Monday, 14 November 2016

CANADA & USA – Two days exploring the Niagara Falls and its nightlife

After a recent business trip I drove from Buffalo (NY) to Toronto (Canada). I stopped for a night at the Niagara Falls. I decided to stay overnight to one day explore the US side and one day the Canada side and in the night to enjoy the nightlife of Niagara Falls (Canada). The Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls has a great location with views on the falls; an outstanding hotel. I share with you my experience at this magical place. Enjoy.

The Canadian side of the Niagara Falls

After I filled up the car with gas using my pre-paid GWK Travelex Cash passport which still had some USD dollars on it I crossed the Rainbow Bridge into Canada. My hotel was just across the bridge with a beautiful view on the Niagara Falls! On the left the American Falls or the Bridal Veil Falls and on the right the Horseshoe Falls. I quickly unpacked my koffer store suitcase and went out to explore the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls.

It was just a 5 minute walk from the hotel towards the Niagara River and all the activities. I passed the strip of Niagara Falls which to my surprise was like a small Las Vegas but more on that later. Most activities you can do on both sides but of course I did not want to do everything twice. On the Canadian side I had planned to take a boat in the mist, go behind the falls and see the river rapids. Finally it did not totally work out as planned. The boat which goes in the mist stopped service quite early that day so I had to skip it. I hurried towards the tourist center to go behind the falls where I arrived at dawn leaving no time for the river rapids.

The line was not that big so about 30 minutes later I was behind the Niagara Falls in the tunnels. It’s nice to be there but I think it is a bit overrated to be honest. Behind the falls you can look through an opening towards the back of the falls and hear the thunder of the water coming down. You can go also outside just next to the falls and feel the mist, like you would on the boat. I did spend just over 30 minutes behind the falls I guess and went out again to go for dinner. It got dark in the meantime and the Niagara Falls were lit up very nice!

For the evening I had reserved a table at the Skylon Tower as they advertise with great food and a great view. This turned out to be the biggest disappointment of this trip at the Niagara Falls. First I had to stay in line to go up and then had to wait 40 minutes for my table. The service was quick in an unpleasent hurried way. The food was good but nothing special. The view was nice but not better as from my hotel room. I will not go again. From here I went back to the strip and did some beer tasting and visited some bars in the area. Around midnight I called it a night and went to bed.

The US side of the Niagara Falls

Today I explored the US side of the Niagara Falls. I crossed the Rainbow Bridge on foot which is very easy and convenient and there was no waiting at all. The US side of the falls have less interesting views but you can get closer to the water. I did a half day hike and started at the Bridal Veil Falls where you can get pretty close to the thunder of the falls. If you are up to it you can walk down and touch the water! This service is not for free and you have to pay, but this is easy with the pre-paid GWK Travelex Cash passport credit card.

After getting a bit wet I walked onwards to the Horseshoe Fall which are on Goat Island but new paths were under construction so there was unfortunately not much to see during my visit. On the US side of the Niagara Falls you can do also the Maid in the Mist boat tour. If you have more time on this side you could do the boat tour also on this side. It was already around 3 PM and I had to drive to Toronto still that day so I decided to return to the hotel to check out.

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Sunday, 30 October 2016

How to spot the Northern Lights in Canada

Spotting the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) is high on just about everybody’s bucket list. Learning how to view the Northern Lights in Canada is surprisingly simple, and while they’re not the easiest natural phenomenon to come across, be warned they will require some late nights. With the right surroundings, some careful planning, and a touch of luck on your side, you’ll be able to greatly increase your chances at spotting the famous green and blue glows of the Northern Lights.

Find A Canadian Dark Sky Preserve

The old saying that the further north you go, the easier it is to spot them, isn’t always true. Some people travel all the way to Iceland or Norway in hopes of spotting the famed aurora borealis. However with careful planning you can view them right here in Canada. In fact, one of the best locations to increase your chances of viewing the northern lights in Canada is by visiting a dark sky preserve.

A dark sky preserve is a park or area where a strict “no man-made lighting” rule prevails. This greatly decreases light pollution, which allows for much clearer skies, perfect for star gazing or trying to spot the northern lights. Dark Sky Preserves tend to be secluded parks, far away from large cities to avoid any sky glow caused from street lights, businesses, houses, etc.

Get Northern Lights Forecast Alerts

No matter how perfect the location, without some strong solar activity you might end up finding yourself with just a good view of the milky way. But there’s a couple of great options for getting alerts on upcoming Northern Lights activity. These alerts have actually allowed my wife and I to view the Northern Lights as far south as a farmers field just 20km outside of Regina SK.

Best months to view the Northern Lights

The best months to view the Aurora Borealis tend to be mid to late August through to mid April. During the early summer months the night skies don’t tend to be as dark, even when solar activity is strong. The best time to see the northern lights is an hour or two after midnight. The darker the sky, the better!

If you’re going out in winter, make sure you dress for the weather. The winter time can be one of the best times to view the Northern Lights. The reflections of the snow, the cool crisp air, and the typically clear skies can make for one of the best times to view Aurora Borealis in all its glory.

Making the trek out during winter can make for a perfect date night. Late night under the stars, hot chocolate or rooibos tea, cuddling up in your winter gear. You’ll be forever remembered as Lance Romance. Or if you’re heading out solo, as long as you have the right photography gear, you can also capture some breathtaking photos and time lapses. Plan ahead, keep warm, and enjoy one of one of the most beautiful shows on earth!

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Thursday, 27 October 2016


Bulgaria turned out to be one of my favorite countries in the world. I went without any expectations and was blown away by the country’s affordability, amiable locals, incredible history, scenery, beaches, and nightlife. Everything about this country was a win. This travel guide can help you plan your trip to one of the most underrated countries on the continent. You should definitely plan to visit this country – you won’t be disappointed!

Typical Costs

Accommodation – Hostel dorms range in price from 12-18 BGN, while privates are generally between 27-36 BGN for a single or double room. A budget hotel really varies depending on what you’re looking for and the location, 36-70 BGN. Renting a room in a private home is your best value for as cheap as 26 PGN for a pretty legit spot.

Food – You can buy a hamburger for about 2.5 BGN or have a Mac menu for 9 BGN. If you want to eat something more local, try banica (made of dough, cheese and butter) for just 1.3 BGN or a little bread with weenie named krenvirshka. There are a lot of street pavilions where you can buy a döner, a Turkish sandwich with chicken, vegetables and sauces, for 5.4 BGN. There are also many places where you can buy a slice of pizza for just a dollar or less.

Transportation – Public transportation in Bulgaria is extremely affordable. A local bus will cost between .45-1.3 BGN. Rail transport ranges in prices – for example, it would cost around 12.5 BGN to travel from Borgas to Sofia. Taxis have a starting price of 1.25 BGN, and are an affordable way to get around in a pinch.

Activities – Bulgaria is a very inexpensive country to visit. Many museums and attractions offer one free day of entry during the week, but even regular entrance prices around normally between 7-18 BGN.

Money Saving Tips

Avoid Sunny Beach – I don’t understand the appeal of a beach that’s so expensive and crowded with tourists. There are more beach chairs here than sand and it is expensive. Hit up one of the other coastal beaches instead.

Stay at Hostel Mostel – Staying at this hostel can lower your costs because not only do they offer free breakfast, but they also have free dinner (which also comes with a free beer). Basically, staying here gets you two meals a day. They have locations in Sofia, Plovdiv, and Veliko Tarnovo.

Eat at the bakeries – Bakeries in Bulgaria have a great, inexpensive range of pastries and foods which will fill you up in the morning. Two of my favorite snacks there are banica and krenvirshka.

Top Things to See and Do in Bulgaria

Hike in Rusenski Lom Nature Park and Ivanovo – This park has a nice hiking area and also contains a Rock Monastery with ancient frescoes, as well as a quaint village to explore.

Cross the Marvelous Bridges – The Marvelous Bridges are natural marble bridges that were formed by erosion in the Rhodope Mountains. The two bridges can be crossed on secure trails, and two tourist huts are located nearby. The site can be reached by an asphalt road and is about 20 miles from the closest town, Chepelare.

Visit Melnik and the Rozhen Monastery – The Rozhen monastery is a medieval Bulgarian monastery nearby, dating from 1259, with many intact frescos to view. Nearby, you can find a hiking area with sandstone ‘pyramids’ (rock formations from erosion). The region is also known for outstanding wine, wine that was preferred by Winston Churchill.

Step back in time in Old Plovdiv – This is a small, well-preserved area where visitors can take walks through different historical ages, see ancient buildings adapted to the modern way of life, and feel the spirit of this town dating back to Bulgarian Revival Period.

Relax in a Roman spa – This is a well-preserved ancient site, situated in the contemporary city of Varna. The Roman spa is the biggest social historical building discovered in Bulgaria to date.

Check out the Museum of Socialist Art – This is a new museum which showcases art from the socialist period (1944-1989). A large outdoor sculpture park contains everything from the giant statue of Lenin that once stood in the center of the city, to the red star that topped the socialist party headquarters. Smaller pieces reveal a gentler side to the socialist ideals. The gallery inside has some excellent examples of 20th century modern art as well as the socialist realism genre we know from the period.

Walk through Slaveikov Square – Here you can find a book market, and a special museum dedicated to Petko and Pencho Slaveikov, Bulgaria’s most famous poets.

Hike the Balkan Mountains – This mountain chain lends its name to the Balkan Peninsula. It stretches all along the country and is popular among the fans of the long-distance hiking trips. One of the famous European Long Distance Routes (E3) follows its main ridge all the way from the western border of the country to the seaside. One of the three national parks in Bulgaria, Central Balkan National Park, is situated here.

Hike the Rila Mountains – The highest point of the Balkans, Mount Musala (almost 10,000 feet), is situated in Rila. Beside it, the northwestern section of the mountain are a popular hiking destination, rich with nature, and cultural sights as the Seven Lakes Cirque, Skakavitsa Waterfall (the highest in Rila), Rila Monastery, and the area of Malyovitsa. Rila National Park, the biggest national park in Bulgaria, can be found here.

Visit Veliko Tarnovo – Once the capital of the medieval Bulgarian empire, Veliko Tarnovo is now a charming university town located in the mountains.

Explore Sofia – Sofia is Bulgaria’s dynamic capital city, an interesting mix of East and West. Come here for some good museums, beautiful Eastern Orthodox churches, and a splash of communist architecture.

Hit the beaches on the Black Sea – A 250 mile stretch of Bulgarian land lies along the Black Sea, and around a third of this is covered in nice sandy beaches. This is a very popular spot for resort packages, and can be crawling with tourists. I’m not a fan of Sunny Beach, but there are other more secluded beaches to check out as well.

Explore Nessebar – Nessebar is one of the oldest towns in Europe and is a recognized UNESCO Heritage Site. Tour the medieval churches, and wander amongst the wooden buildings that date back to the 19th-century revival period.

Unwind in Balchik – This is a quaint town on the coast of the Black Sea. It’s not a great beach location, but the area used to serve as the summer residence for the Queen of Romania. You can tour her palace and the botanical gardens which lie on the grounds.

Go skiing – If you come during the winter months, use the cold weather to your advantage, and hit the ski slopes. Bansko is one of the newer resorts in Bulgaria. Come to Bulgaria expecting an inexpensive ski holiday, not the quality of the Alps.

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Monday, 3 October 2016

3 Reasons to Hire a Fishing Guide

One of the biggest attractions on the Gulf Coast during the summer months is fishing. There are a number of fishing destinations all over the Gulf that most enthusiasts dream about all winter long. If you are newbie to the world of Gulf fishing, then you will need to give some consideration to hiring a guide. Usually, you will be able to find a number of guides willing to take you and your friends out for the fishing experience of a lifetime. The following are a few reasons why you need to hire a fishing guide for your next charter fishing trip.

They Know the Best Spots

The first reason you need to hire a guide during your Gulf trips is their knowledge of the best spots to fish. By having a professional who can take you to the honey holes around the area, you will be able to catch your limit in no time at all. Be sure to research each of the guides at your disposal to decide which one has the most experience and has been in the area longer. The more you are able to find out about the guides in your area, the easier you will be able to choose the right one.

Advice on the Gear to Use

The next benefit you will be able to take advantage of when choosing to use a guide for your fishing trips is that they will be able to give you the advice needed to choose the right equipment. This will allow you to go after the fish you want with the right bait and pole. The only way to get this type of advice is by finding a reputable and experienced guide.

Assessing the Conditions

When choosing to work with a guide, you will be able to get the guidance needed to assess the conditions of the day. The more you are able to find out about the weather and tide conditions you will be facing, the easier you will find it to adjust your fishing strategy. The guide will have the know-how and the equipment needed to read these conditions and then give their opinion on whether or not you should go out.

The more you are able to find out about the guides in a given area, the easier it will be to get the right one hired for the excursion on want to take. Finding a reputable supplier, like SeaGear Marine, can help a person get the fishing equipment they need.

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Friday, 2 September 2016

Near the Top of the World

I decided not to make this essay a travelogue. This journey is one that simply must speak for itself. Adventure Canada runs these tours, and each of you will have to lead your own journey to and through them. I hope to give the reader an idea about a special place on the Earth that few of us get to see. That’s a good thing, because those of us who get to see it, appreciate it so much more than if it were something seen on every giant cruise ship commercial, and ruined by these behemoths of over-the-top luxury.

The west coast of Greenland and the east coast of Baffin Island are laced by fjords of various lengths carved by glaciers of various sizes. The cliffs may be a thousand feet high of defoliating granite that plunge into the clear water of the Davis Strait, or just rocky shores with boulders and moraines from previous glacial activity. It is a land of ice. Ice from millennia gone carved this land. We could see it from the air as we flew into our little air strip, a former U.S. Air Force base. We saw tundra and pools of water, but always there was ice. The icebergs we saw from 30,000 feet looked like flecks of dandruff on the collar of the sea, but when we were next to them in our Zodiacs they were city blocks carved by water and melting into shapes too complex for mere descriptive prose.

Since there was almost no dark time, we could see our new world just about any time we were awake. The seas stayed calm and the skies clear for us the whole trip. The reflections of the rock and ice on the glassy seas made for spontaneous art shows every moment of every day. We stopped at several villages along the way and even had some on-shore walkabouts to view artifacts of human attempts to find the infamous Northwest Passage in wooden ships. I wonder if those ancient mariners were as mesmerized by the raw and savage beauty of the Arctic as we tourists were. Theirs was a pursuit for a trade economy. Ours was one of using our economic successes to be able to see the place where life hangs on by a thread.

The tallest plant I saw was about one metre tall, and that was at our most southerly point, the airport where we landed in Greenland. Every thing else was less than thirty centimetres tall. Short growing season, you know. We spent the next five days visiting the fjords of Greenland and were allowed the luxury of seeing some humpback whales, several kinds of seals, birds galore, and some polar bears wondering who we were. Our walkabouts on shore were accompanied by armed guides to prevent us from trouble should we stumble upon a bear, especially a mother with her cub.

From the observation deck, I watched icebergs slide by like giant sentinels of the sea. Some were tabular, having sheared off from some distant glacier as it moved toward open water. Others were multifaceted with shapes like solid clouds; one could play games by seeing shapes in them. Those bergs that had recently rolled had surfaces pocked with small depressions from the action of the water. The Zodiac excursions into the berg fields were especially awe-inspiring as we could literally get close enough to touch them.

Then, there’d be a loud crack! An iceberg calved into separate parts. You could see the fault lines on some of the bergs and see mini-waterfalls defining where the next break off would be. The crack was often followed by the sound of something very large being dumped into the water. Watching an iceberg half the size of our hundred-metre ship bobbing like a toy certainly makes one feel tiny. One had to keep realizing that an iceberg towering over the Zodiac by tens of meters and as long as a football field was only showing us ten percent of its volume. It takes some persistence to keep things in perspective.

Each new destination brought new and unique geography to our senses. We were fortunate to have a glaciologist/geologist on board who described the history of the rocks we were seeing and the dynamics of how the ice shaped them. It was her first trip to this part of the Arctic and she was, at first, moved to tears and speechless awe by what she saw. I was next to her as we stepped out onto an outer deck and felt a similar wave of wonder pass over me. There are just certain moments of magnificence that strike one dumb. For me, that was not much of a challenge, but this place…this place did me the service of resetting my wonderment program.

We were once anchored in a large bay at the end of a fjord so some travellers could visit a village on shore. I stayed aboard and basked in the sunshine of the fantail observation deck. The water was almost dead calm. There was barely enough wind to riffle the water, but the icebergs loomed in the distance as white monsters guarding the peacefulness that can occur nowhere else. On the shore, the colourful buildings of the village offered a paradox to the raw, natural beauty of the sea, the mountains and the ice. It was always the ice that captured my attention because of its impossible geometry and regal, aesthetic beauty. It struck me as a “no wonder” moment for those aboard guiding us as to why they love the north so.

Then, there was a large ripple breaking the surface and the absolute tranquility. Then, another. I pulled the binoculars to my eyes to see harp seals doing what they do best. Three of them were swimming and diving while staying submerged for about five minutes between appearances. They just appeared. I never saw them coming until they were there. It was just me and the seals. Yes, I know. My fertile imagination was working overtime.

The only day it rained was our departure day from Resolute Bay in the archipelago west and north of Baffin Island. This was our highest latitude at just under seventy-five degrees north. I began to see how hard this country is during winter and inclement weather. For humans to live and work there, a special constitution is required. Not minding the dark for months has got to be a real challenge.

On the other hand, living for the beauty of the good days has its offsets. As our plane circled Resolute, before it entered the rain clouds, we caught a glimpse of our ship anchored in the bay waiting to collect its next human cargo to retrace the steps we took back to Greenland. The arms of the harbour, in their desolate look of dun-coloured rock, embraced the steel of the sea and accentuated the ice bergs here and about. It was quite a sight and I couldn’t help but feel that my earlier adventures no longer stood alone as “a trip of a lifetime”. I came to realize that the trips I take IN my lifetime are what are most important. This is a trip of a special nature that will resonate with me for the rest of my life. The new friends I made and the moments of overwhelming silence among the ice fields will be there for me forever.

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Monday, 22 August 2016

16 Must See Canadian Destinations

I get hassled a lot by readers, asking what are the best Canadian destinations to see. I try my best to avoid naming names, but I’ll usually share a handful of what I deem to be the best. While I like to remind readers that the best is all subjective, I partnered up with Expedia Canada and came up with my own little hit list to share some of my personal faves. Something a little more public & out there, something that I can just link people to and say “Give this a read“. I’m hoping some readers will comment and share some additional must see Canadian destinations, but I hope this gives you a start!

The Yukon

The wild, rugged Yukon has lured people from all over the world for hundreds of years. Home of the Klondike gold rush, thousands of kilometres of dense bush, and some of the most beautiful mountain ranges in Canada (I’m looking at you Tombstone Mountain Range). The Yukon is this mysterious territory where art meets manliness, where nature meets quirky towns and cities, where people don’t take anything too serious, except when it comes to making people laugh. SourToe Cocktails, gold miners trying to strike it rich, and 1:00am sunsets are sure to raise some eyebrows. The Yukon is too weird, too wild not to include in this list.

Vancouver Island, BC
Beautiful Vancouver Island is larger than it might sound. In fact, it’s the largest island on West Coast North America, and 43rd largest island in the world, measuring 32,134 km2 (12,407 sq mi). From the English inspired streets of Victoria, to the chill surfer vibe of Tofino & Ucluelet, there’s a large amount of must-sees on Vancouver Island, all within a relatively easy driving distance. While most of BC is already pretty laid back, you’ll quickly realize that Vancouver Island has it’s own pace. You see it in the arts, the culture, the sport, the food, and the people. I can’t name any one place in Vancouver Island as the only must-see, so I’m copping out and just saying “Go see it all“. It’s just a terrific island to cruise around and explore. A must see destination if you’re a die-hard hiker, a relaxed camper, an RVer, a luxury traveller, or just someone who likes to snap photos. Vancouver Island is truly a travellers paradise.

The Okanagan Valley, BC

Picture massive valleys, mild temperature, vineyards, warm lakes, wind & kite surfers, boaters, and cute beaches. The Okanagan Valley is often skipped by visitors in lieu of the nearby mountains. A weekend in the Okanagan is well worth the small detour, particularly in the summer. Rent a car, a bike, or a boat, and find yourself exploring this unique BC countryside. Panoramic views of this beautiful part of Canada will leave you with empty SD cards and countless warm memories. Or possibly a hangover, as the wine is delightful.

Vancouver, BC

Vancouver, it’s often dreamed about by other Canadians due to its year round mild weather. While the weather may not be as extreme as other parts of Canada, the amount of activities you can squeeze in during a short stay in Vancouver is sure to make you think this area is anything but mild. Mountain biking, stand up paddle boarding, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, kayaking, you name it, you can probably do it in or near by Vancouver. While Vancouver is one of Canada’s larger cities, it’s still fairly easy to get around with public transportation. Surrounded by mountains and pacific ocean, Vancouver is a must-see destination simply due to its beauty, and also due to the sheer number of exciting activities that you can enjoy. An outdoorsy, nature lovers paradise, with an extremely large amount of good restaurants, and a superb stop for any visitor to Canada.

Jasper National Park, Alberta

Nothing compares to Jasper. A rocky Mountain mecca that truly lets you feel like you’re alone on this planet. While Banff continues to draw in more visitors per year, Jasper has kept its pristine look and feel. You never really feel like you’re too close to people. There’s room to breathe, and even more room to explore. Countless hiking trails await you, world class skiing and snowboarding, Jasper is a year round meccca of discovery. By day you’ll come across all sorts of wildlife, and by night Jasper’s Dark Sky Preserve allows for some of the starriest nights you’ll ever experience.

Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan 
The prairies we know in Canada are not same prairies that existed 300 years ago. Once upon a time, a large part of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba were covered in grasslands, feeding herds upon herds of wild bison. Before the fields of wheat, barley, canola and flax, there was grass, and lots of it. Visiting the Grasslands National Park lets you truly experience what that would have been like. It has become a refuge for wildlife, flora, and some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. If you want to really take it in, camping for a night or two in these parts is a must, just be on the guard for the wild bison, rattlesnakes, and the thousands of prairie dogs that live in these parts.

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Winnipeg gets poked at across Canada, but spend a weekend there and you’ll quickly discover that Winnipeg is actually very awesome. I can’t help but wonder if the insults directed at Winnipeg for being too cold, too boring, are just tactics to keep the tourist masses out of this prairie city. With a wildly popular music scene, home to such great artists as Neil Young, The Guess Who, Bachman Turner Overdrive, and more, you can hop from bar to bar catching incredible indie bands and singer songwriters. Spend a day exploring the Forks, the historic & mysterious Legislative Building or any of the countless festivals that setup in downtown Winnipeg. Or simply explore the wildly different neighbours of the Exchange District, Osborne Village, or the french quarter, formally known as St. Boniface. Winnipeg’s got a lot to offer for those willing to look!

Churchill, Manitoba

I regularly receive emails asking where someone can spot polar bears. I’m always quick to educate people that the majority of us don’t live near polar bears, but there are some places in Canada where they’re regular visitors. The easiest place to see them without getting mauled to death, is hands down Churchill Manitoba. Located on the tip of the Hudsons Bay, known as the the home of the polar bear, beluga, and countless other wild animals. Churchill is a quirky town where industry meets rugged outdoors. This place is easily a must see Canadian destination. The VIA Rail trip from Winnipeg up to Churchill (2 days), is long and difficult, but very much worth it!

Toronto, Ontario

Toronto is a different beast. While still very much Canadian, you can’t help but feel fully immersed in countless different cultures when exploring this city. Each neighbourhood differs so much from the next. With countless museums, parks, sports arenas, architectural wonders, and commonly known as a foodie’s paradise, Toronto has something for everyone. Public transportation makes Toronto easy to get around, and in spite of its size, it’s still very affordable to visit this metropolitan city. Take it all in from the top of the CN Tower, or do something crazy-stupid like hang over the edge of the building on the EdgeWalk. I have clammy hands just seeing that photo again!

Montreal, Quebec

This city is awesome. There’s really no questioning a visit to Canada should include this hip, cultural centre of Quebec. An incredible mix of french and english, with a dash of european culture peppered throughout. Food, music, arts, and the outdoors are such integral parts of this city, that you can’t help but feel inspired, exploring the streets of Montreal, or using this city as base camp for your Quebecois journey. A summer visit to Montreal is a must, taking in the numerous food & music festivals, such as POP Montreal, or the always-free, always-fun Tam Tams in Mount Royal Park.

Quebec City, Quebec

The great walled city of Canada, this historic french city centre has been at the forefront of some of Canada’s most famous historical events. A history buffs dream come true, from old gothic architecture, to battlegrounds from hundreds of years ago. This city has retained it’s elegance throughout the years, and is still widely regarded as one of the best places to really expose yourself to french immersion. While Montreal can be very french at times, it’s common for people to live in Montreal and not speak a lick of french. If you want to expose yourself to true french Canadian culture, from the delicious artisan foods, to the beautiful views of the Fleuve St Laurent, Quebec City is a safe bet.

Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick

Home to some of the largest tides in the world, this entire area was carved out by the rising tides of the Bay of Fundy. The flowerpot rocks are a stunning example of natures power. During low-tide, hike throughout the rocks and explore the caverns carved from water. During high tide, kayak around the flowerpot rocks on the Bay of Fundy. While Hopewell Rocks are a terrific day trip that really lets you experience the wild elements in these parts, the Bay of Fundy is also home to some amazing whale watching tours, along with some beautiful highway drives.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

One of my favourite cities, Halifax is a superb combination of metropolitan fun mixed with maritime heritage. Easily one of the most walk-able cities in Canada, Halifax is a great place to visit, and an even better place to settle down for a bit. I found myself living there for nearly 5 years, and enjoyed nearly every minute of it. From historical pubs, delicious microbrews, countless colleges & universities, and the gateway to some terrific tours. A weekend in Halifax is sure to be met with a few hangovers, but before the drinks begin to flow, you’ll be immersed in some of Canada’s earliest history.

St Johns, Newfoundland

Screech, beer, hard drinks, wild parties, all surrounded in a historical maritime harbour. St Johns, Newfoundland is definitely a must-see-must-experience Canadian destination. It’s funny what a stretch of water will do. While very much similar to Halifax, it’s easy to see that Newfoundlanders are their own breed of maritimers. With their celtic inspired tunes, cute but sometimes hard to understand accents, and their affinity for embarrassing CFA’s (come from away’s) by initiating them into Newfoundland culture by kissing a cod. The easy to walk (though be warned, they’re hilly) streets of Newfoundland make it a great city to stumble around, crawling from pub to pub and sampling their local beers, eats, and laughing with some of the friendliest people in Canada. If you can squeeze in George Street Fest on your visit, all the power to you. Just be sure your liver is up to it! Those east coasters can put ’em back.

Fogo Island, Newfoundland

This charming, mysterious island takes control of you in weird ways. You’ll find yourself staring out into the Atlantic Ocean, wondering “Why can’t I live here forever“. Fogo Island’s scenery is some of the most unique in Canada. Everywhere you look is rock, moss, trees, ocean, and stunning beauty. The Island residents have known this for a long time, in fact, artists from all over the world fight for the chance to become an artist in residence on this small little island. Some of the worlds freshest seafood, the most spectacular drives, and the friendliest people you’ll meet are all found on Fogo Island.

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