pictures of the area.
That day we decided to explore more of the city on foot so we walked out to Little Italy and Miles End. We happened to stumble on a street market and there was a shoe sale so OBVIOUSLY I had to buy a couple pairs. I think Craig looked forward to the challenge of packing them in our already full suitcases (JK)!! Part of me wishes we hadn’t gone to the market at the beginning of the day because for the rest of it we had to carry them around. Craig was such a good husband by helping carry the heavier bag. We stopped for veggie tacos at Fortune they were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Thanks Lonely Planet for the recommendation! *Side note we used the Lonely Planet for most of the restaurant recommendations and it was on point with knowing where to go, we were never disappointed.
After we checked out what MTL.com recommended as the BEST bagels in Montreal. They were alright, I think all the bagels in Montreal were probably just as good. Apparently, there’s competitions not only between different Montreal bakeries but between Montréal and New York for having the world’s best bagels.
Montréal’s secret is boiling them in honey so they are a sweeter. The Olive Oil and Oregano bagel was the best one we had by far.
For dinner we went to Lola Rosa a vegan restaurant. It was absolutely packed-yayay! After, because maybe we felt we hadn’t walked enough through the day, we ended up going the long way home. By accident and we walked down a street that had people dancing on it and the street was bustling but after a little while we realized we were off track and had to do a big circle back to our place. I checked out the Apple health app when we got home, we had walked over 20km that day, no wonder our legs were tired!!!! Needless to say we slept like logs through the night. zzzzzz
Day 25-Before we started our road trip I sent Craig random FB posts/articles about the places we were going when they came up on my feed. One of them was a post about the free things happening in Montreal throughout the summer. One of the free things was the city BIXI bikes. On Sundays they're free, so instead of walking all over Montreal we opted to ride the bikes. OMG soooo freak'n fun and easy to do. We just downloaded the app and followed the map of the bike stations to know where to get them and where to drop them off. The city also invested in developing bike lanes and there were lots of people using the BIXI bikes so we just followed suit!
First stop was the bottom on Mont Royal. Getting there was fast and easy but climbing the 515 stairs was a bit of different story. At the top of the stairs was a stunning view of the city.
The plaza was full of people (some must have gotten up there either by car or metro because they were not all sweaty like Craig and I). There was a piano and many people played it. From little kids to adults with varying talents, all were enjoyable. Craig and I danced a little to someone playing Coldplay. After going back to the hotel to relax for a bit we later took the bikes back into Little Italy to dinner at Aux Vivre another great vegan restaurant that was packed!!
Day 26- We said goodbye to our 2nd Quebec city and headed to my mom’s friend Andre’s house which was a little out of the way on our route to Toronto but it was really nice to see him and have lunch.
When planning our route to Toronto we didn’t anticipate going into Ottawa but the GPS had a different plan and sent us straight through it. Although it added time onto our journey we took it as a sign, parked the car, and checked out Parliament Hill. It was cool to see the parliament buildings, they were beautiful.
We arrived in Toronto later than expected but we took the opportunity to walk up Yonge Street. It looked a lot like Time Square in New York, lots of lights, music, and performers.
Day 27- After going for a run along the waterfront in Toronto we packed up and headed to my sister in laws brothers place for a night. It was in Leslieville a suburb of Toronto. Like Montreal we rented city bikes to explore the Distillery District and the Market.
The Distillery district was pretty cool with lots of specialty shops and restaurants.
The market was ok. We didn’t stay long because we thought it was a not so great Granville Island or Pike Market. On our route back to Leslieville we got turned around and ended up riding our bikes down the expressway!! Craig was really good but I was totally stressing. My biking outfit (flip flops and shorts) was not cutting it through the 80km stream of cars commuting outside of the city. To my surprise even with the detour we still made it back to the bike docking station within the 30 minute time frame!! That night Brendan and his girlfriend took us out for a nice dinner at a new restaurant.
Day 28-Our final day we spent checking out the beach. It was super nice, I'd say very similar to Kitsilano in Vancouver. Although it was a lake it seemed like the ocean because it was giant. Getting out of Toronto to get to Hamilton was a bit of a nightmare for me. I wanted to get some food from a place called Yam Chops a plant based butcher but it caused us to drive straight through Toronto during rush hour, yikes!!
The drive was supposed to take about an hour but it ended up taking us about 2.5 hours to get to the Super 8 right by Hamilton Airport. Lucky we were flying out the next morning. We took our time repacking the bags and getting rid of things we didn’t have room for (sorry Nutella and Baileys).
Day 29-Our flight was at 8:00am but we had to drop the rental car off before. It was hard saying goodbye to our Nissan Rogue.
It was such a good car!!! It safely and comfortably took us 8000km on our journey around the East Coast. Once again Flair Airlines was amazing. What an incredible road trip we got to see so many places. Glad we took the opportunity to visit a new part of Canada on its 150th birthday. Until next time...