This time our destination is Canada. We expected many kilometers to travel through Ontario, Quebec and a small part of New Brunswick. We were ready to visit this piece of Canada with hiking shoes always at hand. Nature was our traveling companion but we were also thrown to the discovery of three big cities of Ottawa, Quebec City and Montreal.
The capital of Canada, located in the province of Ontario centralizes all its charm around Parliament Hill and do not miss the spectacle of all the sounds and lights on summer evenings. The changing of the guard no doubt came from London, and the guards have the same uniforms of the English ones and in fact Canada is still part of the British Commonwealth.
We visit the downtown with skyscrapers, buildings and shops and we relax along Rideau Canal, an artificial channel created to boost trade, which has now become a tourist attraction. We make a trip to the market where we have lunch and buy a delicious basket of berries. In the evening we return to parliament to witness the spectacle of light and sound.
The next day we start heading to Trois Rivieres before the motorway but then decide to take the 138 which runs along the St. Lawrence River to walk a stretch of the historic street of le Chemin du Roi which runs through picturesque villages, meadows and fields, hills and lakes, lined slopes in winter, covered with snow, are passable snowmobile and quad. It must be a special experience to come in winter and already there is the desire to return. We come in Trois Rivieres, a nice town where we have dinner and we stay.
Quebec seems a French town transplanted in Canada with cobblestone streets, bistros, boutiques, flower hanging from the windows and the street lamps. The historic walls surrounding the city along with the music of the street artists in the background resembles the Amelie. For a better and total view of the city and the famous Chateau Frontenac, we took the ferry to Lévis and crossed the St. Lawrence River.
It's beautiful inside old walls with its narrow streets full of tourists and street artists, its craft shops and galleries of pictures, its bars and restaurants and its staircase seems to be in a country of Walt Disney almost fantastic and surreal. Finally here is the imposing castle of Frontenac, a fabulous hotel that overlooks a terrace overlooking the St. Lawrence River below. Here there are interesting events and rich appointments that make this lively and energetic city in its climate of magical romance.
But Canada is above nature so we decide to visit the Parc National de la Mauricie. At the entrance we are struck in a charming retreat that offers the possibility to eat and sleep well in the types or better Tepee, typical conical tents of leather or bark. We were tempted to book them for the night but the rain and the wet days made us desist from trying the adventurous experience.
We continue in the park where the landscape is more mountainous, full of forests, lakes and streams that offer the opportunity for various outdoor activities like canoes and Kayak in ponds, fishing or hunting and the park is full of shelters established in those pourvoiries forests that provide equipment and guides for tours or observations of the local flora and fauna. There are deer, bears and caribou and we walk some trails in search of animals but we spot nothing!
Montreal is more American than the other two and is a mix of modern and old buildings. The Basilica of Notre-Dame is very special with the blue lights inside create a nice atmosphere. The walks here are in order, from the Vieux-Port to the Mont Royal park on the hill from which you will have a complete view of the city. Just walk in the ways to see art galleries, boutiques, trendy clubs.
But there is a city that runs beneath that surface. There are about 30 kilometers of tunnels that form the basement of the city where there are dozens of shops, restaurants and metro stations that allow you to go shopping and walking to warm up in winter, when the cold weather does not allow you to live long outdoors.
We climb towards the hill of Mont Royal, a magnificent green park full of joggers, families with children, full of lakes and in winter it becomes skating rinks and trails for cross-country skiing lanes. It's really pretty and charming.
In all Canadian cities we visited, large and small, we have always found the local market with many local products and fruits and vegetables of all kinds and colors. August was a riot of wild berries.
For the most green part of the trip, we went to Algonquin Park, which was the most beautiful walks we have done here with stunning vistas, endless forests and many lakes. The trails are well marked and at the park we get all the information necessary to spend some wonderful days. The track and tower trail had been our preferred path.
Among all the activities offered by the park we tried canoeing and apart from the fatigue, it was a very nice experience that allowed us to get even more in touch with nature by sending us a feeling of crazy peace. Another exciting day was the Saguenay Fjord. We have skirted around the fjord to the city of Saguenay and popped up to Tadoussac, all in one day and it was hectic.
The peculiarity is that the river will rise and fall to the rhythm of the tides. We decide to sleep in a gite or a bed and breakfast in a villa of Canadians, who welcome us with great hospitality. The country at six in the evening was already deserted, shops closed and the restaurants already full. We just had to take two steps for refreshments while enjoying the local specialties of dried meat and a delicious cake with maple syrup. We participate at a party in the square with singing and dancing.
Tadoussac is an almost obligatory stop for those who want to see the whales, which return every summer here to the large amount of krill in the water, that ensures sufficient food. We rush to the beach to watch the passing of cetaceans and soon we spot the beluga with their imposing white mass. We were lucky because we had a sunny day and calm sea and we boarded a zodiac, like a boat and left for sighting of whales. Obviously we were not in the aquarium, but to us it went well as we have seen both the common whale and the blue whale. It was exciting to see the water jet as the whale gets out of the water and falls into the water as gracefully as possible, despite its size. Returning to the fjord we also saw seals and beluga.
The next morning we turn to local agencies to participate in a rubber dinghy out to enjoy the show of the sightings, but it's all full, perhaps we are not even so much disappointed because the hike is too touristy and prefer to skulk on some rocks and wait patiently step before some beluga, then dolphins have fun with jumps and performances before our eyes and finally, there appears in its majesty the whale with its typical water spray.
We leave satisfied with our sightings to Baie Saint Paul, a pretty village full of art galleries and trendy restaurants we allow ourselves a dinner by candlelight and menu 'from the French nouvelle cuisine very nice.
From Tadoussac to Baie Comeau we climbed and we took the ferry to Matane in Gaspesie. The Gaspésie is a peninsula overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence and offers a mix of ocean, forests, beaches and hiking. There are many villages with few inhabitants, is a succession of lights and colorful houses each with its own porch and rocking with the inevitable. The road runs along the coast, on the one hand the ocean on the other the woods and you may spot the elk whales and the famous Canadian moose.
The nature here is king, we did not pulled back and we made some nice walks in the Parc de la Gaspesie and in the Parc Forillon. The larger towns on the peninsula are Gaspe and Perce but the most famous and popular is Perce from where boats depart for the Ile Bonaventure, protected and not inhabited island, where you can through four paths to reach the 116,000 gannets colony with white birds from beige collar and blue eyes, who return every year to nest here.
Even before leaving the path in the woods there is a continuous gurgling and after a while you find yourself in front of a plain white cliffs here boobies! This too is a gift of nature here in Gaspesie.
During the 4,650 km drive paths we found and tried everything and more from micro-brasserie, the salmon smokehouses, from the fromagerie crates croute and try one of the typical dishes of the Canadian putin chips, salsa and cheese but we could not visit a cabane à sucre, where it is produced maple syrup.
We went to one of the Maple Farms and, although August is not the production month (which is March-April), they showed us their forest of maples and everything needed for the production process. Of course we came home with our bottle of maple syrup.
It was a holiday of walking, a lot of nature, animals although we have not seen moose and bears, starry skies, lights, evenings around the campfire, we met nice people and always willing to have a chat with us, we returned regenerated as only nature can do. If you like this then this trip is for you!