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Quirky in Quebec

As we first drove into Quebec we stopped off alongside the St Lawrence River as our road into the city was right next to it. It was a great introduction to Quebec, to admire the view on such a stunning day.

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From then on, it just got even better. Our hotel (Hotel Jardine Ste-Anne) was situated right in the center of Quebec City which meant we got a sneak peek before we set out to explore. We drove up and down the cobbled streets, round and round one roundabout and finally down a cute small street to our hotel- so glad it was valet parking as getting down the street was enough lol.

Our hotel was in an old building but part of a new building, Mother was very happy that we were on the old side as it adds to the character of the stay. The building was an old house/home and converted into a hotel and it was very cute as it had a living room and a fireplace at the top of the stairs.

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Of course, pretty much straight away we went out to explore. We were located close to a square which I believe is called Place d’Armes, this was surrounded by lots of restaurants and shops as well as the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. It was just so lovely, honestly felt like I was on holiday (I know I was but in the same country mostly doesn’t feel like you are). And I must say Quebec city was my favourite place of our road trip! I think mum can agree?!

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We eat lunch and dinner here- delicious!
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Guy playing some absolute bangers whilst we were eating dinner!

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For the first day (half a day after we arrived), we spent the day roaming part of the city. It was lovely weather, some may say a little hot but I never moan about warm weather! We ate, we took in the scenery and tried to be that little bit french that day. The second day, we drove to a nearby waterfall (it is saying on google maps a 45 minute drive but I’m sure it only took us 10 minutes lol) which was nice to see, but you can only look at waterfalls for so long ey.

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We then headed back to the city to roam some more (areas we hadn’t got too the previous day) and found some right gems!

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I couldn’t recommend Quebec city enough to anyone, I would visit anytime and would also like to see it in the winter (I bet its beautiful). If anyone has visited in the winter, please let me know in the comments if its worth going? I feel I have more pictures than words in this blog post but I’m hoping the pictures do it justice.

 

Until next time…

Jollie xxx

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Montreal

Let’s start with the facts… Montreal is in the province Quebec and is about a 6-hour drive from Toronto- you could say 5 and a half to make you feel better, but once you’ve stopped for food etc. it is definitely 6 hours. The first time Jamie and I visited, we drove there and back in one go and it wasn’t fun. The drive I mean, Montreal is fun! Now I say this while I’m currently sat on a megabus for the next 5 and half hours to Montreal lol at the moment, I feel fine but I’m only 1 hour in (I will keep you updated) and hey ho, you gotta do what you gotta do when its cheap!

So far, each time I have visited Montreal it has been very different. The first time, Jamie and I went with his parents, the weather was lovely which made our stay beautiful. The second time I visited with my mum and to put it frank… it was pissing it down! To the point where it really limited what we could do. This time, I am actually going with work and going to watch the new Cirque du Soleil show which I am super excited about… I have also checked the weather and, it’s not raining! Phew!

The province Quebec is predominately French speaking, I do find though that most people in Montreal can speak English and they are very friendly. This definitely gives the European effect and sometimes you forgot you’re in Canada- we literally felt like we were in Europe for the weekend lol! The old town is where I have tended to visit on my trips, it is along the waterfront, with cobbled streets, cute restaurants and little stores (there’s like a million gift shops for some reason lol).

When we visited with Jamie’s parents, we were there for 2 nights and stayed at Hotel Auberge Montréal Espace Confort which was a nice/standard hotel, everything that you needed and very simple. Peanut butter and jelly croissant in the morning and I’m happy. It was a little far from the old town, maybe a 20-minute walk- but still in an area with many restaurants.

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Jamie posing outside Hotel Auberge Montréal Espace Confort

On our first visit we did a lot of the tourist activities such as visiting the Basilique Notre Dame, which is stunning.

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WOW

DSCF3735It is $10 to get in so pretty cheap, but for me (maybe not others) it was very much, I came, I saw, I took a picture, lit a candle, used the washroom and I left. Jamie just went in to sit down. This means no disrespect, just something I am not overly interested in although it is a beautiful building.

We had dinner at a restaurant on Place Jacques-Cartier which is like a square with lots of restaurants, stores etc. There were also lots going on at the square, very lively and holiday like as well as a Ben & Jerrys Ice Cream shop that is right up my street; of course I had cookie dough!2016-08-01 22.11.36 - Version 2

When I visited with my mother, as mentioned we were unfortunate with the weather. We stayed at Hotel les Suites Labelle which is located near the ‘the Village’, which is very colourful and bright and conveniently located a tad closer to old Montreal (about a 10-minute walk). The hotel was again, standard- it had peanut butter, jelly croissant option for breakfast (yay!) and I will mention it had the BEST bed I have ever slept in in my life. It literally felt like it was hugging me. The only downside was it was down a side street which could seem a bit ropy.

Ps. Update on the bus, it’s not that bad! You just get a bit restless towards the end!

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‘The Village’

Now what do you do when it’s raining in Montreal I hear you ask?! Well, you go to a spa! Mum and I thought we’d take this opportunity to relax on the second day of our travels lol and went to Scandinave Spa. This place is very nice and relaxing. I have no pictures because you are not allowed to take any inside- but it has a pool which is super-hot (hotter than a normal pool) and the thing to do (apparently) is spend 15 minutes in the hot pool or area and then 15 seconds in an ice cold plunge pool, or shower. As you can imagine, we spent most of our time in the hot pool/areas and then an arm under the cold shower lol- we didn’t go in the cold plunge pool. No chance. You can also get treatments here at an extra price.

While travelling with work, we went to see Cirque du Soleil (Volta). The show was amazing and very different to the previous show that I saw (Luzia) as it is more sports focused. Volta is currently touring and I have just finished working with the show in Toronto, their next stop is Miami!!! Looking for them, leaving us behind in the cold to the sweet hot weather in Miami.

Cirque du Soleil was located on the waterfront, which also has lots of activities including a zip line, cute stores and food stands.DSCF4690

The hotel I stayed in this time, my gosh- was amazing! St Paul Hotel, located in Old Montreal- I wanted to live there lol! But it was super expensive, so if you do fancy treating yourself I recommend St Paul for sure!

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Just a quick 5 minutes down the road from St Paul is Le Cartet Resto where we went for breakfast… it was deliciousssssss- take a look for yourself!!!

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Going with my colleagues/friends from work, I got to experience Montreal a little differently as one of them had been many times before. Now if you want a lively evening then I definitely recommend going to Crescent street, there are lots of restaurants, bars and clubs in this area and for sure busy, even on a Wednesday night! We ate at Wienstein & Gavino’s which was super delicious (they have a Nutella cheesecake! YES!) and then went for drinks at Thursdays bar.

I also recommend going up the Mont Royal for a nice hike and to get a nice shot of the city, you can see everything from up there (45 minutes from old Montreal) and very beautiful.DSCF4743

I hope you have enjoyed my little story of visits to Montreal and start around for my next blog post 🙂 until next time…

Jollietravels xxx

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Road Trippin’ with Momma

I feel like I need to start of by explaining my absence- now there is really no excuse but (I hate it when people say this but now I understand) I have been extremely busy this summer. The good news though is I have plenty of stories to tell and lots of places I’ve been and seen. So I will start from the beginning, my mum came to visit me after 16 months of not seeing her. You can imagine my excitement! 🙂

Now here was the plan, the first two days she got here I decided to show her the 6 (Toronto- it’s what us folk refer to it as here 😉 drake influence you know). We went up the CN Tower to the 360 Restaurant for dinner and to watch the sun set and then on the Saturday, shock I took her to Niagara falls. But then we did go to Niagara on the lake, which was new to Jamie and I and let me tell you- its gorgeous. It’s a cute little town which actually has a lot of British influence.

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Momma & Me 🙂

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The Lake of course
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The British influence inspired me to have Fish & Chips, yum!

Now after I had shown my mum the typical tourist attractions in Toronto and Niagara, it was time to hit the road for out ROAD TRIP. First thing Sunday morning, we were off… first stop was OTTAWA (the Capital of Canada)!

It took us about 5 hours to get to Ottawa and it decided to torrential rain as well which didn’t make it any easier. Now I would say I am a confident driver back in the UK but driving in Canada is a different story. I would love a Canadians perspective on this, but I think the drivers out here on insane. Everyone cuts each other up, goes so fast- it really doesn’t surprise me how many accidents there are. Anyway we arrive in Ottawa around mid afternoon and were worried we weren’t going to have much time to explore as we were leaving the next morning. I can tell you now, we were wrong… we explored what we wanted of Ottawa all in that afternoon.

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Our B&B for the night: Auberge ‘The King Edward’ B&B

I would definitely recommend staying at this B&B if staying in Ottawa. The host was very pleasant and gave us all the information on Ottawa we needed, as well as some recommendations on where to go after (we’ll come onto this). AND he has a dog, which is always a bonus for me… AND the breakfast was delicious… it had me at homemade breakfast muffins, croissant with Nutella, granola- all that good sweet stuff lol. They do savoury options as well but if you know me…IMG_5194.JPG

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View of parliament

Personally, Ottawa didn’t do it for me, an afternoon was enough there. But if you are interested in Parliament, Museums and spending over the odds for dinner in Byward market then this is the place for you.

Now the next day we were heading up to Montreal, and our host recommended driving on the Quebec side and to go through a small town called Montebello. Here there is the largest Fairmont Chateau in the world and let me tell you, it is grand. This is definitely what I like about meeting people and the advantage of having a car… to be able to discover treasures like this that we wouldn’t have known about if it wasn’t for our B&B host.

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The outside looks like pencils

DSCF4191.JPGDSCF4203.JPGWe literally stayed here an hour as thats all we had on the car park lol, so we had a cup of tea, admired the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello and left; short and sweet!

Next we went to Montreal for a 1 night stay, unfortunately the weather was shocking and a lot was closed because of the rain. Click here to read what I got up to the other times I have visited Montreal.

This was unfortunate for my mum because I wanted to show her Montreal but hopefully our next stop made up for it… QUEBEC CITY!!! I’m just going to say it now, I love Quebec City!IMG_5257.JPGIt’s so strange cause as we drove towards Quebec city, the weather just got brighter and brighter… its like we drove out of the storm and came into the light. It was perfect and as you can see from the above picture, I (and we) was excited! Click here to see what we got up to in Quebec city (I wanted to do a separate post as we stayed for a few days and got up to lots).

After a great few days in Quebec city it was time to make our way back to Toronto, but it is an 8 hour drive (it doesn’t sounds a lot but when we drove to Montreal which is 6 hours, we said we would never do that in one day again). So, we decided to stop off somewhere on the way. Mum had definitely done her research and was reading about Canada and saw a place called a thousand islands, which I googled and it looked cute so thats where we stopped!

It was just over a 5 hour drive from Quebec city, one positive about driving in Canada, well Ontario/Quebec specifically it is very simple. A lot of the roads are highways so its easy to navigate, the tricky part is the cities (and the crazy drivers). As well different provinces have different rules such as you can turn right on a red light in Ontario but you cannot in Quebec. Also, always research which side of the road you are driving on- we have been here over a year now and I have definitely spent some time on the wrong side of the road.

When we got to our B&B in Thousand Islands, Gananoque we were blown away by the view as well as the house we were staying at. Riverview B&B, Lansdowne House was on Thousand Island Parkway which runs along side the River. All of the properties along this road have a pretty stunning view as you will see below.

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The evening we arrived, we went into the town which was like a 10 minute drive away and found a cute place to eat. The town of Gananoque is very cute and picturesque. The houses are adorable and the lake is calming and beautiful. We had a little stroll around before heading back to get some kip.

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The Gananoque Inn

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Dessert with a view

The final day of our trip we only had a 3 hour drive back to Toronto, so we booked onto a boat trip around the thousand islands in Gananoque. The boarder to the States is located in the middle of the water so its interesting to which islands are on which side. This was a nice and cute end to our road trip.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Mother and I’s 5 night, 6 day road trip, it was a great adventure to endure while my mum came to visit and I was so happy that I got to spend some quality time with her as well as exploring together. Mums last 2 nights we spent at home in Toronto before the dreaded goodbye. Miss you mum, come back soon! Xxx

Jollietravels (well Hollie in this case) xxx