A Travellerspoint blog

Leamington, Point Pelee and Windsor

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It was still fall of 2005, and I was in a mood to explore a new place. I have read about Point Pelee National Park where more than 350 types of birds have been seen so far. In the bird migration season of fall...you could see beautiful varieties of birds. Also, this region is a bit warmer as comparison to toronto and lastly, the tip of southern ontario is located there...meaning that after the body of land and water...the next piece of land is of USA. The nearest city to point pelee park was leamington, so we decided to book our hotel there. When we reached point pelee we took the ride to the tip of the land in a big golf cart style transportation. Many people that were sharing the ride with us were professional photographers from around the world including UK and Australia and had huge lenses and binoculars. Some one was mentioning that their lens was worth 20,000 british pound. The park was beautiful and I witnessed many varieties of birds that I haven't seen before.

The next day we had extra time so we decided to visit city of windsor, which lies across from the city of detroit, USA...So, we went there...took the stroll around the water and around the parks....saw some buildings and came back to toronto.

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Posted by sameen 05:50 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Sault Ste Marie, Agawa Canyon and Wawa

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I think it was august, 2005, when we decided to go to sault ste marie (which locals call soo). It is about 8 hours drive from toronto. From sault ste marie we wanted to take the scenic train ride to agawa canyon. I already bought the train tickets and made advance booking and booked two rooms at knights inn for $40 each per day as my parents and siblings were also going along. The first day was spent in resting and exploring the local area and finding the train station for next day travel.

The next day we reached the station early in the morning. The train was a bit late...but, that's alright. We had the breakfast inside the dining car...which included eggs, toasts, home fries, jam and orange juice. The scenery from the dinning car looked spectacular because of the huge windows.

In the afternoon, we reached agawa canyon area. The train stopped there for few hours. We walked around, stretched and explored the area, some trails, saw the waterfalls and boarded the train back to sault ste marie. We reached the hotel back late in the evening.

Next day we moved to lake superior provincial park. It was beautiful. It also has some bays with carribean style coloured water. Over there we decided that my parents and siblings will go back to toronto while we'll move on to wawa as my husband had one extra day of holiday. So, then we went to wawa...that has the ontario's tallest geese statues (there's two of those). Since, we didn't have any booking in any hotels...we started going inside the hotels to ask...the second place mentioned that they have some rooms available...so, we decided to stay there. We got the veggie subs from the across the street at a subway. The next day we decided to leave early in the morning around 5:00 am so we could reach toronto by night. We decided to come back via chapleau so we could see another route. When we took that route...we saw mist and vapour formation that was occuring on the trees and lakes. For kilometres and kilometres it was wild forest and we didn't see any human beings or house..hence, I started to feel a bit scared and locked all the car doors (I was thinking about scary movies where people just jump in front of you...out of no where).

I don't remember when...but we did get to our home fine..the same day.

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Posted by sameen 15:40 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

New beginnings

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After tobermory, we travelled to nearby places but didn't travel to distances over 2 hours as I was a full time student again and soon to be a mommy. It wasn't until the summers of 2005 that we resumed travelling with our baby son Z. By this time, my husband got a car and I really wanted a break from the city life, student life, and everyday routines. So, this time we planned a trip to Algonquin Park, Ontario. It is 250 km from toronto. We stayed in dwight, a more closer place to algonquin, than huntsville (where most hotels are located). My parents and brother also accompanied us. We took a day pass to alonquin park and visited some interesting places in it. My baby who was only 1.5-2 months old, really wanted to jump in the water at the beach. So, we made him touch the water and he seemed really happy :) We also went on a small trail which had a board walk and we visited a dwight festival at the beach at night and saw fireworks. Over all, the stay was really nice and we decided that from now on, we'll go and visit more places with my baby in the future.

After this trip to algonquin, we have visited algonquin numerous times and sometimes we do a day trip to algonquin on the weekends as well.

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Posted by sameen 04:43 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

A thought

One reason I created this travel blog was to tell others that travelling is very much possible even if you are on a budget, or have a family with young children or don't even have a transportation...there are always cheap ways you can travel, cut the costs and see the places around you. The world is open for you to explore possibilities. If you are determined, ambitious, and open to ideas...then nothing can stop you from travelling and exploring.

Posted by sameen 05:30 Comments (1)

Toronto to Tobermory

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On a long weekend in October, 2004, we made a plan to visit tobermory, ontario. Back then it was one of the secret gems of ontario and a lot of people in toronto had no idea about it. This time we made the plan with extended family and relatives and contacted several places and booked tobermory village campground. At that time they had some trailer homes available for rental. The cost was $50 and $55 each for both trailers per night...which was fairly cheap and was in everyone's budget. We cooked food from home, to save us some money. It was fall season with beautiful colourful leaves. The winds were turning a bit breezy. We took a glass boat tour from tobermory harbour to flower pot island. Back then the ticket was only $18 (now it is $35). We had a wonderful time at the flower pot island and on trails. I remember eating homemade style ice-cream in the downtown for only $1 for one scope (it was like 2 scopes) and eating home made french fries for $1 as well and we also bought some chocolate fudge also, which is a must from tobermory.

The next day we went to Bruce Peninsula National Park where they have caribbean style shades of water. So, its worth the effort to go on the trails. You feel so much connected to the nature and it feels so peaceful to be there.

Over the past 6 years we have been to bruce peninsula park several times and now when we are looking for a scenery change we do a day trip there.

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Posted by sameen 05:05 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Backhomes

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We came from families that have South Asian roots. My dad and I, are from Pakistan and my mum is from India and my husband is from India as well. So, now that the history part is over...lets move on the trip details. It was summer of 2004 that we decided to go to both back homes where my husband can meet my extended family and I could meet his. First we visited pakistan and then we visited india. The trip was mostly spent in meeting relatives but we visited many vegetarian restaurants. We did visit some historical buildings in lucknow, india.

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Posted by sameen 04:58 Archived in India Comments (0)

Winter in Montreal and Quebec City

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So, this entry is dated back to december, 2003, when it was winter time. We decided that we needed a break and it was time to head towards montreal and quebec city. I looked around the fares and the cheapest one available on market was from Coach Canada...which was around $100-$125 round fare, so we got that. Now, it was time to book the rooms. The cheapest room I saw on internet was for $70 per day...so, I booked that. Also, to get the feel of a nice hotel...I booked one night at a really nice hotel for $155 for a night (it was one of the best rooms that I ever stayed in).

One fine morning...we gathered our stuff and headed towards montreal. When we reached montreal we saw lots of people wearing jackets, coats and gloves. I questioned myself...why are they all wearing gloves when there isn't much snow around. But when I stepped out...after few minutes I realized that you don't feel cold in montreal...right away...but over the few minutes you start to feel that your fingers or nose...will feel off. It's like dry cold...that take you by surprise.

We couldn't find the hotel after walking around the locality...so, we called the hotel from a payphone. This time we were carrying calling cards...so, that was helpful. In short, we found the hotel...they usually have many boutiques styles....small houses/building type places that are converted into hotels...

We decided to see montreal via their subway/metro, which was a lot complicated in comparison than toronto. They had two/three levels of underground subways...so, when you are outside on a road...you are freezing cold...but, if you are on a lower level of subway...you might feel extremely hot. At one point I got frustrated due to the exercise of taking off jacket and putting it on.

The few days we were in montreal we saw old montreal, montreal port, many famous buildings...my favourite notre dame church (famous for celine dion), olympic stadium, BioDome (this place is like mini covered zoo...with different animals...my favourite were penguins...You might be surprised with what that building holds), biosphere and mont-royal. I might have missed a place or two. The history behind montreal's name lies within mont-royal. In french any hill/mountain is called mont...so, this place mont-royal is a hilly area..and later became the name of the city montreal.

How is it possible that we don't get into adventures any time we travel. So, when we were going to mont-royal...we took a city bus. We got off at the peak...clicked some photographs...and then started waiting for the bus. Unfortunately, the bus didn't serve that area frequently...so, first I started rubbing my hands...then I started walking...jumping and what not to keep myself warm...and then finally I was so cold that my husband had to lend me his jacket, gloves and warm hat. Eventually the bus arrived and we stepped in. But, I'll always remember that cold...chilly...day.

Interesting thing we noted was that in montreal...some malls and clothing places would close at 5:00pm but the food places/restaurants would be open late until 11pm or sometimes 1-2am. We also had our share of food joints stories but I'll move on to the day we visited quebec city.

We went to the main montreal tourism office and booked the day trip to quebec city via Greyhound. The moment I stepped out the bus I feel in love with Quebec City. I like it more than montreal for some reason. It's a small city built on height and has a battle field from few centuries ago. It has a european vibe to it. It has narrow walking streets that lead you up to the fairmount hotel...which is fabulous, by the way.

I remember buying some chocolate fudge from quebec city and I also visited glass studio and shop where they made artistic glass pieces. I also bought few postcards from quebec city. By the time we reached montreal back it was night time and then, the next day we came back to toronto.

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Quebec city photographs:

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So, this brings me to the end of our trip to quebec province.

Posted by sameen 08:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Let the tour begin

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We started our tour with moose network from BC to Alberta that morning. Back then, that tour was the biggest one on their list...but, now when I visited there website...they have so many tours that I got confused about the tour we took. I think that one is not offered anymore. At present, I have a vague memory of the places and routes we took...so, I'll just write one big entry about the whole trip.

On this trip we met international tourists of all ages from around the world. On the first day when the tour driver/guide took us to a falls and asked us to start hiking...I remember that it was the first time I was hiking on a real trail...and it lead us to a beautiful fall. We also saw some caves on the way. But, when I was coming back it took me a while to get off from one of the cliffs (Now when I look back I just smile because I have come a long way in terms of hiking).

I remember looking at the wild goats on the mountains and we even saw grizzly bears and baby bears on the side of the highway eating purple flowers. I can never forget that.

We stayed at all sorts of hostels...from sleeping in a train boggie style funky hostel that had llamas and they made special veggie burgers for me and my husband, to a wooden lodge on a mountain that only opens two months during the summer and asks you to put the food and tooth paste in another cabin as grizzly bears love them, to some other sorts.

My husband is a vegetarian...and I only eat vegetarian or fish outside the house...so, we relied on fries, veggie wraps freshly made from grocery store items, and egg salad sandwiches to veggie burgers during our trip. Also, we had limited resources (i.e money)...hence, we were cautious about our food intake.

We have seen beautiful places on gondolas, on foot and on the van. We saw prestine lakes, rivers and serene surroundings. We visited places like kamploops, fraser river and valley, some national parks, banff, jasper etc. We also saw moraine lake, emerald lake and lake louise which are the best lakes in Alberta. When you visit those places you just want to sit there.

We also had some interesting stories as well...like one time we were clicking some photographs at a secluded lake...we heard some sounds...so, I told my husband that don't worry...it might be some ravens or birds...but, later when I saw in the map...we were standing in a grizzly bear habitat..Oh God...we ran as if there was going to be no tomorrow.

One time when we were in banff...we went to some mountains...and we were walking down from there to the downtown..then my husband saw a deer...and I got frightened and hidded myself behind him. Then, while walking he read a sign that beware...wolves in this area. At that point, we just ran...and stopped only when we reached downtown.

On the same night...when we started walking from the downtown towards our hostel...we forgot our way...and didn't even remember the name of the hostel...and didn't even have the address or phone number of that place...and then accidently turned on some grizzly bear street. Finally, we took a taxi and told the driver that we are staying at a hostel...he mentioned that there's only two hostels in that place..So, he agreed to take us to the nearest one first...and that turns out to be the one we were staying in. So, we thanked him and gave him money and came inside.

Not to forget, on one of the lakes our group decided to do canoeing...and our leader/driver encouraged us to do the same. We haven't done canoeing before in life...but, we did do on the canoe. It took me a while to follow my husband's instructions related to paddles. When we were coming back...we saw everyone was finishing up the activity...but we were not getting any closer. Then my husband pointed out that the tree and house we were looking at...wasn't even moving...meaning that we were moving the boat but it wasn't going anywhere. By that time...I was freaking out...and started reciting some prayers. All of a sudden...an air breeze came...changed the direction of our boat...and we started rushing towards the end of the lake. After that I decided that I'll never do canoeing in my life.

One time we even went to a glacier...which is part of some national park.

What else....hmmm, by the time we finished the tour and came back to vancouver we were craving for rice...and rushed to a nearby vietnamese restaurant and had rice, noodles and vegetable curry. I can never forget how delighted I was to eat rice..haha.

After that our journey back to toronto started. The whole trip from toronto to vancouver and back lasted two weeks. But, the beautiful places we saw will always be fresh in our memories :)

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Posted by sameen 06:58 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Vancouver to Victoria

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So, we left from vancouver on a bus that connects to a ferry that goes to victoria. That was our first journey on a ferry (which was more like a ship). It ferry took us about 2 hours to get to victoria. As soon as we stepped out of the ferry we liked this cute city. There was so much greenery around the city.

We saw the hotel where the queen of england stayed when she went to victoria. (the photograph shared above is from that hotel). Then we went to underwater sea place...where the tunnel was going under water where this place was built. We saw some fish shows....saw aquariums and saw all sorts of scary varieties of fishes...that I never saw in life before. Later that day we went to an IMAX theatre which was featuring some dinosaur movie. That theatre was huge...and the sound effects and visual effects were the best I have seen in any theatre in Canada. I still remember the details of the leaves that were in the movie...and I remember that they mentioned that there are places in alberta where dinosaur bones have been found. We visited few other places and took the last ferry back to vancouver at 8:00pm. I still remember that it was dark at the deck and the moon looked so big and beautiful that night..It was a bit chilly though. Anyhow, we reached our hotel around 11:00pm that day.

It was a fun filled day...full of memories.

Posted by sameen 05:54 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Now In Vancouver

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We finally reached vancouver's hotel...don't remember how. The hotel's office was closed. So, we waited a while for it to open. I think we called them up. The surroundings had some people living on the streets. When we reached the room, we realized it didn't have any air-conditioning. The office mentioned that vancouver's climate is better than toronto so they don't need any air-conditioning in the rooms. There were times when the room got really hot so we opened up the fridge and used the freezer breeze as an air-conditioner/fan substitute. We opened up the windows also...but, it would get really noisy at night with drunk folks walking around and breaking of alcohol bottles and police car sirens. When you are a new traveller who doesn't know the surroundings...some times you end up booking some interesting places from the internet...haha!

As far as I can remember we saw the cuckoo clock in vancouver (steam clock that's more than 100 years old I believe), saw the downtown, visited the cruise harbour, visited suspension bridge and stanley park.

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Out of all the days I stayed there...I remember eating greek fish with salad and rice combo..that was fantastic. Another thing, which I'll never forget is the amount of money we spent on buying water bottles. At times we paid $3-$5 for 500 ml bottle of water as the hotel we were living in wasn't close to any grocery store...so, most of the water was purchased from food places/restaurants.

Posted by sameen 05:56 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Shall we

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I have travelled as a child in between mine and my mum's back home but let's start this journey from Canada. The first trip I'll write about is when me and my husband travelled from toronto to vancouver and back in 2003 summers. My memory isn't great to begin with, so, I might not remember that many details.

But if I don't start writing this now...with passage...the memories will fade away anyways.

Previously, I wrote some stuff but never went ahead with the plans...hence, I am restarting with a fresher perspective.

So, the story goes like this....I was a student who worked part-time and my husband was new to the country...and I never planned any major trips before.

Trains and airplanes were expensive mode of transportation to begin with....so, I thought to get the greyhound bus 14 day advance purchase tickets from toronto-vancouver and back for $400 for two adults. So, that part was out of the list.

Now, I had to book the hotel in vancouver...so, I searched the internet...contacted few places via email and booked the cheapest hotel for $45 per day. Next, I looked up some tour companies that would take us around Alberta and BC (British Columbia)...the package that we picked was $349 for one person and while we were on the tour we had to pay for food and accommodation extra. We were all set to go...and were kind of excited.

We boarded a greyhound bus from toronto and started looking at the beautiful scenery. At times, the air-conditioning of the buses failed...at times, our luggage got transferred to another bus to the same destination when we changed buses...and at times we rushed to the nearest tim hortons for food...It was a memorable journey for me as it lasted for 3 days one way...where we crossed beautiful lakes...flat lands of manitoba and saw rocky mountains in Alberta and fields of sunflowers as well. But unfortunately my husband didn't share the same experience as me because he was tall and was confined to small leg spaces.

Posted by sameen 12:17 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

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