In July, I went on a mini vacation to Canada. This was my second time in The Great White North as I’ve visited Vancouver (BC) back in 2012. This time around, I explored the Eastern Coast and hit up Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. A lot happened during my week in Canada and I don’t want to overload you with a super detailed post, so here’s a summary of my trip.
I landed in Toronto on a breezy afternoon after two somewhat exhausting flights and layover at JFK. Upon exiting the airport, I hopped in an Uber and headed to my Airbnb. My driver was nice and welcoming. He gave me local restaurants and sightseeing recommendations. In addition, he seemed excited to know that I was visiting Toronto from Raleigh (NC). If I recalled correctly, he’s got friends who attended one of NC’s the top 3 universities (NCSU, Duke, UNC) and based on his enthusiasm to share this piece of information, his friends seemed to have enjoyed their time in NC. Yay for Southern hospitality! Shortly after getting settled into my new place, I went out to explore the neighborhood and ended up grabbing dinner at a local Vietnamese restaurant. The food was alright but the owner was super nice and also has ties to NC, what a small world!
Today was a long day. I spent the entire day exploring different parts of the city (Chinatown, Koreatown, Kensington Market, and CN Tower). I must admit I got pretty worn out by my hectic itinerary but it was worth it because I got take the public transport and walk everywhere, something we don’t do extensively in Raleigh. Later in the afternoon, I took the train to Oshawa, ON to visit some family friends. After 4 hours of catching up, it was time for me to head back to the city. I got back to my place pretty late and I felt like I was dying from exhaustion. I need to take things easy tomorrow or else I will get sick like I did during my last trip to Seoul, Korea.
This morning, I woke up feeling drained but I somehow managed to drag myself out of bed. Before heading out, I took the time to spy on my next door neighbors who loved to stare at my window every time I opened the blinds… CREEPY!… These weirdos were no other than my Airbnb host’s chicken that he kept in his backyard. They became obsessed with me, ever since I took a photo of them staring me down from the other side of my window. It turned out they loved the attention and the “photoshoot session”. Every morning, they would stand in front of my window and pose until I took a photo of them or acknowledged their presence. It was both very strange and entertaining! Once I got “my daily routine” out of the way, I headed downtown where I visited Yonge Street, Toronto University Campus, and Ryerson University Student Learning Centre (a must see!). Later, I met up with some friends and hung out with them for a bit before calling it a night.
Today was very relaxing and super fun! I spend the morning with some friends who showed me a bit more of the city. We spent most of our time in residential areas which I loved because I got to experience various sub-cultures of the city. At some point, we grabbed delicious Carribean food at a very popular take-out. I struggled very much to place my order because I couldn’t understand the cashier’s Jamaican Patois. She was both confused and amazed by my lack of knowledge of her language because she assumed I was a local… Sorry girl! I am a fraud… T_T. Later that afternoon, I meet up with a different set of friends. We went to a Karaoke place on Yonge Street and had a blast! After that, we went to a nearby restaurant and spent a couple of hours there before heading home. Now, it’s time to pack for my trip to Ottawa. I don’t want to rush in the morning because I have to catch an early train.
I got dropped off at Union Station just in time to catch the train. I tried so hard to get to the station early but I am just not a morning person. Luckily, it wasn’t too complicated to find my train. The 4 hours ride to Ottawa was mostly uneventful, except maybe for the fact NO ONE bothered to help me place my luggage inside the luggage compartment, even though there was a line of people standing behind me…Smh!
Once we got off the train, I rushed outside Ottawa Station to find my family. I waited for a bit before hearing someone call out my name. It was my cousin, Jane. We hadn’t seen each other since I left Kinshasa (Congo) in 2000 but I managed to recognize her. Shortly after, my aunt’s husband came to pick us up and we headed to their place. Later my aunt, her husband, and Jane took me sightseeing. We went to Parliament Hill and Rockcliffe Park and walked around downtown for a bit before going home. I tried to sleep early because I had to catch an early bus to Montreal but I couldn’t turn down to the opportunity to stay up and catch up with my cousins. Who needs sleep anyways?
I DONE MESSED UP! I woke up late and I am now rushing to get ready to make it to the bus station on time. Thankfully my aunt’s husband is dropping me off to the station but he needs to be at work soon so I need to HURRY UP! I should have gone to bed early last night!… Luckily, I made it to the bus station on time. I actually have some time to kill before getting on the bus to Montreal. I can’t wait to explore the city and to speak French (I am a native speaker)!
Montreal was… AWESOME! I can’t even begin to explain how much I enjoyed exploring this unique city. Oddly, it reminded a lot of Belgium (I lived in Brussels for 5 years prior to moving to the US). I kept getting strange déjà vu moments which made me feel like I was in a parallel universe. My day was somewhat packed and it would take too long to write about it in detail but here’s a quick rundown.
- I ate my very first sushi burrito at some Asian- fusion cafe – pretty good stuff!
- I attempted to visit La Grande Bibliothèque but it was closed… on a Monday…
- I walked around Le Plateau-Mont-Royal and grabbed a snack at a nearby coffee shop
- I met up with my cousin Jane for lunch (she was in town for a couple of hours)
- I went to Mount Royal observatory lookout and enjoyed a gorgeous view of the city
- I explored Le Vieux- Port (Old Port) with a friend from Paris, who was studying in the city.
Before I knew it, I had to rush back to the station to catch my bus to Ottawa. What a bummer! I was having a blast here!
This morning, my aunt and her husband dropped me off at the train station. I am heading back to Toronto to catch my flight. As we parted ways, we promised to meet up again soon, which we did in August when they came down to visit us and my family who was visiting from London. Despite my train running a bit late, I managed to get to Toronto in time to catch my flight back to Raleigh. Overall, I had a great time in Canada and I can’t wait to go back, especially in Montreal.