February 12, 2018: Day 1 of a three-day tour across Ontario to Quebec! It started with an early meeting point at Pacific Mall at 7:30 a.m. (The tour bus also stopped in Mississauga and First Markham Place and downtown Toronto prior to this stop.)
Our tour guide for the Safeway Tours three-day trip was Daphne Wong who was very experienced and had led tours since she was a university student. I had been on this same tour many years ago with my parents when I was in elementary school. This time, we ventured on this tour again since my relatives from out-of-town were visiting and I wanted to re-visit this tour and travel with them.
It was a long road trip across the province and after about two hours of driving, we stopped at Odessa, one of the OnRoute rest stations for a restroom break/leg stretch/snack purchase. I had already spent the weekend travelling to Ottawa actually and was well familiar with the path there. 😀
At noon, we stopped for lunch in Nepean, Ontario. There was an option from Safeway Tours for a three-day meal package which included all three days of lunch buffet and one French dinner on the third night. This cost $90 per person. Our family decided not to opt into this meal option because we didn’t think it was the best value. From prior experience, we knew that the lunch buffets would only be an hour long and you would have to stuff your face with the food — and food that would be mediocre in taste too. Thus, while the other tourmates all ventered to YangMing Asian Buffet (1547 Merivale Rd #1, Nepean, ON) for their lunch buffet, we went to Wendy’s instead. (Immediately upon the bus letting us off, I scoured the area and spotted Wendy’s.)
It had been years since I last ate something from Wendy’s. Their chili was so warm and comforting on a cold day and their $3 Spicy Chicken burger was very good as well. :9
After our one-hour lunch break, we continued on the road and arrived in Ottawa! We stopped at Parliament Hill (Wellington St, Ottawa) where we were let off to take photos. It really has been more than ten years since I last saw Parliament Hill with my own eyes. It was just as nice as ever with the blue skies that day.
At 2 p.m., we arrived at the Canadian War Museum (1 Vimy Pl, Ottawa, ON) and were given about an hour to explore its exhibits and four main galleries. I was really impressed with the quality and collections that the Canadian War Museum contained!
Gallery 1 contained exhibits from “Early Wars in Canada”, Gallery 2 contained exhibits from “The South African and First World Wars”, Gallery 3 contained exhibits from “The Second World War”, and Gallery 4 contained exhibits “From the Cold War to the Present”.
Most notably, I couldn’t believe that they actually had the Benz parade car which Hitler paraded in in the exhibit as well! There were many actual tanks and military trucks included in the exhibits. There was also a piece of the Berlin Wall that was given to Canada. This museum definitely deserves a two to three hour visit in order to fully read and acknowledge every detail and piece of work that was put in there. Again, it was such a well done museum!
Since we only had an hour to explore everything, I briefly browsed through the galleries and took minimal photos. I highly recommend you go there for yourself to check it out with your own eyes!
Next up, we went to the Canadian Museum of History (100 Laurier St, Gatineau, QC) at around 3:30 p.m. Immediately upon walking into the main hall and seeing the totem poles, I recognized this building. I had been here before! I remember having such a fun time transversing through their exhibits which were hands-on and featured many First Nations exhibits as a child.
Daphne the tour guide gave us some information about the totem poles in the main hall and showed us a few more exhibits before leaving us to our own devices. We observed “The Spirit of Haida Gwaii” sculpture (visible on older versions of the $20 Canadian bill) and the Canadian History Hall (full of glass panes which featured different iconic Canadian buildings or activities).
We also walked outside to take a scenic photo with the Ottawa River and Alexandra Bridge and buildings in the background. The sun was starting to set so it was a bit harder to get a nice photo without shadows on our faces.
We then left Ottawa and were enroute to Montreal. Yay, Montreal, the city of smoked meat sandwiches! ^_^ We were dropped off at the hotel for the night, Le Centre Sheraton in Montreal near St. Catherine Street which was full of noteworthy restaurants. Daphne gave us a hand-drawn map showing us the nearby restaurants since dinner wasn’t included in the tour for the first night. Immediately upon looking at the map, I saw that Reuben’s Deli & Steakhouse (1116 Saint-Catherine St W, Montreal), a smoked meat restaurant I had heard about, was walking distance from our hotel!
As a foodie, it delighted me to no end when after we checked into the hotel and dropped off our luggage, my family agreed with my suggestion to go to Reuben’s Deli for dinner to try out the infamous smoked meat. Yay! The restaurant review for our dinner experience at Reuben’s Deli is blogged here.
After a delicious dinner, we surveyed the area in search of a supermarket. My relatives are big fans of searching out local supermarkets to purchase fruit or other items. Google Maps informed me of a Chinese grocery store that was about a 20 minutes’ walk from the restaurant. When we were in the area, we actually stumbled into a bigger western grocery store right across the street. We were able to purchase some apples here at Supermarché PA du Fort (1420 Fort St, Montreal, QC). 🙂
The Asian grocery store, 盛唐超市 Sheng Tang Supermarket (1425 Fort St, Montreal, QC), across the street was actually super small and outdated (they had some products that were expired sitting on the shelves), so I’m really glad that we found the bigger Western supermarket instead.
After this, we strolled back to the hotel by 10:30 p.m. and had a restful night. I really liked the stay at the Sheraton! (Hotel review of the Le Centre Sheraton blogged here.)