Alex and I did have a moment of worrying whether or not the Canadian border would be backed up with heavy traffic due to the US election result as the Canadian immigration website crashed on the night of the US election day. However, fortunately, the Canadian border crossing by road was smooth and quick. There was no traffic. Once we crossed the border, we immediately noticed changes in the landscape. Road signs were in metric system instead of English system. For example, in the US, we saw “60” as the speed limit on the highway we took to the border. Once in Canada, we saw “100” as the speed limit. All signs were also in French. It was an opportunity for us to test our French skills after not being in a French speaking country for a couple of weeks.
We arrived in Montreal late in the afternoon and spent our couple days in the city touring and eating traditional Quebecois food such as grilled cheese with duck confiture, poutine, and crepes. We strolled through the McGill University campus and Mont Royal park. Montreal is a cosmopolitan city that is rich in cultural experience opportunities. Our one and only full day in Montreal was unfortunately on a Monday and thus, almost all museums were closed this day. We were disappointed not to be able to take advantage of the cultural scene. On our last night in Montreal, we were treated to a lovely dinner at Restaurant Bonaparte with a cousin of my grandmother’s and her significant other who were coincidentally in Montreal at the same time. While we enjoyed scallops, gingerbread toast, grilled duck and lamp chops, we also enjoyed an enormous desert soufflé.
Because this trip to Montreal was my third visit and many people raved about Quebec City, saying that it’s a more exciting city, Alex and I decided to leave Montreal early in the morning after spending two nights in the city. I have never been to Quebec City and so, I wanted to have as much time as possible to see the enchanting city. While Montreal as have a feeling of being in Europe, I felt much more so in Quebec City, in particular in the Vieux-Quebec. It is a charming town with old architecture resembling northern France and cobblestones. For the two days we spent in Quebec City, Alex and I packed our days with many activities including visiting Citadel, Musée de la Civilization, and Musée des Beaux-Arts, having an afternoon tea at Chateau Frontenac, shopping and eating. We filled our tummies with wonderful local cuisine. We tasted old Canadian food at Aux Anciens Canadiens, new Canadian food at La Buche, and local Quebec food at a restaurant visited by Anthony Bourdain, L’Affair est Ketchup. At L’Affair est Ketchup, we enjoyed an unusual dish that was totally new to my palette, guinea fowl foie, and also a mozerella salad, both which were local to Quebec. We also spent sometime walking around the city at night enjoying the beautiful lights that were lit up everywhere.
After spending two nights in Quebec City, we took a long eight hour drive down to Toronto to visit my father’s family which includes my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Alex who has not traveled to Canada since he was four years old until this trip, got a taste of a Canadian life by stopping at Second Cup, Canadian’s version of Starkbucks, and Tim Hortons, Canadian’s version of Dunkin Donuts.
Alex and I spent our four days in Toronto with our family. It was our time to share stories with them about our time in Cameroon and answer questions they had about Cameroon. We were asked various interesting questions ranging from, “Did you wear uniforms like those in the military?” “Did you live near Boko Haram?” “How did you go to the bathroom and bath?” “How did you travel to see each other?” “What was healthcare like in Cameroon?” “What kind of arts and culture did Cameroon have?”
In spite of our busy schedule seeing many of my family and catching up with them, Alex and I managed to squeeze in a few touristy activities which included visiting the Royal Ontario Museum, Queens Street and CN Tower although we didn’t go to the top due to the cloudy weather. Toronto is a very large cosmopolitan city with many rich cultural activities and diverse cuisine. Alex and I enjoyed a taste of Greek food in Greek town and sushi pizza at one of many sushi restaurants.
Alex and I finished off our road trip by stopping at Niagara Falls for one night where we saw a beautiful sight of a rainbow over the falls and then in Lenox, a small traditional New England town in western Massachusetts. When arriving in Lenox, we were treated to a snow wonderland scene. The entire town was covered in snow and the scenery was charming as it could be. We wondered through the streets of the town, visiting shops and galleries. We stopped at a local cafe, Spoon, for a delicious lunch.
Alex woke up at 5:30 AM on our last morning of the road trip to view the beautiful sunrise at Olivia’s Peakview, a scenic spot in Lenox. After spending sometime in the cold outside, we ate a lovely homemade breakfast, which included carrot cake, spinach quiche, and almond flour pancakes at Brook Farm, where spent a night in Lenox. We left Lenox early in the afternoon and were fortunate not to hit any traffic on the day before Thanksgiving.
After returning to the US after a week in Canada, I still felt strongly to remain in the US and work with fellow Americans to fight to uphold our rights as human beings of differences. Even though I do have family in Canada and Canada is just as beautiful as the US, America is still my home. I recently completed two years of public service serving my country and it is my duty to continue to serve the country where I was born and raised to ensure that I see the world I wish to see.
Places to Eat in Montreal:
Restaurant Bonaparte || Located in Vieux-Montreal. Fabulous selection of traditional Quebecois food. Taste their desert soufflé.
Taverne Gaspar || Located in Vieux-Montreal. Delicious grilled cheese with duck confit.
Muru Crepes || Located by Vieux-Montreal. Great selection of crepes, a must-to-eat dish in Quebec.
Places to Eat in Quebec City:
Aux Anciens Canadiens || Located in Vieux-Quebec. Delicious traditional Canadian dishes. Taste their salmon in puff pastry shell and maple pie.
La Buche || Located in Vieux-Quebec. New Canadian dishes. Taste their salmon and maple whisky.
L’Affair est Ketchup || Anthony Bourdain visited the restaurant. A local and hole in the wall restaurant. Taste their mozzarella salad and guinea fowl foie.
Chateau Frontenac || Enjoy an afternoon tea with a bowl of poutine and hot chocolate.
Paillard || Taste their caramel spread on a brioche or croissant.
Places to Eat in Toronto:
Sushi Inn || Located in Yorkville. Taste their sushi pizza.
Pantheon || Located in Greek town. Delicious Greek food. Taste their hot combo which comes with spanakotiropita, grilled sausage, dolmoadakia, grilled calamari and grilled octopus.
Places to Eat in Lenox:
Spoon || Located in town center. Delicious brunch food. Taste their blueberry muffin and cheese BLT sandwich.
The Bookstore and Get Lit Wine Bar || Located in town center. A bookstore that serves wine.
Where to Stay:
Airbnb || Montreal || A very modern, simple and clean studio located near Vieux-Montreal.
Airbnb || Quebec City || A very cosy, modern and clean studio located near Vieux-Quebec.
Hampton Inn & Suites || Niagara Falls || A nice three-star hotel located on the US side of Niagara Falls.
Brook Farm || Lenox || A very cosy traditional New England inn located two minutes drive from the town center. Includes delicious homemade breakfast.