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North Rustico

4 October

Typical fishing village in P.E.I.
Typical fishing village in P.E.I.
Lobster pots and fishermen's huts in North Rustico
Lobster pots and fishermen’s huts in North Rustico

It was a grey start to the day. We set off for the Anne of Green Gables house but found that there was already a coach party there and another was just driving in so I decided I didn’t want to push my way around with hordes of people.

After that, I had a difference of opinion with my daughter so we went back to the motel and went our separate ways for walks around the village, which is apparently known for its red cliffs.

North Rustico
North Rustico
Lighthouse in North Rustico
Lighthouse in North Rustico
Kayaks in North Rustico
Kayaks in North Rustico
Old lighthouse?
Old lighthouse?

I came back for a couple of hours in the afternoon and read my book and then, when Robyn hadn’t returned, I decided to drive out to the sand dunes at Brackley Beach, which are also a noted local attraction. It was a lovely long beach to walk along.

Braddely's Beach
Braddely’s Beach

Rimouski

5 October

It was a very long day today, driving from P.E.I. to Rimouski, which is on the shores of the St Lawrence. We left at 8am and arrived at nearly 5pm. The weather was revolting, so most of the drive was in heavy rain, with a lot of surface water on the roads and therefore not very pleasant.

We left P.E.I. via the Confederation Bridge, whose end disappeared into the mist, it being 12.9kms long and the longest bridge in the world over ice covered waters (not that there was ice at the moment). Interestingly, you don’t pay going onto the island, either by the ferry or the bridge, but you pay to leave.

View from the motel in Rimouski
View from the motel in Rimouski

We stopped for about an hour in Bathurst, with much of the time spent actually looking for somewhere that was open on a Sunday. We eventually found a very strange little cafe, fully decorated for Halloween, where the food was adequate and the coffee hot. During the 20 minutes we then spent trying to get back onto the main road we, of course, passed a number of shopping areas, all of which were open. It was obviously only the city centre that closed on Sundays. I should have realised that!

Sun going down
Sun going down

There was no doubt some beautiful scenery along the way, particularly north of Campbellton, if only we could have seen it through the low cloud and driving rain. However, the weather did clear as we approached the coast and, by the time, we arrived in Rimouski, it was quite fine. We had now completed a 3 week loop (or more acurately, a wonky figure of 8).

We found a waterfront motel quite by chance as Robyn spotted the sign at the end of the road as we were driving past.  We then went to the supermarket for bread and cheese (we had been seriously deprived in Nova Scotia) and sat outside our room to enjoy the sunset. This would have been a little more enjoyable if the temperature had been 10 degrees higher! We were forced inside for the rest of the evening.

It was only then, when I was going to book somewhere for tomorrow night, that I realised I had got all my dates mixed up and we have an extra day before the car is due back! How dumb can you be?

Almost gone!
Almost gone!

Saguenay

6 October

Ferry from Trois Pistoles
Ferry from Trois Pistoles
On the ferry
On the ferry

We were again welcomed by a blue sky day today. The weather is, if nothing else, a little fickle! We had decided to get the ferry across the St Lawrence from Trois Pistoles to Les Escoumins and drive up towards Saguenay.

Having dawdled around at the motel, I then had to drive quite quickly to reach the ferry in time for the once a day sailing, for which we had no reservation, at 11am. Luckily, we arrived with time to spare and, it seemed, that very few other people had a booking either so there was no problem getting on.

Arriving at Escoumins
Arriving at Escoumins
Tadoussac harbour
Tadoussac harbour

The trip across took an hour and a half and was extremely calm. On the way, we even saw some wildlife! Several porpoises and what, I think, was a small whale. We sat on the outside deck, once again, where it was very cold and definitely necessary to keep out of the wind along the sides of the boat.

On arrival in Les Escoumins, I thought we would drive to Tadoussac for lunch, thinking it would be a nice quiet town. Wrong again! It was very touristy, as it was a launching place for whale tours as well as a ferry across the river (not the St Lawrence) for people heading to Quebec City. Sometimes, it pays to do a bit of research. It was a very attractive place, nevertheless.

Cemetary in Tadoussac
Cemetary in Tadoussac
Oldest wooden chapel in Northern America
Oldest wooden chapel in Northern America

Our first stop was a cafe. Surprise, surprise! We had an excellent lunch, sharing a Table d’hote menu and ordering an extra soup. Robyn had the dessert. And then she felt full. At last. Afterwards, we had a wander around the small town and along the harbour front, watching the boats going in and out. It was certainly a busy little place.

Having decided not to stay there, we drove up through woodland and along lakes to Saguenay, where we found our most expensive motel to date on the river front. It seems to be an odd time of year to visit some of these areas as a lot of accommodation and tourist attractions have already closed for the winter so the choice is limited.

After going in search of a supermarket and almost driving the wrong way up a dual carriageway (thankfully Robyn shouted at me), it was back to the room for a restorative glass of wine (for me, at least) and a quiet evening.

New York cheesecake - after the soup and pizza!
New York cheesecake – after the soup and pizza!
Lunch time cafe
Lunch time cafe
Tadoussac harbour
Tadoussac harbour

Quebec City

7 October

It was a very wet and miserable day today. We were driving to Quebec City and had hoped for a walk in the National Park along the way. However, this was not to be and we took the morning leisurely and then drove the 3 hours or so through the rain to our destination.

On arrival, it was well after time for lunch, so our first stop (once again) was a cafe. We were trying to find a shopping centre with only a vague idea of where it was, so the cafe was en route. After an excellent lunch, both food and value wise, we headed for the shopping centre having discovered its location using the technology (wifi) available to us in the cafe.

Robyn topped up her phone (vital necessity of life) and we wandered around a bit but neither of us particularly wanted to shop, so we set off for the hostel with the aid of Robyn’s French GPS lady in the phone. I am really beginning to wonder how anyone manages without a smartphone!

The hostel owner recognised us from our previous visit and we had the same room. However, the hostel, this time, was much busier with a large (or, at least, seemed large) group of Asians, who seemed to take over the kitchen. We chatted to a couple of other guests and then retired to the room and our technology. Who needs verbal communication?!

Montreal

8 October

We were up early this morning as I had to return the car to Montreal by 11am. Once again, we set off in torrential rain, which continued on and off for the entire drive. The traffic was extremely heavy and slow, particularly as approached and left the Champlain Bridge, with the result that we were a little late although that didn’t seem to matter.

The airport bus delivered us to the accommodation I had booked for myself, close (ish) to the centre. Or, at least, it would have done if we had got off at the right stop. The darling daughter (she, who is always right) got it wrong for once, so we then had to take the metro as well.

Having checked in, my priority was a hair cut so we trekked across to The Village where Robyn had had her hair cut previously at a salon with learners. I opted for the professional and got a very short cut! After that, it was across town to the north to visit Mavie, with whom Robyn was staying for a few days. She left her backpack there and we traipsed across town to the west so that she could visit Clara, another friend, and deposit her work cheques, which hopefully, won’t bounce this time.

By this stage, I was almost beside myself with exhaustion, so left them chatting and made my way back on the bus to my accommodation. I spent the rest of the evening virtually comatose and doing absolutely nothing!

Montreal

9 October

This morning was spent in the room, sorting and doing admin stuff.

I had arranged to meet Robyn at the bakery in St Denis that we had been to before and walked there in the rain and freezing wind, which started not long after I set off. Consequently, it wasn’t a particularly pleasant walk but I did take refuge underground for a little while.

The bakery was packed with students, all with laptops and not eating, monopolising all the tables. Luckily, we managed to get seats but other customers were not so lucky. Obviously a problem the bakery owners need to sort out! The food, as before, was excellent and Robyn was starving, as she hadn’t had breakfast. She has also decided she is getting fat with all the eating!

Afterwards we decided to go shopping at Laval, reputedly the biggest shopping centre in Quebec. Surprisingly, we managed to last longer than 10 minutes and also purchased one or two items, which must be a record for us, the well known non-shopaholics.

This exhausted me though and we made our way back on the bus and metro at about 7pm. I left Robyn, not knowing when I might see her again, and returned to the room to recover (from the shopping, not not seeing Robyn!).

Toronto

10 October

I spent almost the entire day today on a double decker bus travelling from Montreal to Toronto. The journey took a little over 6 hours and we stopped once briefly at Kingston, where I bought a sandwich and coffee that made Tim Hortons seem gourmet. How other people had time to rush to McDonalds and other places, I am not sure, as I only just had time to go to the bus terminal cafe.

The bus was completely full, mainly with students, probably because it was Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, which I, naturally, had not realised. The going was slow, with heavy traffic into Toronto, and we arrived late at about 5.45pm.

I caught the subway to my accommodation, another Airbnb, which, it transpired, was the Hungarian owner’s home but he was going away for the weekend. It is a very nice studio with a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, the only drawback being that the heating is uncontrollable and almost unbearable, it being set by the Cuban apartment superindent, who apparently feels the cold. He said to put the air con on if I got too hot!!

It was then a rush to get changed and head out to Chester where Cherie and John, whom I had met in Central America, lived and who had invited me to dinner. It was an extremely enjoyable evening with a lot of chat about travel and very nice to catch up with them again. It was well after midnight and my bedtime by the time I returned to my oven.

Toronto

11 September

University of Toronto
University of Toronto
Park at the back of the Art Gallery
Park at the back of the Art Gallery

I spent most of the morning pottering in my oven and then walked into the city, having arranged to meet Robyn by the CN Tower at 3.30pm. I hadn’t expected to see her again but she had decided to join a La Salle University student trip, courtesy of one of her current flatmates, and was heading to Niagara Falls for the weekend.

I zigzagged my way through treelined suburban streets, past and through the University of Toronto, along streets lined with every type of cafe and restaurant imaginable and on to the waterfront where I sat watching people, planes and boats whilst waiting. It was a beautiful day and very warm.

Tree lined street in Toronto
Tree lined street in Toronto

View from the waterfront
View from the waterfront
The Waterfront
The Waterfront

I then strolled up to the Tower and and did a bit more people watching until Robyn arrived and then, whilst the others went up the Tower, she and I had a late lunch of pancakes, mothers being very useful providers of cafe lunches.

CN Tower square
CN Tower square

Afterwards, she went off to rejoin the group and I had a further wander around the city streets and into one of the large shopping malls where I perused the shops for a while, surprisingly not getting bored within 5 minutes.

I decided my feet couldn’t cope with walking back so I then caught the metro back to St Clair.

A few leaning towers!
A few leaning towers!

Toronto

12 September

I awoke early, having not slept very well and, after breakfast, got ready to go and meet Cherie at Chester station. She had proposed to give me a guided walk through the city, which she and I both enjoyed.

The City from Don Valley
The City from Don Valley
Old prison, new hospital
Old prison, new hospital

It was a beautiful clear, crisp day that got warmer as it went on. We set off from Danforth and walked through the Don Valley, onto Cabbagetown, where Robyn and I had stayed when I first arrived, and down to the Distillery area. As the name suggests, the buildings used to be a distillery but had been renovated and converted and now housed many boutique shops and cafes.

Window box in the Distillery
Window box in the Distillery
Chandelier in Balzac's cafe
Chandelier in Balzac’s cafe
Poster in Balzac's
Poster in Balzac’s

Artwork in the Distillery
Artwork in the Distilley
Back view of the artwork
Back view of the artwork

The Distillery area
The Distillery area

Street sign in The Distillery
Street sign in The Distillery

We stopped at Balzac for coffee and then strolled on, right through the centre, past the St Lawrence Market, which unfortunately wasn’t open on Sundays, as well as the Art Gallery, the National Museum, Parliament and the University.

By the time we stopped for a very late lunch of Vietnamese chicken noodle soup, we were well and truly ready for a rest! It made a very big difference walking with someone who has lived and worked in the city for so many years and who could give me some ‘insider’ information.

A very narrow building!
A very narrow building!

Cityscape
Cityscape

City cow
City cow

National Museum
National Museum
National Art Gallery
National Art Gallery

Afterwards, Cherie had to get home. I decided I didn’t have the energy for anymore walking but still managed to walk back to St Clair, which took about 40 minutes.

On my return, I realised I could actually open the windows a little more than I already had, so I am hoping tonight will not be quite so oven-like!

Toronto

13 October

The morning was very gloomy as I packed my belongings and walked into the city to meet Robyn, who was stopping in Toronto for a couple of hours on her way back to Montreal.

I met her at lunchtime near the Bay shopping centre, into which we then wandered so that I could have a coffee. Afterwards, we had a half hearted stroll around the shops before doing our usual dithering about where to have lunch. There was, of course, a large food court in the Centre so we decided it would be quicker and easier to go there as we were both on a short timeframe. An excellent, large, noodle dish was shared between us before she left to re-join her group and I returned to the flat to collect my bags and head to the airport.

I was running later than I had intended but, luckily, caught buses fairly quickly and arrived at the ferry in plenty of time. (I was surprised on the second bus that the driver didn’t seem to know, or realise, that his bus went quite close to the terminal!  I just had a short walk then from the closest bus stop.

The ferry and terminal was packed with people returning home after Thanksgiving weekend but, once through checkin and security, I was able to find a seat and avail myself of the gratuitous coffee and biscuits. In fact, I was so comfortable, I didn’t hear the flight called and ended up being one of the last to board!

The lady sitting next to me (and, in fact, in my allocated seat) asked if I would mind having her large handbag by my feet, as she already had a big carry on bag under her own feet. I wasn’t really happy with the proposed request (the bag really being quite large for a handbag) and she luckily got the message and put it in the overhead locker.

The flight to Montreal was otherwise uneventful, as was the changeover in Montreal. I had an hour and a half stopover, which passed quickly, and I was soon on the way to London. It was an overnight flight but not long enough to get comfortable or to sleep properly.

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