Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec and the Maritime Provinces
Hey, me again!
I am slowly starting to get my head around the first leg of my upcoming 'World Tour' and, as ever, I'd love to hear your thoughts please.
I'm flying into Toronto on the afternoon of 4th May. I'll collect a rental car and then head off on a circular road trip, returning to Toronto to take the train to Vancouver on the 19th/20th May.
Whilst on my roadtrip I plan on visiting a few cities but the scenery is really what it is all about for me. Both in terms of the driving experience, getting away from it and chilling out and also the opportunity to do a bit of hiking.
The cities that I am planning on visiting are Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec. I'm then thinking of heading out towards the coast and the 'Maritime Provinces' When I decided to head out that way I knew little about it but the name Nova Scotia sounded kinda cool so I decided it was something that I'd like to do. I've heard Halifax is cool and I remember being quite taken with Lunenburg when I saw it on TV last year.
As I've been reading posts on this site though I've been reading about Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton Island, ferries, etc. and I'm starting to get a little carried away, I fear. What I'm looking for is a little bit of a reality check. Given my time restraints, my economy rental car (so no rough roads, sadly) and my inability to take any form of 'short cut' through the US due to the limitations of the Visa Waiver Program, do you think I am biting off more than I can chew?
I'd like to spend at least one full day (the 19th) in Toronto but I'm open to suggestions on the rest. Given cities aren't really my thing and I am very happy to camp would I be missing out if I did the other cities as 'day trips' as it were?
I very much look forward to your thoughts. I think, if I sat here now, I'd probably end up with a 4,000 mile trip so I am gonna leave it for now and come back to it later!!
We have been on this loop some years ago starting Montreal-Rocher Perce-PEI-NS-back via Maine-Niagara Falls-Toronto-Montreal. Totalled 5000 miles, took 30 days and it was a great visit. In a shorter amount of time I would give Montreal a miss (hope I don't offend anybody though), spend at least half a day (better 1 day) in Ottawa and at least 1 full day (better 2 days) in Quebec. Quebec is fantastic. Driving to Rocher Perce is a long detour and I also would give this a miss, though the coastal drive is beautiful. Don't miss PEI, amazing island and very scenic. Driving around NS will also take a lot of time. Halifax is a nice city and we enjoyed our stay and for Lunenburg, it's very touristy but also worth a visit. Don't miss Peggys Cove. On your drive back you could take the Yarmouth-Bar Harbor ferry or drive via Moncton, Bay of Fundy and Fundy NP to Saint John and Fredericton. I can recommend Fred. Keep in mind driving around the Atlantic provences can be slow, and also driving back via Maine, NH, VT and NY can take a lot of time. We have not been on dirt roads this trip.
Have fun planning this trip.
Thanks for the tips!
Thanks for the feedback. I spnt yesterday evening researching a list of places that I'd ideally like to visit and logging them on a map with Google Earth. I now have an even more ludicruous list of places than I did before! I fear that I have bitten off more than I can chew, especially as I am unable to enter the US states until after this leg of my trip has finished (ie no short cuts across Maine)
It may sound strange but I really want to visit Montreal - purely to see the Grand Prix track. Odd, I appreciate, but we all have our vices! :)
I seem to have very patchy internet access right now, which is a pain when planning stuff, so I'll take a look at this again later but, in the meantime, I'll be very happy to hear other peoples thoughts or to read any threads or other info that they choose to direct me to.
I like Montreal!
Montreal is a pretty fun city -- great bars....
Originally Posted by UKCraig
A man after my own heart! You can't beat a good bar :)
Mark, what do you think? Is it realistic to do this route in the time that I have and with the restrictions that I have? It will be the first leg of my world tour so I will a) be full of energy and enthusiasm and b) be trying to keep busy and on the move so I don't start to think about what I've left behind...
Maybe I just answered my own question?
Okey doke, here's a rough draft of what I'm planning:
Sunday 4th May Flight: London - Toronto & pick up rental car
Monday 5th May Drive to Montreal
Tuesday 6th May Explore Montreal then drive towards Grand Falls Gorge
Wednesday 7th May Grand Falls Gorge, Hartland Covered Bridge, Fredericton, Saint John
Thursday 8th May Fundy National Park, Hopewell Rocks, Great Moncton (Magnetic Hill & tidal bore)
Friday 9th May Prince Edward Island
Saturday 10th May Prince Edward Island & ferry to Caribou Nova Scotia
Sunday 11th May Caribou to Cape Breton Island Cabot Trail
Monday 12th May Cabot Trail
Tuesday 13th May Halifax, Peggys Cove & Lunenburg
Wednesday 14th May Nova Scotia
Thursday 15th May Drive to Quebec City
Friday 16th May Quebec City (La Citadelle, Montmonerency Falls)
Saturday 17th May Quebec City - Ottawa
Sunday 18th May Ottawa - Toronto
Monday 19th May Toronto
Tuesday 20th May Train: Toronto to Vancouver
Anything jump out at you as impossible? Missing? Not worth the effort?
I've lived in southern Ontario nearly all my life and might have a suggestion or two for your trip.
I would say you should stop in Ottawa before going to Montreal. If you stay on highway 401 and traffic isn't too bad, you can get to Ottawa in roughly five hours. Montreal is another two hours or so past Ottawa and if you stay on major highways you have to skirt Ottawa in order to get to Montreal. Ottawa can be a bit of a pain to drive around because it's an old city and doesn't have the traditional block system that a city like Toronto has. Just something to be prepared for.
I think you should not miss Montreal. I've been there twice and it has a very good night scene. Montreal is known for its women. Also everyone speaks english and they probably won't give you a hard time for it, whereas other places aren't too fond of anglophones.
Quebec City has a lot of culture to it as well. You've mentioned the citadel and you should see it. There's a lot of history to that city and I've been told that many people from Europe like it because in Old Quebec many of the building have the same European style.
As for the East Coast I haven't been past New Bruinswick and I have to say I wasn't a fan of that province. There just isn't too much in NB. If you drove from Montreal to Fredericton you should expect a 7-8 hours drive.
That's about all I have without going into specific details.
Hope you enjoy my country.
Funny, I've heard exactly the same about New Brunswick. It was also suggested that the quality of food and welcome drops significantly as you cross from Quebec into New Brunswick. But that was based on two peoples experiences so I'll wait to see for myself before I comment.
The reason that I laid out the trip in the order that I did was that the prime reason for this leg of the trip is that I wanted to get out to the coast and, as it's such a long long drive, I think it's probably best just to press on for the first few days and just get there. There are a few stops along the way but they're more rest and/or overnight stops than 'exploration stops'. Is there any benefit to changing this idea to move Ottawa up the list?
One thing that I was wondering -- are hotels/motel rooms as easy/cheap to come by in Canada? The sum total of my experience of Canada was a four day stay in Toronto in the (very hot) summer of 2005 so apologies if that's a stupid question.
Also, when it comes to accomodation, can anyone recommend a good place to stop on my first night? Probably two hours or so east out of the airport at Toronto. A nice campground (with hot showers to recover from the flight) with a little scenery or some hiking potential would be a most agreeable way to start the trip...
Two hours east of Toronto, on the Lake, a bird sanctuary, hot showers, and provincial park prices. Presqu'ile Provincial Park outside Brighton, ON.
Presquile is very nice and I would recommend staying there. I grew up in a town close to Brighton and it's a pretty nice park from what I remember.
I figured moving Ottawa up would lighten the long drive through the never-ending forest that is New Brunswick and make it closer to Montreal so you could have more time in that city.
I think motels, depending on time of day when you sign in, will be around $60-$80 and a hotel in the bigger cities can run around $100-$125ish. I'm not sure if you're into hostels but I stayed in a few when I went to California a couple years back and enjoyed the experience and the cost. (In San Francisco I paid $10 a night which included pancake breakfasts every morning.)
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