We are now back in the United States and happy we are able to read the street signs and understand what the nice people at the grocery store are saying. We have spent the past week and a half or so visiting Niagara Falls, Montreal and Quebec City and now spending time in Maine and the New England area.
Niagara Falls was something that has always been on my bucket list. I knew that the falls were big, but I wasn’t prepared for how big or how beautiful they would be. We got into full on tourist mode and signed up for the Behind the Falls tour and the Hornblower Boat tour. Both activities got us soaking wet, but were super fun. It was exciting to get to tour behind the falls and hear how loud the water was coming down, we got an up close and personal view of the falls from this vantage point. Even without the tours, just walking along the edge of the falls was spectacular, once you make your way through the thousands of tourists, seeing the epic waterfalls crashing into the lake below is something I will never forget. After our lunch overlooking the falls, we wondered down the path, taking tons of photos on our way to get to our boat cruise on the lake. Once again, we got soaked – and by soaked I mean full shower with all your clothes on soaked. The free ponchos were helpful, but didn’t quite keep us very dry. The boat tour was super fun because we got to get even closer to the falls, both on the US side and the Canadian side. I couldn’t take too many photos because it was so wet, but because we were so close to the water the mist was so thick it was difficult to see the falls. It was like being inside of a super wet cloud with a booming loud sound of powerful water all around you. Simply amazing.
After Niagara Falls we made our way to Montreal and Quebec City (with an overnight stop at a small campground in upstate NY). For both cities, we stayed in nice KOA Campgrounds just outside the city limits, just a short drive into town. In Montreal, we were able to park and use the Metro. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of Montreal, it reminded me a lot of Paris or Milan. Although it is a very old city, it has a really young vibe because there are number of Universities in the city, so there are lots of young students and professionals. We loved exploring the shops and eating at the yummy french restaurants. The main purpose of our visit was to meet up with Andrew’s parents who were taking a cruise on the St. Lawrence river, visiting the cruise ship, having lunch and catching up with family and friends was a nice treat. After our day on the cruise ship we enjoyed a 6 course meal at a lovely french restaurant called Bonapartes – as Andrew mentioned in his blog post, we were a little apprehensive to indulge in such a long and luxurious meal with the girls, they didn’t want the full meal but I also didn’t want them playing on devices while we ate. But they pleasantly surprised us, they did not get bored, we chatted during the whole meal and they tried a little bit of each of Andrew and my meals. I have discovered on this trip that the girls are the exact right age for the trip, they are old enough to enjoy a nice meal, discuss the highlights and lowlights of each area and experience, they can explore campgrounds on their own and they can hang out in the camper alone if Andrew and I want to take a walk just the two of us. On the flip side, they are still young enough to play with each other contently, they still have an eye for wonder and love to experience new things.
After Montreal we headed up to Quebec City, which I enjoyed a little bit more than Montreal. Although I loved the fun city feel of Montreal, I was happy to find there were less people in Quebec City (at least on Saturday, on Sunday the cruise ships came in and the population seemed to triple). I really enjoy the small brick and cobblestone streets with quaint shops and bistros and walking along the pathway of the walled city. We learned a lot more about the history of Quebec while we were here. We visited the Musee De La Place Royal which had wonderful interactive displays highlighting the history of Quebec, we watched a crazy but cool 3D movie about Champlain and had fun dressing up in costumes of the first settlers and playing in the replica homestead. This was a fun way to teach the history of the area to the girls, as they put on children’s clothes and pretended to cook their vegetable over the fire. In Montreal, we also visited a couple museums, Museum of Fine Arts and the Biosphere – both fantastic museums, but the focus for these were on art and sculpture and the environment, so we were happy to round out our cultural experience with some history.
Both cities were beautiful and Andrew and I can imagine coming back and actually staying in the city, possibly in one of the lovely hotels. We also decided that fall is the time to come to these cities as well. The radiant, orange, red and golden colors of the trees that you can see in the distance from almost any view point in Quebec City is breathtaking. Also it felt more fitting to bundle up in a warm sweater and hat and explore the city on foot. We really enjoyed wandering around the different streets for hours and feeling the energy of the city again, but I am also looking forward to getting back into nature and having a few days of doing nothing. One thing I have found interesting on this trip is that after almost 2 months on the road, we have not had as much down time as I expected. I packed so many things to fill our hours of endless time – paints, games, musical instruments, tons of workbooks, and more, yet we really have not touched much of it at all. It is amazing how much there is to see and do in this country of ours, and now as we head south, we have asked our friends for suggestions on where to go and what to see, and the comments just keep coming, which is awesome – thank you! Unfortunately, I have a feeling that we won’t be able to get to it all, but we will do our best to take in as much as possible and enjoy every single second of what we DO get to experience. And for whatever we miss, we can always add to our list for the next trip.