Category Archives: Canada

A day in Montreal

Couple of weeks ago I was visiting Montreal, Canada. FINA World Masters Championships brought us there, but we still had some time to explore the city a bit when not sitting by the pool, cheering our friends to compete. For me, Montreal felt very European city – mostly because the main language is French, I guess, but also the architecture reminded me of some European cities. Even though it’s a city of around 1,6 million people, it didn’t feel too big and was quite easy to explore on foot as well.

Here’s my tips for spending one day in Montreal!

1. Morning hike to Mont-Royal

You could spend all day wandering around the famous mountain (or hill, more likely), but if you just want to get a good look over the city hike up to Chalet du Royal. You can take a bus number 11 from Mont-Royal metro station and Chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges to reach the summit, but we were brave enough to walk all the way from Mont-Royal station and hike up the hill, climb 300 meters of stairs to reach the amazing view. If you have time and are fit enough, I suggest that instead of taking the bus.

2. Quick lunch before experiencing some culture

After you get down from Mont-Royal and find you way back to the centre, take a metro to Place des Arts and find your way inside the Complexe Desjardins. You could walk there from Mont-Royal too, but it requires some time – and if you are not very used to walking a lot, I suggest the metro. From Complexe Desjardins you will find a big food court where you can grab some reasonable priced lunch – and cool down in the air-conditioned mall after a sweaty hike.

3. Rest your mind viewing some modern art

The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is located right next to Complexe Desjardins. Tickets are 14 Canadian dollars and 10 for students and there are plenty to see. At the time of my visit there was an exhibition about abstract art donated to the museum over the years, different video installations and this very interesting installation where “the heart rate of visitors, captured and transmitted by a computerized system, is turned into pulses of light in some 300 light bulbs suspended from the ceiling” (MACM, Pulse room 2014). I am not a big art person, but I felt that this museum and its exhibitions were rather easy to approach.

4. Vieux Montreal

The Old Town might seem a little boring for someone who comes from Europe, as there is an old town in pretty much every European city and once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. For others though this romantic, likable and very vibrant part of the city is not to miss. And I recommend it for Europeans too, as if you have travelled all the way to Montreal, there’s no point of skipping the old town. You’ll find plenty of restaurants, cafés and art galleries from there. It’s also quite photogenic. Don’t forget to try the famous poutine here – you will find Montreal Poutine, restaurant told to serve one of the best poutines in whole Montreal, from Rue St-Paul.

Remember to visit the Old Port, located next to Old Town, too. At the time of my visit, there was some kind of a gourmet food festival going on.

Walking around in the Old Town you will find your way to Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, where it’s easy to head down Côte de la Place d’Armes and to Rue Saint-Urbain where you will find Montreal’s Chinatown.

5. Dinner in China Town

I have to say that I ate some of the best chinese food I’ve ever had during my stay in Montreal. There are two restaurants I can recommend – Basilic offering dishes from Hong Kong and then restaurand called Noodle Factory. The latter seemed to be quite popular and get a little crowded during dinner time, but service was friendly and fast and the delicious food didn’t leave you hungry. One dish was well enough for two persons.

Montreal is a very diverse city, offering plenty of things to see and something for everyone. I enjoyed my stay there very much!

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Finland, USA & Canada – my next travel destinations

After the dark, cold and tiring winter it’s nice to put your thoughts on the summer that is just around the corner (only 2-3 months away here in Finland!). During the past year I’ve become very interested in Finland as a travel destination and this summer I really want to explore this mysterious land more. I’ve never really travelled much inside the borders of Finland before, so this summer will be very exciting for me.

I have decided that during the summer (and this year) I will visit all of the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are here in Finland. Nice plan for summer travels, right? So far I’ve visited only one: Fortress of Suomelinna, located in our capital city Helsinki. Suomenlinna is a very popular among locals and tourists, especially in summer.

Cruise ship passing by / Old cannon in Suomenlinna

Our other UNESCO World Heritage Sites are Old Rauma, Bronze age burial site of Sammallahdenmäki, Petäjävesi Old Church, Struve Geodetic Arc, Verla Groundwood and board mill and Kvarken Archipelago. There are some places on the tentative list, such as the rock paintings of Astuvansalmi in Ristiina – those I’ve visited many times, because they are located near our summer cottage! Sadly the rock paintings haven’t yet made it to the list, even they were submitted to the list over 20 years ago.

I’ve visited a lot of UNESCO heritage sites abroad but never really thought of the ones we have here in Finland until now. I also think that our UNESCO sites aren’t very well marketed to lovely tourists visiting Finland – and not even to us Finns! Most of my friends don’t even know that we have UNESCO heritage sites in Finland! Maybe we’ll need to try to change that.

But even though I am very willing to travel a lot in my home country this summer we do have travel plans abroad as well with Markus. Our original plan was to travel to Kazakhstan, but suddenly Kazakhstan changed to Canada and Canada changed to USA & Canada-trip so now we are heading to New York and Montreal in the end of July.

Photo: Derek Key

Photo: Luca Nebuloni

I’ve never visited USA or Canada, so needless to say, I am very excited!

The reason for conquering North America is FINA World Masters 2014 competition where Markus will be taking part. I’m not a much of a swimmer myself but I wouldn’t want to refuse on a trip to abroad. Some of our friends are going as well to participate, so meanwhile the guys are swimming I can explore Montreal! We had some problems finding decent priced flights to Montreal, so we decided to fly to New York instead and take a bus or a train to Montreal from there.

Visiting New York has been on my bucket list for a long time so I am more than happy that I’m finally able to travel there. It’s not the cheapest city, but I’m sure we’ll manage somehow. I was actually a little surprised about the price of accommodation there – maybe it’s time to get a couchsurfing host this time.

Anyway, it looks like this summer will be amazing!

Do you have any travel plans for summer? Also, if you have visited New York and/or Montreal, share your best tips!

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