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Trip Canada Canada   My trips to Canada since 2014. Walter C (US)



My trips to Canada since 2014.

  • 28Mar 2014

    1 Hab to See Baseball 28.03.2014 Kanada —

    Ville-Marie, Montreal, Kanada


    Being planned at the last minute, I decided to take a trip to Montreal, as I learned that there were 2 baseball games being scheduled there, just a few weeks before. My chance to make up for a missed opportunity in 2000, which was second visit there overall, with the first being in 1990. Granted, there were exhibition games, but I just could not pass up the chance this time, because who knows if this will ever happen again.

    I got up very early, and finish up any last minute packing. Then went to the airport, and was able to get there with plenty of time to spare. I waited until it was time to board. I got in, and was on my way to Canada. This was the first time that I have flown there.

    A short flight, I arrived in Montreal, and went through customs quickly. I bought a 3-day pass. Then took the 747 bus (get it?), which takes people from Trudeau Airport to downtown, and included in the 3-day pass. Getting off at the Berri-UQAM station, I walked to the hostel.

    While there was still snow on the ground, it was raining, and got very slushy. As a result, my socks got soggy very quickly. And slippery too, as some parts of the sidewalk are still icy. I had nearly 2 slip-and-falls.

    I arrived at the Alexandrie-Montreal-youth-hostel, but was too early to check in. This one was not really good, as it did look down. Space is a bit tight, and the computer was really slow.

    So I dropped off my backpack, and headed back out, in the rain, stopping by a McDonald's. I got myself some poutine, though not really the real thing. After that, I headed to the Metro, going to the Bell Centre and Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame. They were connected to the Metro stop, with passageways, so I did not have to step outside once. This was part of the system known as the Underground City.

    I got to the Bell Centre, the home of the Montreal Canadiens, who are the oldest and most successful team in the National Hockey League (NHL). More commonly known as the Habs, they were my second favorite team at one time, and it was how I knew about the city of Montreal. And some of the biggest names in hockey have played for the Habs, like Maurice Richard, Chris Chelios, and Patrick Roy.

    Unfortunately, I would not be able to tour the Bell Centre (due to a Miley Cyrus concert), so it was just the Canadiens Hall of Fame. Good thing that I did not buy the combo ticket for both attractions in advance. Otherwise, a waste of money. So I toured the Hall of Fame. It told the history of the Habs, and contains a lot of memorabilia, from its beginning to the present day. Very interesting for anyone who is a fan of hockey. I enjoyed it very much. There are photos of the things to see in this place.

    After seeing the Habs HOF, I headed out, and decided to go to the Pointe-a-Calliere, Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. I thought that I just stick to indoor attractions, as it was still raining outside. Only one problem... I still had to go outside and get to the museum.

    So I walked to the museum, getting wet in the process. Once I got there, I toured the museum, seeing the archaeological ruins, pirates, and a temporary exhibition on the Beatles, when they came to Montreal. This told the history of Montreal, from its earliest days towards the present day. It was interesting to see, mainly the ruins and the models of the city over the years. Very much worth the visit.

    After touring, I looked at my photos, until my camera suddenly froze, then somehow deleted all of them. I just could not believe that just happened. So I went through the entire museum quickly, retaking all the photos that I could remember. Then I decided to go back to the Canadiens Hall of Fame, and do the same. Even though the museum staff told me that the ticket was not an in-and-out one, they did let it slide this time, and allowed me to re-enter. After going through that one quickly, I went back to the hostel.

    I was hoping to check in quickly, but ended up taking a while, since there was a holdup with the credit card machine. I waited until it printed, and then went to the room, to unpack. But no time to rest, as I went to use the hostel computer, deciding to save my photos on a web site. Since it was done on an old computer, it was very slow and time-consuming. After that was done, I headed out to the baseball game.

    Getting on the Metro, it was very crowded, as I saw a lot of people in Expos gear, as well as some in Blue Jays gear. It only got more crowded as it approached the stadium. Once I got there, I entered the stadium area, which was entirely indoors.

    There was a very long line, which I had to stand in, for will call. And it moved very slow, as those who bought online, could not print out their ticket, and only could pick up at the stadium. Unfortunately, this led to a very huge problem, as the line got a lot longer since I got there. Asking one of the security staff how much longer, they did not know, which annoyed me. I ended up waiting for 90 minutes. Talk about being unorganized.

    After finally getting my ticket, I went to enter, only to find out that it was for tomorrow's game. So I went back to the ticket window, and was able to buy one. Only if I had bother to look at my receipt more carefully, that would have saved me a lot of time and trouble.

    I was able to enter the stadium, and headed to my seat. Only to find that someone was already sitting there. When asking an usher to straighten all this out, the guy did not seem to know any English, and could not find his ticket to find out where his seat was. So he had to move further down the row, and apparently, the rest of the people sitting there, did not take kindly to me. There was a woman who said something to me in French, and when saying that I don't understand her, she gave me this dirty look.

    Still, after all that happened, I was glad to finally watch a baseball game in Montreal. Granted, it was not the Expos, but a game between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets. The Expos played in Montreal from 1969 to 2004. After that, they relocated to Washington DC to become the Nationals. I can always remember some of the great players on the Expos, which I will get into, in the next entry.

    The game itself was scoreless when I got to my seat in the 3rd inning. The Mets jumped to a 2-0 lead, and the 2 teams get trading runs, until it got to the 7th inning, when it was tied 4-4. Then in the bottom of the 9th inning, the Blue Jays had a walkoff hit, to end the game and win 5-4. A good game to watch.

    After the game, I just looked around the stadium, and met some nice fans there. We talked for a bit, and even got into a photo with them. After that, I headed out, and ran into crowds at the Metro. But not as bad, as I got back to the hostel. Once there, I just dried out some things, and used the computer until 1 AM, when I went to sleep.


  • 29Mar 2014

    2 Meeting a TBer and Seeing History 29.03.2014 Kanada —

    Ville-Marie, Montreal, Kanada


    After getting ready and eating breakfast at the hostel, I would arrange a meet-up with Victor (luv2travel77). We been in contact mainly through TB and private e-mail, since my cell phone does not work outside the US. But since I was in Canada, I was able to call him, using the hostel phone. We were able to arrange a meet-up spot at the Metro station.

    I did try to meet him the day before, at the entryway at Olympic Stadium. But it was too crowded and chaotic, plus I had to wait in line for the ticket. So that ended up not happening. But it finally happened this time, as we finally met. He then gave me a ride, taking me to a local Costco, where I could eat some real poutine.

    A poutine is a Quebec specialty, consisting of french fries with gravy and cheese curds. It was very filling, and can be tough to finish, but oh man, was it so good! But I could not have another at that time. And it seemed like Costco makes good poutine, because I saw the locals buying and enjoying it as well.

    I knew Victor from TravBuddy, and did notice one of his profile pics being that of Olympic Stadium. I thought that someday, I would contact him when I came to Montreal. We talked a lot of sports, as he was an Expos fan, and still a Habs fan. After eating, he gave me a ride around the city, then up Mount Royal, which is a little mountain close to the city.

    We ended up at a lookout point, overseeing the city. It was a nice view, as I did see Olympic Stadium in the distance. After looking around, Victor took me to a Metro stop, where I got off, and headed to the baseball game. Very nice of Victor to treat me to some real poutine, and giving me a ride around the city.

    I arrived at the stadium, which was not nearly as crazy as it was on Friday. When entering, the pregame ceremony has already started. I hurried to my seat, and did sneak into some sections to get a quick look along the way.

    The ceremony was to honor the 1994 Montreal Expos, the team that had the best record in baseball until a strike wiped out the season and World Series. And that pretty much killed baseball in Montreal, as it never recovered after that. I can remember names like Larry Walker, Marquis Grissom, and even Felipe Alou, who was the manager of the team. Before that, there were a pair of Tims (Raines and Wallach) and Gary Carter (who was honored on Friday). A banner was unveiled to honor the team. Just a shame with the way things played out back then, as I remembered it very well.

    After the ceremony, the game started, but with no lineup announced. Speaking of which, it was interesting to hear announcements in French at a baseball game. The game was an exhibition one between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets. And boy, it was a game not really interesting, as it was scoreless through 7 innings. No idea who won, and did not really care.

    I made it up my mind to leave early, around 2:30 PM, but later changed it to after the 7th inning stretch. It would have not felt right to not get to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." After that, I left, and exited outside, getting to see the exterior of the stadium. It looked like some kind of flying saucer with a long tower sticking out. Built for the 1976 Olympics, it would become known as "The Big O" or "The Big Owe", because of the financial problems it would cause. The debt was so huge that it took 30 years to pay it all off.

    I took the Metro, and headed for Vieux-Montreal. I was hoping to do some sightseeing there. I ended up walking fast, to the Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum, which also included going to the top of the tower. Well, there was no separate admission for it, so I was not able to do it, and did not want to pay for something that I would have very little time for. So I just settle for looking around the adjoining Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, which was free.

    Built in 1771, the chapel was known as Sailors' Church, as sailors would give thanks to the Virgin Mary for a safe journey across the sea. Looking around, I saw the model ships and the artwork, reminding me of ones in Europe. I need to visit that continent again.

    Anyway, I went out, and just walked around one part of the area, as I was following along the walking tour. Seeing the various old buildings with interesting architecture, like the Bonsecours Market building, I felt like I was at an Old Town in Europe. Vieux-Montreal is French for Old Montreal, as this was oldest part of the city, dating back to 1642, back when it was part of New France, which was what the French colonies in North America were called (I know, very original). It was a nice stroll, though a square like Place Jacques-Cartier, was still covered in ice. I got to the Basilique Notre-Dame, which I had to save for another time, as it was time to head back and leave town.

    So I went back to the hostel, and got my backpack. Hung out there for a little while, then headed to the bus station. I got there on time, and hopped on the Orleans Express bus, heading to Quebec City.

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  • 29Mar 2014

    3 Arrival Into Quebec City 29.03.2014 Kanada —

    La Cité-Limoilou, Québec City, Kanada


    Leaving Montreal, it was about a 3-hour bus ride to Quebec City. Not much to see, and I did sleep half of the time. I was taking the Orleans Express, which actually arrived earlier than scheduled, if I remember correctly. I can see it is more like Megabus than Greyhound in the US.

    Arriving there, I had to ask for directions. Then as I headed out, I saw that the bus station was attached to the train station. And noticed the architecture of the building. Looked like I was inside some kind of castle. Then I went outside, and saw the station, Gare du Palais, looked like some kind of chateau. The architecture looked nice, and it looked like I was going to like Quebec City.

    I walked to the hostel, HI-Quebec: Auberge Internationale de Quebec, which was up a hill. More about it in the review here. I checked in, and this was when I learned that Canada has done away with the penny. So the total gets rounded to the nearest 5. A nice place, as each bed has their own reading lamp.

    After checking in, I went to the room, and then had to take care of some things, like unpacking and doing some laundry. And using the computer, this was when my camera had some kind of problem. Not sure if it was the camera or memory card, as I did not have an extra. But luckily, I was able to save the photos before trying any attempts to fix it, because trying to fix it, would result in the photos being deleted.

    Unfortunately, nothing worked, so now, I had to buy a disposable camera, going back to the old ways of taking photos. Not good, in a city like Quebec City. But that would not be the only problem I would face while here, as I was about to get a very rude surprise the next day.

    After the laundry was done, I went to sleep.

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  • 30Mar 2014

    4 Wasted Day 30.03.2014 Kanada —

    La Cité-Limoilou, Québec City, Kanada


    Waking up this morning, I looked out the window, and thought my eyes were deceiving me, as I was looking at snow being blown off the roof. I did check the weather forecast beforehand, and it said that it would be a partly sunny day. Well, I should have remembered, that the weather web sites tend to go back and forth, as if they can't make up their mind, when looking about a week beforehand, and not a few days before.

    I asked the front desk about this, and he said that it was not normal for a snow storm to come this late in the year. Well, it did come, as this was a very rude surprise. I went out, to shop for a disposable camera, and get breakfast at a Tim Horton's, which is the Canadian equivalent of Dunklin Donuts.

    After that, I headed back, and did some Nordiques merchandise on sale. The Nordiques were a NHL team in Quebec City from 1979 to 1995, before relocating to become the Colorado Avalanche. They were how I knew about this city. I got back to the hostel, and tried to figure out what to do next.

    I did go back out, and thought, make the best of it. As I walked in the snow, I figure, this can't be too bad, as I have dealt with snow before during my travels. But no, as soon as I got close to the Chateau Frontenac, I found myself going against very strong wind. And the snow felt like needles on my face. It was too much to take, and I quickly went inside the visitor center.

    After getting directions to some museums, I went back out, and tried to go up to the boardwalk promenade, but the wind once again, was too much. So I just walked to the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec. There was a service in progress, so I did not stay long. I went next door, to the Musee de I'Amerique Francophone. This is a museum that focuses on the history and life of the French in North America, with some temporary exhibitions. Only the chapel area was where photography was allowed, but not anywhere else.

    I went back to the Notre-Dame de Quebec, where it was open for people to look around. This was the first Catholic Church in Canada, built in 1647. I just enjoy looking at the church art, like the golden altar and the colorful stained glass windows.

    This was when I realized, that I had my cell phone, which also has a camera in it. Why did I not think of this before? I just wasted time and money on buying a disposable, not knowing how the photos will turn out until they get developed.

    I did go upstairs to the Treasury, but there was admission charged, so I did not go in. So back out, and went to get some lunch in a Subway. And just relaxed for some time, as I kept seeing the snow blowing in the wind. Then back out, and I did make myself go up to the promenade, to see the St. Lawrence River, which was icy, but not completely frozen.

    I went back to the visitor center, and asked about the Citadelle, on how much of it was outdoors. It was half indoors, and half outdoors. Plus it was quite a walk to get there. So for those reasons, I decided to pass on it.

    Back out, I went to see the statue of Samuel de Champlain, founder of Quebec City in 1608. And tried to salvage what was left of this visit. But I gave up, as I did could not take it anymore. So I headed back to the hostel.

    I went to the lounge, and dozed off for a while, as I was so tired. Then went to get my backpack, and back out, going to the train station.

    Still very windy, as I walked down a hill. There were 2 women walking along, and they ended using me as a shield from the wind. Kind of funny, in an otherwise terrible day. I got to the Gare du Palais, which served as both the train and bus station.

    I arrived early, and just waited until it was time to leave. Then got on the Orleans Express bus, and headed back to Montreal. As we pulled out, I could see a break in the clouds, and the sun coming out. I was not happy to see that. Talk about insult to injury! This unexpected snow storm during the only day that I am in Quebec City, and I was not able to do much. It ended up being a wasted day, and a wasted visit.

    Arriving back in Montreal, I checked into a different hostel, Montreal Central. Once inside, the hostel looked like some futuristic place, and looking very new. And each bed has its own reading light, as the rooms are surprisingly not cramped.

    After checking in, I went to get some takeout, and returned to the hostel, to eat my dinner there. Then just relaxed and took care of a few other things, before going to sleep.

    Note - I think you will be able tell which photos were from the disposable camera, and which ones from the cell phone.

    Fotos & Videos


  • 31Mar 2014

    5 Last Slushy Day In Canada (For Now) 31.03.2014 Kanada —

    Ville-Marie, Montreal, Kanada


    Getting up, I went to eat the hostel breakfast. Then started packing up, and used the computer to look up some information. Looking outside, the weather was nicer, which meant, there will be some melting, resulting in puddles. So it won't be long until my socks get soggy again.

    After checking out, I went to Berri-UQAM, and tried to buy a day pass from a machine with my credit card. After a few tries, I was told by some guy, that it only accepted Canadian credit cards. Okay, I wished the machine would have told me that in English, as for some reason, it only say it in French, even though I chose the option for English. So I had to withdraw more Canadian money, as I did not have enough cash.

    After all that, I rode the Metro, and went to Vieux-Montreal. Then to the Place d-Armes, which I visited the other day. Looking around at the buildings that surrounded the square, seeing the Vieux Seminaire de St-Sulpice, which was a seminary built in 1680's, and had stone walls around it. Next to it, was the huge Basilique Notre-Dame. Built in the Gothic Revival style in the 1820’s. There were things that were added later on, like the pulpit in the 1870’s. The church art is just amazing to look at, with the statues of the saints on each side at the altar, and the wooden altarpiece in the back.

    After seeing the basilica, I continued to walk around the area, seeing the Old Courthouse, which was built in 1856. And the Place Vauquelin, which was a small square with the statue of Jean Vauquelin. He was the commander of the fleet for New France. Then I went inside the Hotel de Ville, which is City Hall. Looking around, seeing the marble around the place. Then back out, and to the Metro.

    I decided to head to Olympic Stadium, and go up the tower. I arrived there, and went inside the place, but thought I went in the wrong entrance. So I tried to go another way, but no luck there. I went back into the first entrance, and was later told, that it would open around 1 PM. It was 12:30 PM when I was told that.

    I did not have much time to work with, so I debated whether to spend $20 to go up the tower for 30 minutes or not. I decided that it was not worth it. Based on past experiences, it is often more disappointing to rush through an attraction that costs money than not do it at all. So I left, looked around the area, trying to dodge the puddles and dealing with the construction detours around the stadium area.

    I got back to the Metro, and to the Berri-UQAM stop. I stopped by an Italian place, to eat some poutine, which was okay. Then back to the hostel, to get my backpack. I walked to the bus station, to catch the 747 Airport Bus, taking me back there.

    Arriving at Trudeau Airport, I went to check-in, only to find out that my flight has been delayed. But an agent there, told me that I would be placed on an earlier flight, due to leave shortly. So once my boarding pass was printed, I went through security and customs pre-clearance, both of which, were not crowded at all. Customs pre-clearance is basically going through customs ahead of time, which is common in Canadian airports for people going to the US.

    I went to the gate, hearing the final boarding call. So no waiting around, as I got on the plane. Even better, no one else in my row. The plane took off, leaving Montreal, and I returned to Philly. Then headed home.

    I have some leftover Canadian money, and still have to visit the Blue Jays stadium, which means, another trip to Canada may not be far off. To be continued!

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