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> Canada in March for four weeks, What am I thinking?!
cheli
post Mar 1 2008, 04:46 PM
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Well I left Ozzieland in April last year and am on the last leg of this current round the world caper. I know it's cooool cooold weather in Canada right now but I am working on the theory that this is a dry run in case I do decide on taking up on the option of a WHV in the next few years.

What I'd love to see:
*Toronto & Ontario - I'm budgeting 3 1/2 days in the city to see what I wanna see, then canoeing in Algonquin would be great, but too cold at this time of year? I'm tossing up whether to go to Niagara at all - a whole day trip for 5 minutes of 'wow' seems so extravagent with everything else I want to see...not sure whether to drop into Ottawa either
*Quebec and Montreal
*Halifax, PE Island, Lunenberg - is PE Island feasible at this time of year?
*The Rockies - Banff at least, but Jasper or somewhere smaller as well if time and bus routes permit
*Vancouver - apart from the city, I'd love to see the Pacific Rim NP
*See an Ice Hockey game. Somewhere, anywhere. Suggestions?

Would love to see Churchill, polar bears and northern lights but am thinking that's going to have to wait until another trip due to time constraints on this one. Can't drive so am relying on bus (greyhound's discovery pass) - the fact that I can't find route or service regularity information is giving me the heebie jeebies, not to mention the 3 day duration of the coast to coast trip. I may yet cave and buy a plane ticket but for the time being I'm trying not to kill the environment any more than I have to sad.gif I fly in on March 9th to Toronto and fly out of San Francisco on April 13 - originally I planned to use that last week in San Fran but could easily 'steal' it if I wanted extra time in Canada. Going to hit things in vaguely the order listed above, although not quite sure how I'm getting from the far east of Halifax to Vancouver yet blink.gif Going from Toronto straight to Halifax and working my way back might be more feasible?

...so now that we've established my insanity - just how much of this can I feasibly pull off? What should I knock out now that's completely unachievable so as to allow time for all those extra cool things that pop up while you're travelling?


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jacquesl
post Mar 1 2008, 07:52 PM
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Canada is a big big place and if you want to go from the far East to the West...take the plane or you will end up wasting your time riding the bus.
A lot depends on what you wan to see and do when yoou have to decided where to go......Toronto is a good place if you want to see a lot of action in a big city, Ottawa is the capital of the country but it still has a small city feel to it. Check out some travel blogs of people who have visitged these places.

You know, just reading blogs on Travelpod of the trips members have already taken to the places you want to go to is probably the find out which cities you want to visit. There is a treasure trove of infomation in those travel blogs.


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wakingdream
post Mar 2 2008, 08:50 AM
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I'd have to agree that taking the us will eat into alot of your time in Canada.

As for Toronto, there are myriad things here that are great. I live about 40 minutes outside the city. I'm glad to hear you're coming 'round here as Ontario often gets overlooked and is definitely underrated.

There is something for everyone. Toronto is full of shows, museums, galleries, historic neighborhoods, markets, wonderful shops and restaurants, beautiful parks, everything. Sure, you can party all night and live it up, but you can also hit the sack at a decent time and relish what the city has to offer, especially with only a few days.
personally, I wouldn't miss Ottawa. It's a beautiful city and Jacques is right, it has an incredible small-town feel to it. There's so much going on there you'll be at a lack for boredom.

Algonquin will be cold for sure. Even when the weather warms up during the days, the mornings and evenings/nights are frosty in spring. Please don't let that deter a few days of canoing. In Canada, cold is a part of life. If you dress warm, the cold shouldn't be too bothersome. That's how we deal with almost 6 months of winter smile.gif Pack some thermal gear that's lightweight and warm. Do a little research and bring a good jacket, sleeping bag if you plan to camp. You could also just visit the area without camping and hit some rivers and lakes. there are SO many trip options you're not going to have to go deep into the bush if you don't want to. Let me know if you decide to go. I have some invaluable resources to tap into. This would surely be a highlight of your trip. It's one of the most beautiful places in Canada in my opinion and I've been coast to coast a few times.

PEI; you might be a little put off to find many thing closed on the island at this time of year. Peak season is the summer and many things operate only seasonally at that time. The upside is that PEI has about 125,00 population which swells to a million in summer. Though you may not find all the tourist haunts open in April, you will get one of the best PEI experiences by hanging with the locals. They are extremely friendly with fantastic senses of humour and a real welcoming spirit. Hit the island for a day or so at least. Do not miss Halifax and area. No worries about the time of year, you'll still have an awesome time.

QUOTE
Going to hit things in vaguely the order listed above, although not quite sure how I'm getting from the far east of Halifax to Vancouver yet blink.gif Going from Toronto straight to Halifax and working my way back might be more feasible?


This is always a bit of a hassle. Both Toronto to the east and Toronto to the west are long trips. With only three weeks, you're best bet is to fly. The west will be warmer and might be a good place to start. then fly to Toronto, check out the area, head up to Ottawa, a five hour trip, or so, you can do this by bus. You may find a cheap flight from T.O to Ottawa if you prefer. It depends. Sometimes this can be quite expensive. Canada's biggest downfall is how much it costs to fly around inside the country sad.gif

Then fly from Ottawa to the east coast, tour around and fly back to Toronto to head out. A couple of weeks won't make a huge difference in weather for the eastern part but, you just never know here! There are cheap flights available, but its easier to find a cheapie from T.O. to the east rather than T.O to Van, that's for sure.

Okay, I've rambled on enough. If you have more questions, fire away! And have a wonderful time!!!


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cheli
post Mar 2 2008, 11:09 AM
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Hmm I'll start looking at flights from east to west then - is it any easier/cheaper to fly out of Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal/Quebec City to Vancouver? I'm pretty locked into moving east to west because I fly into Toronto and move onwards from San Francisco.

It's S*$#ting me that i have such a 'short' time in the country because reading the section on Ontario there's all this landscape I'm just gonna have to miss due to time constraints. Well, that and the whole I-can't-drive thing. I don't need a sugar daddy, I just need a chaffeur tongue.gif

Thanks for the specific advice - I probably will give Algonquin a go. I was thinking maybe a day trip with a tour group something from Toronto as working on my own, hiring equipment and relying on greyhound doesn't sound too doable. Not a huge fan of tours but they have their place if I get to see a bit of Candian wilderness - unless your 'resources' have something better to suggest wakingdream?

QUOTE
Canada's biggest downfall is how much it costs to fly around inside the country


Meh. Australia's the same. I'd rather spend the money and have to crawl to my parents later (le sigh) than miss out on something while I had the chance to do it wink.gif


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wakingdream
post Mar 2 2008, 11:57 AM
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Sounds like your trip is coming together swimmingly! smile.gif

QUOTE
Thanks for the specific advice - I probably will give Algonquin a go. I was thinking maybe a day trip with a tour group something from Toronto as working on my own, hiring equipment and relying on greyhound doesn't sound too doable. Not a huge fan of tours but they have their place if I get to see a bit of Candian wilderness - unless your 'resources' have something better to suggest wakingdream?

I never thought of a tour but you're bang-on with that idea. You'll get the most out of Algonquin that way in your situation. Hear ya on the not being to do it on your own. I was thinking more along the lines of great day trips, but you'd still have to get up there, have/get gear etc. I'm not big on tours either but if it means missing something or getting the least out of a visit, then it's worth it. Shorter trips call for different measures.

QUOTE
I don't need a sugar daddy, I just need a chaffeur tongue.gif

No kidding! One with a fast car!

QUOTE
Meh. Australia's the same. I'd rather spend the money and have to crawl to my parents later (le sigh) than miss out on something while I had the chance to do it

No doubt, Some sacrifices are completely worth it yes.gif

Well, again, jump in here for any other questions Cheli. And if you happen to find yourself in Guelph, Ontario, e-mail me and I'll gie you a personal tour smile.gif


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charlamae
post Mar 7 2008, 12:55 AM
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I know I am completely biased, but please make sure you spend a week in the Canadian Rockies!

Canada is a very large country, with a whole lotta nothing in between major attractions. If it were me, I would spend 2 weeks in the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal area (the locals in those areas can help define those weeks a little better), 1 week in Cdn Rockies, 1 week in Vancouver, and then the remainder in Seattle and San Fran.

A one-way ticket between Toronto and Calgary would be about $300 -- and could be less if you find a sweet seat sale. Try Westjet.com -- our favourite Canadian airline. You could almost spend that amount on food and the bus ticket for that veerrryyy long bus ride.
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starlagurl
post Nov 6 2008, 04:12 PM
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Cheli, how did you like your trip? Which itinerary did you end up choosing?


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cheli
post Nov 6 2008, 07:35 PM
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It was a wonderful trip of course!

I started off in Toronto and DID decide on a tour of Niagara falls - you can't take the 'maid of the mist' tour at that time of year but seeing all the snow and ice was still pretty cool. And I deliberately picked a tour which stopped at Niagara on the Lake which was a sweet town. You can see some of my photos here: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entri...?tweb_UID=cheli
The company name was 'Jo Jos' and I'd highly recommend her. My only regret is that I didn't take her other tour which was a dog sledding trip in Algonquin. Not only did I miss out on seeing Algonquin on this trip, but dog sledding proved to be a lot harder and more expensive to try out in Quebec where I also looked into it.

Next stop was Ottawa to see the lovely Louise (!) who treated me to a trip to a sugar shack, definitely one of the most exciting parts of the trip given its one of those quintissentially Canadian things wink.gif

I stopped in Montreal for a few days and then went to Quebec city which enchanted me with its European style all covered in snow drifts. Taking the ferry to Levis at night was a fascinating experience, as was snow shoeing in the big park they have there.
I took the bus from there to Fredricton as my aim was to see PEI, but I figured breaking up that trip might be a good idea. The hostel there is really run down and miserable though, and Fredricton on Easter weekend is NOT a fun place to be so I left a day earlier than I planned but did manage to fit in a visit to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery - definitely a must see if you're in the area and interested in art galleries.

PEI was one of the sweetest points of my trip - it was my first 'official' couchsurfing experience (I'd known Louise and my Toronto host in other ways) and I was so incredibly blown away by the welcome I was given - I got to go to an Easter dinner, a knitting night, a pub quiz night and a canadian music gig as well as see my first live Ice Hockey game, even if it was just the PEI Rockets! Tours dont' run on the island at this time so I ended up hiring a taxi for the day - pretty affordable at $130 flat day rate I figured. Definitely well worth it to see the island and my taxi driver took it apon himself to give me a proper tour, so I go to see the bridge, Green gables and the beach as well as some beautiful landscape. His company name was 'Taxi Taxi' and he's a little strange but very helpful and accomodating wink.gif
Final stop on the East coast was Halifax which I really enjoyed - the city still has a real maritime flavour. I stayed with Louise's friend who showed me a great night on the town as well as taking me on a day tour of the coast down to lunenburg for which I am very grateful! Going to see the Titanic graveyard was a special experience but the best part was the trip a local couchsurfer took me on to the Bay of Fundy where we wandered up a snowy river bank following rabbit tracks - definitely one of the highlights of the tour!

From there I flew from Halifax to Vancouver - not a smart move as I planned on heading to Lake Louise immediately and flying to Calgary would have been better. But that's what happens when you're not sure of your itinerary and don't know the country too well! Lake Louise was a great place to relearn how to ski as it's cheaper than Sunshin in Banff, plus it's a bit smaller. A few days later I moved to Banff and tried out the slopes there - almost a week in the Rockies was definitely a good choice wink.gif Due to recommendations by people I did check out Calgary quickly and was glad I did - not much to write home about perhaps but an interesting city to visit with lots of great street sculpture and an interesting island park.
Vancouver was definitely my favourite large Canadian city - the views of the mountains really are fantastic and Granville Island was worth two trips wink.gif My friend Ash took me on a bike ride around Stanley park and we took the ferry over to North Vancouver with designs to go up the funicular and try some night skiing, alas the funicular is crazy expensive so we decided to turn around when we got there!

So even though I managed to get 5 weeks in the end to see the country, I missed out on Vancouver Island etc. You'll notice my blog is still waaaay out of date but I am trying to catch up on it so maybe in a year's time you'll get to read all the details wink.gif


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starlagurl
post Nov 7 2008, 10:54 AM
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Ha! What a great tour of Canada, you pretty much hit on every major stopping place. Your hosts in PEI sounded AWESOME! That's really cool.


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cheli
post Jan 16 2009, 02:57 AM
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I stayed at Le Sous-bois, which had such a lovely, cosy feel to it! The dorm is one big L shape filled with bunk beds and (admittedly noisy) air mattresses. The kitchen and fascilities are basic, but not run down. They had cute little cabins in the courtyard you could stay in if you wanted more privacy. The owners were wonderfully friendly and the guests all were really friendly and chilled. I loved it: www.lesousbois.com


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post Jan 16 2009, 08:31 AM
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QUOTE(cheli @ Jan 16 2009, 02:57 AM) *

I stayed at Le Sous-bois, which had such a lovely, cosy feel to it! The dorm is one big L shape filled with bunk beds and (admittedly noisy) air mattresses. The kitchen and fascilities are basic, but not run down. They had cute little cabins in the courtyard you could stay in if you wanted more privacy. The owners were wonderfully friendly and the guests all were really friendly and chilled. I loved it: www.lesousbois.com


I stayed in the cabins. I loved it!! The hostel was great and I defiantly recommmend it for anyone staying in montreal. It's in a lovely part old montreal and the train isnt too far. Yeah, the air mattresses were a little noisy but it was their answer to bed bugs and it was comfy. We had a few guests that were partying too hard lol. Made for a great story though.


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starlagurl
post Jan 16 2009, 09:10 AM
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Yeah, it looked SO lovely when I stopped in for 15 minutes. What a secret little cozy spot, you're right.


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