Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A few little jaunts and plans for the year

Home three weeks today and already hitting the road again....this Friday I am off to Edmonton to visit my sister for the weekend.  She is moving to Toronto in August so this will very well could be my last trip to Edmonton.   So off early early Friday morning and back Tuesday evening.  Airmiles to the rescue once again.  Then back home two days (to work) and then off again on the hound to Lethbridge for the weekend to visit my cousin and family and see my 91 year old uncle.  So the next couple of weeks will be family time which is always enjoyable.

Then a night in Saskatoon as going up to see Neil Diamond.  I have always enjoyed his music and thought why not - am going with a friend from work. 

Then I think...think that is...I will be home until  October.  Of course that would change as well but that is what I am planning on.  I need to do some serious saving for all the plans ahead.

Thanksgiving weekend will see me in Victoria for the Victoria marathon.  I plan to do the half.  Airmiles once again to the rescue.  Sadly my beloved James Bay Inn was not available so am staying at Paul's motor inn.  I just cannot bring myself to stay at the hostel when I need a good night's sleep. I've stayed at the Ocean Island hostel which was interesting....but last time I stayed at the James Bay inn in the James Bay area of Victoria and fell in love.  I love the area and the price was $5 more than a deluxe single room at the hostel.  No comparison!!! 

Home a week and then in mid October I will be flying down to Chicago to dogsit for a friend for a week then take off by train and bus to visit some midwest states and get a few capital cities walked.   I LOVE Chicago so can't wait.  It will be fun to explore it at my leisure and get to hang out with a dog - will really get my doggie fix and can't wait.  Casper is a doll!!!  I plan to be gone about three weeks. 

Then January...oh January...my high hopes are to go to Vietnam and Cambodia.  I am not brave enough to travel around there on my own so have had a tour picked out now for two years.  In fact I had it booked in 2010 and then changed it to Nepal.  I still feel the need to go....if I can't afford that back up plan is for a two week tour to Belize.  I looked into the cost of doing it on my own and decided it would be the same amount to take a tour as I would get to see the great ruins of Tikal in Guatemala so whatever I decide I think it will be a good one. 

I just have to SAVE MONEY.  Not as much eating out or buying 'stuff'.  Can I do it?  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Home!

Must admit it feels good - the trees have really "come out" since I've left and I can look out from my computer to a canopy of trees.  Love it!!! 

It was a wonderful trip - had so much fun but three weeks away was enough.  For this time anyway....

My flight was an hour late - no explanation or apology...- way to go Air Canada...home by about 11:40 last night and I somehow managed to get to work by 7:45 this morning.   I have to work for the next two days and Monday as well so am hoping for a fairly quiet weekend.  I visited the library and got three books and three DVD's I had on hold and I've got a DVR full of three weeks of Coronation St. as well as a few other favourites.  Ah, life is good!!

With that...back to working on catching up with Corrie.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ready to fly

Am at the airport in the business centre.  Quebec City airport is boring - I love airports and thought I'd allow a bit of browsing time and have a coffee with two macarons that hopped into my backpack.  Well I can't even find a coffee shop!  Just a restaurant and I don't want that.  Oh well, maybe in Ottawa? 

I slowly walked around the old town and decided to visit the Ursaline Nuns musuem.  For those that know me they are thinking wtf as they know how little I think of the RC church.As I was paying my admission I was thinking what the hell am I doing but I knew it was about educating young womena and I was interested in that.  However it turned out to be okay....I was interested in the schooling end of it.  The nun thing...well wearing a wedding dress because you are married to god is just...well...creepy.  And trust me, it happened - I saw the pictures.  A young gal who worked there told us there was not much choice for women in 18th and 19th century Quebec - either marry, have your husband dominate you and have ten children at least - probably losing a few and possibly your own life in the process.  Or become a nun that gets to teach and learn and well dominated by Mother Superior.  She said she'd become a nun.  Hmmm...not sure on that one.  The school had both postulents and students.  The girls were sent there to make them intelligent and cultured wives - even learning just enough math and science to help them become good household slaves...um..I mean housewives.   They made the schooling sound all rosey and how they were all sad to leave...uh huh.... There was some beautiful embroidery that the nuns did - incredible actually.  Anyway it was interesting in a really strange way. 

Had my baguette sandwich just before the taxi came - oh my it was good...the best I've ever had.  And for dessert a Maple syrup gelato.  The taxi was a bit early actually so it was a bit of panic stations at the end but got here in one piece and through security and here I wait.

Now the vacation is over and I just want to get home.  It's been a great one but can't wait to spend some time on my balcony relaxing and reading, seeing friends, etc. On the happy side my new abode has elevators so no stairs to climb at the end of a long flight with a heavy suitcase.  Yay!!!! 

Bonjour!



Lower town Quebec City - reminds me of England!


Well this is the last day of my trip....I have mixed feelings.  Sad to leave my life of adventure on one hand but eager to get back to real life, see friends and start saving for the next adventure - or should I say paying for this one. :) 

Of course me being me I won't be home for long - will be flying off to Edmonton for a long weekend at the end of the month.  My sister is moving to Toronto this summer so this will likely be my last trip to Edmonton - I have a soft spot for the city having lived there for a year in the early 70's going to school...plus  be good to see my sister too. :) 

After that...who knows..,nothing booked.  But I am sure there will be eventually!!! 

This morning I availed myself of the free buffet breakfast but I paced myself and did not take very much as I knew I wanted to nibble during the day.  The breakfast was in a very nice restaurant around the corner and was delicious - the usual eggs, bacon, crepes, etc. 

On the way down to lower town...
Espresso and macarons.  Ah.....
Back up we go!  Yes I was too lazy to walk up the stairs and it was only $2!!! 
Mural with historical figures and modern day together.
Another view of the mural
Petit de Champlain - Lower town
I then set off to walk around the lower town - took the furnicular both ways to give my knees a break.  Looked in the shops and saw the huge mural depicting Quebec's 400 year history. I love this mural as it depicts all the historical figures with Quebec residents today. All very familiar from 7 years ago. This was the original townsite as it is right by the river...I passed by a boulangerie and just had to have a couple of macarons - a chocolate one and an orange one - such intense flavours.  So tiny, so expensive but oh so good....had an espresso with it and sat and relaxed.  Ah......I'd bring some home to share but they would not make it for two reasons 1)  I'd probably eat them and if I didn't do that 2)  they would crumble as they are so delicate.  Oh lovely lovely - memories of Paris... Back up on the furnicular and walked around the Old Town. I do love Quebec City - beautiful buildings and such history.  It is really a must see.  I think it would be very beautiful in the winter as well - but oh so cold.  My hotel is on a lovely street - even the horse drawn carriages go by.  I am so happy that I treated myself to this hotel.  It seems everywhere you turn there is a photo opportunity. 

I am back to finish up packing and relax a bit.  Then I will check out and roam the streets for a couple of hours.  Pick up a baguette for the plane trip.  I change planes in Ottawa.  I will get the hotel to call me a taxi once I find out how long it takes to get to the airport.  I know I flew out of here in 05 but absolutely no memory of it......except my luggage not making it home!!! 

After my last disaster with suitcases I brought my favourite.  A black duffle bag that is slightly bigger than carry on.  I bought it about six years ago one Xmas when I was working at Sears - with huge sales and my employee discount I don't think I paid more than $20 for it and it was regular $125 or so.  It is a Roots bag and good quality.  It seems to hold so much yet is not bulky - I have been looking for something to take it's place when it finally goes on me...but nothing yet.  I may just have to be creative and take less on my overseas trips so I can take this with me.

Beautiful day with blue sky....very enjoyable so off I go to wander and photograph for my last few hours of a wonderful holiday. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

What a day!







Living it up at L'Hermitage in Quebec City

Quebec City Legislative Building

St Louis Gate - I stayed in the Old City within the gates.

Clip clopping past my hotel.
Well this morning I decided to just sleep until I woke up and get the bus then.  Awake at 5:45 as usual.  Sigh!!!  Anyway after a shower I decided to go and look for breakfast.  I originally had thought of the market again but decided I needed something a bit more substantial.  At 6:30 I wasn't holding much hope but I saw two that were open so opted for the second one I saw called the Green Spot.  I chuckled to myself as the Green Spot at home is my favourite coffee shop however this was your typical greasy spoon.  I ordered a feta and veggie omelette which was very good.  Back to the dorm to grab my stuff and off I went to the metro station.  Okay this is embarassing - obviously I needed more coffee.  First of all I had to buy a ticket as my weekend pass was over for obvious reasons.  Well it was differnet than a pass and as I was fumbling and figuring out where to put it it flew out of my hand and landed on the other side of the gate...luckily there was no one around and the gal at the ticket office buzzed me in.  But wait the best is yet to come...being as I had luggage and did not feel like doing escalators or stairs I opted for the elevator.  Had to use two different ones - first one fine and the second one oh a red button behind plastic interesting and without thinking I pulled it up and pushed it and all of a sudden it starts ringing.  Oh shit....it was the emergency button  when they answered I yelled sorry sorry but of course they were yelling at me in French.  I quickly located the correct button, got in and luckily a train was waiting.  Bet they followed me on the security camera.  Cringe.  I have no clue why I did that..honestly.  Rather scary actually - shades of dementia kicking in?

The bus to Quebec City was absolutely packed...three hours and fifteen minutes without a stop.  I could barely walk when I got up - my knees no likee.  Got a taxi to my hotel and am glad I did as I'd still be trying to find it.  I had to check into the hotel opposite as only ten rooms in here and the check in is at the Acadia hotel.  My room was the only one ready - boy was I lucky.  I stashed my stuff and changed, reorganized and off I went to find the start point for the 10 km walk.  I walked and walked and walked - the road I walked on turned out to be the last part of the walk so that worked for me.  The gal at the college was so friendly and helpful.  This was a special walk for me - my last walk in a capital in Canada.  I've walked in Quebec City before but for some insane reason did not do the proper capital walk.  However that trip to Quebec City in 2005 was for a walking conference just a few weeks after I had lost my beloved doggie and I was still in a state.  As I walk around now things are coming back but honestly that weekend was mostly a blur.

The walk took me  through the Plains of Abraham, along the river on the Governor Generals dedicated pathway and through areas of Quebec City I hadn't been so really enjoyed it. I was glad to see the end of it though which was half a block from my hotel.  Back here to freshen up and change to catch the early bird special at Aux Anciens Canadiens.  What a deal - for 18.95 I got a glass of wine, pea soup, tourtiere (pork pie) with green beans, mashed potatoes, chutney, mashed squash and Maple Syrup (or Sugar) pie for dessert.  I was there in 05 with some walking friends and had the exact same thing.  There are other options but I wanted something typically French Canadian.  
Maple Syrup or also what's known as Sugar pie - oh yes!
Tourtiere, mashed potaotes, mashed squash, relish.

   This was my celebration supper for achieving all my provincial & territorial capitals in Canada.  I headed for my hotel but then thought "I should check with the main desk and see if I can print my boarding passes" so I kept on the other side of the street.   I then realized I was following a familiar figure and yelled "OH MY GOD". 
Surprise!!!  Erin and Auntie Laurie
The person turned and there she was - my one and only niece and her boyfriend!!  What are the chances?  She had been in Montreal over the weekend with Mutek - an electronic music festival but due to her commitments we were unable to hook up. Neither of us had a clue the other would be in Quebec City.  What a wonderful surprise!  She lives in Toronto so we don't see each other too often.   I walked around with them for about 20 minutes chatting and we went up on the city wall for a view.  They needed to plug their car meter and then eat and were heading off again as they are on a three week holiday to Labrador, Newfoundland and the rest of the Maritimes.  They went off to have a quick meal and hit the road - I was so stuffed I could not even think of sitting and having a coffee with them. (walking was painful!)  So it was a quick hi and bye but so much fun. 

I then came back and finally printed my boarding passes at the front desk!!!

I had planned to do a 5 km walk tomorrow but I think I will just have the breakfast offered here and walk around the area taking photographs and exploring.  I will have to start heading for the airport about 2 or so.  I have to take a taxi which really pains me  - no airport shuttles here.  The public bus only goes in the morning and comes back in the evening for the workers. 

My hotel is lovely and the bed looks wonderful -  next bed will be my own!!!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

And more...

Here is the hotel I will be staying at tomorrow night...very luxurious for me!! Apparently check in is in a different building so we shall see. 

http://www.hotelsvieuxquebec.com/en/hotel/hotel-lermitage/

Forgot to mention that I also visited the Lachine Canal which is about a ten minute walk from where I am staying - very interesting and a cool place to sit on a warm day.  They have paths on either side of the canal and if I'd been up to it I'd have been busy walking.  But I wasn't so I just sat and enjoyed. 

Back to my room now to upload pictures and pack again for the last time.  I plan to leave everything I need on top so there will be no need to repack on Tuesday morning.  I am excited to be going home - oh man still can't believe I am saying this.  And when I get back to work and also the hassle of finding someone to install my air conditioner at home you know I will be saying "Beam me back to Montreal Scotty". 

Surprise! The sun came out!!

Rain was predicted for today so off I went with long pants and my goretex jacket.   I had breakfast at the Atwater market - an apricot danish and a cafe au lait.  As I left I noticed a bit of blue sky..wow. And then the sun quit peeking and came out to play.  So I headed to Old Montreal and took the photos I wished I had been able to take yesterday.  Lots more people out and about of course. Then I decided to visit some neighbourhoods so got off at a few metro stops and walked around and took photos. (okay got lost too - I just cannot find my way around Montreal)  At lunch time I finally found one of the famous bagel shops - Fairmount.  No place to sit and eat inside and nothing but bagels so sat on a bench outside and had my bagel and cream cheese.  I then decided to head for Mount Royal.  There was some kind of bike tour going on and bikes everywhere and horrible music and announcements.  I was going to go further into the park but there were some creepy characters hanging around so I decided to carry on along the main path and ended up downtown via McGill area.  I did get some good shots today - was in a photography mood.  However I am still very very tired. 

Montreal is just not doing it for me and I don't know if it's Montreal or me.  I came back to rest for a little while then went out for dinner - ended up just having a pizza.  Yeah I know..boring.  But that's what I felt like.  I just haven't been sleeping well on this trip - I have learned which university dorms to avoid in future.   It has all caught up with me I think.  

I leave for Quebec City tomorrow but not sure when.  Oh yes I also went and bought my bus ticket which is good for anytime.  I am staying at a real honest to goodness hotel tomorrow night - whoopee.  It is a small hotel with only ten rooms but it looks very nice and is a splurge for me - so not sure how far ahead I can check in/leave my bags.  I was going to rush up early but think I will take a bus later on in the morning and perhaps walk over to the market and have another cafe au lait and naughty thing in the morning.  I plan to do a 5 km walk tomorrow in Quebec- unless I feel energetic and do the 10 km walk. 

Then Tuesday evening I fly home and that sounds good to me.  I can't believe I am saying this...me who loves being on the road....it is so damn sad.  I hope this is tiredness speaking and not old age or that would really really suck. 


Saturday, June 2, 2012

A very wet day


Living room of my apt at Solin Hall

Kitchen/dining area - I just used the table to throw my backpack on! And the fridge to keep fruit and water cold.
Cafe where I had my bagel
Didn't have a good sleep last night - kind of noisy with traffic and people and a new bed.  But at least this one had a box spring and not a board underneath the mattress!!!  Anyway I headed off about 7:30 - ran back to change into long pants and put on my rain jacket which is a very good thing.  At this point it had rained overnight but had stopped.  I took the metro to Place D'armes and found the Travelodge where the 10km walk of Old Montreal started.  I hadn't had breakfast at this point but after a couple of km I found a diner so had a coffee and bagel and cream cheese.  Nothing like a Montreal (or New York) bagel...I hate the ones that are like a bun with a hole in it which is basically what any you get at home are like. 

Tres wet Vieux Montreal
Display of Seabirds at the Biodome
Notre Dame
From there I carried on walking in the rain through the old town and went into a Montreal history museum which was excellent - could have spent longer and in retrospect I wish I had.  Did not realize how they razed whole neighbourhoods for Expo 67. Very sad. Also there was an exhibit on immigrants - one out of five Montrealers are born elsewhere and a lot come to Canada to escape oppression in their home country.  I could have sat all afternoon listening to their stories on the ipads provided. I admire immigrants so much. From there I stopped and had a egg, cheese and ham crepe as it was lunch.  Little did I know that one block away was St. Paul street which had loads of quaint restaurants. Oh well.  I walked a little further and then got fed up and said to hell with this walk and got the metro to the Biodome.  A good 30 minutes in line as everyone else had the same brainy idea.  Anyway I enjoyed the Biodome - was there in about 1993 and loved it more then as it wasn't as crowded.  So many damn kids screaming their fool heads off.  Why do people take their two year olds to something like that...they have no clue.  Oh yeah...they want to see it and they are too damn cheap to pay a babysitter so we all have to suffer while their brat is exhausted from being dragged around and has a tantrum.  I gave up trying to video at one point as this kid was having a total melt down and the parents did nothing.  Oh my hand was itching it was....I'd give her something to cry about. :)  

Anyway the Biodome is the former Velodrome from the Olympic games in 1976 - I guess something good came out of the Olympics.  It has four ecosystems with the appropriate animals and plant life - Tropical, Laurentian forest, polar and the coastline. The latter was really neat with all sorts of sea birds flying over our heads.   The penguins were adorable.  I love the way they walk - reminds me of me on a bad knee day. :)

From there I decided to go to Little Italy so got off at the metro station but could not find it and no one I asked had a clue.  Well one directed me but could not find it.  By now I was getting annoyed so hopped (or staggered to) the metro and ended up having an Indian meal downtown.  This is a very abreviated version of events.  By this time I was tired and hungry and some strange fellow started whistling as we were waiting for the train - he kept wandering up and down the platform almost testing to see how it sounded - I HATE whistling - have done since I was a child - it was a toss up whether to push him onto the tracks or tell him to shut the f**k up.  (or do both in reverse order)  Luckily the train came in before I had to make the decision.

Anyway veggie korma which was the best I've ever had - with naan followed by masala chai.  Very nice!!!

I picked up a copy of the Montreal Gazette so up to my apt now to relax and read for a bit.  I am very very tired and bitchy. (in case you hadn't noticed)  

Tomorrow more rain is predicted so looking at more museums - the original plan was to go on a 10km walk up to Mount Royal park....oh well what can you do you can't control the weather so you have to go with the flow. 

Two weeks and two days on the road and I am getting a bit travel weary.  How sad is that.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Bonjour from Montreal

Well I am back in Canada - can you believe they could not get my brand new passport to "work".  Their system would not accept it - finally they had to enter everything the long way.  Other than that the trip back went smoothly. Oh well back in the True North Strong and Free anyway.  French style that is.

The dorm is fine - I have a one bedroom apartment which is nice but no air conditioning so hoping for cool weather.  It has cooled off so all the windows are open.  I like the location.  I stayed here in  June 1993 with my niece who lived here while she was attending McGill.  To be honest I can't remember too much about the trip - think my brain was fried as we had just done a whirlwind of Macca concerts and Montreal was my last stop on the way home.  All I remember is the Atwater market, going to Le Monde an amusement park and Chan, my niece's pet rat.  Oh what a sweetie he was.  I remember buying some dolly mixture candy and did not like it so put it on the coffee table.  Chan kept coming and grabbing one and looking around like he could not believe his luck and someone was going to grab it from him - then dashing off to hide them in his stash behind a chair.  Also him running around in the stacks of beer bottles. :)  At first his long tail made me a bit squeamish when he ran over me but I got used to it.  I love rodents. 

Anyway I digress as usual...I was able to get a weekend pass on the metro for $16 - the gal at the ticket booth was sweet and told me to get that and it's been well used already.  I stashed my stuff here then jumped the metro to St. Catherine and Metcalfe - got some odd directions but figured it out myself.  Went to Dunns for a smoked meat sandwich - a specific request from my cousin Joanne.  There you go Joanne!  What can I say I will go the extra mile for my family.  It was a real sacrifice. :)  I am supposed to have a piece of cheesecake there too but sorry Joanne could not do both at the same time - I am greedy but not that greedy it turns out - but I will try to get back there. 

Popped into HMV and I was a naughty girl...I will say no more...it's not like there isn't an HMV in Regina....sigh....

Picked up a small guide book on Montreal in Chapters as I realize I don't have a map and could not find any tourist info open.  I like to read detail of the places I am seeing anyway so this will be good to keep. 

Back on the metro and walked over to the Atwater market (a 5 minute walk from here) that was closing up but I did get a container of cut up papaya - will have some when I get back to the room.  Can you believe I walked into bakeries and chocolate shops and walked out again with nothing?  I must be getting sick! 

No internet in the room but there is a computer lab (generous word...two computers that are ancient) on the floor below me. 

I am excited to start exploring Montreal tomorrow.  I had hoped to start at the market with a coffee and croissant but it doesn't open until 8:30 - much too late for me!!!  I hope to do a 10km walk in Old Montreal.  And go from there...rain is forecast for the weekend so we shall see how that goes.  It is supposed to be cool so that's good. 

There does not seem to be many people about so it is very quiet. I hope it's not too lonely but I won't be here too much anyway.   Anyway my own bathroom and it is bigger and newer than mine at home so it's all good.  Just have to go up and make my bed - they charged me ten dollars for the sheets.  That is a first but oh well.  For $55 a night I won't complain. (too much) 

Anyway guess I should go up to my room and start unpacking and read the Montreal Gazette (to see what's on this weekend), drink water and eat my papaya!!!