Dad and Daughter roadtrip to Montreal (and Quebec)

Our time in Quebec over and it was time to make the trek to Montreal.  We got there earlier than intended and headed straight to the hotel to check in.   We stayed fairly close to where I stayed last time, and I remembered my way around fairly easily.   Having the car the this time and going back over the same areas amazed me with how much ground I had covered last time on foot.

Unfortunately, the hotel did not manage to put us in rooms near each other, or even in the same building.  Hotel was okay other than that, and the fact that my bathroom was so small, I had to sit sideways on the loo as there wasnt room the other way!We got there in the early evening so drove down near the Old Montreal for a walkabout and to see the Notre Dame Basilica.  The square was busy, so we had a quick look around and then went for some dinner.  Dinner was at the chocolate restaurant, Juliette et Chocolat.  It was shots of chocolate, meringue floating in custard for Dad and chocolate fondue for me.  I remembered the place from last time, it was so good!  We didnt stay late as I wasnt feeling 100%.  I slept really well in the hotel and we had tea and toast for breakfast.

Sunday morning involved some walking around the shops and port, sitting in the sunshine (yes, we finally had a break from the rain and an opportunity to don flip flops).  We had maple taffy rolled in the ice from a sugar shack.  We went to Notre Dame to look around inside.   We just strolled around the city after, and it was lovely.  


I had to take Dad to try Fairmont bagels, so we went to get bagels and the drove to Mont Royal to sit and eat them in the sun looking out over the city.  Mont Royal is a park/ mountain in the city that has a lovely parking area with a view over the city, and lots park and green at the top to visit.   


We didnt want to be back too late (it ended up being 12.45am), so we decided to have some more tasty treats from another Juliette et Chocolat.  This time, chocolate shots followed by a sundae with warm chocolate sauce for me and a crepe for Dad.  I wanted everything on the menu, all the treats in the bakery counter and the entire stock of the chocolate shop.  We got some desserts to bring back and a few bits from the shop.

Back to Toronto.  The drive was just under 7 hours with a couple of short stops.  The road was full of pot holes and we were tired, so it was slow, steady and even more tiring.  

Despite the huge amount of driving, the whole trip was totally worth it.  I loved all of it, but the highlights (other than chocolate based food) were definitely Montmorency Falls in Quebec city and just strolling around Montreal.  So happy the sun joined up on the last day.   Before coming to Canada, 2 or 3 hours seemed like a road trip, now, if I want to go somewhere 7, 8, 9 hours away, I just do it.  I love the opportunities this will open up for me. 

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Dad and Daughter roadtrip to Quebec (and Montreal).

Thursday morning came and, after an impromptu Jays game followed by packing on Wednesday, we were tired and set off a bit later than planned around 9am.  The drive to Quebec took a staggering 9 hours.  We did stop a few times for supplies and leg stretching – it is lucky we always have lots to chat about.  There was still snow on the ground at the side of the road as we got further east. We had a small debate over whether it was snow or plastic bags, apparently it couldn’t be snow, it’s not cold enough.  Dad eventually realised it was snow!  

The hotel (Hotel Universal) was nice and the rooms were spacious and had a bit of posh towel folding going on.  We had some food at the Boston Pizza in the hotel and then a sauna, then retired to take baths and sleep.  


The rain forecast had not arrived when we woke up, so we drove to Montmorency Falls and were able to see all we wanted just as the rain hit.  There is a short walk to the falls where you can go out on to a pavillion that sticks out over the water allowing a breathtaking view of the falls.  We both turned the corner and stepped out with a ‘wow’.  The falls are higher than Niagara Falls, though considerably narrower.  We walked accross a suspension bridge over the top of the falls and you can look down and see the ice still at the bottom.  I loved seeing the different layers in the ice that have built up.  The steps down to the falls were closed for the season, Dad vetoed the idea of climbing the barrier.  I did convince him to jump up and down on the suspension bridge though.  


We drove down to the bottom of the falls so we could see the view from the bottom as well.  By this time, it was getting colder.  It was one of those weather situations where you leap out of the car, briskly walk, with little trots to the best spot to see the falls, take a picture, share a quick mutter of appreciation and retreat.

Time to see Quebec City.  A city within old fortification walls, still surrounded with cannons.  Unfortunately, all of the other places we could have been had better weather than Quebec – Toronto and UK were dry and we were at risk of water damage.  We briskly walked around seeing some shops.  The Chateau Frontenac was a lovely detailed fairytale castle with turrets, now a hotel that we went to for Afternoon Tea.  Unfortunately, noone bothered to collect us from the sign saying we had to wait to be seated, so we went elsewhere for burgers and poutine.  We saw some cannons along the fortification walls, and walked back up through the shops.  I found some winter hats reduced in Roots which offered me a little more weather resistance.  I was delighted to find a Christmas shop, Christmas songs playing.  I picked up a wonderful new decoration of a snowlady holding a frog to kiss.  It made me think of me, always on the lookout for a prince.  We pottered around a shop full of such random stuff – cutlery (handmade with all different woods, apparently juniper will always smell peppery which was interesting), knives, leather goods, pistols, clothes, fur hats etc and all sorts of supplies for those models with the little soldiers where people make a scene to play with and re-enact battles.  I bought some red polka dot origami earrings that I loved.  There was a whole interesting range including earrings made from the crane origami shape.  When I asked about them, I found the lady working there made that collection.


Throughout the day, we were on the lookout for a pastry shop.  Somewhere to sit seeking refuge from the rain, and have a tea break. We went in many to check the ambience and menus – luckily we held out for the right one and found Paillard.  The place was packed with fresh breads, pastries, cakes, chocolate and creme brulees.  Of course, we had creme brulee.  It was spectacular, and blowtorched when ordered so it was perfectly warm from being freshly caramelised.


Back to the car and off to the hotel.  Some lazy time, a sauna, jacuzzi and some dinner at Baton Rouge.  Delicious but a little pricey.

We had a good sleep and went back to Quebec City today for another look around the streets we missed.  Breakfast was, of course, at Paillard – bacon and cheese croissants.  Dads turn to do some shopping and we went for a nose around the Chateau Frontenac to check out the view from the top floor.  Can anyone pass a maids cart without being attracted to the smellies?  We are way too silly for this sort of opportunity and I got a little hysterical with the comedy of the casing of the cart.  I would return the hand cream in return for a glimpse of that security footage.

A hot chocolate, a walk in the rain, pottering in the shops and we went for a talk on the history of Old Quebec.  The model lit up as the video and voiceover talked about each area and sound effects were alongside it.  Not something I would usually do, but 20 minutes was the perfect amount of time to be interesting to me.  

A quick hunt for a book on the history of Quebec City for Dad and we set off for Montreal.

When Dad came to town…  Round 2. Part 1.

Another month, another visitor.  A repeat visitor again. Dad is back and we have a fun filled two weeks in the diary.  

Day 1 was a gorgeous sunny day for strolling around the beaches.  A little windy by the water, but nice for walking and getting his bearings back.  It looked good enough to swim, but we are not silly.

Day 2 took us downtown with plans to potter around the Eaton Centre and then head for the Science Museum.  Normally, an excellent planner, I dropped the ball and did not check the Science Museum opening hours.  In my defence, what sort of toursit attraction closes at 4pm?!  We did a spot of shopping and met the Welsh and the Scottish and went for mac n cheese balls and warm cookie and ice cream desserts.  We got tickets for the Jays vs Red Sox game and sat down in the 100 level.  It was weird being there not working!  I kept wanting to say “Hey, hows it goin’?” to people and direct them to their seats.  After a fair few losing games this season, it was nice to be at a winner!

Day 3 saw us heading East for a roadtrip…. 

Pulling teeth

Having a tooth whilst awake is not one of those things that is not as bad as you think it is going to be.  What a horrific experience.  

Having been in a lot of tooth pain, I had to go to the dentist. I had prepared myself to have a filling (I find this traumatic enough in itself) and found myself being sent off to a surgeon for an awake wisdom tooth removal.  I was offered a video clip to see what was going to happen, I firmly declined.  The four injections were terrifying and painful.  I could not actually feel the process after this, so that was good, however, it was still awful having my mouth propped open and all the drama.  They kept saying breathe through my nose, how do you breathe through your nose when its all snotty and blocked due to crying through the whole thing?! Luckily there was a nice lady wiping my tears and holding my hand.  The worst bit that I was not prepared for was being able to HEAR the tooth being ripped out – like the sound of the roots ripping when you pull a plant or weed up.

I asked to keep my tooth, it was huge! They wouldnt let me.

Afterwards, I found myself being given gauze to pack it and hopefully the bleeding would eventually stop.   I didnt think of having to do this and didnt not want to touch it or go near it.  Luckily, a friend was able to pick me up and a few hours later it had pretty much stopped bleeding in time for work.  My face was huge and I did not realise that two codeine on an empty stomach would make me very sleepy and very spaced out.  I couldnt smile at my customers because it hurt, I managed a teeth baring grimace later in the night.

I had to work the next day, but then my friend took me out shopping and, by the evening, I was ready to consider food.  Luckily, the pub we ate at did mashed potato with cheese and gravy for me.  A pint of cider is incredibly potent on an almost empty stomach and drugs.  I slept really well.

I am glad the tooth is out.  I am incredibly annoyed about the insane bill.  Canadian dental care is a nightmare – people are not entitled to it free or low cost unless they are on benefits, or if you have a job with a dental plan.  Those of us in the middle of the road working hard, but in jobs without dental plans are left to suffer.  The dentist said one to two weeks recovery time.  Four days later and it is still bruised and sore to move my face too much, but I feel okay other than this.  I slept lying down fully last night, the swelling has mostly gone and I think today I can eat something other than mashed potato or soup.

I must remember this experience and not let it fade as I must never have a tooth out while awake again. 

Being a Quiz Host

The last three weeks, my random life has had me hosting quiz nights at a pub down the road.  A guy I met through the Brits in Toronto Facebook group hosts them here and in the UK and he asked me to host a few for him while he was back in England.  I was so nervous at first about the use of the microphone.  I am used to being in front of groups, but the tools of my trade are usually flipcharts and PowerPoint.   The microphone went surprisingly well and was fine after the first five minutes.  Luckily James sent all the info and quiz questions, so I just had to find some cheesy jokes to start the night off and make up an interactive round and I was well away.  The first week, I had people unrolling toilet rolls on their team mates, week two they were writing poems with random words to be included, and last night had to build the tallest freestanding structure.  It was so fun to see that everyone joined in, got competitive and seemed to enjoy these!  I had about 25 people the first week, then 42 and 33 last night.

I had so much fun hosting these….  I only read the answer out once by mistake! And I have learnt so much random stuff.  Who knew the hole in a guillotine for chopping people’s heads off is called a lunette? It has been nice seeing teams that came last gradually climb the ranks, and teams that started with two grow as they bring their friends.  And this is in just three weeks.  Next time, Ill be back on the other side competing for the title.

(Quiz Coconut if you want to find one – http://www.quizcoconut.ca and http://www.quizcoconut.co.uk)

Beaches Spring Sprint – 5k

This Saturday was the day for another run, the Beaches Spring Sprint.  The run was lovely with perfect scenery along the boardwalk.  It was a lovely day for running.  I knocked 53 seconds off the time I ran the St Patricks Day 5k in, finishing this one at 34 minutes and 6 seconds.  There was an array of treats at the finish line and we polished of hot chocolate, yoghurt, burgers, cookies and cake before 11am.  Whoops.  I would have preferred a medal.  There were massages at the end which were great on my poor feet.  I am still upset about the lack of medal, did it even happen if there arent medals for finishing?  So glad I got to do at least one run in the Beaches before I depart.