Get involved: Canada
Prince Edward Island -- photographed by Paula Creighan
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15 CITIES - 15 WEEKS
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Halifax, Nova Scotia
Montreal is known for it's excellent and diverse choice of dining experiences. One of the best places I have visited in Montreal is "Lasalle Caribbean Restaurant." They have a large selection of dishes from many of the Caribbean Islands. My personal favorites are boneless chicken roti, oxtail with rice/peas and jerk chicken (I tried these dishes in Jamaica last year and finally found a place that prepares their meals the same way!!!). The staff is friendly and courteous and the dining room is warm and inviting. Tropical drinks are always fresh and available with alcohol or non-alcohol ( ie. carrot juice, mauby, sorrel etc.).They are located approximately 10 minutes from downtown at 408 Lafleur, Lasalle, Qc.
I'm going to be ignorant and say that Montreal is without doubt the best city in at least North America. I have been living here for 2.5 years, and every day is a discovery. No other city in North America rivals Montreal in its uniqueness. It is not New York, although some of its restaurants and bars would make you think otherwise (and we have better bagels!!), and it's not Paris, although walking through the narrow cobblestone streets of Old Montreal and the French you hear on the streets bely that.
Not to mention the countless bakeries and patisseries scattered all over the city serving delicious croissants and chewy baguettes. If you just have one day, I would suggest staying at one of the boutique hotels in Old Montreal. They are mostly located in ancient or historic buildings, and the decor are just drop-dead gorgeous. Have a breakfast at Olive et Gourmando (don't forget to try their madagascar vanilla palmier, the palm heart-shaped pastry, it's divine). For lunch head up to boulevard Saint-Laurent (or the "Main"), the old divider between Francophone and Anglophone Montreal once upon a time. Now it's a colorful boulevard that changes its face the higher up you go. From Chinatown to Mile End (haven't discovered what lies north of Mile End yet). Don't forget to stop by at Schwartz's for its world-famous smoke meat sandwich. You will have to queue, but it's well-worth the wait for a real, traditional Montreal experience.
There's of course the Mountain (yes, it's technically a hill, but for us it's a mountain, deal with it!). Spend a few hours in the Mont-Royal park, a park designed by the designer of Central Park in New York whose name evades me right this moment). Go back to your hotel and get ready for dinner and some nightlife. Choose from the countless options; from classical French to African fusion cuisine. Toqué is always recommended if you happen to have a lot of free space in your Amex Platinum. Whichever restaurant you choose, it's very likely that you will come out of it content and fulfilled. My personal favorites: L'Express on St-Denis (best bistro!), Le Deux on Sherbrooke/St-Laurent, Pintxo for its Basque-style tapas. After, you will face another dilemma. Where to go out? There are so many choices, but on a weekend you can essentially go bar and club hopping til the morning (10 AM!). Make sure you have a late flight!
The scene in Montreal is simple... St. Laurence Street and Prince Arthur. This section of town offers the highest concentration of the most exclusive bars, clubs and restaurants. You could easily find yourself recounting an elaborate story to your friends from the night before. "First we went to Cafeteria for a few martinis, then we went to Bueno (Bueno Notte) for a quick bottle of champagne. We then headed back to Caf (Cafeteria) to meet up with some friends and a few more martinis. Finally, we ventured to Sophia's in order to end our night on a high. However, before we hopped into a cab we had to take a trip across the street for a slice of Madonna's $0.99 Pizza."
Winter is spectacular with skating along the Rideau Canal which is lined with hot chocolate and beaver tail stands for refreshments. Winterlude is several days featuring ice sculptures and competitions for all ages.
Once spring arrives the tulips begin to blossom and the walkways come alive along the canal for joggers, cyclists and leisurely strolls. The river parkway is closed off on Sunday mornings so that everyone can get out and walk along the river and one side of the canal without worrying about traffic. The tulip festival, International Jazz festival and the Bluesfest are major attractions during the summer months and attract hundreds of thousands of visitors. All are located near downtown, and offer both world-class artists and free venues in the downtown parks.
Local major attractions include: Parliament Hill tours, haunted tours, Sunset ceremonies by the world-famous RCMP Musical Ride, Ottawa river and Rideau canal boat tours, and many newly constructed museums.
Each weekend from spring until late fall, all the locals go to the Byward Market and stroll along the hundred plus farmer and artist stands. Fresh produce and the regions best maple syrup are on sale and when you've had enough shopping you can relax in the one of the markets cafes, bistro's, Irish pubs, or go out for some nightlife.
Fall in Ontario naturally involves going out and visiting the Gatineau Park (across the bridge in Quebec) where you can take in the colorful changes in the leaves and maybe observe some wildlife wandering around the large park. Come to Ottawa. You won't be disappointed.
Prince Edward Island
Stay at the Delta Bessborough Hotel, one of the great Canadian railway hotels built during the Great Depression - literally a castle on the riverbank. Just north of the city, about three miles, is Wanuskewin Heritage Park, a UNESCO Heritage site, built at a meeting place used by the Plains tribes for over 9000 years, ever since the ice-age melted.
Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan have been digging there since 1949, uncovering artifacts from 4000 years before the great pyramid of Egypt. There you can learn the lifestyle and the art of the five Plains tribes, peek into the archaeology lab, enjoy a bowl of bison stew while looking out over a valley filled with wildlife.
Hiking trails of various lengths allow you to get up close and personal with the natural world of the native prairie. In tourist season, colorful native dancers entertain visitors from all over the world. Three historical and cultural museums, the Western Development Museum, the Diefenbaker Centre, and the Ukrainian Museum, celebrate the many pioneers that settled this prairie landscape. The Meewasin Valley Authority cares for the riverbank that meanders through the city, with acres of green space, walkways, and bicycle trails. The Mendel art gallery, on the riverbank, holds a fine permanent collection, plus various travelling exhibits. The University, founded in 1905, has its own exhibits and galleries to view. Saskatoon glows with green, especially from June through September, and October is the time to watch the Canada Geese gathering for their trek south. Though Saskatoon's midwinter weather is not for the faint of heart, there are exciting snowmobile adventures to be found just outside the city. Just bring warm clothing and your sense of adventure, as suits and helmets are provided for a guided snowmobile run of one or even two days, with a stopover at a bed-and-breakfast spot out in the country. For something different, Saskatoon is rich territory waiting to be explored!
In August, we have Symphony Splash , were the Victoria Symphony plays music in the harbor with the Empress Hotel as the background. It's a fantastic way of getting all ages to get exposure to the fantastic musical scene this city has. The hottest places to hang out are actually theatres such as the Royal or MacPherson playhouse where the Victoria Symphony and Pacific Opera Victoria put on world class productions. We have many visual artists too, who showcase their arts at the Moss Street Paint In where the whole of Moss Street is covered in beautiful paintings and art works, the artists right there. Craigdarroch Castle is a large castle/mansion where excellent plays and productions are held... giving a feeling of really being inside the Victorian era. A recent production of H.G. Wells' The War of The Worlds was put on. In July is Luminara, a light and lantern festival, where people make lanterns and dress up in costumes in Beacon Hill park. People get in touch with the Fae. You can see lots of local art at coffee shops such as the James Bay Coffee House and Book Store that features its Friday Night Music night featuring local artists of all calibre and genres; and Moka House (hottest coffee place!) in Fairfield, the place to meet and greet new and old friends.
We love to have fun too! The Oak Bay Tea Party is an event in late spring in Oak Bay with Ferris wheels, rollercoasters, games, food, right by the beautiful white beach of Willows Beach... with palm trees and yucca plants in many gardens near by. In early fall there is the Saanich Fair, lots of rides, games and fresh produce (corn, pumpkins). Speaking of food we have Folk Fest in July. Besides days and days of the world's best folk and world music, there are several areas where local crafts and ethnic foods are sold. Such a cornucopia of delicious eats. Langos are the rage there (a flat dessert, similar to a donut, covered in sugar and cinnamon if you wish).
Victoria is very near Port Angeles and Seattle and Vancouver. You can get here by ferry, jet, harbor plane and helijet. Victoria is on the south of Vancouver Island and a few hours from some of the most beautiful nature you can imagine, such as Sooke, Long Beach, Courtenay, Campbell River. The Northern Part of the Island is the nature that Emily Carr captured: First Nations Totems, the beauty of the Firs, the mists, the Orcas. Victoria and surrounding area is a place for the soul and nature to meet as one. Thanks!
The pure prairie winters of Canada are the stuff of legend, and nowhere does that lore take root more authentically than Winnipeg, home of "Portage & Main," Canada's most famous intersection. It is ironic that a city that competes with a similarly sized community in Siberia for being the coldest city of equally large population should also boast more restaurants per capita than any other North American city.
It is perhaps precisely that cold weather that makes the city unique, where the inhabitants have a crisp winter keeping them indoors to perfect a variety of talents that include the arts, music, literature and sports. Then an equally inviting spring, summer and fall where it becomes a marathon to squeeze a culturally enhancing event into every waking moment to distil the most of the clean air, beautiful lakes and sweet Manitoba sunshine.
Whether it be a liberating weekend with 50,000 of your newest best friends at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park, cheering on the Dragon Boat races at the Forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, enjoying a Nucci's Gelati in Corydon's Little Italy region, antiquing in the architecturally magnificent Market Square, lazing on several of the finest sandy beaches north of the equator, tossing a rubber chicken "horseshoe" style in front of the Times Changed music emporium or savoring the performance stages of our world class Jazz, Comedy and Fringe Festivals, Winnipeggers know how to take a good opportunity and make it great, time and time again.
Make it a point to visit, be absolutely sure to tell everyone you're a visitor and we'll adopt you on the spot and guarantee your time is well invested in activities that inspire, amuse, educate and motivate. From pristine rugged beauty to Uptown sophistication, here's where you can find it all. All that's left is to snip the word 'boredom' out of your Webster's Dictionary... it'll be a phrase you'll never need in describing your time in this uniquely vibrant grassroots city.
I am e-mailing you to let you know what's going on in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I think it's exciting and I wanted to share with you. Bon Jovi has just started their current tour in support of their new album, "Have a Nice Day." Winnipeg is not on the tour list as of yet but I'm not giving up faith. The last time they were was Oct. 8, 1995 -- 10 years is WAY too long! There have been rumors that the band is going to be play our MTS Center next year but nothing has been announced thus far. Why am I e-mailing you about this? I am doing my very best to generate excitement and anticipation to try and get the band here. We're gonna show 'em that they have no choice but to play our amazing city! I have created an online petition for people to sign up that they want the band to play Winnipeg. I did this at the urging of someone in the local entertainment business and I need to get over 2000 signatures. Here is the link to petition. We have over 350 signatures so still a long way too go but I'm not losing faith. Hospitals, work places, restaurants, apartment complexes, a lot of people have been receptive to this rock 'n roll cause.
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