April 27: With excitement cavorting in my chest, I finally arrived in the land of maple syrups – Canada. While the 20-hour flight and 7-hour stopover were hardly exciting, I felt emancipated from the busy weeks at work. I was definitely more than ready to embark on my 14-day vacation.
Featured Image: Pakmen
In two weeks, I had visited parts of Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec City. I must say there is still so much more to be uncovered in this amazing country but time (and annual leave) is limited.
It was an hour and a half drive to the Niagara Falls from downtown Toronto. I had just three hours of sleep the night before and was struggling to keep my eyes open. But the exhaustion seemed to dissipate as we entered the tourist hotspot.
Straddling the international border between the province of Ontario and the state of New York, waterworks had never been nearly as mesmerizing as when I came face-to-face with the Niagara Falls. It was a magnificent sight to behold as the waters glistened against the morning sun.
There is always something about being up close with a huge body of water that puts me at peace as I listened to water fall over the crest line, crashing into the river beneath.
Colaneri Estate Winery
348 Concession 6 Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0, Canada
After an hour or so admiring the Niagara Falls, it was time to move on for some food. I was still severely jet-lagged and my biological clock was not in tuned with the new time zone. But it was lunchtime in Toronto. As we drove out, we had this brilliant idea to drop by a winery. Now, there is no shortage of vineyards in the area but we visited one we were familiar with – Colaneri.
The process of fermenting the musts of grapes in these futuristic-looking massive cans is very intriguing. The very same processes must have been much laborious in ancient times but even as operations become automated, we continue to pay for good ol’ wine. I guess the saying “Old is gold” never grows old.
(Needless to say, we bagged home a few bottles of wine ourselves!)
Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A4, Canada
Back in Ottawa, the first of our sightseeing began with Parliament Hill. Canada’s Prime Minister have been making headlines for mostly good reasons and truth be told, I was half-hoping I’d walk into the handsome Prime Minister when I walked up Parliament Hill. (A girl can dream, right?) But even though there was no Justin Trudeau, the rustic features of the Parliament Hill were enough to keep me in awe.
While others queued to enter a guided tour into the premises, I was satisfied with enjoying the cool breeze in the open space. With its Gothic revival suite of buildings, it was almost luxurious to set foot on what was originally a site of military base back in the 18th and 19th century. Its renovation work has clearly proven to be successful with a huge crowd-drawing charm.
Conveniently located just beside the Parliament Hill, the canal connects the capital city of Ottawa to Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River. It was not as fascinating as the Niagara Falls but enough to keep me drawn.
Unfortunately, the weather was getting dull. In fact, it was either cloudy or raining the whole time we were in Canada. Although we booked our tickets expecting it to be a cool spring where I could have fun layering and taking stylish #ootd shots, we had miscalculated the weather greatly.
Despite the grey skies that threatened to pour anytime, I took my own sweet time to get as close as I could to the waters. (Fun fact: I saw someone paktoring from ledge to ledge and feared for my life he might miss a step!) There were also many joggers who took on the uneven route and harsh weather.
As I got closer to the water, I noticed an area cordoned off (but people still walked into it nonetheless). I also noticed what seemed like an offering of some sort, which made me think people must have took their own lives by leaping off Parliament Hill.
I realised the water levels must have risen so high over the years that it eventually submerged some lamp posts. There must still be roads buried underneath the waters. That thought was mind-blowing, for some reason.
110 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal, QC H2Y 1T2, Canada
We spent some subzero days in Quebec City – the last leg of our Canada trip. Truth be told, I was not looking forward to another winter-weathered vacation, especially after having spent some of the coldest days in Seoul back in January. But it was freezing rain that welcomed us in Quebec City.
The Notre-Dame Basilica is a highly decorated church in the historic district of Old Montreal. If anything, I’d say this is the one place to visit if you’re in the area. Built in 1672, the church is immensely rich in history. If you’re not a history fanatic, the splendid colours and intricate woodcarvings were pretty intriguing.
The vaults are coloured deep blue with golden stars, and the rest of the sanctuary is decorated in blues, azures, reds, purples, silver and gold. The intelligent use of colours made the church look lavish and ahead of its time. But despite the unusual décor, the place of worship was a good destination to end my trip in Canada.
And these are why I’m taking so long to overcome the withdrawal symptoms.
But I can also say it’s always good to be back home. Strange, isn’t it? We always seem to want to travel but as soon as we’ve spent a good amount of time away from home, we can’t wait to return to the safe haven of our concrete buildings.