Posts Tagged With: Old Port

Road Trip to Ottawa and Montreal

My university friend and I decided to do a road trip to Ottawa and Montreal for the Victoria Day long weekend. My university friend hadn’t been to Ottawa or Montreal before while I was interested in the tulip festival. We stayed at Barefoot Hostel which another university friend had recommended to me. Barefoot Hostel is located near Byward Market and is a really cool, chill place. There’s only 2 bunk beds in each room and there’s four rooms in total for the entire hostel which are all located on the second floor. Two nights is $64. Barefoot Hostel has free wi-fi, free shampoo bottles, a hairdryer and straightener that you can borrow, a locker to lock your valuables and belongings and a nice common room with a large flat-screen TV and DVDs. The bathrooms are nice and clean. This hostel reminded me of the EDU hostel I stayed at in Yogyakarta/Jogjakarta, Indonesia. The Yogyakarta EDU hostel is a 5 star hostel if there is such a thing as a 5 star hostel. Barefoot Hostel is a 4.5 star hostel.

Inside Notre Dame Basilica

Inside Notre Dame Basilica

Inside Notre Dame Basilica

Inside Notre Dame Basilica

Tulip Festival at Major's Hill Park

Tulip Festival at Major’s Hill Park

Tulip Festival at Major's Hill Park

Tulip Festival at Major’s Hill Park

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location of Byward Museum

location of Byward Museum

Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal

Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill

Tulip Festival at Parliament Hill

Tulip Festival at Parliament Hill

Tulip Festival at Parliament Hill

Tulip Festival at Parliament Hill

Tulip Festival at Parliament Hill

Tulip Festival at Parliament Hill

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a view from the double decker shuttle bus

a view from the double decker shuttle bus

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After driving from Toronto to Ottawa and checking into the hostel, we decided to walk around downtown Ottawa. We meandered through Byward Market, toured the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica and meander through Major’s Hill Park and Parliament Hill for the tulips. We walked past the Rideau Canal and the Fairmont Chateau Laurier on our way from Major’s Hill Park and Parliament Hill. The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage site. the Fairmont Chateau Laurier is part of the Canadian railway hotels. While at Parliament Hill, one of the guides told us that the tours were all full for the day and that they were open on Victoria Day. We walked down a part of Sparks Street which is classified as an outdoor pedestrian mall. We then waited for the free tulip festival shuttle bus at the corner of Elgin and Sparks Street. The shuttle bus turned out to be an open top double decker bus. The bus passed by the Ottawa City Hall and Confederation Park to drive along Queen Elizabeth Dr to reach Commissioners Park and Little Italy. Queen Elizabeth Dr is a very scenic road which follows the Rideau Canal to Dow’s Lake. We decided to first walk around Litttle Italy before having dinner at La Favorita.

Tulip Festival at Commissioners Park

Tulip Festival at Commissioners Park

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Man with 2 Hats near Dow's Lake

Man with 2 Hats near Dow’s Lake

 

 

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fireworks at Dows Lake

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After dinner, we walked back to Commissioners Park to look at the variety of tulips planted there for the tulip festival. The variety at Commissioners Park is much larger than the varieties at Major’s Hill Park and Parliament Hill. We then waited by the north side of Dow’s Lake for the firework show to start. The fireworks show was quite pretty with a nice variety of fireworks. After the fireworks ended, we walked to Preston St/Gladstone Ave to take the 14 bus back to Byward Market. The OC Transpo fare is $3.45 per person (check the OC Transpo website for the most up-to-date fare price).

wandering around Old Port

wandering around Old Port

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Notre Dame

Notre Dame Basilica

inside St Patrick Basilica

inside St Patrick Basilica

inside St Patrick Basilica

inside St Patrick Basilica

inside St Patrick Basilica

inside St Patrick Basilica

inside St Patrick Basilica

inside St Patrick Basilica

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stain glass at place d'art

stain glass at place d’armes

stain glass at place d'art

stain glass at place d’armes

On Saturday morning, we drove from Ottawa to Montreal. I thought that there would be English road signs in Quebec but I was sorely mistaken. There are only French road signs in Quebec. We found cheap parking at UQAM via the Best Parking app. This particular part of the campus is close to Place des Arts metro station and downtown Montreal. A STM day pass is $10. It can be bought at the ticket booth or the electronic ticket booth. We first went to eat brunch at l’Avenue. After brunch we took the metro to walk around Old Montreal. We passed by Chateau Ramezy, Place Jacque Cartier and Bonsecours Market. We went to the Clock Tower to see if we could climb up but the door to the stairs was locked and there was a spiderweb around the door handle and wall. I had asked the parking attendent working at the Clock Tower parking lot if it was possible to climb up the Clock Tower and he said that it was possible, I was misinformed yet again. We meandered around Old Port on our way to Notre Dame Basilica, the Berlin Wall in the Centre de Commerce Mondial and St. Patrick’s Basilica. We then went to Marie Reine du Monde Cathedral in which we discovered that there was mass at 5pm. So we walked around Dorchester Square. We then took the metro to Place d’Armes to see the stain glass window effect before taking the metro to Mont Royal to meet my friend for dinner at la fabrique bistrot. I had hoped that we had time to go to Mont Royal Park before dinner but we only had 10 minutes before we had to meet my friend so we settled for walking around a part of the Plateau.

at the War Museum

at the War Museum

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Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall

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On Sunday morning, we lined up for over an hour for the Parliament tour tickets. After getting the tickets, we checked out of the hostel. We then went to Shawarma Palace so we could eat brunch. After brunch, we went to the War Museum. My friend was told to go visit the Civilization Museum in Hull, Quebec. I managed to convince my friend to go to the War Museum instead. When I lived in Ottawa back in 2010 I toured the Currency Museum, Royal Canadian Mint, Cold War Museum aka Diefenbunker Museum, the Library and Archives Canada, Canadian Museum of Nature, National Gallery of Canada, Canadian War Museum, Civilization Museum and the Canadian Postal Museum. My favourite museums were the Currency Museum and the War Museum. My friend wasn’t interested in looking at money so I pushed for the War Museum. The admission price to the War Museum is $14.69. The War Museum showcases the War of 1812, the battles prior to the 1900s, Canada’s involvement in World War I, World War II and the Cold War. It also showcases some of Canada’s peacekeeping missions.

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House of Commons

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in the Library

in the Library

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Diamond Jubilee stain glass window

Diamond Jubilee stain glass window

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Senate

Senate

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at Byward Market

After touring the war museum, we went to Parliament Hill for our tour. We had to first pass through security then wait for our group. The tour took us to the House of Commons, the library and the Senate. This is my third time touring Parliament and the newest thing to the tour is the stain glass window commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Currently the reign of Queen Elizabeth II is as long as the reign of Queen Victoria’s at 63 years who is Great Britain’s longest ruling monarch, an achievement unto itself. After our tour of parliament, we went to Byward Market to get beaver tails before beginning the drive back to Toronto.

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Categories: Canada, Montreal, Ottawa, Sightseeing, UNESCO World Heritage Site | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Montreal-Day 1

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Prior to my long weekend trip to Montreal, it’s been over a year since I last traveled. I took the midnight bus from Toronto to Montreal to maximize my stay in Montreal. The bus ride from Toronto to Montreal is alittle over 6.5 hours long. I rode on Megabus and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a double decker bus since I thought Megabus would be like Greyhound and just be like a regular tour bus. It’s not hard to find the Metro Toronto Coach Terminal however finding the right line up for the bus is another thing. There was this young couple in front of me who missed their bus by 24 hours. I’m guessing they bought the Friday midnight bus tickets rather than the Saturday midnight bus tickets. If you want to take the midnight bus on a Friday night, the correct ticket date is the Saturday midnight bus, when in doubt follow military time or the 24 hour clock. Megabus drops you off outside of the Le 1000 de la Gauchetière building which is where the metro Place Bonaventure station is located.

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When I got to the metro, I bought the 3 day pass ($18). The 3 day pass is valid for the entirety of my trip. When I went to Montreal, a one way fare costs $3 which meant that I had to make at least 7 trips for the 3 day pass to be worthwhile. During my 3 days in Montreal, I made a total of 19 trips. I really like how the STM offers weekend, evening and 3 day passes. Also the metro is much easier on the ears since the trains emit this violin tune when it comes to a stop rather than come to a screeching halt like the TTC does. Comparing the TTC and STM, I prefer STM more.

Place Jacque Cartier

Place Jacque Cartier

I stayed at the Montreal Central Hostel during my trip. It was slightly difficult to find it since its directions on their website didn’t account for the fact that the closest metro entrance/exit is closed down. Montreal Central Hostel has a nice looking lobby, includes wi-fi and breakfast (croissants, eggo, toast, coffee, tea, juice), has free local calls (telephone in the room) and it has a locked storage room. They also provide bedding, towels, soap and a paper cup. I was able to check in at 7am and leave my luggage in the locked storage room since I can only get the keys after 2pm. I basically got my keys at midnight when I finally went back to the hostel after a long day of sightseeing. The room I stayed in was clean and tidy although the washroom was quite small but it was clean and it has a shower stall rather than a bathtub. When I first entered my room, the other people were already asleep and the only free bed was the top bunk. I liked how there’s 3 electrical outlets by the side of each bed and there’s a box tied to the railings for you to put stuff in. It’s especially convenient for anybody who gets the top bunk bed because it can be slightly annoying going up and down the ladder at night with no lights on in the room.

Gardens at Chateau Ramezy

Gardens at Chateau Ramezy

Since my stay started on Saturday, I had to eat breakfast elsewhere. I decided to go to Olive + Gourmando (please refer to my review of it on an earlier post for details). After breakfast I walked past Place d’Youville before walking along Rue de la Commune to get to Place Jacque Cartier. Place Jacque Cartier is where City Hall and Chateau Ramezy are located. Bonsecour Market and Notre Dame de Bonsecour Chapel are really close to it.

Inside Notre Dame de Bonsecours Chapel

Inside Notre Dame de Bonsecours Chapel

Notre Dame de Bonsecours Chapel

Notre Dame de Bonsecours Chapel

I joined the Old Montreal Free Walking Tour. It starts at 10am and ends around noon so it’s a 2 hour tour of Old Montreal, Old Port and part of Downtown Montreal. I was to meet the guide by the fountain next to City Hall. Since the guide had a large white umbrella, he wasn’t hard to find. We started the tour with the guide explaining how the Free Walking Tour operates (by tips and they are all trained for a year prior to doing the tour). The guide then explained how in Montreal, most statues are in pairs in which one statue is of English origin while the other is of French origin. The English statues are also older than the French statues in most cases. The fountain has Nelson on one side and Vauquelin on the other. We then walked down Place Jacque Cartier to reach the garden of Chateau Ramezy where the guide explained abit about the history of Chateau Ramezy and the rivalry between Montreal and Quebec City and how Montreal was founded. Afterwards we walked further down Place Jacque Cartier and past Bonsecour Market to Notre Dame de Bonsecour Chapel.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame Basilica

We toured the inside of Notre Dame de Bonsecour Chapel. I liked how there are model ships inside the church and the statues of angels and Mary on the roof of the church facing the river. Afterwards we walked along the waterfront before heading to Notre Dame Basilica, Maisonneuve Monument and Place d’Armes. We didn’t go inside the Notre Dame Basilica however the guide talked about the history of Notre Dame Basilica and St. Patrick’s Basilica. We then went to see the inside of an old bank (in our  case, it was RBC) built during the 1920s-1930s. Afterwards we went and saw a section of the Underground City and that was the end of the tour.

Place Sun Yat Sen

Place Sun Yat Sen

I decided to spend the rest of my afternoon with a group of New Yorkers who were also part of the Old Montreal Free Walking Tour. We first had to find an ATM for them to withdraw some cash and while we were looking for an ATM we came across afew souvenir shops so we went in so that they could buy some souvenirs. We then walked around Chinatown. It’s very small in comparison to the Chinatowns of Toronto and there’s nothing especial about it aside from a bust of Sun Yat Sen at Place Sun Yat Sen. We then walked to Brasserie T! for lunch (please refer to my review of it on an earlier post for details).

Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral

Windsor Hotel

Windsor Hotel

After lunch, we leisurely made our way to Christ Church Cathedral. The architecture is Gothic and quite pretty. We then went to Dorchester Square which is surrounded by Windsor Hotel and The Gazette. The Windsor Hotel is part of Canada’s railway hotels which include Toronto’s Royal York, Quebec City’s Chateau Frontenac, Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier, Winnipeg’s Fort Garry Hotel, Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton, Hotel Vancouver in Vancouver and The Empress in Victoria. We parted ways at Dorchester Square.

Inside St. Patrick's Basilica

Inside St. Patrick’s Basilica

I walked to Mary Queen of the World Cathedral (there was a wedding going on inside at the time so I couldn’t go in). I then walked past Place Bonaventure and Tour de la Bourse before making my way to St. Patrick’s Basilica. The outside may not be as impressive as Notre Dame Basilica or St. Joseph’s Oratory but the inside is quite majestic. It was 4:25 when I finished touring St. Patrick’s Basilica which meant that I had to run since I had to meet my friend at 4:45pm at Metro Mont-Royal. Apparently I had plenty of time, according to my friend when I told him that I rushed over to meet him. We had dinner at Au Pied du Cochon (please refer to my review of it on an earlier post for details).

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At Belvédère Kondiaronk

After dinner we meandered our way to Le Lab (please refer to my review of it on an earlier post for details). Afterwards, on our way to La Banquise, I spotted the 11 bus so my friend and I decided to take the bus to Mont Royal Park rather than eat poutine. Mont Royal Park is a large park with two lookout points. We first went to the Belvédère Kondiaronk which overlooks downtown before walking to Belvédère Camillien-Houde which overlooks Stade Olympique (Olympic Stadium). After I finished taking pictures of the night skyline, we went back to Belvédère Kondiaronk so that we could make our way down the mountain towards downtown so we could get to the metro station.

At Belvédère Camillien-Houde

At Belvédère Camillien-Houde

Categories: Canada, Montreal, Sightseeing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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