Travel Tuesday: Niagra Falls & Toronto

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If you’re reading this, it means you survived the beginning of the week! Yay! Hopefully it only gets better from here! I had a really busy and productive day yesterday, and hope I can keep it up for the whole week. I am learning though, that I need to fully embrace the days when I have energy and motivation. I’m a person that has super-powers on certain days, and no powers at all on other days. I’m still trying to figure out whether I need to find a way to be balanced every day, or if it’s ok to be extreme, and accept and embrace both sides… ANYWAY! Let’s get back to business!

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This is officially my last post on our East Coast travels. We stopped in both, Niagara Falls and Toronto (which aren’t actually on the East Coast, ha!). I also don’t have a whole lot to say about them, since they were both quick stops. However, I would still like to share some pictures with you! 

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Kevin and I were in Niagara Falls with his family in 2011. We were only dating at that point (that was like forever ago!). We did the walk-behind-the-falls tour, which remains one of my favorite experiences. I could have stood there forever, inhaling the fresh mist, getting completely drenched! Fast forward to 2014. Even though we did not have a lot of time left, we felt like we had to make a quick stop at the falls, since we were so close already. Oh, and this time we were married! The falls must have brought us some good luck back then! šŸ˜‰

And for old times sake, here’s a picture from back in 2011, taken by my sister-in-law:

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The picture above shows the American side of the falls. There is also the opportunity to take a boat tour. These boats go very close to the falls.

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This is the Canadian side of the falls. I may be biased, but this is my favorite side of the falls. 

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In the distance you can see the Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge. This bridge connects the United States and Canada. 

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If you ever visit Niagara Falls, make sure to stay for the evening. The falls are lit up beautifully with different lights at night. We didn’t end up staying till late this time, but the first time we got to see the falls at night. 

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The next day we went to Toronto. More specifically the CN Tower. But before we talk about the CN tower, I should mention that the night before we were posing ”all cool” beside the mini CN tower, we stayed at a campground that hosted lots of skunks. That’s right! Skunks! I was making supper on our little stove, wearing my headlamp because it was pretty dark out already, and all of a sudden I see this creature beside me. And yes, it was a skunk. After shining our lights around our campground, we realized that the single skunk actually had friends. It also appeared that these skunks were not afraid of humans. They were quite determined to get food or something. LUCKILY we did not get sprayed! I can tell you though that you feel a little more squirmy going to bed, knowing you’ve got company! 

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We went up the CN Tower and got to see the city from every angle. Below us was the Rogers Centre, which is a multipurpose stadium in downtown Toronto. What makes this stadium special is that its roof opens and closes. It was closed though when we saw it.

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Skyscraper bathed in gold! I mean, that’s what it looks like, right?!?

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For some reason this picture makes me feel like I’m on a boat. I guess it would have to be a flying boat, or something…

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Yup, so the city basically has tons of skyscrapers. No, I’m sure there’s a lot to do in this city. We just didn’t take the time to explore it. Perhaps some time in the future? 

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Oh! And of course you get to do funny things on the glass floor of the CN Tower. It’s a little freaky, to say the least. I mean you’re like freakishly high up in the air! 

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And there ya have it! Take one last good look at the CN Tower! And if you’re interested in seeing all my other posts on our East Coast travels, here are the links: OttawaMontrealQuebec CityNew BrunswickPrince Edward IslandCape Breton, Nova ScotiaFortress of Louisbourg, and Newfoundland

Thank you SO MUCH for joining me on this road trip!! Have a wonderful week! 

 

 

Travel Tuesday: Newfoundland, Canada

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It’s been a while. I hope you all had a warm and fuzzy Christmas and a good and healthy start to the new year. Kevin and I very much enjoyed our Christmas. We visited my family and friends in Mexico, and between my mom and grandmothers’ cooking, and all the Mexican cuisine, we got to enjoy some amazing food! 

We’re back to travel Tuesday and today we have officially reached my second last post on our East Coast travels. Hopefully this will push me to finally organize and pick my favorite photos of our West Coast trip.

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Let’s talk about Newfoundland! The place stuck between time zones. Yes it really is half an hour later here than in the time zone West of it! We took the 7-hour ferry ride to Newfoundland during the night on the big ship pictured above. We arrived early in the morning and continued driving…

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…and then… well… we just experienced a bit of an oopsie! Haha. And I totally slept through it! OK. I did wake up when Kevin opened his door, and yes I was nice enough to help him unload all our stuff to get to the spare tire. Don’t worry I wasn’t JUST taking pictures of him doing the work. šŸ˜‰ The fun part of it all was we got to sit on massaging chairs at Canadian Tire while new tires were being put on our car. 

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We mainly spent time in Gros Morne National Park. Our first sight seeing place was the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse (built in 1897). It was a cooler day, and we were offered some warm tea while listening to a short presentation, recounting the story of some men that had to make the choice of leaving their ship, because they were going to die out on the freezing ocean. They’re best choice was to walk five miles to shore, even if that meant that some of their feet would be frozen. They found shelter with the family living in this lighthouse.

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The shore was beautiful at the Lighthouse site. The bedrock was covered in a burnt orange colored seaweed. 

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We continued on to an important geological site, known as Green Cove. 

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The older layers of rock (strata) here were half a billion years old. 

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The cliff, showing off these different layers, was formed when North America and Africa collided. The impact was so strong, causing the strata to not only stand tall, but to flip almost 180 degrees. 

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I loved listening to the geologist explain everything, since I find the rock cycle very interesting. Kevin continued exploring instead, and took some nice shots of the surrounding area!      

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We noticed just how sharp and preserved some of the hard layers remained. I can’t get over how cool all these different layers of sand and rock are! I mean imagine the millions of years of history in one wall! Which little and huge creatures walked and lived on each one of these layers? Which trees and plants grew or didn’t grow in the different soils and minerals?

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Many trees lie flat on the coastal line in this area, because of the cold and strong winds that are constantly hitting them. This causes them to have more of a bush-like appearance.  

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Our next stop was at the Western Brook Pond. We didn’t take the boat ride between the cliffs. If I have any regrets, it would be this. I mean look at this picture! Most of all I would like to slowly canoe through these tall and rocky walls. What a mystical experience that would be!  

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Instead, we got to enjoy a lonesome walk to the beautiful and serene pond. It was an eerie feeling walking on the wooden sidewalk surrounded by swampy areas, growing carnivorous plants, being in the middle of nowhere, while the dark clouds were creeping low. By the time we arrived at the pond it was only Kevin and I. Everyone else had left.   

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This is an important pond, as it is one of the few ponds left in the world that doesn’t sustain a lot of life, because it doesn’t provide a lot of nutrients. It has mostly been left untouched because of where it’s situated. The water is crystal clear. It would take 15 years for this lake to drain completely, which makes it very sensitive to pollution. 

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On our walk back, the sky started clearing, giving us another beautiful perspective of the pond. I can still feel what it felt like to be in this place on that day.  

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On our drive back to Rocky Harbour, we saw a multitude of purple flowers, taking in the last rays of the setting sun. I had to stop and take some pictures.

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We decided to race the sunset, and quickly climbed Berry Hill, which was situated close to our campground. We knew we would most likely not have the energy to do it the following day, as we were planning on climbing Gros Morne Mountain. Goodness, were we ever right… more on that later. 

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The quick climb was so worth it, as we got to enjoy the sunset from on top of the hill, as it was painting the sky in different colors. 

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The next day I will always remember as the day I challenged and pushed myself hard. Or should I say Gros Morne Mountain challenged me. What matters most is that after some salty tears, lots of thirst, blisters, and physical exhaustion, I was not defeated. 

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It took us about 8-9 hours to climb and descend this mountain, including resting time. The funny thing is, I look at this picture, and it really doesn’t look challenging to climb. It actually looks more like a big hill. Well let me tell you, it’s not. 

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There’s quite a bit of walking involved before even reaching the fork, from where we climbed up the gully. The gully that looks easy to climb from a distance is actually covered in tons of rocks that come in all shapes and sizes. Some are sturdy, some are loose, and I continuously found myself wishing that I could switch places with the people that were a couple of meters ahead of me. I realize I’m also not the fittest person out there. šŸ˜‰

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See? I’m sure the people below were wanting to trade places with me! 

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Well we did make it to the top, and I didn’t waste any time before taking my shoes off, and finding myself a not so comfy rock chair. 

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Gros Morne Summit is the second highest peak on the Island of Newfoundland, at 806 m.

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When I saw this view, I felt a sense of all the effort being worth it. It was so beautiful and grand! It makes me realize how small of a speck every human is on this earth. 

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It was neat to see how there were little ponds in many places high up on the mountains. There were some people camping out close to this pond. I have said many times, if we ever climb this mountain again, I would prefer to camp out for a day or two at the top, and then descend the mountain once I have physically recovered a little. Plus the scenery up there was so beautiful. Who doesn’t want to enjoy it for a little while longer?

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We made it back alive feeling both exhausted, and accomplished (although at that moment I mostly just felt exhausted!!).

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We enjoyed a local Newfoundland band called ‘Right Off the Coast’ to unwind from the tiring day!

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Our last stop on the Island was at The Tablelands. These lands are part of the earth’s mantel, which was pushed to the surface through platonic movement. The soil is very acidic here, causing few things to grow. We went for a short walk through this area. I was practically walking like a penguin due to sore muscles from the day before! 

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And that was that! We took the ferry back to Nova Scotia and left Newfoundland behind, but took many memories with us!

Travel Tuesday: Fortress of Louisbourg

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I recently shared a post on Cape Breton Island. We visited another place on this Island, that I didn’t include on my previous travel post, because I thought it deserved a page of its own.

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Fortress of Louisbourg is a reconstruction of what was once a French settlement. It is now a museum, open for the public to experience some history. But it’s not just any kind of museum. It is a living museum, where all re-enactors stay in character the whole time, bringing you right back to the 1700’s. 

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Kevin’s father had read about this place in the newspaper and recommended it, knowing that we would be visiting the East Coast. We were so glad that we chose to visit this place, as it definitely became one of our highlights.

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The fortress was surrounded by thick walls, guarded with canons. The English and the French often fought over the possession of this place. The name would change a few times, depending on who was in possession at the time. To this day they fire a canon daily, just for show (it was SO LOUD!). It’s quite an interesting experience. Just a little tip though: maybe don’t ask the person firing it, where the canon ball lands, like I did, haha. Nothing actually shoots out of the canon anymore. But of course, leave it up to me to ask those kinds of questions. 

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My favourite experience was eating foods that were similar to what would have been served in the 1700’s. What made this experience quite unique was, that we didn’t get to sit at our own table as is customary in restaurants. Complete strangers joined our table, family-style, and we got to spend some time getting to know each other.

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Our meal consisted of a delicious soup with fresh buns and butter, turkey and salmon, served with plain rice, garnished with herbs, and a side of parsnips and carrots, followed by a dessert.

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I really enjoyed watching this black smith use really old equipment to create a bottle opener. Black smiths were respected men in the 1700’s, like doctors are nowadays. This specific black smith told us that he has been practicing this trade for 10 years, and that he is only half ways done his education, in becoming a master smith.

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We also visited the bakery, where old stone ovens were still being used to bake fresh bread. They offered white, medium, and whole wheat bread. In the past, the upper class ate white bread, the middle class would have eaten the medium bread, and the soldiers the whole wheat bread. The soldiers would get a six pound loaf of bread, which was taken off of their wages. This had to last them for four days. 

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There were many historic buildings that we could walk through. Here’s a link that gives a better explanation of these buildings, and other information on the fortress. 

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The re-enactors acted out a public punishment scene of a woman that had been caught stealing. They involved us as the audience in finding an appropriate punishment for her (don’t worry it ended up being something awesome like reading stories to a crowd of children).

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I absolutely loved the look of some of these rooms. The plaster-like walls, with the wooden beams along the ceiling, and the fireplace! I would love to live in a home with this style, combined with some more modern furniture items.

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They even had a small garden, along with some farm animals. The animals were definitely another one of my favourites, especially the sheep, since we were actually able to pet them! Did I mention that I used to have a pet sheep named Toby Andrew that liked lollipops? šŸ˜‰

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They definitely also made some time for recreational activities, such as upper class dancing to harpsichord music (although they wouldn’t have brought a harpsichord over to America back then), and field music, while we simply got to watch. 

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We (more like me!) got serenaded by two “drunkards” (fake of course) in one of these buildings. The re-enactors at Louisbourg did anything to make us laugh, sometimes catching us off guard with their clever jokes. Like the time the “soldier” came up to me asking what kind of weapon I was carrying in reference to my canon camera. 

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One more selfie before leaving!

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The entrance gate was so well balanced, that it would have taken only one soldier to open and close it. This would have been very practical in battle. 

That’s it folks! Happy travel Tuesday!!

 

Travel Tuesday: Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

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It’s travel Tuesday, and I might just barely make it before it’s Wednesday! šŸ˜‰ I get to share a little about Cape Breton today! Cape Breton Island is found in Nova Scotia. It’s an unimaginably beautiful place! I remember being blown away when I first saw the beautiful mountains, the dropping cliffs, the winding roads, and the never ending green blanket of grass and trees. I’m sure this Island would also be stunning in the fall! Seriously guys! You need to visit this place! 

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There are so many things we could have done in Cape Breton, but we only had time to pick a few. We decided to drive along the Cabot Trail, do some whale watching, visit some water falls and some local art shops, and we explored the rocky shore line. Here’s a video I found that gives a brief overview of what Cape Breton has to offer. 

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To get to Cape Breton we drove through a crazy storm. The rain was pouring heavily, and we had to slow down our driving because of poor visibility. When we made it through the storm, we stopped to take in the beautiful, yet intimidating scenery. This might be the right time to pass on a little, but very important tip: if you ever do visit the East Coast, definitely bring rain gear, as it seemed to rain a lot!  

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I always fall for all the little living creatures. This snail was particularly cute with its vibrant yellow shell. 

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The Cabot Trail is a long scenic route, which will take your breath away! There was definitely lots of going up and down and back and forth on these curvy roads, but it was worth every bit of it. It is recommended to drive down the Cabot Trail going from West to East (clockwise), so that you’re always driving on the inside of the road. This way you avoid driving close to the edge. There are many lookout points where you get to step outside to enjoy the view.

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The shoreline was covered in colorful smooth rocks. The waves seemed to have a hint of red in it. Probably due to the minerals present in the water. 

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In one of the lookouts we saw these ancient highlands, of which the highest plateau measures 532 m. The surface of the plateaus has remained unchanged for millions of years. Some times the scenery is too much to take in. It brings me so much joy that there are still places to be found in nature, that seem untouched by the human hand.  

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We even got to see a moose!! 

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There are a few waterfalls that you can visit. We visited two of them: Black Brook Beach Falls, and Mary Ann Falls.  These two only required a short walk. There are also more intense hikes to waterfalls if you have more time.

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I love mushrooms! They are so stinkin’ adorable!

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Black Brook Beach Falls.

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We also made a stop at Neil’s Harbor. Here you’ll see a cute light house, a rocky shore line, tall green grass, a restaurant, and a few picnic tables. You can eat your lunch or snack here, take some pictures, read a book in the grass, meditate on your favorite rock, or just simply enjoy the scenery.  

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The rocks in this area were covered in lines! This must have happened many years ago, when the rocks cracked and then got covered again with melted rock, filling all the gaps and forming different colored lines.   

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The light house at the harbor had been transformed into an ice cream shop! We couldn’t pass the opportunity to try some. Does that surprise you though? I’m not likely to turn down food!

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We drove along the coast line until we reached Pleasant Bay. Here we got to experience whale watching for the first time ever. Kevin and I took the zodiac tour, and we both absolutely loved it. Off we went far onto the ocean, buckled up in our life jackets, bouncing up and down, on the lookout for whales. We found some pilot whales and got to see them from quite close up, as we were floating along beside them. 

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Here’s our ride: the zodiac boat!

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Pilot whales are not the biggest whales, but they stand in second place when it comes to diving the deepest (I believe they are able to dive 2000 ft. deep). They can hold their breath for a long time! The tour guide was well informed, and it was so much fun learning about these large creatures!

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I enjoyed the layered rocks in this tilted cliff! There were also some crazy diving birds here, that continuously dove into the water to catch fish! 

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Oh, and one last cute picture of this seal showing off its beautiful, spotted body! It clearly feels quite prideful! šŸ™‚ May you feel this confident for the rest of the week, whatever tasks you take on!

Travel Tuesday – Prince Edward Island

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Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive – it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there? – L.M. Montgomory (Anne of Green Gables) 

Prince Edward Island, known also as The Gentle Island, what a beautiful place to be. Its red earth, its peaceful sunsets far in the horizon of the ocean, its soft sand, mingled with tall grass, and its old lighthouses are so inviting that one cannot help but be drawn in.     

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Kevin and I stayed at Cavendish Campground, in PEI National Park. Tenting gives you the opportunity to experience nature in a more personal way. No, it’s not as comfortable as sleeping in a nice hotel bedroom (and trust me, it sure makes you appreciate your bed!), but you get to experience and see things from a different angle. Plus, it saves you money, which you then get to spend on other awesome experiences!    

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Our campsite was right by the ocean. The sunset was breathtaking. Calm waves were continuously rushing towards the shore, while the golden sun reflected it’s rays far onto the ocean. When the skies were finally dark, we sat on our lawn chairs gazing at the stars, and saw one particularly bright shooting star. 

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Green Gables. A must-see for Anne of Green Gables fans. Montgomery was adopted by her grandparents, when her mom died at the age of 23. Montgomery spent quite some time in this home, which belonged to her grandparents’ cousins. She used this place and its surroundings as an inspiration when she wrote the Anne of Green Gables book series. Montgomery once wrote, that had it not been for the years spent in Cavendish, Anne would’ve never been born.

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The inside of the Green Gables Home was now a museum. I wish I could have packed this whole kitchen into my suit case! How beautiful are all those antique pieces though, right?

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We took a stroll through the woods located behind the Green Gables Home. The trees seemed to have long outstretched arms, ready to grab you. It comes as no surprise that this forrest inspired the “Haunted Woods” in Anne of Green Gables. 

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Montgomery was also very fond of her grandparents’ home, and it pained her to move away to Ontario, when she got married. The above picture shows the rock foundation, which is the only thing that’s left of her grandparents’ home. Close by you will also find a historic centre/store, where you might get the opportunity to speak to some of Montgomery’s relatives. This made the whole experience even more real for me.  

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We drove along the coast line. It was so captivating! No wonder Montgomery was so inspired! The ocean goes on forever, the soil is as red as can be, the sand presses softly against the feet, and there are shells lying everywhere. The red eroded rocks form cliffs, and are greeted with green grass, forming a contrasting edge. 

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The weather is playful, shifting constantly between cloudy, rainy, and sunny weather. The park is not overcrowded with people, which allows you to get in touch with nature. 

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A blue heron exploring the waters, looking for food. 

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The lighthouse is a common structure to be found on the Island. This brings the tune “The Lighthouse’s Tale” by Nickel Creek to mind. It reminds me of the many stories each one of these lighthouse’s must have witnessed.    

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Oh the details that are to be found in each flower, always adding color and beauty to it’s surroundings.  

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Seeing wildlife always excites me! The rabbit came for a quick visit, close to our campsite. The fox, well, I just want to wrap it up in a blanket and cuddle it! It looks wet and cold on a rainy PEI day. 

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This is the famous Confederation Bridge, connecting Prince Edward Island with mainland New Brunswick, Canada. It’s total length is 12,900 m (8 miles)! Ummm… that is crazy long!

Thank you for reading my travel stories! I am going to try to make Tuesday my travel post day. So HAPPY TRAVEL TUESDAY FOLKS!

 

A Little Bit of New Brunswick

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a travelling post. I’m going to admit that I would love to share some pictures from our most recent trip to the West Coast, but it’ll have to wait till I’m done sharing last years’ trip with you! I know, I’m such a party pooper! Here are some of the places that I’ve written about so far: OttawaMontrealQuebec. Kevin and I visited these places last year when we made a road trip to the East Coast.

Now where did we leave off? Right… the lovely New Brunswick. What a beautiful place! We spent some time in the village of Alma, Fundy National Park, Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park, and went whale watching in St. Andrew’s. 

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Alma is a small village in the Bay of Fundy right outside of Fundy National Park. The greatest tides in the whole world happen in the Bay of Fundy, shifting a distance of about 50 ft every 6 hours or so. In the morning the boats couldn’t go anywhere, as they were standing without water. We stood close to the shoreline and watched the tide come in, as it was constantly forcing us to take a few steps back. We were intrigued and watched in awe as a once naked log was quickly clothed by the waves until it disappeared completely. Never before had I witnessed such a fast moving tide. 

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Fundy National Park has beautiful scenes to share with the people that set foot in it. A short hike away lie the beautiful Dickson falls, surrounded by a never ending curtain of green moss. Many plants have found their home here, adapting to different amounts of sunlight. 

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New Brunswick has a great amount of covered bridges. They were covered to protect the wooden beams from the elements, making them last much longer. This particular bridge, built in 1992, adds some color to the green surroundings of Point Wolfe. There are trails here that can be hiked or explored by bike. There is also a picnic area and a campground. The view from Point Wolfe Bridge was mysterious, as the fog was creeping in through the walls of the winding river. 

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If you are willing to walk a few stairs down to the Herring Cove Beach you may get to see this peculiar phenomenon. A huge cloud of fog was rolling in trying to move over the hills of Alma, resembling a mountain covered in snow. 

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The above pictures bear witness to one of my most magical and enigmatic memories. Kevin and I had decided to drive back to Alma, which was now engulfed in the big cloud of fog that we had earlier seen from the distance. I felt like we had driven straight into a mystical storybook. The smell of the waves reached my nose, as the tall grass, with its bright streaks like sunshine, was smoothly waltzing in the wind. The tide had come to draw us in with its beauty, surrounded by fog, and a subtle, promising rainbow.  

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Before we knew it the fog had moved on, leaving behind the rich blue color of the sky reflected in the the serene waters, and the vibrant colors of the once again floating boats. 

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Hopewell Rocks is another must-see in New Brunswick. Erosion has done some creative work here, forming large rock pillars. During high tide, the rocks are surrounded by water, and can be explored by canoe. During low tide, the red soils are exposed. It is incredible to see how big the difference between high and low tide is. The above picture shows how far inland the water reaches during high tide. To the very left of the picture you can see where the water was at during our visit.

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We went whale watching from the small town of St. Andrews. We got to wear these huge body suits, which totally made me feel like we were about to walk right onto the moon! 

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The water was bustling with all kinds of creatures, of which we saw some porpoises, minke whales, and seals. It took a while to locate the whales, until we finally reached what was a feeding frenzy. The seagulls, porpoises, and whales, were all taking turns feasting on a school of fish.  

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And that was our New Brunswick adventure! Thanks for reading along! Wishing everyone a week full of energy!

Exploring QuƩbec City

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I still remember the very first time I googled images of QuĆ©bec City, and was surprised at how beautiful it was. Last summer, when Kevin and I got to travel the East Coast, we decided that out of the three cities we were going to visit, we would spend two days in QuĆ©bec (I also wrote about Ottawa and Montreal). I did not regret this decision one bit as I quickly realized that QuĆ©bec City was definitely my kind of city!

As I was trying to decide which picture would best represent QuĆ©bec, I chose to go with the above picture, as it seems to encapsulate the nature of this city: the perfect collision between old and new. QuĆ©bec is one of the oldest cities in North America, and yet its small streets remain busy, bustling with excited people, with POPS OF COLOR and flowers everywhere. It holds on to its beautiful old architecture, and yet leaves a lot of space for new art. Just like a balanced city should be. 

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We mainly spent our time in the section of the the city called Old QuĆ©bec, which is divided by a cliff into Upper and Lower Town. Be prepared to walk many stairs to get between the two of them, or pay a little to use the city’s elevator.  

The above picture shows the Place Royale, situated in lower QuĆ©bec. This very old French courtyard is so European looking with its old buildings and its cobblestone street. Here you get to say hello and step into the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, North America’s oldest stone church (1688). 

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One of the city’s greatest landmarks, located in Upper Town, is the Fairmont Le ChĆ¢teau Frontenac. This luxurious, castle-like hotel overlooks the St. Lawrence River (pictured below). No, we did not get to stay here, but we got to take a peek inside the hotel. What a beautiful place! 

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The St. Lawrence River is one of the longest rivers in North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. This river played an important historical role for the explorers and for the trading post, as it allows access into the heart of the continent. It continues to be of great important for commerce, tourism, and is used a source of electric power.  

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Keep your eyes open for street entertainers! They really add to the atmosphere. We saw this very talented lady, who was skipping rope on stilts, among other crazy things.

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You surely wouldn’t want to miss walking down the famous Rue du Petit-Champlain, which is it the oldest commercial street in North America. This is a busy street, as you can see, full of restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries.  

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It is also so incredibly colorful and full of beautiful plants! Absolutely pleasing to the eyes and the soul! I’m sure this place would also be really magical on a snowy winter day.

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While walking down the Petit-Champlain street, we came upon this beautiful fresco mural. It gives the viewer a little look into the city’s history. 

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OK, seriously, this city has the funnest, most unusual art. Who comes up with putting pool noodles all over two walls!? Someone fun and awesome, that’s for sure! I love how the people in this city find ways to make something ordinary into something beautiful! All it took was to add these colorful pool noodles to brighten this dark narrow alley.

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I can’t get over how beautiful all these old buildings are. I just want to live in one of them for a while! The European look is what got me the first time I saw pictures of QuĆ©bec City.

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If you ever visit QuĆ©bec City, I highly recommend checking to see if any events are happening locally. One of our biggest highlights (and our late Christmas gift to each other), was going to the Cirque du Soleil Kurios show. These performers were mind blowing!! For those of you who are in Winnipeg, Cirque du Soleil is coming here in June with the Varekai show! I’m sure it will be amazing!   

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This building is just another example of making something ordinary stand out. During the day this industrial building looked grey, dull, and boring, and was a bit of an eyesore. During the night it transformed into a curtain of colors, reflected by the St. Lawrence River. 

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After the amazing Cirque du Soleil show, we finished off our night with eating some late-night-snacks at Le pub des Borgia, situated at the side of the Breakneck Stairs (the city’s oldest stairs).

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Our second day in the city was a rainy day! Note to self: Do NOT wear shorts (and white ones on top of that!) on a rainy day. You will get wet and cold! And put your Passports in a zip lock bag if you’re carrying them with you! Learned lessons stick the best if you make the mistakes yourself, right?

Even though I was cold this day, the rain added a romantic vibe to the city. We began our day with driving through The Plains of Abraham. These are the fields which witnessed the English and the French battle. This was the pivotal battle for England establishing reign over Canada. Many canons of different time periods were displayed. The field that once saw many soldiers die, is now a beautiful green field with many blooming flower beds.   

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Another place to see is QuĆ©bec City’s Parliament building, and in front of it the beautiful Fontaine de Tourny. This fountain was a gift to the City of QuĆ©bec, celebrating its 400th anniversary. 

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We continued walking to the Citadelle of Quebec. This place is an active military installation. It was strategically built to protect the city and the access to the St. Lawrence River (which would have meant further access to Canada). We did not take the inside tour, but we were lucky enough to see the Changing of the Guard.

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You will see old large stone walls and gates. These were built to protect the town where it wasn’t already being protected by the cliff. You get to explore and walk these walls. I always love to think about the possible stories that have happened on these walls.

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Here’s the Notre-Dame de QuĆ©bec. This was the first cathedral built in North America, making it about 350 years old. I liked the painted clouds on the ceiling, and the golden arch in the front was quite impressive as well. I enjoyed just sitting on one of the pews for a while, trying to take it all in.

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As usual, food is one of the things that excites me the most! If you enjoy burgers, you MUST try these! Right below the MusĆ©e du Fort, you will find this Burger joint called Chic Shack. All their burgers are made from local meat, and they also make their own soda mixes. This has got to be one of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted! I thoroughly enjoyed eating right by the open window, facing the street. Now, this would have been even nicer on a warm day, where you’re not distracted by being cold. It is the perfect spot for people who enjoy watching other people. Creepy? Maybe just a little.  

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One last picture of the rainy, romantic, European looking street. I’m in love. I can’t help myself. 

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Our last stop before heading back to the campsite was Montmorency Falls. These are the tallest falls in Canada, being 30 meters taller than Niagara falls. Here you have the choice to walk many stairs, all the way up to the falls, or you can drive up most of the way (and walk the last part). We got to walk on the bridge, which hangs right above the waterfall. A little freaky? I think so!  

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This was our scenery on our drive back to the campsite. It was simply stunning! We finished our evening off with some warm Mexican mole and tortillas, and spend some time in a disappointingly lukewarm hot tub ;). Seeing all these pictures, and writing about it, definitely makes me want to go back again. For other attractions and must-sees in QuĆ©bec City check out this website.

 

 

Walking the streets of Montreal

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I always wish I was more of a morning person than I actually am. It’s not that I don’t enjoy mornings, it’s the getting myself out of bed when I’m still cozy and sleepy that I don’t enjoy. However, when I am able to get myself up early in the morning, I have recently learned, it’s actually an amazing feeling to go grocery shopping at this time of the day (call me crazy, but I love spending time walking down the aisles in grocery stores). Not only is the grocery store quite empty, but it’s the early morning sun in the Spring that is so inviting, and the freshness in the air that makes me feel alive. The grand cherry on top is the heavenly smell of the store’s fresh baked goods. These are the things you definitely don’t get to experience when you go grocery shopping late at night as I tend to do. 

This morning, however, something else got me out of bed. I’m working on a future recipe to share, and the only hint you’re getting is that something lemony is filling the air in our small home. Stay posted to find out what it is!

Now on to my actual planned topic (yes, I’ve got a spaghetti-noodles kind of brain). Last week I shared some must-see Ottawa attractions. Today I’m going to share some places that Kevin, my husband, and I visited in Montreal, Quebec, on our summer of 2014 East Coast trip. Something that stood out about this city was the great balance of new and old buildings. Here’s the first one:

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We visited three cathedrals, and each one of them was stunning in their own unique way. The first one, CathĆØdrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde (Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral), is a massive building with four wings.

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It features embossed stone walls, with pink and green pastel colors, and some accents in gold. It also has a large beautiful dome!

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Something that stood out in this cathedral was its large canopy over the altar. 

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Next, we visited the St. Patrick’s Basilica.

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This cathedral features an incredible amount of detailed wood work. The rich tones of the wood create a darker feel. Also, as you can see in the above picture, the painted art work on the ceiling is so detailed! There are also many paintings on the walls, recounting Christ’s life stories.

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Now, if you are only going to visit one cathedral, it has got to be the Notre-Dame Basilica! It wasn’t all that impressive on the outside, but I was blown away by the inside (I guess don’t judge a book by its cover)! It was a transcendental experience that left me in awe.

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There’s something mysterious about this cathedral that makes me feel like I’m in a different world all together, and yet this world remains distant and completely untouchable, too large to understand…

So yes, this is a must-see, since it’s the most beautiful cathedral that I have ever laid my eyes on!

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Next we made our way to Old Montreal (the oldest area in the city of Montreal), walking on its old, narrow, cobbled streets. It makes me wonder how many stories the rocks on the streets could tell me, of the lives of the many people who have walked these streets before.  

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On one of the streets we found this awesome Christmas store, called NoĆ«l Eternel. As soon as we walked into this store and heard the music that was being played on a metal disc music player, I was overcome with emotion! I honestly felt like I was a character in a story book that had just walked into Santa’s workshop in the North Pole. I was as giddy as a little child that is about to open its Christmas present. 

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We finally took a break on a pedestrian street and I ate the best beer battered fries ever at Les 3 Brasseurs! Kevin enjoyed some poutine (I’m not the biggest fan). I would definitely recommend this place. It was so nice to take a break after so much walking, and we got lucky enough to hear someone play the violin on the street, while we were resting.

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We continued to the Old Port of Montreal. Here you can see The Sailor’s Memorial Clock on the white tower, remembering the Canadian sailors who died in the First World War.

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You will also see this housing complex, called Habitat 67, designed by Canadian architect Moshe Safdie.

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As the sun was getting pretty low in the sky, we drove up to Mount Royale and saw the St. Joseph’s Oratory. This Roman Catholic minor basilica was massive! It looked quite minimalistic on the inside though. 

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We ended our day by driving to two different lookouts to see the city from higher up. This is one of my favorite memories! Sometimes I get the most excited about little things. There were SO many raccoons here, and they weren’t really inhibited by people. This was probably because of all the times people have fed them treats (this time they were getting popcorn). 

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I ended up touching a raccoon, only to read a few minutes later that they can carry diseases. Of course I was now terribly paranoid and covered myself in hand sanitizer! After all that, it still remains one of my many favorite memories. 

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We couldn’t have asked for a better view to end our day in Montreal than the view you see above. The moon was so big and orange, floating just above the lit up city, of which Kevin snapped some really awesome pictures. And that’s it for Montreal! 

 

Things to Do in Ottawa

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It’s the weekend! And it’s May long weekend here in Canada, which honors Queen Victoria’s birthday. For many this means a break from work, and maybe even a trip to the cottage. This year it marks the beginning of a seasonal garden stand job for me. I’m looking forward to soaking in lots and lots of sunshine! Speaking of which, it was finally sunny today!

Over the next weeks I’ll be sharing some pictures of a three-week-long road trip to Canada’s East Coast, that Kevin, my husband, and I went on last summer (2014). If you have not visited these places, then maybe this will inspire you enough to at least add this trip to your bucket list. Trust me, it’s worth it!

Our trip started with lots, and lots of driving! The first day we covered a thousand kilometers from Winnipeg, to Minnesota, to Wisconsin, to Michigan. After following some campground signs that only lead to creepy and abandoned looking roads, we finally found a legit campground in Michigamme. It was late and dark when we arrived, but woke up to this beautiful lake:    

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Day two was spent driving, with a beautiful stop at a picnic area, by Pimisi Lake, where we had supper. We arrived in Ontario, Canada, and stayed at a campsite that was close to Ottawa city.

The next day we finally had time for some site seeing in Ottawa (tip: there’s free parking on Sundays)! Here are a few of the places that I would recommend visiting. I’m sure there are many more things to do, but we only got to see a few places, as we only spent one day in Ottawa.

Ottawa is home to the Supreme Court of Canada. This is the highest court of Canada. Tours are offered here, and the Court’s hearings are open to the public. 

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The Rideau Canal is a brilliant invention and is well worth seeing! This canal connects Ottawa River to Lake Ontario and is 202 kilometers long. It was really neat to see how the canal is still being operated by hand, as it was originally done, back when it was built. In the winter, part of the canal is opened for skating, which I’m sure would be tons of fun for you skaters out there!

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Of course, the most popular place to go to is Parliament Hill! This building has stunning architecture! The library is every book lover’s dream! Luckily an employee had shut the huge metal doors to this beautiful room, when a large part of the building was damaged by a 1916 fire, preserving the library’s original beauty.

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You will see a great view of the city if you climb the peace tower of the Parliament building! 

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located below the National War Memorial. 

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My ABSOLUTE favorite place in Ottawa was the ByWard Market! This place is a must see! I love streets full of small restaurants, and stores!

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We also found THE tastiest food on these small streets! Make sure to take some time to just sit and enjoy the small things. Honestly, sometimes these moments are the most fun and the most memorable!

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If there’s anything I love, it would be the sound of church bells. Earlier in the day, we had heard the bells of the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica from far away. It was special to get to know it from a bit closer. There was so much attention put into small details here!

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Now, this spider might not be the best thing for arachnophobes, but it’s still a pretty artistic sculpture! It was right close to the cathedral.  

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At this point of the day our feet were quite tired! It was still nice to see the Parliament Hill from a distance and enjoy a walk into the sunset!

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We finished our day off with some greasy street food and this amazing light show on the Parliament Building, which recounted the history of Canada, with sound and lighting. 

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So there ya have it! Just a few places to see if you ever visit Ottawa (if you haven’t already!). Are there any other places that are must-sees in Ottawa that I did not mention? Please do share in the comments below! 

Happy weekend! šŸ™‚