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Jun
09 2010

2:05 PM

Travel

3 comments

Going around Ontario/Quebec, Canada

[Written at 11.04 P.M. (08th June) Singapore time, 2.04 P.M. (09th June) Vancouver time.]

We joined a package tour that brought us around the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Canada – comprising Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and the Niagara Falls. Quebec City and the Niagara Falls were awesome. Montreal and Ottawa was meh. And I didn’t see enough of Toronto to have any thoughts on it.

Our tour bus!
The bus that took us around the Ontario and Quebec provinces.

Quebec City
Strongest memory from that place was when I was exploring the lower city on foot. Quebec City is one city where there are absolutely no high-rise buildings around – which means the sky is visible all the time, which is a refreshing change.

And the architecture. How can I forget the architecture?

Quebec City - Lower Area.
Streets of Quebec City – Lower Area.

Quaint little streets. Little shophouses a la Switzerland style with souvenir shops retailing knick knacks of all types. And the t-shirts too! How can I also forget the t-shirts?!

I bought me two t-shirts with ‘Fuck la mode‘ screenprinted across it. ‘La mode’ means ‘Fashion’ in French, so the tee literally means ‘Fuck Fashion’. Hahaha. So very true. So very me, too.

For me, the tee has a double meaning. I also interpret the tee’s slogan as also being in a mode where my response to everything will be “fuck, lah!”. Hurhur.

Niagara Falls
Well, the falls were beautiful – I cannot deny that. Plus, it’s awesome to be able to see one of the seven wonders of the world up close, despite getting drenched in the mist (we took a little boat cruise that brought us all the way to the base of the waterfall – which meant everyone on board getting wet) and all.

Niagara Falls - American Side.
Niagara Falls – American Side.

But … I personally have a fondness for a different type of waterfall.

For me, big, massive waterfalls don’t quite grab me. I like tall, skinny waterfalls that land on a gradient of rocks at the base, which eventually leads to a little rocky stream with rapids – the type where I can jump in and soak my feet in.

Plus, the fact that my DSLR took a drowning at the Niagara Falls dampened the experience there kinda. Somehow, despite protecting my ol’ camera with my poncho, the spray of the mist was so strong (it was like a heavy rain) that water pooled around the base of the camera and the whole thing got soaked. It went kaput for the rest of the day and is still in the process of recovering now.

The Niagara Falls ARE majestic, most definitely. It was just my personal preference of waterfalls which got in the way and made the Niagara Falls slightly less impressive to me. But I’m pretty sure that it will awe virtually everyone else.

Montreal
Well, I like the culture there – which explains why I got myself a hoodie from one of them souvenir shops that reads ‘I love Montreal’ – but the city itself was blah. It didn’t have anything unique to offer, so nothing stood out.

The strongest memory I have from that place was having the wardrobe door nearly fall on me in the hotel room.

I was in the midst of placing some clothes in the wardrobe when I heard a sudden explosion, followed by a giant screw flying from the wardrobe door towards the hangers. I took a step back in shock, just in time to watch the wardrobe door collapse. It would have probably fallen on me if I had remained in my previous position, so I am thanking my lucky stars I didn’t leave Montreal with a concussion!

Ottawa
Ottawa has an awesome museum. Some parts of its interior was modeled to resemble the streets of Canada in the olden days, which was so realistic you’d feel as if you were there. Plus, the exhibits were categorized such that you can view the museum according to your own interests and preferences.

Museum in Ottawa
Exhibition set-ups in Ottawa’s museum.

I am not really a museum person. When I visit museums (especially those in Singapore), I tend to walk around admiring the building’s architecture more than looking at the exhibits themselves – which defeats the original purpose of visiting a museum in the first place.

However, I found myself doing a mixture of both in Ottawa – which is a really good thing because it definitely indicates there is something special about that museum.

On the whole
Notice how I am not exactly gushing about most of the cities or places apart from Quebec City.

Well, this partly stems from the reason why I dislike packaged tours. The schedule is so hectic to the point where you don’t get to see much of a particular place. Five different cities/locations jam-packed into four days (the first day doesn’t count because we were on board the plane most of the time and landed only in the late evening) leaves us with very little time – less than a day on average – at each city. One doesn’t quite have the chance to fully appreciate the beauty of the place at their own time and leisure.

We are ‘released’ at one attraction after another, and usually asked to return within an hour. And the places are usually massive.

Not to mention how the tour company had listed so many sightseeing spots on the itinerary, and conveniently left out the fact that we would only be seeing them from a distance on board the bus. We passed by this particularly scenic harbour spot at Ottawa – with the tour guide happily pointing it out as the bus continued to amble on – and I was like, what?! We are not alighting to take a walk around?! :(

The only place where we were left to explore on our own was Quebec City, and so there was enough time for me to fully experience the place … and ended up loving it. Otherwise, the speed at which we were whisked from one place to another left me disgruntled.

I still prefer free-and-easy travel. Rawr.

I personally believe there are many beautiful aspects of the various cities in the Ontario and Quebec provinces, and my perspective of the places will be unfairly skewed due to the hecticness of it all.

I’d love to return one day and properly explore around – and not be bound to a schedule dictated by some tour company to squeeze every cent out of us. (Look at it this way, admission ticket to an attraction is valid for a whole day – and we were only there for 1-2 hours. Hmm.)

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3 Comments

  • 09 Jun 2010
    11:33 PM

    Margot

    As a Canadian, and a Torontonian, I’ve gotta point this out: Canada has provinces, not states; Ontario is a province. States just belong to the United States. ;) A lot of Canadians, myself included, don’t like being mixed up with the US because there are a lot of differences between us, it’s just not that obvious to outsiders and tourists right away, and the States has gotten a bad reputation lately for various reasons…

    It’s too bad that you didn’t get much out of Montreal, because it’s probably my favourite city in Canada (next to my own, but a lot of Canadians dislike Toronto just ’cause it’s big and they assume people there are pretentious). Montreal is gorgeous, particularly Old Montreal down by the port, where you can find a lot of history and old architecture and such. In general though, the culture is great, much more European than the rest of Canada. I’ve also been to Quebec City, and I don’t like it nearly as much and find it kind of boring. It doesn’t sound like you got the chance to really experience and truly see each city, which is too bad ’cause each city you visited has a lot to offer. Overall though I’m glad you’re having fun in my country! :D

    • 09 Jun 2010
      11:40 PM

      brendalogy

      Oopsies. Haha. When I think of provinces, I end up thinking of China … mainly because I go there too often. Will amend the above post with the correct term. (:

      And you’re from Toronto? Ahh. I only spent a grand total of one hour there which is a pity. :( The tour only took us to City Hall early in the morning at 7am (when nothing was open) before we were whisked off elsewhere! But as I mentioned, I will most definitely return!

      I love Canada. It has the perfect mix of nature, urban amenities and … the weather! Vancouver’s weather is the most ideal – mild summers (still cool to tropic slickers like me) and also, mild winters!

  • 10 Jun 2010
    11:47 PM

    Maria Celina

    I’ve been fascinated with Quebec, particularly Montreal, because of several of my friends have been telling me, “You’ll love it there! It’s so artsy fartsy! Right up your alley!”. So, naturally, in the bucket list in went! =)

    Oh, and that photo of Niagara Falls is just breathtaking!

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