Canada, oh Canada.
I must admit, when I got on the plane to Montreal, I was a bit fuzzy. I had just been working in Newport (Rhode Island) for a week, I had forgotten to brush up on my French, and I didn’t even remember what I packed in the 5 hours I had between plane rides.
Step 1 to a great vacation: relax, don’t overthink it.
Thanks to my rockstar of a mother, I had a preplanned daily itinerary. All I needed to know was what time to get up, and how not to piss off my brother and sister. Ah, a blissful vacay in the making.
With little time to research the woods to our North, I had no idea what to expect once I arrived in Montreal and Quebec City. I mean, it has to be modernized, right? There aren’t moose hanging around… right?! I was pretty naive and suddenly wishing I had done more research.
Step 2 to a great vacation: overthink it.
By this, I mean prepare just a tad. Once you’re there, soak it all in.
6 Steps to ace your Canadian vacation:
- Learn the language. Nothing is more embarrassing than watching people watch you try to speak their language… it’s exhausting and your brother and sister will make fun of you.
- Eat poutine at every bar. French fries, gravy, and cheese curds – um, yes.
- Find your Toulouse. There is a museum in almost every city. Don’t overlook them on a rainy day. You may find one of your favorite artists!
- Eat the damn snails. Try it all – snails, beaver tails, maple syrup on a stick. It’s worth it.
- Chase the waterfalls and the vineyards. One of my favorite days was climbing the Montmorecy Waterfall followed by an afternoon lunch at Panache Mobile vineyard.
- Go local. Whether it’s an exclusive Canadian brew tour or shopping for fresh pasta and cheeses at the market, get the full experience by stepping out of the tourist traps.
- Don’t overlook the masterpieces. I am such a fan of architecture (…duh, look at my Instagram…). Always be sure to appreciate the old and the new.
- Remember why you’re there and enjoy time with your family. Laughing at the face swap filters counts, people!
Our maple leaf excursion lasted a week. We started in Montreal with tours of the city’s finest churches and museums, sight seeing in the bohemian neighborhoods, followed by the most educational brew tour I’ve ever experienced. In the evenings, I curled up to lobsters, mussels, and poutine at each of Montreal’s scenic patio restaurants.
The train ride to Quebec City wasn’t average. Throughout the 3 hour ride I read my book, The Girls by Emma Cline (amazing by the way – book review coming soon!) almost exclusively. The first time I looked up from the novel, we were in the countryside. Next, we were at the foot of the mountain trailing a river to our left. The last time I looked up we had made it to the top of the mountain, showcasing the grandest view of the communities’ French cottages.
Once we arrived in Quebec City, I was smitten. It may have been the most charming little town I have ever seen (and I live in Charleston). The streets are rolling with history and even the oldest home is polished with pride for the city. Just over the bridge you’ll find the Il de Orleans, an island full of vineyards and fudge shops that smell so good, you have to buy something. Up the hill sits the historic Citadel and their Changing of the Guards ceremony. And down the river you’ll find a waterfall that is taller than Niagra Falls.
I couldn’t have pictured a more exciting and relaxing vacation with the family.