Vacation 2017 Day 2: Fundy Bay Coastal Drive, New Brunswick

Moving onto Day 2 of our vacation!

To compensate for the incredibly long drive on the first day, we decided to take it a little easier on the driving department and instead of the 900+ kilometres of the first day, we actually only have about 400 kilometres in the second day. However, we do have some time sensitive spot to hit and also want to get some hiking in so its going to be a time trial all on its own. Good thing that we are great with working on tentative schedules and don’t mind missing out on things if we need to. The second day works mostly along the Fundy Bay Coastal Drive.

Let’s go!

Breakfast at Mix Resto-Bar

Mix Resto-Bar Mix Resto-Bar

Seeing as we were tight on time, we decided to just eat at the hotel restaurant and went back to Mix Resto-Bar. The selection was pretty good. My husband had the belgian waffles and I had the classic breakfast with 2 eggs and bacon. It was very good and really enjoyable.

We took a quick walk to our first stop…

First Stop: Saint John’s City Market, New Brunswick

Saint John's City Market

Saint John’s City Market

Our first stop was a quick walk to Saint John’s City Market which was open pretty early so it fit our schedule. We picked up some apples for the road and also some souvenirs for the family. I’ll have a haul post in a few days. My family reads this and I’d like them to get their gifts before I post it up here to ruin the surprise.

And back on the road after check-out!

Fundy National Park

Viewpoint in Fundy National Park

Second stop: Fundy National Park – Dickson Falls Trail

Fundy National Park

Dickson Falls Trail

Fundy National  Park

Dickson Falls Trail

Fundy National Park

Dickson Falls Trail

Fundy National Park

Dickson Falls Trail

Dickson Falls Trail in Fundy National Park is a really nice short trail. Its a pretty easy trail and for us needing to do a quick but pretty one, it fit perfectly. Along most of the hike is walking next to the flowing stream of water that came from the waterfall. If you don’t know, I love waterfalls. A major sucker for them. A lot of times, its really the treat of hiking on certain trails. If you need, just flashback to a Saguenay hiking where we did the Sentiers des Chutes.

 At this point, we were getting incredibly close to missing out on walking the ocean floor at Hopewell Rocks so its time to press on…

New Brunswick

Stop on the way…

Third Stop: Hopewell Rocks

Hopewell Rocks

Hopewell Rocks

Hopewell Rocks

Hopewell Rocks

We made it with about 30 minutes to actually walk around on the ocean floor. I had been here before but last time, we came on tour so it wasn’t as much time so this time, we actually walked across the entire length. We made it to one viewpoint as we walked back which is about a 15 minute from the entrance to the ocean floor access. I actually took a few pretty cool macro shots however those shots will be over on Avenue of Daydreams. I’m going to have that up and running back to normal again.

As the thunderstorms caught up with us, we sat down for a late lunch at the restaurant at the Hopewell Rocks area.

Fourth stop: Magnetic Hill, Moncton, New Brunswick

Magnetic Hill

Magnetic Hill has changed a lot from my memory of it. My husband and I decided to try out the Magnetic Hill experience, which is pretty much an optical illusion made by the rolling hills next to it to create the effect that it is pulling your car uphill and all you have to do is steer. Here’s a little video of our experience. Its mostly my husband talking. He’s only steering and for him, that is a strange experience.

Moncton was where we made our stay for the second day at the Days Inn.
We had dinner for the first time at Swiss Chalet and also went to New Brunswick Liquor to find some local wines.

Check back this weekend for the haul and next week for Day 3!

Vacation 2017 Day 1: Montreal to Saint John, New Brunswick

Wednesday marked the start of our vacation! After postponing the Eastern Canada trip for almost six years (if not more), we finally managed to get a part of it fitted into this upcoming trip. As usual, I will be showing it day by day over the next two weeks. With events coming up, I have to keep it released a little tighter than usual. However, we actually spent most of our time driving than spending a lot of time sightseeing. Hopefully you will still enjoy it as we still had a lot of time. With our job schedules, we don’t usually spend a lot of time together so its nice to take a vacation where we can spend 24/7 together.

The first day was all about heading to our first hotel in Saint John. Going to New Brunswick takes a good few hours from Montreal. Our first day mapped out to be 9.5 hours without any stops. Suffice to say, we wouldn’t make a drive that had no stops. The good part however is that New Brunswick can be traveled in scenic routes and our first leg was all about the River Valley Scenic Route.

Let’s go on Day 1!

On the way over, we passed a county called Saint-Louis-du-Ha!Ha!. Suffice to say that it was pretty fun to say the name and entertained us for a little while.

First Stop: Grand Falls – Grand Sault, New Brunswick

Ron Turcotte

Ron Turcotte Statue

We know nothing about horse racing but Ron Turcotte is a horse racing legend. Another tourist there from Alberta told us that he had met Ron Turcotte and that he was a stellar man, also that he is one of the best before he had to retire.

Grand Falls Gorge

Grand Falls Gorge

Grand Falls Gorge was our main goal of this stop. The gorge is really beautiful. There are a few walking trails around however, the day was all about the thunderstorm chasing us down so we walked down one path a little while out before we say the storm getting incredibly close so we decided to just get back on the road and stay safe in the car and maybe beat the rain again as we headed to our next stop.

Second stop: World’s Longest Covered Bridge – Hartland, New Brunswick

World's Largest Covered Bridge

World’s Largest Covered Bridge

I’ve never actually really seen a whole lot of covered bridges and this one is the world’s largest covered bridge and so incredibly cool to drive through. It was a game of taking turns with the other people on the other side. A little dangerous but everything worked out.

Third Stop: World’s Largest Axe, Nackawic, New Brunswick

World’s Largest Axe

We are on fire on checking off our non-existent bucket list of visiting the world’s largest stuff in Canada. My darling co-host Elwood Jones actually shared a list of the world’s largest objects when we shared the image on our Game Warp Instagram feed and my personal Facebook feed and I’ve actually went to a few of them across Canada. This was way more awesome than we had anticipated. Other than the thunderstorm threatening us to leave, we had a lot of fun there. Plus, there was some nice scenery by the river.

Saint John’s  & Dinner

Here’s a shot before getting into Saint John, New Brunswick where we had our first hotel stay at Delta. While the amenities were pretty cool, my main thing about this hotel is that unless you pay extra for valet parking which is like $5 more or something than normal parking next door, the parking lot next door is actually pretty inconvenient because you need to walk from one end of the mall to the next to get into the hotels and have access to the rooms. However, the room is pretty neat and it was spacious and very clean.

We went to the restaurant located in the mall called Mix Resto-Bar.

Mix Resto-Bar

My husband took the Fish & Chips. And I took the Maple glazed Salmon with Basmati rice and vegetables.Mix Resto-Bar

Mix Resto-Bar was okay. The food tasted good. We both enjoyed our meals quite a bit. However, the service is not too good. Our waitress was friendly however, while she suggested a drink to me, she never brought it to me. The good thing is it wasn’t even charged but then she also forgot to charge my husband’s drink and I had to remind her to add it back on. It was late at night and I guess everyone makes mistakes and forgets stuff. I wasn’t really desperate for a drink either so it didn’t matter too much. We had decent food and that is what really counted at that moment.

That’s the end of Day 1! A long drive but a few interesting stops!
Day 2 will be on Thursday!
Have you been to New Brunswick before?

Toronto: Casa Loma 

Toronto Comicon weekend was super busy. However, being the troopers we were, we managed to meet up earlier and skip out on one panel and made our tourist attraction visit to Casa Loma happen. Drew and I had originally planned for a Friday afternoon visit but realized it would be too rushed. Seeing as we did see Beauty and the Beast the night before and it was snowing in the morning when we arrived, it was the perfect memory of the Beast’s castle in real life (although it isn’t the same).

Casa Loma

The entrance for Casa Loma is $27, which might seem a little steep but you will soon realize as we did, that it is pretty worth it, plus this castle was used for quite a few movies as well.

Here is how we visited Casa Loma!

The First Floor

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

Library

Casa Loma

The first floor of Casa Loma highlights the elegance of the building. You walk in to an open high ceiling area. Its something of a reception area. Down the hall are socializing areas. The billiard room was closed but on the other side, there was a beautiful library and a conservatory with a beautiful glass dome. There’s some fun facts about the office which has two secret passages: one that goes to the second floor and the second to the basement. The basement pretty much takes us to a vault. However, these are only two of the supposed three secret passages, however the third hasn’t been found.

Casa Loma

Secret Passage upstairs

The Second Floor: Guest Room

Casa Loma

The secret passage way leads up to a corridor next to the Guest Room which has a Chinese theme which is exactly up my alley, of course. This was an incredibly pretty room and very reminiscent of a lot of Chinese antiques. We only did this room which lead to stairs going up to the 3rd floor. We’ll come back to the second floor later.

Casa Loma

The Third Floor

Casa Loma

Walking up to the third floor was the Queen’s Own Rifle Museum which showed a lot of the history behind the war and military facts. It lined the hallway and leads into the Formation Room. Walking to the other end was the Group of Seven Room and other spaces. The military portion was one that Drew liked a lot whereas I’m not quite into this sort of history. However, the third floor does lead up to the two towers which we could look out the windows and also a lookout on one for a nice vantage point. Plus, it was snowing so it made for some nice scenery.

The Towers

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

A little eerie at first to walk up those stairs and then decide where to go and then keep going up on these super twirly narrow steps but the view is quite beautiful. It is a gloomy day so while Toronto would make a fantastic backdrop, perhaps the nicest part is capturing a different view of the castle along with its details.

The Second Floor (other half)

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

Going back down to the other part of the second floor was mostly the suits for the Lady and Sir Pellatt who owned this castle. They had some super elegant bathrooms (which I didn’t show here) and some fantastically charming bedrooms. Just to say, its important to note how far our bathrooms, especially showers have gone since then.

The Tunnel

Casa Loma

Lucky for us, Drew was around and we headed down to the Lower Level where we happened to realize there’s still one really long tunnel with a Castles and Dragons medieval theme with paintings and animations projected on the walls which seemed to tell a story. It was pretty cool to see. This tunnel lead to The Stables which also had an antique car exhibit and carriage room along with the garage and potting shed. The stalls actually had two horses which I didn’t capture any clear enough to add here.

Casa Loma

The Movies

Casa Loma Casa Loma

There’s at least a dozen more films that were shot here but I can’t show them all here. These are some of the pretty popular ones. As I waited for Drew at the gift shop, I ended up watching all the clips of which movies and what rooms were used.

Would you look at all that? The pictures I used are only highlights and my favorite rooms. Plus, I only had my phone and not my DSLR so the pictures aren’t quite as refined. They still turned out alright. Casa Loma was a pleasant surprise with everything it had and we didn’t even watch any of the scheduled performances so if we had more time, there is still more to do, like going in the summer and having a chance to visit the gardens.

Have you visited any castles?

Hiking: Owl’s Head

More hiking was set for us on that week of staycation we had. With a little research, we found our second location which is rather nearby to Montreal also at a offseason ski resort, Owl’s Head. I’ve only ever heard of it before. Owl’s Head, just like most ski locations but hiking spots in the summer/fall, are really another type of beast. They have some designated paths but mostly, its a free walk uphill. Owl’s Head was no different. In fact, the trek up was pretty intense. it was incredibly steep and pretty tiring for such a short walk. We didn’t make it all the way but we did get almost there except for a winding path that went up to a booth or ski station or something. However, the view along the way opened up over a lake and with the leaves changing colors, it was really breathtaking.

Here are some shots of what we saw. It gives an idea of how steep it was and also the views we saw. On our way down, we actually encountered a cute little fellow and I took a little video of it.

Owl's Head

Owl's Head

Owl's Head

And for our little porcupine encounter. This porcupine is definitely not full grown but then I’m not a porcupine expert. It was adorable as heck as it walked around forward and in circles and forward more and then went up the hill. It was a slightly windy day so sorry about all the windy  noises.

A lovely  little location for a short but challenging hike. It was getting cooler that day and on the hills near where we saw the porcupine, there was frost forming on the grass. Still, we enjoyed it a lot. Sometimes, hiking can really get to us and we want to give up but when we turn around and see all the natural beauty around us, it gets us all pumped up again to go higher and makes it all worth it!

Vancouver & Kelowna: Vancouver Aquarium & Lynn Canyon Park

We’re finally here! The recap of the final day of vacation over on the Canadian West Coast. For this one, we took up our courage and headed to the Vancouver city central towards Stanley Park to go to Vancouver Aquarium and get an indoor activity before heading out to Lynn Canyon Park & Suspension Bridge. We talked with some of the locals there (my mom’s friends) and they told us that Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is almost as pretty as Capilano Suspension Bridge which charges more and is higher. This is a great choice for it being free and having just a lower canyon but still really  nice to walk through.

Vancouver Aquarium

As you can see, Vancouver Aquarium has all sorts of stuff, its not just fishes and rays and giant turtles and sharks. It also has monkeys and birds, etc. It is a pretty cool experience. Something else I like is that they don’t do a lot of shows with the animals. Only the dolphins are in these shows. The porpoises and belugas up top are actually in a training session which is like the trainer talks about these animals and how they came here and their story while giving them a little workout explaining why certain moves helps them to make sure they are healthy. In other cases, they also talk about the wildlife preservation centre that people can call if they ever believe that a marine animal is in danger and needs their assistance so that they can get them healthy and send them back to the wild. While I haven’t seen the documentary on Blackfish, I like the fact that it may be because of things like that documentary which make aquariums more aware about their transparency on how they are treating the animals with them.

Regardless of that, I like going to aquariums quite a bit and Vancouver Aquarium isn’t exceptionally different but they have their forte and is a rather educational process. They have a few different species of animals. My favorite is always the jellyfish tank and also seeing the porpoises and also going to the touch tank and getting to touch rays.

Lynn Canyon Park

Lynn Canyon Park

Lynn Canyon Park

Lynn Canyon Park

As I mentioned above, we indeed skipped the really well known Capilano suspension bridge. I have been there before when I was around eight years old. However, in my mind, Lynn Canyon Park was really beautiful. It was a rainy day but everything was absolutely lovely just with the rainforest and the tall trees towering over us. It was a great place to go. And a nice way to round up our vacation with a nice light hike around. It didn’t  take too long but was good enough to give us time and energy to head back to the hotel and pack up for our trip home the next day.

Overall, the Vancouver and Kelowna trip was a lot of fun. We had some fantastic scenery and we had an enjoyable time seeing all the relatives. We got to hike and eat some great food and even fangirl over Storybrooke. There are still a ton of activities we didn’t get to do because of time and hopefully we will return again eventually.

This vacation’s post is done now but as we speak I just got back to work this week after a week off for a lovely staycation where did also went out to do some hiking so that will follow for what seems like Vacation Tuesdays here. 😉 We do have some day trips planned before winter hits so hopefully this segment will go on for at least another few weeks.

The Great Pumpkin Ball & Gardens of Light

If you’ve been around here for the last few years, this post might not be anything new to you. However, there is always a little bit of different to these festivals every year.

Every year in Montreal Botanical Gardens are two simultaneous exhibits: The Great Pumpkin Ball in the greenhouse and Gardens of Light in the Chinese Garden made up of lanterns and the Japanese Garden with a full on lights show. While the Japanese Garden doesn’t change too much, the theme of the lanterns in the Chinese Garden change every year. This year was all about the Imperial Court meaning the emperor and Forbidden City.

Let me take you on a lovely tour!

The Great Pumpkin Ball

Gardens of Light – Chinese Gardens

This year the Chinese Gardens are going through some revamping so there is somewhat of changes of the placements of the lanterns and the route itself. However, it is still pretty impressive.

Gardens of Light – Japanese Gardens

If you want some of the more general flowers and close-ups (aka more artsy shots), please head over to my photography blog, Avenue of Daydreams. They will be coming up shortly once I get all the pics shorted.

That’s it for Gardens of Light and The Great Pumpkin Ball!
I went with my mom and it was tons of fun! 🙂

Vancouver & Kelowna: Hiking in Whistler & Squamish!

How fast does vacation go by, right? We’re looking back at Day 6 of vacation over at Kelowna and Vancouver this year. It is funny because I am on a staycation as this post goes up and just taking it easy. Still, looking back  at this vacation still makes my heart flutter with joy. We went to some amazing places especially Kelowna having some incredible scenery. Day 6 of vacation that we are recapping today is also one of our most emotional and awesome days of the trip. We headed out to Whistler and Squamish but not before forgetting my coat at the breakfast place we went to and realizing an hour or so into the trip. Luckily, we were heading to Whistler village so at least there would be a possibly of finding something to wear if it got chilly and man, did it get chilly!

Whistler Village

After the shopping priority and picking up a North Face Sweater and Eddie Bauer cap to fight the rain and cold, we walked a little more around Whistler Village.

Whister Village

Whistler Village

Whistler Village reminded us heavily of Mont Tremblant village near Montreal.

Lost Lake Park

With that done, we headed off for a hike. Actually Lost Lake Park was more of a walking trail with a little bit of hills here and there. A part of the path was blocked off to preserve wildlife, aka toad migration. So we took a detour, got a little turned around, the rain got heavier and then we finally figured it all out and went back to our car for the next spot.

Lost Lake Park

Lost Lake Park

Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish

Next stop is heading back towards Vancouver where we pass through Squamish and took the Sea to Sky Gondola. Note to all of you is that my husband is REALLY not comfortable with heights. I am also and gondolas make a little nervous especially at the steepness of this one at the beginning portion so we both picked up all our courage to do this and let us just say that it was extremely worth it even with some heavy rain and fog. Plus, we somewhat got stranded there as they investigated a potential issue which turned out all good thankfully. I like these companies being safe so it didn’t bother me too much when they told us they had to stop it for a while.

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola is so worth it. I didn’t really put a lot of the trail but it is really fun to walk through it and the plants and trees are cool. Plus, there are a few lookout points. We encountered a lot of fog as you saw that came in really thick and dispersed later on but it was still fantastic scenery. I totally recommend it. Its a little pricey but really worth it.

That’s it for Day 6 of vacation!
Check back next week for the last day of vacation in Vancouver! 🙂 

Vancouver & Kelowna: Redwood Park & Iona Jetty Regional Park

Welcome to Day 5 of my vacation this year in Vancouver and Kelowna! We are done with the Kelowna portion at this time but head over to Travel on the menu on top and it will go to the previous posts.

Day 5 is the first full day in Vancouver. We ended up doing two walking trails and going for some shopping.

No day starts without breakfast. Next door to us was IHOP. We both have never tried it so we went to give it a go.

IHOP Richmond

After that, we headed out to Redwood Park. My husband’s goal for this trip was to see sequoia trees and we heard there was in this park. It was a rainy day but had a break when we got there so it was a nice cool walk through the woods. The trails were a bit confusing but we ended up figuring out where everything was. It isn’t particularly a huge park but it was a pretty forest and we enjoyed it.

redwood park

redwood park
redwood park

redwood park

When we left, it started to rain really hard. You will see in the next few days, we won’t care as much and still pack up the days but seeing as we still had time, we made a stop at Mall Metropolis at Metrotown to try to find a raincoat for my husband since he didn’t have a jacket to better prepare for the next few days and ended up with the majority of the stuff on the shopping haul post HERE! Still, what captured me was this awesome Nintendo booth!

20160831_135724

Upon leaving the mall, the rain had died down a little more and we had eaten a quick lunch in the food court. We finally decided to head back to Richmond which is where our hotel is and decided to make a stop at Iona Jetty Regional Park.

Iona Jetty Regional Park

Iona Jetty Regional Park

Iona Jetty Regional Park

Iona Jetty Regional Park

Iona Jetty is a long walkway stretching out like a pier. It is right next to the landing strip at the airport so you can see planes landing in front of you all the time. There is a small beach there and wildlife to observe. However, most people go for the walk to whatever distance. We did a few kilometers and decided to turn around mostly because we had a family dinner later that night and had to freshen up and head out.

Unfortunately, my phone went crazy and we didn’t take any pictures of the dinner.

This wraps up Day 5 of vacation! 🙂
Day 6 is going to be a bit different because we went to a lot of picturesque places.

Vancouver & Kelowna: Vancouver & Visiting Storybrooke!

It is time to leave the beautiful Kelowna and the wonderful Okanagan Valley. With an early start to hit the road, we got Vancouver at a decent time. There was a lot of dropping off everyone at different locations. My mom stayed with her high school friend to chat and have fun and ended having lunch with them. My aunt and cousin went to their friends’ place before heading back home. We all said our goodbyes and it was officially the start of our belated honeymoon (since we didn’t have one last year when we got married)

The first stop was the lunch mentioned before which was at this wonton joint in a sketchy-looking place that drove my husband crazy with our parking story when a lady would not budge after he signaled to park. The joys of a big city, my friends. That is pretty much what we got from the entire trip which was not great especially driving a giant car like a  Ford Explorer, tight parking spots, unknown places and lots of traffic. It is one of the reasons why we usually don’t vacation in mega cities much just because we already live in one. So you’ll notice in the next few days that we actually don’t stay in Vancouver a lot but head out into the outskirts. That’s for the next few posts.

Lunch

20160830_131145

Steveston (aka Storybrooke)

Steveston

Steveston

Steveston

Steveston

Steveston

Steveston

Dinner at Moxie’s

Moxie's

Moxie's

Moxie's

Moxie's

That’s it for Day 4 of the trip! Not a lot really happened. The meals were decent. Steveston was really nice and gorgeous. It was relaxing and comfortable to walk around the town and by the waterfront. The highlight was definitely Steveston! I totally fangirled in Storybrooke. I will be getting back on track with Once Upon a Time soon!

Vinyard Terrace Restaurant (Kelowna, Canada)

We talked about lunch in the last vacation post. It was a classy lunch at the Cedar Creek Winery Estate. The restaurant is called Vineyard Terrace Restaurant (or some spots say Terrace Restaurant).

Cedar Creek Winery Estate is absolutely gorgeous. You can see the pictures on the day recap HERE. To sit on their outdoor terrace to look out at the vineyard with a little bit of breeze and eat a delicious meal was really a fantastic experience. Especially with great company.

Let’s check out the food! 🙂

Wines

Cedar Creek Winery Estate

We only had 3oz-6oz glasses, not the entire three bottles.

Appetizers

Cedar Creek Estate Winery

Wise Earth Carrot Salad

20160829_115039

Can’t find this one’s name but I think something to do with heirloom tomatoes or something….

I’m not sure if you’ve ever had those nantes carrots variety but we love it at our place. We recently started eating the multicolor ones and they are so good. This one with a little bit of spices to aid the taste but not overpower the actual carrots’ natural deliciousness was awesome!

Main Dish

Cedar Creek Estate Winery

Wild Moon Organic Pork

Cedar Creek Estate Winery

Seared B.C. Albacore Tuna

Dessert

Cedar Creek Estate Winery

Maple Apple Tart

Cedar Creek Estate Winery

Callebaut Chocolate Mousse

Cedar Creek Estate Winery

Okanagan Fruit

Okay, I’m guessing you all can figure out that I got the Okanagan Fruit. I always complain about how the alternative for lactose-intolerance is either sorbet or fruits. I’ve never honestly enjoyed a fruit cup more than this one. Okanagan fruits are so good. The peaches and berries. This fruit cup was with sabayon which they described as a sweet hollandaise sauce. I only learned then that hollandaise sauce is just egg whites, same as sabayon, which is why I could have it and it is a really good balance.

Overall, this was a great restaurant experience. We all enjoyed the mains as well. The dessert was delicious as well as the appetizers. The wine was quite good as well. I had the 2014 Riesling. My cousin has the 2015 Senator’s White. My husband, my mom and my aunt shared a bottle of 2014 Gewurztraminer. I guess I should have mentioned it up with the wines.

Have you ever eaten at a winery restaurant? If so, where?