29th June – 8th July 2017
Our flight from Chicago took us to Montreal, where we planned to spend 4 nights. We thought it was ok, although we probably didn’t see it in the best light, for a few reasons:
• it absolutely chucked it down the whole time
• it followed on from Chicago, one of our favourite places so far
• it wasn’t Chicago, one of our favourite places so far
Montreal is part of Quebec, the French speaking part of Canada. However, we found it to be truly bilingual, with English and French spoken about 50-50, and almost everyone fluent in both. It felt quite European both in terms of the architecture and the atmosphere.
Whilst we were there, Canada celebrated its 150th birthday. We were interested to see how the city dealt with this; we wondered if there would be much excitement, bearing in mind Quebec has had 2 referendums on independence from Canada in the last 50 years. However, the city did get in the spirit of things, with lots of people turning out for the firework display.
The Montreal Jazz Festival was also on whilst we were there (this was all a coincidence). Although some acts were ticket only, a lot was free, and we checked out a few different artists whilst there. The music was quite varied, and not exclusively jazz, as we had perhaps expected.
From Montreal, we headed to Toronto, which was to be the last stop on our round the world tour. It turned out to be the favourite of the Canadian cities that we visited. Friendlier than Vancouver, with more to see and do than Montreal; it was a nice place to finish the trip.
On the first day, we headed over to St Lawrence Market, packet to the rafters with vendors selling all manner of delicious foods. It took us absolutely ages to decide what to eat for lunch. From there, we visited the Distillery District, which used to be an industrial area but has been converted into an area with art galleries, independent cafes and boutiques. We really liked it; particularly the shop selling all the retro sports gear and memorabilia; I could easily have spent a few hundred dollars in there, and I really hate shopping for clothes.
We also went to Ripley’s Aquarium. It was one of the best we have ever seen, with lots of interactive stuff, and well presented information on all the different species they had (which was quite a lot). Accessible for kids but still interesting for adults, we would definitely recommend it.
On the second day, we visited Niagara Falls. Although the budget was well and truly shot by this point, we didn’t feel we could come all this way and not see it. In the end, we were glad we chose to; it didn’t disappoint.
Our final day was spent doing some shopping and getting ready for our return to the UK. We went out for a meal in the Little Italy area of Toronto, and celebrated the end of what has been a truly amazing adventure. We’ve met some fantastic people, seen some incredible things and had some amazing experiences.
Do we have any regrets? Perhaps only one; we didn’t do it when we were younger.
(Posted by Ben)