The Scene: A mom is taking a photo of her daughter next to a beautiful vista. Her daughter then reviews the photo for her approval.
“Wait, you still cut me out!”
* mom laughs *
“Let’s try again.”
The Scene: A mom is taking a photo of her daughter next to a beautiful vista. Her daughter then reviews the photo for her approval.
“Wait, you still cut me out!”
* mom laughs *
“Let’s try again.”
Thank you for sticking by my side for the entire hike even after seeing me at my worst (aggressively swatting away bugs).
If you telling me to “have a great trip!” was a proposal of marriage,
Remember when I was going on and on about the wind?
Well, it never died down and kept waking me up throughout the night. I probably got about 2 hours of sleep in total. Not the ideal situation, of course, so it was a bit of a drag.
My alarm was set for 4:30am for a planned 5am departure (it’s a 6-hour drive to Cape Breton and I wanted to have the whole day to explore the first side of the trail), but I ended up getting fed up with trying to sleep at around 4:10, so I decided to just get up and leave. I was so tired when I first got up that I almost put mascara on my toothbrush.
I left before the sun even started to get up, which was kind of a drag because I had been looking forward to seeing the sunrise from my camper. Luckily, though, I experienced the sunrise on the drive. It was beautiful. The colors!!!
I didn’t get a chance to see a whole lot in New Brunswick, and I would love to come back at some point to explore some more. A good thing about the drive to Cape Breton, though, was that as I was heading toward the main highway stretch, the GPS took my through all of these really cute fishing villages, etc. Although I was only driving by, at least I got to see some of the towns I wanted to explore in passing!
I drove through cute little towns, long, open highways, and then ended up on this road.
Couple of highlights of the drive (besides almost dying on this road — NOT ACTUALLY DON’T WORRY, MOM):
After about six hours of driving, I made it to the base of the Cabot Trail, where I was ready for… some more driving! The Cabot Trail is a beautiful driving trail on Cape Breton; like the Fundy Trail, it has countless lookouts to wonder at the beautiful views and several places to stop, park, and then hike. I started in Baddeck, drove to Cheticamp (one starting place of the trail), and then went on my way to Pleasant Bay, where I’m staying for the night.
I couldn’t decide which lookouts to stop at, so I just stopped at all of them.
The lookouts weren’t the only beautiful aspect; the general driving trail itself was SPECTACULAR. I obviously couldn’t take any photos as I was driving (because, as the title of this post suggests — the driving was definitely a little hairy, with many twists and turns, etc.), so if you’re curious, just google “Cabot Trail” images and see what pops up. It’s magical.
After driving around quite a bit, it was finally 4pm: check-in time! I went to the B&B that I had booked and settled in. I was exhausted from the night before (no sleep) and the drive up, but I had booked a sunset hiking tour on the skyline trail (one of the many hiking trails along the Cabot Trail), so I had to get my act together and go on my way. So I grabbed my backpack and headed for dinner at the Rusty Anchor Restaurant, where I ordered crab rolls. CRAB ROLLS. YUM.
A girl in this seafood restaurant got chicken fingers. I wish I could say, “really? are you kidding?” but that was me up until like… last year. LOL
I forgot exactly what time we had to meet for the hike, so I got there at 6:05 just to be safe.
We didn’t meet until 6:50.
I read in my car for a while, waiting for the tour guide to show up — I decided to do this tour instead of just going by myself because, although I’m sure I would have been fine because I would have tagged along with some other family or something, there have been some instances of coyotes attacking lone hikers. Lone female hikers, to be exact. So I wasn’t about to risk that, because that woulda been a “trip ruiner” (as my mom calls it) for sure.
Finally, more people showed up and we met our hiking guide! She was really great. It was so cool to hear where everyone else was coming from: the Netherlands, Virginia, Denmark, and Montreal! Everyone was super sweet and welcoming. We also got really lucky with the weather, because it had been pretty cloudy all day, but it cleared up right before we left.
The hike itself was magical; through the woods (but it was pretty clear so it didn’t feel dense or buggy), the mountains (moose territory but unfortunately, we didn’t spot any), and then finally the beach, where we got to watch the sunset. So surreal.
The park has had several days in which volunteers and professional tree planters came in and helped plant saplings and seeds in an effort to replenish the forest.
Did you know that one can become a “professional tree planter?”
Our guide made a reference to the Washington Monument to describe the structure of the trees!!!!!!!!! I almost cried.
The photo above was taken on “Jumping Brook,” a look-out landing. Our tour guide told us the name and then told us, “But please don’t.”
The sight was beautiful, but the winds were SO strong. It was pretty treacherous at points, trying to climb up and down the stairs. Here’s a taste:
On the way back, I trailed behind the cute French family from Montreal. They kept looking back at me so I felt creepy because I didn’t know how to tell them, “I’m just following you because I don’t want to get eaten by a coyote.” They were also walking SO QUICKLY; we eventually caught up to the family from Virginia, who had left a good 10 minutes before. I hung back to walk with them (it was only half of the family — mom and one of the daughters), looking for moose along the way. They were so sweet! The daughter was my age, a rising sophomore at Boston College. We exchanged travel plans (they’re on a road trip as well, but spending all of there time up in Nova Scotia — I’m jealous!) and talked about how our bodies are all confused, not knowing whether it should be sore from sitting in the car for hours at a time or from hiking, etc. It was so great to meet them, I’m so happy I hung back.
When we got to the clearing we met up with the rest of their family — the dad and the other daughter, who are twins! She also goes to BC and was just as sweet as her sister! We three exchanged stories about our college experience so far, like how for me with theatre and them with soccer/tennis, there’s no real middle ground — it’s either way too competitive or not competitive enough. We also talked about our respective campuses (theirs seems very similar to mine — a city school with little green space connected to another campus some ways away with more green space), and what we’re studying (one of them undecided, one an English major). It was so cool! They were so cool! Yay!
Once I got back to my room, it started lightning, thundering, and POURING. Good thing I wasn’t camping anymore!!! I showered, got ready for bed, and tried to work on a blog post but then promptly fell asleep (I woke up the next morning with my laptop still open next to me).
I’m so happy. Being alone has really inspired me to get out there and meet new people. If I had been with family, I doubt I would have walked with them, much less talked to them! I would’ve stayed with my family, walked back with them, etc. But since I was alone, I put myself out there and really made a connection! Virginia family, if you’re reading, email me at email@example.com! I’d love to exchange contact information so that if I’m ever in VA or Boston (or you in PA or DC) we can connect again!
Looking forward to another day on the Cabot Trail today!
Because it’s really windy, and my camper is shaking like crazy! Wind becomes much scarier when you’re in a tent; even if it’s a tent with beds.
Anyway, I’m writing this from the campground but, as I said before, I don’t have wifi, so I’ll have to wait until I do before I can actually post this (I have wifi now so yay!!!).
Sheesh, it was quite the day today. I saw such beautiful sights; I close my eyes and I’m right back there. Hopefully I will actually get back some day, because there was just so much more to see, but I had such little time.
So, after leaving the restaurant this morning I headed straight to the Hopewell Rocks. How magical! The tides of the Bay of Fundy are the highest in the world, and when the tides are low you can walk along the ocean floor to see the rocks up close and personal. Unfortunately, I got there just a couple minutes late (literally), so I couldn’t walk along the floor entirely. I did for a little, though, to see the Flower Pot Rocks! The tide was coming up so quickly, though; I was only down there for about 10 minutes and it had come up several meters (spoken like a true Canadian) in that time span.
Even the regular hiking paths and lookouts were spectacular, though, so I didn’t feel as though I truly missed out on the ocean floor walking experience.
The water is “chocolate colored” (as it’s called) because of the accumulation of silt carried by the tides from the sandstone cliffs.
My favorite part of the Hopewell Rocks park was that while there were a lot of people visiting (it was such a beautiful day), it was never too crowded! Even on the shore of the Flower Pot Rocks, there were a lot of people, but not too many that I felt as if I couldn’t get a good view. I even managed to get a few photos without any photobombing strangers!
I was almost always alone on the trails themselves. But never too alone; if I ever started to feel weird, I would come across some family as if to remind me that there were tons of people around. But most of the time, being alone felt quite relaxing.
After exploring the grounds for about an hour and a half, I drove about 2.5 hours to the Fundy Trail in Saint Martins. Again, B E A U T I F U L !!!!! A couple of highlights of the drive there:
The drive there was beautiful in itself, and the trail even more so. As I arrived, I pulled up to the admissions station and was greeted by two sweet ladies who asked me if I had traveled all alone, and when I said yes, one of them said, “A lot of people are doing it these days!” which I got a kick out of. The Fundy Trail can also be walked, but I opted out of that because I had little time and I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to make it up the trail and back, exploring what I wanted to explore, in that short of a time period. Also, some parts of the trail were completely wooded and I had already sweat my bug spray off. 😛
I decided to take on the Fundy Trail as my first tour guide in Montreal had suggested: I drove the whole trail first and then decided what I wanted to go back and see.
The driving trail has a ton of lookouts that allow you to take in the beautiful vistas and/or join the walking path. I did both, but enjoyed the lookouts more – the walking paths had very few signs, so you never knew exactly where you were headed. I guess the best way to do the walking path is to do it all the way through and just see where it takes you! There’s only one obvious trail, so that’s not the problem – it’s that the map they give you when you get there promises certain lookouts and foot bridges that are only available on the walking trail, but the only way to discover them is to just be continuously on that trail, I guess.
Anyway, here are some of the beautiful sights I saw along the Fundy Trail:
Not pictured: the look of sheer terror on my face when I encountered a hedgehog on the trail.
Kinda pictured: said hedgehog.
After I decided that I had seen everything I wanted to see (and given up on locating the few only-available-to-the-walking-path views), I headed in the direction of Alma, stopping first for some much needed, very refreshing soft serve ice cream.
On the way back there was very spotty service, so I had to navigate my way using only this bare-bone map that had luckily loaded before I lost service:
But I made it! Once I got to Alma, I went directly to the Alma Lobster Shop, where I picked up a lobster roll TO GO.
Gah, I love this place.
I stopped for gas before heading back to the campsite, and then ended up taking a different, more scenic route home (on purpose; don’t worry). I wanted to get back in time to see the sunset, but then I realized that the sun sets in the west (or the east) and the campsite faces the east (or the west). Whichever makes sense; I don’t have wifi to look it up.
Update: I now have wifi and the sun does in fact set in the west. Always go with your first instinct, people.
Luckily, I got to see the beginning of the sunset whilst driving on the scenic route, and was even able to pull over in a lookout area to capture it.
Then I saw a man picking flowers off of the side of the road and it made my night (I pretended they were for me). And then I saw this tacked to the bottom of the speed limit sign:
Back at the campsite, I sat down on the picnic table in front of my camper and practically inhaled my lobster roll. It was the best thing I had ever tasted (and not just because I was eating it in front of the PRETTIEST view).
I wanted to pack up my stuff before it got dark so that I wouldn’t have to do so in the morning, so I got all organized, got ready for bed, and am now lying (laying?) here writing. The wind is SO LOUD, it’s kinda freaky. Also, I now have a bunkmate: a mosquito. Please pray for me.
I feel totally safe here, but it can be unsettling to fall asleep in a tent that could easily be unzipped and opened. So, I pulled a total Jerry Getz (daddio): I tied the two zippers that open the camper together with shoelaces. It looks silly, but it puts me at ease – especially with this WIND.
Seriously, people. Listen: IMG_0302 At least it drowns out the sound of the mosquito.
I’m probably going to be too tired in the morning to remember to take photos of the inside of the camper, so I took some tonight. It was already pretty dark, so the quality of the photos isn’t great. But the quality of the camper itself is FANTABULOUS.
P.S. It ended up being even darker when I woke up than it was at that point, so I’m glad I took the photos when I did!
I guess that’s it for now! I’m exhausted (I know you’re probably getting sick of me saying that). Off to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia tomorrow (well, today, since I couldn’t post this until I got to my next abode)!!!
Update: I have tracked down and killed the mosquito. And I mean, I really killed that mosquito. Unless it’s mosquito Jesus, there’s no way that thing is getting resurrected. (That is quite possibly the most religious thing I will ever say).
P.S. I meant to post this last night, but I fell asleep as one of the photos was uploading…
I sincerely apologize for that horrible pun.
(Can you call that a pun?)
Good morning! I’m posting this for two reasons:
So, without further ado, LOOK AT THIS PLACE.
I’ll include photos of the inside of the camper in my next post (it’s very small inside; hard to capture).
This morning, I let myself sleep in until 8:30am. Crazy, right? Also, apparently there’s a time difference here… ADT: Atlantic Daylight Time. It’s an hour ahead (so right now it is 10:20 but in Montreal, etc., it would be 9:20).
I went back to the same restaurant in the morning for another delicious meal.
Also, they’re playing all of my favorite early 2000s throwbacks in this place.
THIS IS THE STORY OF A — GIRL
Now I’m off to explore, hiking boots and all!
Au revoir Montreal and hello New Brunswick!
My alarm this morning went off at 4:30am… I know, I’m a crazy person.
Not only did I want to get an early start, I also wanted to catch the sunrise at the Mount-Royal lookout. The tour bus had stopped there during the daytime but I thought it would be absolutely beautiful to see in the early, early morning. And that it was!
It is SO hard to capture the sheer beauty of any sunrise; you just gotta wake up early and experience one!
Then began the long drive.
And I mean, LONG. Was supposed to be about 9.5 hours, but with stopping once (and then another time at a lookout to take photos) for gas (I’m sure to keep my tank half full at all times, just in case there’s a long stretch without a station ) it ended up being more like 12 hours.
Needless to say, I am exhausted.
The drive was absolutely gorgeous, though. Rolling green hills, bright blue skies, miles and miles and miles (or should I say kilometers?) of grassland, farmland, trees… and rivers!!! The colors were spectacular. The brightest blues, greens, red (farmhouses)… it’s a pity I had to keep my eyes on the road the whole time! 😉
P.S. Any photos I take while I’m driving (very few) I take using the “pick up phone, put it where you think it’s going to take the photo you want, click the button to take photo, put down phone and hope for the best” method. I never focus it or make sure it looks good until I am fully out of the car (aka in a cafe right now).
A couple of other highlights of the drive:
Totally restless and still a painful 45 minutes away from my destination, I came across a beautiful lookout.
Finally, after a bit of searching because the roads are long and windy, I got settled in my new place! “Glamping” (glamour camping) overlooking Fundy Bay. Just beautiful!
After I unpacked I hopped back in my car to drive to the neighboring town, Alma! It’s about a 25 minute drive away, so that kind of stinks, but it’s such a quaint little town!
I had a delicious dinner in the a lovely little restaurant (that happens to have wifi, which is why I’m able to write this post!!!).
Now, I’m headed back to the campground! To maybe read a little and then SLEEP.
A cute guy in a grocery store bought me dinner.
So, I was waiting in line to pay for my frozen Stouffer’s meal and Ritter Sport chocolate bar, standing behind an English-speaking couple buying the mixins for a healthy dinner and in front of a young English-speaking guy who was buying… I don’t really know what, he was too cute to notice that sort of thing.
I think I said maybe four words to him to let him know that it was “a-okay” (why I use these phrases even with people I don’t know — especially those of the cute variety — I will never know) for him to put his basket on the track in front of me, even though it was kinda all up in my personal space.
As I handed the cashier my items, the guy behind me said, “put it all in together,” and started loading his items behind mine. He then told me that I didn’t have to wait around, that I could just take my things and leave. HE PAID FOR MY DINNER. Granted, it was a pretty cheap dinner, but HE PAID FOR IT.
I couldn’t muster enough thank you’s to express how much I wanted to marry him in that moment.
THANK YOU, KIND SIR.
Except in the winter.
Jokes aside, everyone I have met thus far has been super kind and welcoming! I had heard some rumors coming into it that the French Canadians have a certain disdain for English speakers, but I haven’t run into a single problem! I feel so spoiled, not having to learn French at all and still getting around the city well because everyone ELSE has learned another language to accommodate me. It feels so entitled and I don’t like it. That being said, I still don’t know barely any French… I know “merci” (thank you) and “bienvenue” (welcome) and “sortie” (exit), but not much else. Thanks to my knowledge of Spanish I understand many written words and therefore can understand most signs, but my ability starts and ends there. Hopefully I’ll know more by the end of these two weeks!
Alright, so today was great! I woke up to banging on the walls because for some reason the hostel thought it was okay to start construction at 7:30am, but my alarm was set for 8am anyway, so I wasn’t too broken up about it [P.S. I just heard that they’re doing building onto the hostel, making it three times bigger — whoa]. Many of my bunkmates had already gotten up and left, but some remained, so I quickly changed, grabbed my laptop, and headed downstairs to the bar area where they serve breakfast from 7 to 10am. I had three (I meant to have two but accidentally grabbed three and couldn’t put it back or throw it out) waffles — yummmmmmmm. I sat across from a group of middle aged adults complaining about one of their kids (I’m not exactly sure whose kid it was) and his attitude. It was quite entertaining.
Then I packed for the day and headed out! After saying hi to Shamanda (I had to stop by the car to grab my student ID to get discounts at museums!), I decided to head back downtown to the pick-up location for the bus tour (since, remember, I have it for two days). I headed down Rue Saint-Catherine and my oh my oh my. What a beautiful street. I felt so fortunate to stumble over such gems pretty much by accident.
My first stop of the day (before I even got back onto the bus) was the Barbie Expo. Located in the underground city, this exhibition showcases hundreds of Barbies dressed in various fashions, from “Heidi Klum” barbie to “Hershey’s” barbie to “Princess of the French Court” barbie. IT WAS SO COOL. There are no words to describe it, and my photos don’t even do it justice. Basically, barbies in couture fashion designed by the top fashion designers in the world. Who would ever think of that?!
The whole atmosphere was just so ~cool~. I really have no words! Every single Barbie was so different. Even the ones that were modeled after certain celebrities looked exactly like them! I was walking around in complete awe. I wanted to take a photo of every single one, but then I decided against it because it seemed silly. Now, though, it doesn’t seem so silly — I want to relive it over and over again!
There was a booth in which you could take a photo as a Barbie, so I asked a lovely French woman to take my picture. I asked her how I should pose and this is what she told me I should do:
After the Barbie Expo (read more about it here: http://expobarbie.ca/en/), I grabbed a bite to eat before heading back on the bus to Old Montreal!
Way back when I had signed up for the two day hop-on-hop-off bus tour, which came with a cruise on the Saint Lawrence River. I had paid for it already, so I figured I should take advantage. Unfortunately, the highlight of this hour and a half tour was this little boy who kept climbing under the tables.
The tour was okay, but I started out on the top of the ship and it was WAY too windy; too hard to keep my hat on my head and phone in my hand while trying to look up and around at the views. But then once I moved down to the lower level, I couldn’t hear the guide as well and the sights weren’t great, so I was overall pretty disappointed. I got a few cool photos, though!
After the tour I was EXHAUSTED, so I stopped in a cute little coffee shop and had some sweet chocolatey caffeinated concoction that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside 🙂
Next, I visited the Pointe-à-Callière museum, which is a beautiful archeological museum right in the heart of Old Montreal.
The museum tour began with a movie screening describing the history of Montreal and how the city was formed and grew over time. Very cool! It was really difficult to capture the exhibits inside because it was pretty dark, but it went a little something like this:
After spending some time in the museum, I had to rush back to my neighborhood to check that the parking lot in which Shamanda is parked is accessible 24 hours, because I plan on leaving very early tomorrow morning to drive to my next destination. Google said that the building under which the parking lot is located closes at 6 (half an hour from then), so I tried calling the lot and my hostel to see if they had any information on the parking lot in particular, but I got unclear answers for both so I decided that it was safer to run back and check on it in person. Luckily, it is 24/7 parking, but that meant that I hurried back for nothing, so I was kind of upset that I didn’t get to spend more time at the Old Port and Old Montreal in general. And because of the cruise I forfeited my chance to get to the Museum of Fine Arts, which I really wanted to see. I’m sure there are plenty of things that I missed, so I guess that just means I’ll have to come back another time!!! 😉
Luckily, on my way back to the village I could walk down some of the cutest streets in Old Montreal: Saint-Laurent and Saint-Paul.
Once I got back to the hostel (I keep typing “home” and then realizing that holy shiz I’m gonna have a lot of “homes” these next two weeks), I showered, changed, and went to pack Shamanda with a few items I won’t need tonight or first thing tomorrow morning before grabbing a frozen meal and chocolate bar at a grocery store (don’t yell at me; I’m on a budget and was too tired to stay awake at a restaurant).
Again, this hostel situation is just the best. Learning so much about so many people! Everyone is on such interesting journeys; two guys (both about a year younger than me) are traveling from the Netherlands all around North America for two months! Toronto, Montreal, Philly (!!!), Chicago, L.A., etc.! Sounds so cool. I love how adventure-oriented all of these individuals are; we all really connect with each other. Two guys from Germany bought a car in the beginning of their journey (they’ve been to various cities around the U.S. already and are ending in Toronto at the end of this week) and must sell it before they fly back. How cool is that?
Another funny coincidence is that I was looking through photos from today and I found one that has my friend Heidi, another girl staying in the hostel, in the foreground! I was in such a rush (it was when I was hurrying to find out information about my car) that I didn’t notice then, but I just now called her over to show her the photo:
She got a kick out of it and asked me to send it to her.
Anyway, time for me to go to bed. I’ve got a long drive tomorrow, so another early start for me!
Another day under my belt.
New Brunswick, here I come!
This is the look of sheer terror on my face when I stepped onto the elevator to leave my first apartment to find that the walls were just blankets hanging loosely from the rafters.
I thought I was going to die.
But I didn’t!
This was one of the double decker buses. I just…
What the what?
And then, just like that, I was ON THAT BUS.
I’m sorry, what?
Literally — it was POURING. But then all of a sudden it was sunny and beautiful again. Life, man.
Anyway, hi! Full day #1 = complete! Montreal is so beautiful. It’s just not even fair. The architecture is so eclectic and detailed; even each Metro station is different! A different architect designed each one. I love exploring the different neighborhoods, because each street is extremely distinctive. So cool.
It’s also such a biking town. Everyone bikes everywhere! That must be why EVERYONE IS SO SKINNY. No, but seriously – there are even special traffic lights at the busier intersections that direct the bikes only. There are more than 350 km worth of biking paths throughout the city (which is actually an island that can fit more than a big bunch of Manhattan’s inside of it – I forget the exact number but like #funfact!!!) and it’s really great.
So my day began at 7:30am, when my alarm started blaring a song from Waitress the musical. I got up, showered, and then packed up. My next stop is a hostel (still in Montreal, just a different area), so I wanted to downsize and only bring exactly what I need for the next few days. That way, it’s easier to keep track of my stuff, sleeping in a room with fifteen others and all.
After saying goodbye to the Airbnb that served me so well, I headed downtown to catch a 10am hop-on-hop-off bus tour! I had planned it ahead of time, but I didn’t realize until that morning that I was supposed to have called to confirm my reservation beforehand (even though it was totally booked online) and that I had to have the vouchers printed out. Luckily, I reacted quickly and ordered a print order from Staples – a story that deserves its very own post – which I went to pick up that morning, before the tour. Also very luckily, I called the tour company and explained my situation, but apparently it wasn’t totally necessary that I call ahead of time, and that I was a-okay. Phew!
The tour guide on the bus advised us to take the full 2-hour tour first – remaining on the bus from start to finish – and then decide which sights interest you the most and plan your personalized tour accordingly. So that’s what I did! A nice lady from Alberta sat down next to me, also alone on the tour. We bonded over that at first, but quickly I became the much more responsible adult between the two of us, which annoyed me. She was in Montreal with her husband, who was here on business, and was alone on the tour because he was away doing business-y things. We talked about staying on the tour for the full two hours and then doubling back to things (not with each other, but in general), and she made a comment like, “I originally wanted to stop in Old Montreal but I’m not sure I want to do it alone.” I basically looked at her like, “Wha?” but was able to contain myself and simply giggle and say, “yeah…” Then, later, when it started to rain (we were sitting on the second story of a double-decker tour bus), I got out my rain jacket, put the waterproof case on my phone, and got my umbrella prepped for when it was time to get off of the bus. The lady next to me said, “I saw that it was going to rain but it was so sunny this morning…”
One thing I didn’t realize was how difficult it is to take good photos on top of a moving bus. Nevertheless, I tried my best and somehow managed to capture a few gems.
P.S. My favorite part about these tours was the families/couples pondering whether or not to get off the bus or not at a particular stop. They would go back and forth and back and forth until the bus would leave the station. Welp, there goes that! (I’m not going to lie to you — this happened to me several times as well, except I was arguing with myself in my head.)
After the preliminary tour, I was so unbearable hungry so I grabbed a bite to eat at a cute little place outside. Probably one of the best meals I ever did have.
But then it started pouring, so everyone rushed inside. Luckily, I was moments away from paying the check, so I did that quickly and then ran across the street, back to the tourist center. And then back on the bus I went, this time to explore a little bit on my own!
My first totally drenched stop was at the Notre-Dame Basilica // Basilique Notre Dame de Montréal. Realizing once I got up to the entrance that it was cash only and I had yet to take out any Canadian money, I had to make another run for it to an ATM across the street.
Finally, I made it inside. Joining a guiding tour, I was informed about the construction of the basilica, but was overall disappointed by the quality of the tour. I don’t know that it truly gave me any information that I didn’t already know or couldn’t see by simply walking around by myself.
Did you know that to be named a “basilica” is an honor bestowed by the pope that recognizes the church’s beauty? I mean, the pope doesn’t just visit the church and say, “yo this church is pretty it should be a basilica;” It is based on value: architectural value, artistic value, historic value.
The hop-on-hop-off bus comes every fifteen minutes, so I had a bit of time to spare between leaving the church and getting back on the bus. So I explored the streets a little bit! Old Montreal is SO cute, I plan to go back tomorrow and explore even more (my new abode is even closer).
And then… I whipped out the selfie stick. [Please don’t hate me — I am all by myself; how else am I going to prove that I am ACTUALLY visiting these places and not just finding mediocre photos on Google???]
Then, back on the bus! I overheard a group of ladies arguing about what they wanted to do next, which stops they want to explore, etc., and it just made me realize exactly why I am doing this trip alone.
At least it was sunny again! My next stop was St. Joseph’s Oratory. Let me just tell you — actually, let me just show you.
My first thought was “wow, this is unreal. So beautiful.”
My second thought was “wait, do I have to walk up all of those steps?”
The answer was yes. But the view was totally worth it.
After spending a marvelous hour perusing the oratory, I hopped back on the bus for the last time to head back downtown!
I then drove for an extra hour looking for parking near the hostel at which I’m staying for two nights… searching and searching and searching, I was getting very frustrated — I didn’t want to leave the car in an unattended open air parking lot over night, but that was all I could seem to find. Finally, I realized that if I just went to the hostel they would have parking advice for me. So that’s what I did, and less than 10 minutes later I was parked.
Back at the hostel, my visa card was declined. Jesus, it felt like after I got one thing settled, another issue would pop up. This time, I hadn’t monitored how much I had spent in the past two days and had accidentally withdrawn more than the available balance. I tried to do an online transfer but for some reason it didn’t go through. I ended up having to walk a couple of blocks to the bus station where I could exchange the $12 I had in my wallet at the time (I purposefully left the bulk of my money in the car when I packed for the hostel) into Canadian dollars. Luckily I had taken out $60 earlier when I needed money for the basilica, so it ended up being the perfect amount. Success!
Finally, I got settled in my room! It’s so cute! I mean, I’m rooming with 15 others so falling asleep and staying asleep is a bit of an issue, but everyone is very respectful of one another. There was a nice older French gentleman in the room when I got in, but he couldn’t speak English so it was a challenge to communicate. But then he asked if I spoke Spanish, and although it is VERY rusty, it definitely broke the language barrier a bit! It was very cool to speak Spanish again, and it really made me realize how useful it is to know another language — it can really come in handy, especially when you least expect it.
It felt great to finally be here. I met two really nice guys right off of the bat who are visiting on holiday from the Netherlands! We all ended up downstairs in the bar for karaoke night! 1 song = 1 free shot. Pretty sweet.
After consulting with several people on which song to sing, I finally decided on Valerie (Sorry peeps, I didn’t listen to any of your suggestions), and then went back up to do Stacy’s Mom. . Everyone was so encouraging, it was such a fun atmosphere. It was such a great night! This hostel situation is super cool, how you meet people from all over the world and make such fast friends. A girl named Heidi invited me to go out with them later that night, but I was falling down I was so exhausted from my day so unfortunately I had to decline. Heidi and I also bonded over having to deal with…… this.
However, after all of that, I still got a pretty great night’s sleep! Then, I woke up a true 20 year old. CRAZY. Excited to see what today has to offer!