Planning a 2 week 'taste' of Canada

Old Oct 27th, 2016, 03:52 AM
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Planning a 2 week 'taste' of Canada

We (myself, husband and 13 yr old son) are traveling to Quebec next July to catch up with an ex exchange student. We're from Australia but will fly into Montreal from London where we will stop first to visit our daughter.
We have no plans at all in Quebec except to catch up with our friend for 4 days. She is at university in Sherbrooke and we will pick her up there and travel to Chicoutimi and back for a few days to meet her parents.
Its a long way to go for 4 days so we're trying to plan a 2 week itinerary around this visit, flying back to London on the 21st July.
We have no particular interests- we just like exploring new places, especially ones that are different to home. Any ideas for a planning starting point would be welcome.
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Old Oct 27th, 2016, 07:20 AM
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Quebec City itself is well worth several days. It is an unusual Europe-in-North-America city, and the national capital of Quebec. I use "national" to prompt you to explore the dual Quebec-Canada situation. It is a walled city atop bluffs staring across the mighty St.Lawrence River. According to some historians, the English seaborne victory over the French on the Plains of Abraham outside the walls not only shaped Canada's future but was a model for the British Navy's expansion of the empire (which includes you.)The Citadel fortress, still a commissioned army post, should be fun for a 13-year-old. Quebec City is a great place for progressive restaurants where young chefs engage the heritage of the cuisine (and I don't mean just poutine.) A few hours to the west will bring you to the cosmopolitan city of Montreal, booming with outdoor festivals at the height of summer. That would make a comfortable two-week circuit. You could go on to the exciting city of Toronto, and fly home from there since it has the country's biggest international airport. Flying west, rather than back to the UK, will almost certainly be substantially cheaper, whether out of Montreal or Toronto. Good luck; this is a very ambitious project and at the height of the Northern summer (and summer prices.)
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Old Oct 30th, 2016, 11:09 AM
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Chicoutimi is a beautiful area. On the way back, you can spend an afternoon in Baie Saint Paul, an artsy little resort town. You might even want to take the ferry over to Ile Aux Caudres. If you enjoy bicycling, there is a nice loop around the island. As the above post mentioned, don't miss Quebec City and the nearby Ile D'Orleans. The drive from QC here to Montreal is an easy three hours. Definitely spend at least a few nights in Montreal. You could then drive to Ottawa, a very picturesque city rich in Museums. Since you are picking up your daughter in Sherbrooke, you might also want to explore the Eastern Townships between Sherbrooke and Montreal which are sprinkled with wineries, apple orchards and great road bicycling trails.
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Old Oct 31st, 2016, 02:22 AM
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Thanks for the replies.
It sounds like there will be lots for us to see, even though we're limited to a reasonably small area by our timeline.
I know its ambitious Southam but that's what you get when you have to tie in with school holidays (we are teachers and so is the daughter we are visiting in London). I've tried to find and 'in and out 'airfare so we don't have to go backtrack. Ideally we'd fly into Montreal and out of London (our times are set in London around our daughter's work)but the round trip + round trip to Montreal is still cheaper than an open jaw option. Our previous trips to the Northern Hemisphere have been in the cooler months so I'm looking forward to seeing it in sunshine.

Quebec City sounds very cool and its proximity to Sherbrooke is helpful. We love cycling so that will definitely be on the agenda.

It has been suggested to me that we'd be better taking a train from Montreal to QC or Sherbrooke and then hiring a car. We've driven in Los Angeles and other US cities - does that mean we'll likely manage the traffic in Montreal?
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Old Mar 6th, 2017, 01:27 AM
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Just resurrecting this post now that I have firmer travel plans.
We have decided to fly into Toronto (July 2nd) and visit Niagara as our first stop. From there we will take a train to Montreal, pick up a car, drive to Sherbrooke, then to Chicoutimi and back to Sherbrooke via Baie Saint Paul and Quebec City, then to Montreal for a day or so before we fly to Dublin (July 18th).
So, new questions
Should we hire a car and drive to Niagara or take a day tour? Pros and Cons?
Is the train a good option between Toronto and Montreal?
And from my previous post- will we find the Montreal traffic manageable?
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Old Mar 6th, 2017, 06:26 AM
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The train is a great option between Toronto and Montreal. Book ahead to get the ‘super saver’ fare. Business class is great but economy is quite acceptable.

You are arriving in Toronto in the middle of a long weekend--July 1st is our 150th anniversary as a nation. Traffic can be heavy on the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way) between Toronto and Niagara at the best of times, and this weekend will likely see hordes of tourists travelling in both directions. Add in jet lag and adjusting to the ‘wrong’ side of the road and I would recommend taking a tour. If you can find one that includes Niagara-onthe-lake that would be worth doing.

The metro in Montreal is a very good way to get around. Parking can be difficult, and keep in mind that street and parking signs will be in French, adding an element of confusion when you have to make quick decisions. Admittedly I’m biased as I’ve had both an accident and a hefty parking ticket when visiting Montreal, but public transit while in the city is my recommendation here as well.

Sounds like great trip, making the most your limited time, and probably ensuring you will be planning your next trip here before you’ve even finished your first one.
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Old Mar 6th, 2017, 06:27 AM
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Renting a car for Niagara is your best bet because the area extends from the Falls along a twenty mile stretch to Niagara on the Lake... the route runs along the Niagara Gorge and includes a don't miss attraction, Whirlpool Jetboats, as well as Hornblower boat, scenic overlooks, historic sites, and a world famous wine region... Day tours are limited to simple Vistas of the Falls, and don't include the Jetboats...

The train is a great choice from Toronto to Montreal... you can even overnight on the train with sleeper car options to save a day of boring day ride and a hotel night...

Montreal driving is manageable as most of the business activity is separate from the Old Montreal tourist area... expect typical big city rush traffic...

Have fun...
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