Sunday 2 September 2012

Nova Scotia maritimes

We flew to Halifax - thankfully not missing our flight this time, picked up our rental car and headed straight to Peggy's Cove - a small fishing village about 1/2 hour from Halifax. What a quaint place. Tiny houses all weather beaten from the cold Atlantic salt air and lobster traps in every yard. The boys loved walking along the rocks looking for crabs and other creatures. We all enjoyed some seafood for lunch, took a stroll to the lighthouse and then back in the car heading south. A travel brochure had advertised a place called Lunenberg so we thought we'd check it out. Thank goodness we did. So far one of my favourite places in all of Canada. Colorful old buildings, many lovingly restored all looking out on to a gorgeous harbor. We stayed the night at the Lennox Inn which is the oldest continuous running inn in all of Canada. Lunenberg is also famous for the ship The Bluenose. It appears on their dime (10 cent piece) but the ship now lies at the bottom if the ocean near Haiti. Some ship builders there are currently building The Bluenose 2.

Thursday 16 August 2012


After exploring 3 amazing cities in eastern Canada it's hard to believe that we could still find beauty in any others and Montreal was no exception. The old faithful hop on hop off bus tour proved again to be a winner! We certainly made the most of hopping in and off and managed to see all of the sites in one day. The churches here are gorgeous! The Notre Dame Basicilica was beautiful inside and out and I am so appreciative to be able to be inspired by a churches beauty. From the painted ceilings to the stained glass windows to the intricate carvings on the pews.
St Joseph's oratory was just as spectacular. Amazing views of the city from here. Saint Andre cannonised in 2010 is buried here and his heart is on display. The outside of the church is quite gothic but the inside is very modern.
A brief look around old Montreal - more French speaking attempts in cobble stone streets lined with artists, restaurants and cafes and gift shops.
A stroll along the old port and back on the bus.
After the tour a spot of shopping. There is a network of underground shops which is really cool as it goes for miles - could easily get lost.
In the evening Paddy led us to a fountain which we had heard about in the tour that shows water, fire and smoke at 9pm - the little turkey found it too. Blocks away but he remembered the turns that the bus took and hit us there.
The following morning we met up with an old student of Greg's - Rossco who is currently working as a green keeper at royal Montreal golf course. Great to chat to another friend from Dubbo and I think he was just as pleased to see us.
After a huge drive today we have arrived in Toronto for a sleepover to catch a plane to Halifax, Nova Scotia in the morning.

Quebec city

After a long drive from Ottawa we finally made it to Quebec city. Having only limited time there we decided to explore the Vieux Quebec ( old Quebec). What a great choice. The shuttle bus took us directly to the Frontenac Hotel - famous as it is one of the most photographed hotels in the world. Fairmont certainly has done its job well in maintaining these gorgeous hotels in Canada! We took a long walk up the governors terrace and after 310 steps saw amazing views of all of Quebec city. We then made our was to the centinal - a working fort built hundreds of years ago to protect Canada. We learnt a lot about the history of Canada and its relationship with France and Britain. Basically the French left their troops high and dry and the Brits took over. French people bring very proud and as a gesture of good will to the people who had made Quebec their home, the Brits allowed them to keep their language which is why French is still the first language learnt today. On that - sign posts, menus etc are all in French and my High school French came back after all these years so we were able to order and find our way around which was a bonus. In old Quebec we explored the city and it's fortifications. The kids did an archeological dig of the old forts and dug up some bottles, bits of plate and part of an old grenade. Lots of walking and hungry and tired we made our way to a local poutine place. The most delicious meal I think we've had in all of Canada and we told the owner so. Must try and make our Aussie friends some when we get home - anyone know where yo but cheese curd?
After a long day we were happy to retire that night bound for Montreal tomorrow.

Sunday 12 August 2012


We had been told by a few people to not even visit Ottawa, but being a PDHPE teacher and having taught the Ottawa charter for so many years as part of the curriculum I thought it necessary to stop and see what all the fuss was over. Amazing! I would have signed the charter too - what a gorgeous city!!!! The buildings were old and gothic looking. It reminded me of time that I had spent in London but parts of it I imagine France.
On arrival it was pouring rain but the weather fined up as we pulled into the hotel car park and stayed that way until we departed. Our night time adventure saw us walk from Gatineau, Quebec into Ottawa, Ontario - just across the bridge where we witnessed beautiful scenery including the rideau canals and locs parliamentary buildings, art gallery and Notre-dame cathedral. Dinner at the Byward markets followed by mosiaka at the parliament - a night light show expressing the history of Canada. Amazing!!!
The next morning we watched the changing of the guards at parliament house and jumped on a hop on hip off bus tour of the city. Too much to explore and not enough time!
-war memorial
- Maurice Richard statue
-fairmont chateau Laurier

Friday 10 August 2012


After a crazy drive to the airport in an effort to not miss our flight, we missed it anyway. Note to self - check details and don't rely on your hubby to go it for you. What he thought was a 2 pm flight was a 10am flight. Not to worry they managed to get us on the flight with no dramas.

Arriving in Toronto and catching a cab to our hotel we witnessed how different the scenery was, no more siding houses but instead red brick. That evening we went fit a meal at a sports bar and enjoyed the hundreds of TV's all playing different sports. We also checked out the CN tower but decided to go the next day.

After breakfast we jumped on the subway and headed for the Hockey Hall of Fame. The boys loved it! Kissing the Stanley Cup, playing goalie and checking out all of the exhibits.

Hockeyed out we then headed for Toronto island. We weren't sure what to do there but we were pleasantly surprised that there was a small adventure park with rides, fountains and ponds to play in, bikes to hire DVD ride around the island, places to eat, a pier that looked out across Lake Ontario and beaches (including a clothing optional beach). We took a tram ride around the island and didn't realize how big it was and all the stuff you could do there so close to a big city.

Back from a hot day we then took on CN tower. Once the highest tower in the world (now about 4th or 5th) we had stunning views across Toronto. Greg not so keen on the glass floor but it was amazing. We stayed there to watch the lights across the city came on and boarded the subway to the hotel for a much needed rest.

Niagara Falls was our next stop. Up early to catch a bus from Toronto. About a 2 hour drive found us at Niagara-on-the-lake - a gorgeous town on the Canadian/US boarder with multimillion dollar homes. Across the river was the USA. We are still blown away that you can see another country from across a bridge.

The falls themselves were amazing. So much water! Which we have found out freezes in winter. The Maid of the Must ride was great. Donned in our complimentary blue ponchos we got wet from the most that the falls make without even trying. The boys thought that was great.

The town itself is a bit tacky with typical tourist "attractions". We avoided those but still had a great day out.

Our last day in Toronto was catching up on the laundry, a short shopping adventure at the Eaton Centre ( so needed my shopping girls with me!!!).The night was spent at Rogers stadium watching the Toronto blue jays get beat by the New York Yankees. First 5 innings were looking promising for Toronto but alas all was forgotten. We loved it though and really put on the Aussie accent for our first ball game to score some free stuff.

Picking up a car tomorrow and heading to Canada's capital Ottawa. For all my PDHPE friends - home of the dreaded charter!

Saturday 21 July 2012

Going to the sun road - Montana USA

An awesome drive from Waterton this morning. We were lucky enough to see two grizzly and one black bear on our way out of the park. We passed through customs at Chief Mountain on the Canada/US border. We were keen to start early as we heard that there was a severe weather warning for upper Montana and that the Going to the sun road might be closed. It had been closed earlier in the week due to a landslide but today was our lucky day. The mountains were amazing! I am always blown away by the size of mountains and how insignificant I feel next to them. In the middle of summer we are still seeing snow. The winding road and amazing scenery kept us in awe all day. Lots of stops for pictures and short hikes also kept us from going crazy in the car. At Logan pass we were greeted at the visitor centre by a small herd of mountain goats and gophers. A short swim in Lake Macdonald revived us and we drove to Kalispell for the night.

Thursday 19 July 2012

Kimberley, Fernie, Frank and Waterton.

Back in the car and we made our way to Kimberley for lunch. This quaint little town reminded me of postcards I had seen in the Swiss Alps. It would be gorgeous to visit there in the winter too. We had lunch at a funny little Greman pub and enjoyed bratwurst and saurcraut. This should make for an interesting car ride later. We all enjoyed a game of street chess before returning to the car to head for Fernie.

Fernie is the place where I had broken my arm and I really wanted to show Dad the hill that had hurt his little girl. Greg wanted to go mountain biking but I talked him out of it. No way was I letting anybody else break anything and the rest of our Summer holidays be spent in a cast. This place must have some bad karma because as we were about to get in the car we wanted to take a picture of the inukshuk that stands at the entrance to the ski field (missed it last time) poor Joey stood us too fast and cracked his head on the hard stone of the inukshuk :(. We were all hot and annoyed after that so a quiet trip towards Waterton it was.

The boys feeling the need to get out of the cramped space of the car asked could they show Grandpa around the Frank slide site. Greg and I stopped for the rest and a leisurely stroll while Dad and the boys enjoyed the information centre. Dad was surprised at the boys knowing so much of the history - must take after their mum - so smart :).

On to Waterton for the night - one of my favourite places in all of Canada that I really wanted to be able to share with Dad. A stroll along the shore of Waterton Lakes and we spotted a deer and her baby - so beautiful to watch how protective she was of her newborn. We drove up to Cameron Lake and were surprised that the snow from 6 weeks ago had all melted away. From here you can see across the lake into USA. It still blows me away that you can see another country across a lake.

We had a quick visit inside the Prince of Wales Hotel - which only opens over the summer months. So very Scottish is the interior I thought easily I was back in Oban (my favourite place in Scotland).
Driving out of Waterton Park we stopped for a bear jam where one side of the road there was a large black bear and on the other side of the road a small grizzly.