Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

Quebec City and Ile d’Orleans

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
Ile d'Orleans Grocery store

Ile d'Orleans Grocery store

We recently spent a week in QC and environs- more of the getting to know Canada tour. This time, we went to Quebec City, Ile d’Orleans and then up to Ottawa and the Ottawa valley.

I’d heard that QC is about the closest you can come to Europe, while staying in North America. It definitely has an old-world feel.

Here’s something I didn’t know: Canada is fully bi-lingual… except in Quebec, where it is ALL French. Most of the hospitality people spoke some English, but all the signage is French. Which can be very disconcerting when you’re driving. Luckily TMIML speaks French. After a few days, my high school French started kicking in, as well. Some of the most fun we had was listening to our navigation system mangle street names. (OK, we’re easily amused.)

We had a great time in Quebec City, staying in old town and sampling the cuisine there. I tasted creme brulee with duck liver pate, and was totally hooked. (It sounds weird, but is totally luxurious.)

I’m sure not everyone in Quebec has a green thumb & is a phenomenal cook, but that’s not my experience. Our stay on Ile d’Orleans, at the Canard Huppe (crested duck) was fantastic.

One experience especially… we were driving past Oka, and needed a place to stay, so stopped at the info center. The lady sent us to a b&B in St-Placide, La Capucine. Julie, the hostess, and her husband Alcide made us incredibly welcome, and immediately whipped up a light dinner, not to mention a breakfast the next morning beyond compare.

I really enjoyed this trip, and hope to explore Quebec further, especially the Gaspe Peninsula.

My New Car

Saturday, August 18th, 2012
car2go smartcar

car2go in Toronto

I recently signed up for car2go in Toronto (which lets me use them in Vancouver and Calgary as well, but not the US). It’s very similar to the bike rental stations that I’m seeing pop up everywhere. I took my first trip yesterday, so here are my thoughts.

One, it’s a great little car for the city. (Not for Costco trips, however!) The per-minute cost is low, when you consider that you don’t have to pay for: gas, insurance, maintenance, PARKING!

Free parking is available at all the Green P parking lots, of which there are many. And parking fees in Toronto are outrageous.

There are currently 200 smartcars available in town, and there are 2 lots a couple blocks from me. I picked one up (after several errors, I called & was told it was malfunctioning, so walked next door to find another.) Then I drove it downtown to another lot and left it there (another glitch; the machine ate my free parking card & the attendant had to rescue me.)

After a couple hrs of shopping & messing around, I went back to the same lot, and picked one of the 2 cars there (I could have reserved, but chose not to) Hopped in, and away I went (after dealing with the parking attendant again.)

Yes, there are some glitches, but the system is new here. Customer service was very responsive. I think I’ll be using it more, especially for trips downtown, where parking is at a premium.

I love the idea of  having a car when I want one, but not having to pay the overhead for just occasional use.

** Update: car2go just phoned me today to follow up on all the mishaps. They also gave me a 15 minute credit, which was very nice of them. So far, I’m very impressed with the customer service.

*** Am considering taking car2go to the buskerfest down @ St Lawrence market this weekend. I love not having to worry about parking!

Summer in the City

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Caprese on a stick

It has been so long since I’ve posted! Many of you are friends on Facebook, so know a little about what I’m up to, but for those who count on the blog- everything’s OK! No, it’s better than ok, it’s fantastic.

This year, I’m visiting in Toronto, and using it as a base for explorations with TMIML. That’s “The man in my life” who did not sign up to star in my blog, so I’m respecting his privacy.

This last wkend, we went to the Mariposa Folk Festival, which was terrific. The weather was absolutely perfect on Sunday and the performers were top notch. Two things I liked especially were Al Simmons’s act- total goofy genius- and a presentation about a new bio of Steve Goodman, by Clay Eels. (Steve Goodman is the guy who wrote “City of New Orleans” among other songs.)

I’m really enjoying the hot weather. Unlike Port Townsend, there is air conditioning most places. But it’s so nice to be able to wear summer clothes… instead of just the lighter-weight polar fleece.

We’ve spent several weekends in cottage country north of Toronto, and are going up again this wkend, to a camp. It’s quite common for kids to spend a good part of the summer at camp. That seems to be more of a tradition in the East. At any rate, it should be a good time. Maybe I’ll bring some Peeps to roast over the campfire…

That’s all for now!