4 Things You Have To Do When Visiting Montreal

Montreal is one of the true gems of Canada, an incredible fusion of historical authenticity, cosmopolitanism and sheer beauty.

If you’re planning a trip to this wonderful city, there are plenty of ways to make the most of it. While any trip to Montreal (click the link to check out photos from one of my visits there) is bound to be unforgettable, there are certain highlights that you may want to add to your list. Here are just four:

Trek Up Mount Royal

 Image: Wikimedia

Mount Royal is probably the first place you should head to when you arrive in Montreal. The gorgeous views you’ll get of the city will instantly make that hassle with the electronic travel authorisation system worth it. It’s a lovely, scenic walk (or bus ride) to the top, and once you reach the Belvedere Observatory, you’ll be captivated by the beauty of your vantage point. It’s also a great spot for an impressive selfie! If you’re an early bird, try to catch the sunrise from the top of Mount Royal. Seeing the sun creep up over the horizon and spill its rays through the skyscrapers is a magical experience.

Try the Food

Montreal is a true foodie’s city, partly due to the French colonists’ influence. The culinary classics of Montreal may be a little greasy for some traveller’s tastes, but don’t knock it until you try it. Poutine is a trademark of the city, and while it may not be all that appetizing to look at, after just one bite you’ll probably understand why it’s become such a local staple. You also should try a four-inch thick smoked meat sandwich, a specialty of many diners and cafés scattered throughout Montreal. A lot of guidebooks will recommend Schwartz’s, but the locals may tell you otherwise.

Visit a Market

Markets are one of the best ways for visitors to meet the locals and get a taste for the city’s culture. You’ll also want to try a variety of fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables, especially if you’re there in the summer when pretty much everything’s in season. If you’ve never tried locally grown Quebec strawberries, then this needs to go on your bucket list immediately. Try to save a fair chunk of your souvenir money for a market, to look for local delicacies such as ice wines and ciders or preserves. Just like anywhere in Canada, you’ll also find countless maple-flavoured products.

See the Basilique Notre-Dame

Whatever your spiritual leanings, the Basilique Notre-Dame is one church that you need to see when you’re visiting Montreal. The Basilique Notre-Dame (Or Notre-Dame Basilica, to Anglo-Canadians) is one of the most breathtaking cathedrals in the world, and one of the few in North America that doesn’t pale in comparison to the ones in Europe. Have a wander around, and spend a while marvelling at the rustic gothic facades, the giant organ, and its beautiful chapel.

These are just a few suggestions to make your visit to Montreal a fun and interesting one. I hope I am lucky enough to return again one day to enjoy this beautiful city’s culture.

Have you ever visited Montreal?

Calmer Secrets Setting in Pictures

This is Part Two of the Calmer Girls series setting in pictures.

Calmer Secrets takes place in Newfoundland in 1997-98, four years later than the first book. (The Calmer Girls Book One setting pictorial can be seen here.)

First, let’s take a look at Samantha’s school in Corner Brook, Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus on the west coast of the province. Samantha is enrolled in the Visual Arts program there.

Art Studio

Photography Lab
When Samantha returns to St. John’s during a school break, she goes downtown with Veronica and her friends. In one of the George Street clubs, she sees cover band, Cold Plate, and is reunited with her high school friend Kalen there.

George Street, lined with pubs, in downtown St. John’s

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x 3: The annual George Street Festival entertainment always draws huge crowds.

Later in the story, tragedy strikes.
The youngest character in the book is brought to the Janeway Children’s Hospital,
the one that existed at that time.
A new facility was built a couple of years later.

The Old Janeway Hospital

The New Janeway, built in 2001
The following photos depict Samantha and Ben’s boat tour experience out of St. John’s Harbour.

The Battery at the foot of Signal Hill

Samantha takes pictures of an iceberg like this…

…and puffins!
Check out this real boat tour short video:

Photo sources: Grenfell College, NL Tourism, Eastern Health, Pinterest, Google (public domain)

Thanks for coming along!

Calmer Girls Setting in Pictures

Although Calmer Girls is a fictional tale, its Canadian setting certainly isn’t.

It was fun writing a pair of novels set in my birthplace of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and perhaps the following pictorial will better explain why it had inspired me. After all, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!

All of these locations are featured in scenes throughout the first novel. Calmer Cove is not included as it is semi-fictional.

St. John’s Harbour
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Samantha and her sister took their first ride in Ben Swift’s T-bird to Signal Hill and along the harbourfront. Later, Samantha took pictures of a cruise ship in the Narrows.

View of Harbour from Signal Hill
Cabot Tower on Signal Hill – National Historic site
Where Ben Swift lives: Gower Street, in all its vibrant colours
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Where Samantha, Veronica and their mother live: Military Road
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Cape Spear.  Sam, Ben and Kalen visit here. This is the oldest original lighthouse structure in the province.
x 2: Aerial view of Cape Spear – the most easterly point in all of North America
x 3: Cape Spear National Historic Site – new lighthouse
Newfoundland, Canada
House similar to rich girl Crystal’s. She has a party one night where Ben loses his temper. (Canada House on Circular Road, Heritage Property)
St. John’s Regatta at Quidi Vidi Lake, where Samantha and Ben share their first kiss.
Bannerman Park, where Samantha and Ben get busted while kissing. Also where Ben loses it – again! – and punches his buddy Kalen in the face.
The War Memorial, where Ben finally confesses his depression to Samantha. 
Planned Parenthood – NL Sexual Health Centre, where Veronica visits!

Thanks for visiting my hometown, which is, in my opinion,
one of the most vibrant and colourful places on earth.

Photo sources: NL Tourism, Government sites, Wikipedia, Google (public domain)

Come back next time for Part 2: Calmer Secrets Setting

Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

Newcastle upon Tyne is quite unlike any other place in the world. It is a city where old meets new – the historic architecture melds with the technological advancements of the 21st century in a striking way.”

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Take a look at this top destination in the United Kingdom:

Source: Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

Blogger Bouquet #44

I’ve been visiting Elisa Ruland’s beautiful travel blog for a few years now, and I am always amazed by her breathtaking photography, her enjoyable narratives and her knowledge of historical destinations. Love her tagline too: “All you need is love…and travel.”

From Elisa’s About page:

I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend from Atlanta, Georgia, doing my best to live in the moment. A passionate Francophil, I love to travel, I adore the ocean and am weirdly fascinated by maps. I’ve been told many times that I walk too fast.”

I chose to highlight this recent post of hers because of the photos, the info, and because I just might visit there next year, if all goes well.

Day Trip to Canterbury

Comments are closed here but you can leave a comment on the blogger’s page.

Have an inspiring weekend, everyone!

Guest Post: EuroTrip Planner – When to Go and What to See

With my eye on a trip to England next year, I am sharing a guest post by lifestyle blogger, Marie Nieves, who gives some practical advice on planning a European adventure.

I am also welcoming other guest posts on the topic, primarily about travel to the United Kingdom and nearby countries. Please send your guest post ideas to: jennifer@jenniferkellandperry.com.

Take it away, Marie!

EuroTrip Planner: When to Go and What to See

 Europe, Source

Having a tour through Europe is always a great idea. However, if you would like to explore Europe, there are a number of things to consider beforehand. First of all, you should know that regardless of how long your trip lasts, it will not be enough to see everything you want. What you need is to make a plan of your trip in a way that you can make the most of the time you have. Doing this is often difficult as you need to be realistic, but at the same time trying to meet all the expectations regarding the trip. I’m here to help you do that!

When?

There are three main traveling seasons in Europe. They are called high, low and shoulder seasons. The first one is from June until August, the second one is November to April, and the Shoulder seasons are April to June, and September to November. Choose the season depending on your preferences since it will have a major effect on your trip. If you can stand the heat, the high season is great for you. However, if you prefer traveling when temperatures are lower, some other seasons may work better in your case.

Packing

Since you’ll be visiting many countries, and therefore changing locations frequently, I advise you not to bring a lot of luggage. This may or may not be possible depending on how long you’re staying, but try to bring only your essentials. You need money, passport, phone, camera and something to wear. Don’t stock up on anything since you’ll be able to buy things along the way.

Metro, Source

Accommodation

This can be tricky. Perhaps you can choose a country which will be your base and then have excursions from there. For example, you can choose England as a base. If you’d like to stay in a hotel, Tavistock House has great reviews. You can also choose the Oceanic Hotel in Falmouth or the Grasmere Hotel. On the other hand, if you prefer to save a few bucks, there are great offers for shared accommodation in England. One suggestion would be to book a hotel at your primary location in advance and find accommodation for your excursions on the go. Keep track of offers before and during your trip to get the best price for a stay in other countries, as well as to keep your routing options open.

Excursions

Depending on how you structure your trip, you will set the time for exploring England and other countries. It’s all about maximizing your performance during the time given. That is why enticing canal cruises in England are a convenient way to see several different cities such as London, Reading, Windsor and Oxford.  You will surely enjoy cruising along the River Thames and admiring the scenery you pass by. As far as other countries are concerned, the good thing is that it’s really easy to travel by plane from England to any European country. The connections are excellent, so you can go anywhere you want.

River Thames, Source

If this is your first trip to Europe, I recommend sticking with just a few countries. For instance, visit France, Italy and Germany from England. See the capitals and all the main places in these countries. Try the local cuisine, walk down the streets and breathe the air and atmosphere of each city you visit. Give yourself enough time to really experience every country. It’s better to stick with just a few of them rather than try to visit as many as possible and end up confused and exhausted. European trips should be done this way, in stages. Every time you visit, you’ll have a completely different experience!

About the author

Marie Nieves is a lifestyle blogger who loves unusual trips, gadgets and creative ideas. On her travels, she likes to read poetry and prose and to surf the Internet. Her favourite writer is Tracy Chevalier and she always carries one of her books in her bag. Most of her free time at home she spends walking her Labrador Retriever named Max. She is an avid lover of photography who loves to talk about her experiences. You can find Marie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

Wonderful Yellow

About this time every winter, I begin to yearn for an injection of more colour in my world. So when I saw that Yellow was this morning’s one-word prompt from The Daily Post, I felt compelled to take part.

The following photos were previously shared on my blog over the years, but I thought it fitting – as well as worthy – to give them a second look.

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Our little girl enjoying backyard dandelions

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Travel Theme: Oceans
Our little boy finds a teensy-weensy crab
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Disney World fun
Colosseum at Night
Roman Colosseum at Night
Paris at night
Autumn walk in Newtown
Hey, Little Girl
Our girl on Lester’s Farm, St. John’s
Sunshine, Surf, and Sand
Jumping the waves on Lumsden Beach
The Sky's the Limit
The Sky’s the Limit on Perry’s Point
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My Buttercup Runneth Over – Perry’s Point
Varadero, Cuba
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Along the Garden Cove walking trail
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Spring walk in lovely Greenspond

These last two photos are from my Instagram account:

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Love this beauty from an artist friend. Getting it framed soon!

Last but not least, something to wake up the taste buds:

Lemon meringue pie with a glass of Yellowtail!
Lemon meringue pie with a glass of Yellowtail!

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“How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Getaway to Twillingate – Part Two

Yesterday’s forecast had been accurate. We woke up to a brilliantly sunny morning, though it was a little on the chilly side.

After breakfast, I zipped up my hoodie, grabbed my camera and took a stroll around the area we were staying. Won’t you come along with me?

This theatre is busy all summer long.

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 Plenty of B&B's, cottages and inns in Twillingate, mostly deserted in the off-season.
Plenty of B&B’s, cottages and inns in Twillingate, mostly deserted in the off-season.

As usual, I couldn’t resist the pull of the ocean, so I took a walk down along the coastline to get these last few shots:

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His work finished, for now, on the new winery, my guy is ready to go.
His work finished for now, my guy is ready to go as soon as I get back.

Maybe the next time we visit Twillingate, we’ll come in late spring during iceberg season.

Thanks for tagging along! I hope you enjoyed it. 🙂

Getaway to Twillingate

Just as I had almost given up hope on an autumn getaway, my guy came through with a road trip in early November to Twillingate.

Being a working trip for him, I didn’t expect it to be much more, for me, than a chance to grab a few scenery photos in yet another part of Newfoundland I hadn’t had the pleasure to visit yet. Known as the Iceberg Capital of the World, Twillingate is a lovely little town that draws many tourists, and although this is not the time of year for icebergs, it is still a pretty location to drop in and take a look around.

The place we booked, the Sunshine Inn, had only opened in August after major renovations, and as it turned out, we were the only guests there that night. That meant we had the entire main floor common area to ourselves.

Take a look at our accommodations:
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Our room was the only bedroom suite on the main floor.
Our room was the only bedroom suite on the main floor.

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Pretty artwork in the common area:

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Taking in Twillingate Harbour as dusk settled in and lights winked on, I found myself looking forward to morning. The forecast called for sunshine, which would be perfect for a walk with my camera. Come back for Part Two of this post to see what I came up with!

Come From Away – A Review

In September, I blogged about how excited I was to have tickets to a local showing in concert of Come From Away, a musical that is heading to Broadway in the new year. You can read that post here.

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We attended the Gander show on Saturday afternoon, and it was INCREDIBLE!

Both shows in Gander on Saturday were sold out.
Both shows in Gander on Saturday were sold out and received standing ovations.

Flawlessly executed.

Overflowing with energy, talent, and professionalism.

And generating such love and pride for the citizens of Gander and surrounding communities – who most certainly deserved it – it was truly a moving experience.

“The Come From Away musical was written to show the compassionate response by Newfoundlanders when air space closed over North America after the Twin Towers fell —diverting dozens of planes to Gander. The community took in more than 6,000 passengers for several days while planes were grounded.” – Local CBC story on Come From Away

Can you imagine if the population of your town had nearly doubled on 9/11?

The show tells the tale through the eyes of local mayors, residents, a pilot, and stranded passengers, 100 minutes of heartfelt musical numbers that show how Newfoundlanders went above and beyond with their own special brand of hospitality.

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To paraphrase Canadian playwright Irene Sankoff, cowriter of the musical:

Not only did the {citizens of Gander} let people off of the planes who were {strangers} to them, but they let them into their community buildings. They canceled school for the entire time that “the plane people” were there, devoting all of their energy to taking care of them.

They put them up in their schools and community buildings, and then began inviting people home for dinner, inviting them to stay the night, cleaning their clothes, and giving them anything that they could ask for over the time that they were stranded.

Countless times during the show, we laughed out loud. And many other times we wiped away our tears. And boy, did we ever applaud! I had chills several times, and it had nothing to do with the fact we were in a hockey arena.

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I could go on and on about it, but just let me say, if you have the opportunity to see the show in Toronto or New York, you should. I know I’m biased, being a Newfoundlander and all, but I think anyone would enjoy such a positive showing of humanity in the face of crisis and disaster. With all the negativity in the media these days, it was a welcome change. 

The cherry on top? All proceeds from the Gander shows were donated to local charities.

The Love Story. On the left, the actors who played the real-life couple on the right. One from Texas and one from England, they met during 9/11 in Gander, eventually marrying and honeymooning back in Newfoundland!
The Love Story. On the left, the actors who played the real-life couple on the right, a woman from Texas and a man from England. They met during 9/11 in Gander, eventually married, and honeymooned back here in Newfoundland!
At a special dinner held in Gander, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman unveiled a new plaque thanking the people of this province.
At a special dinner held in Gander over the weekend, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman, unveiled a new plaque thanking the people of this province.

I think our little province and its people made quite an impression on those affected that week. To illustrate, near the end of the show, one of the “plane people” from the U.S. told her new Gander friend that Newfoundlanders can’t tell knock-knock jokes.

“Why not?” her friend asked.

“Okay, I’ll be the Newfoundlander,” said the American. “You say knock knock.”

“Knock knock.”

“Come on in – the door is open!”

This is a shining example of Newfoundland hospitality and our way of life being brought to the Broadway stage. Did I mention I was proud?

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For more info, here is the Official Come From Away Website.