I know this is so long overdue, but if it is any consolation I have been making the best use of summer (by avoiding all things technology lol). I have come to the realization that I am an outdoors person? Really I am! I use to avoid the outdoors in fear of the bugs, sun damage, and sweat/exhaustion from doing too much in the heat. But now things have changed, I love being outdoors even in the scorching heat! I feel like I am 10 again when all I did was play outdoors.
Having an extremely cold winter has helped me realize how much we should enjoy and value our short but intense summers in Toronto. Which is exactly what I have been doing these last 2 months, I have explored two great cities in the province of Quebec, I have spent a weekend in Blue Mountain Village, and gone wine tasting in Niagara on the lake. Who knew how great Canada was for some fabulous mini getaways. Below I share my experiences across all my Canadian travel so far this summer.
Europe just a drive away? - Montreal + Quebec City
For our anniversary weekend we decided to head to Montreal for a night, and Quebec City for 2. We already spent a fortune booking our Europe trip and most of our vacation days would be devoted to that trip, so a road trip seemed to make the most sense. We drove to Montreal which took about 5 hrs. We saw a travelzoo offer which was $99 for Le Sheraton in downtown Montreal and we quickly took up this offer. We only had a day here (and have already been to Montreal in the past) so we decided to do some more leisurely activities like exploring the street of St. Catherine’s (for some shopping finds), walking around the fenced area for the Jazz Festival (which was full of people from around North America) definitely a great time to go, and we enjoyed lunch in Old Montreal which felt so European with the brick stone roads. We asked our concierge to suggest a place for dinner (since the restaurant we wanted to go to Garde Manger – was fully booked 2 months in advance), we told them the ambiance and cuisine we were looking for and they suggested Cavalli. The Sheraton concierge team was bang on, it was amazing, very lively on a Thursday night. We ordered their fried shrimp appetizer and it was to die for, the sauce was mouthwatering (can’t stop thinking about it now).
We then proceeded to head to Quebec City, which took about 2 hours from Montreal. We used priceline and ended up booking the Hilton which was at the top of Old Quebec. Upon arriving the hotel told us we would have 2 double beds since we booked through priceline. It seems the Hilton hotel chain does not like people booking through priceline (and make it clear in their tone and manner – like how about you don’t give your hotel inventory to that site then). Anyways, after some arguing and explaining we were celebrating our anniversary they magically were able to find us a room with a King bed. Although, I was a little turned off the Hilton quickly changed my opinion by later surprising us in our room with chocolate covered strawberries. So now I would definitely recommend the hotel! We spent two nights in Quebec city and did a lot! We spent time at Montemorcy Falls (climbed 500 steps!), spent the day at the Siberian Spa station just outside of old Quebec (this was a relaxing outdoor spa experience), explored all of old Quebec, enjoyed fireworks on the grass in front of the parliament building, and filled our tummies with some fantastic cuisine. We had brunch at a cute place on the top of old quebec called accent, we had poutine as dinner one night at Chez Astor, we had breakfast at a crepe station in Old Quebec, and enjoyed some wonderful Italian cuisine at Savini (this place is a must, the patio and ambiance are amazing). I would highly recommend going to Quebec City, it is so lively till the wee hours, the architecture is beautiful, and the people are so friendly (despite wanting to separate lol). When we were heading out Prince William and Kate were coming in, there was quite a lot of chaos in Old Quebec waiting with anticipation.
Relax just steps from home –Collingwood
I spent the weekend in Collingwood at the Blue Mountain Village Resort. I have never been to Collingwood (I skipped this as a prom afterparty option), it is so calm and relaxing. We had a suite with a full kitchen and balcony looking over the village area (which is full of pubs, restaurants, and little shops). We went hiking through the blue mountain trials (the gondola ride down was amazing, after defeating the hills you felt like you conquered the world coming down, a great view as well), drove to wasaga beach (about 25 minutes away), and laid by the resort pool. The village area also has BEAVERTAILS which were so yummy. I felt super Canadian at this resort, although it wasn’t this over the top vacation with endless amounts of things to do, it was perfect, close to home but far enough to justify staying away. I would highly recommend going, I felt so refreshed and relaxed coming home to a list of things to do lol! I would definitely go back, and actually am planning to go back early August for a Family cottage weekend (won’t be on the resort but will be super close by).
Wine Tasting in Niagara on the Lake
Just last weekend spent 2 nights in Niagara on the lake with some of my bestest friends. We booked a cottage for 2 nights that was 10 minutes from the Niagara on the lake town (the cottage was only $550 – it had 3 double beds, was super cute). We arrived Friday night after work and prepared dinner and jammed to some tunes and caught up on each other’s lives. The next day we woke up made breakfast and headed to Niagara Getaway’s Wine Tour office where we booked bikes and headed on our unguided tour of 5 wineries. We got on our bikes at 11:30 and returned them by 5pm. We went to Reif winery and had a full tour, Frogpond organic winery (which apparently is hangover free wine) – tasting, Peller Estates – tasting (although I am married, this estate was so fabulous I would get MARRIED again if it was here), Riverview - tasting, and Maryinnesen - tasting. The great thing about doing it through the tour company is when you purchase wine bottles, the tour company goes and picks them all up for you, so when you drop off your bikes at 5 they have them waiting. It was super hot but we managed to bike around 15kms and survive. It was a great workout, and a fun experience (much better than taking a car). The area is so old the trees are magnificently huge, and biking through each winery is a lovely refreshing experience. Others there suggested we do this tour in the fall when the colours all change as well, which we are seriously considering booking soon. It surprises me that I have not taken advantage of so many great places just in Ontario, I spent next to nothing and had a blast. All you need is great company, and a great class of wine!
If you’re bored and don’t have a large travel budget, why not consider driving to Quebec, relaxing in Collingwood, or wine tasting in Niagara. There are many places in Canada to visit, like Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Lake Louise in Calgary, and Whistler, BC. I feel like the Canadian Tourism Board, but I am sold we live in a beautiful country and I am only realizing how much fun we can have outdoors here. So I will likely go MIA again, as I am heading to Crystal Beach tomorrow for the day, and then will be thrown into Wedding galore (2 weddings two weekends in a row).
Until next time,