Exploring and Experiencing Ottawa - Montreal - Quebec

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bonjour!!!

It's been a while since I last blogged. So, I am back! Whew! :D

And to make up to y'all, I will share with you the wonderful trips I had to Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec. This route is my most visited one over the last 3 years. And I am just grateful to have witnessed the best of 4 seasons in the 4 trips I had. More importantly, I was with special people in each of these tours.

I must tell you, when you come visit Toronto, you cannot afford to miss exploring these nearby towns. It is my most recommended tour itinerary.

You can actually check a number of agencies when booking for this trip. From my experience, I booked 3 of my travels with Taipan Tours and the recent one was with Tours4Fun. 

It is easier to book with Tours4Fun because you can just go online. They offer better hotel accommodations. The hotels are surely 4 star in terms of facilities. I like our hotel in Old Quebec because it is situated right at the heart of the city. And if you are with a child, Tours4Fun would be a better option. Also, the bus has outlets for recharging your batteries. However, you would not have a choice but to go with the group for lunch and dinner because their usual stopover places do not have nearby restaurants where you can dine in alternatively. In fact, I was a bit disappointed on their choices of restaurants. I only liked the last one we went to during our last day on the way to Thousand Islands. By the way, I recommend that you opt out for dinner when in Quebec. There are a number of places you can choose from when you get there. 

Visit their website at Tours4Fun.com





If you want to have value for your money, I'd say Taipan Tours would be the better choice. The hotels are average but they are good enough for me. For most part of the trip you'd get to stay in your hotel room from 8 pm to 6 am the following day only. All you need is just a decent place to sleep over for the night. Take note that their hotels though, especially for the standard package are far from the city center. 

On the other hand, I appreciate that Taipan tours gives you the option to not join the group during lunch or dinner if you want to save money, somehow. They'd usually stopover somewhere you can find fast-food diners nearby. And what I liked best about Taipan tours is the free wifi access! Cool, right? However, booking a tour with them is not as convenient as with Tours4Fun. You have to book in person and pay in Cash or Debit only. Also, if you're traveling with a child 2 years old or below, you may need to pay about 80 CAD unless you book ahead so you can secure the free slot for the child.  





Visit their website at Taipantours.com


Both Tours4Fun and Taipan tours will take you to almost the same attractions. And you can actually choose which one to go for because the tour packages usually do not include admission to these sights and you will need to pay separately for each of them plus the 9 CAD per day tip. In total, you may spend another 100 - 150 CAD including entrance and meals for the 3 days. 

Common Attractions:

Ottawa

Canadian Museum of Civilization - If you are the type who is keen to know about history, then this is a good place for you. But for me, I would love to stay outside the museum and enjoy the scenery of the river while sitting on a bench with my Beaver Tail's dough pastry and a cup of hot chocolate on Spring or Summer time.

Parliament Hill - old government buildings which are good for picture taking. Funny but my photos looked like I was in London with the parliament building at the background.

Montreal

St. Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal - the biggest church I have ever been to which can host up to 3,000 people. Make sure to go to the front of the church where you can have an overlooking view of the city. 

Notre Dame Basilica 

Olympic Park and Montreal Observatory Tower- Guinness Book record holder for being the tallest man-made leaning tower in the world.

Biodome - good for the kids to enjoy as there are a number of animals you can see inside. I personally did not appreciate it though. And the admission is around 18 CAD!

Quebec City 

The city is a beauty to behold. You will only get to walk around and explore for 3 - 4 hours so be sure to do a little research before getting there. I'd recommend that you visit the Chateau Frontenac, the Christmas Village, Notre Dame Basilica and the Parliament of Quebec.  Enjoy the walk through the small alleys for some window shopping during summer or spring time. You will definitely love their authentic French cuisines. ALSO, do not forget to try their Maple Gelato!!!


Thousand Islands

This tour is only available during summer and spring time from May to September. You will get to visit a part of the US and see the shortest international bridge in the world that connects Canada to US. Remember to put your phone to flight mode during the cruise or you will get roaming charges. 



Here are the itinerary and snippets of my trips:


Autumn


The first trip I had was back in early November of 2012 with my sister and my nieces. It was a Lovely Autumn then. Of all the cities included in the itinerary my personal favorite is the charming city of Old Quebec. I fell in love with the city in 4 different seasons! Old Quebec city is love. It is indeed the little France in Canada. People there speak French predominantly and only understand a little of English. You can find authentic French restaurants all over the place. What I loved about visiting Quebec during Autumn and Winter is getting to have the surreal feel of Christmas atmosphere. I so love the stores filled with Christmas decors and lights. This place is definitely a must-see!



Outside the Civilization Museum in Ottawa


Outside the Parliament Hill in Ottawa
That's the St. Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal on my background



I love this alley decorated with little and giant Christmas trees

There are restaurants all over the place


St. Lawrence river view from the Chateau Frontenac 


Winter

I went there with my mom and my close friend, Jhazy last year about the same time as in 2012. However, the weather was more like winter already. It was cold and snowy, especially when we arrived in Quebec. And because of this, there is little that you can do really during this season. I was just so thankful that Jhazy and I were able to experience going through the Holy Doors in Basilica of Notre Dame de Quebec which only opens every 40 years. The trip was indeed one of my cherished memories!


at the Parliament Hill, Ottawa



In Montreal



Outside Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal


With my Mama in Old Quebec

Mama and Jhazy






Summer

I personally believe that this would be the best time to go if you wish to enjoy doing and seeing many things. This time, my travel buddy was a really dear friend of mine, who's almost like a sister to me, Carrie. We enjoyed the weather, sights-seeing and food tripping. Not to forget the endless chats! Haha. Plus, on the way back to Toronto, we had a bonus from the Taipan tours guide, he brought us to the Apple Pie factory! And we feasted on delish desserts. Yummy!






at the Kingston stopover

This photo was taken in front of the St. Joseph's Oratory of Montreal



Inside the Basilica of Notre Dame de Quebec

Enjoying our dinner at the Bello Ristorante - I loved their Pizza and Pasta!

Uhm.. sorry I needed to take a photo of this romantic moment. :)



Old Quebec


Old Quebec going to Parliament Hill


Spring


As it is spring, you can expect rain showers in between the stops. But it was still O.K. And here's the best part during Spring, you can see the gorgeous Tulips and the lovely Cherry Blossoms! 

I was really ecstatic to travel with 2 of my most favorite people in the world - the royal family - Monet and Rodel plus Kean! Just a background, we call ourselves the royal family because Rodel's pet name growing up is King so since Monet is his wife she is rightfully the Queen and I am the Princess, being always the third wheel in this relationship. Haha! Now we got the little prince to add to our royal circle. We had the best decision of booking with Tours4Fun this time because they had the child as free of charge. Of course, we missed Chu, the one who initiated to have this trip in the first place! 


The Royal entourage. Haha!


Parliament Hill, Ottawa

One of the most recommended restos in Quebec. A bit pricey though but worth-it!


In one of the streets in Old Quebec

Old Quebec

Old Quebec

The beautiful cherry blossom and the grand Chateau Frontenac

Parliament of Quebec



Each season and trip is worth cherishing for me. I always get to experience something new every time. 

Overall, I must say it again, go and experience it for yourself! 

For now, Au Revoir! :D



Grace and Gratitude

Friday, May 22, 2015

Lately, I have been a bit overwhelmed by a few things that I worry about. Then tonight I had a call from a very close friend. It's amazing how God sends  His reminders across. Just because He knows me so well so He sent me an angel to calm my heart down through His words of affirmation.  

The 2 things that got highlighted to me were God's Abounding Providence and Gratitude. Indeed, I can never recall a time when He has led me to a place or situation where His Grace did not cover for all my needs. It's always been sufficient for me. ("My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:0)

I can still remember that night before I left for Manila to meet an interviewer for a potential job in Afghanistan. That's what I was told. I turned to my mom with teary eyes, "I will get us out of this predicament, Ma. This will come to pass." After spending what little I got from my meager salary to buy the plane ticket, all my efforts just went to nothing. It turned out that the whole "job offer" pitch was a sham. It broke my heart. I felt like my dreams got shattered. A few months later, I got the real job offer in Singapore. And now on my 7th year in the same company, I am grateful for what I thought was a rejection then. Unbeknown to me then, God had a grander plan for me. He led to a more beautiful and promising job.

Whenever I recall those times when I only used to fervently pray for the things that I now enjoy, I cannot help but be filled with so much gratitude. I say this because I too had my share of hardships in life. And I still face difficulties every now and then. They're still of the same weight. Maybe they just don't feel that heavy to me anymore. And maybe because through the years, I have come to witness how God worked through every trial and turned each one of them into wonderful blessings. I then developed a habit of Gratitude. 


A chaplain once shared with us his 2 Important Secrets to unlocking Gratitude: 

The easiest way to become miserable in life is to COMPARE YOURSELF WITH OTHERS.

Sometimes we tend to get envious with people who may have what we do not have. That's because we can only see one side of the story. We do not grasp the whole picture at once. Not yet. And it is so easy to drown oneself in jealousy or misery. So as for me, I tried to shift my disposition, that is, to remind myself that there could be a lot of people out there who may be in a much worse situation that I am. Then I would realize how insignificant my problems are compared to the issues confronting the world today. (So for the singles out there, we DO NOT have the right to complain about waiting! Think about a couple who just got married and had to be separated by distance for an indefinite time or those families who are painfully waiting each time for their loved ones to return from war.)

and

The best way to pursue a life of Happiness is to COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS.


Whenever things get me down, I get myself back up by counting each and every little blessing that comes my way. This then fills my heart with Gratitude. And Gratitude generates Happiness. It may be easier said than done and may entail some conscious efforts to get oneself into this habit. Everything begins with the acknowledgment of one's need for God's Grace. Then as you embrace everything as tied to Grace, Gratitude opens your heart to start to recognize every small blessing as something to be THANKFUL and HAPPY about. 

And tonight, I would like to thank You Lord for EVERYTHING that You have done for me and my loved ones and for ALL the Amazing things that You have yet to do in my life!

Friends, I shall leave you with my favorite bible verse again:


For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11


Now, tell me what are you most grateful for?


5 Simple Ways to know a Guy's Personality

Monday, May 18, 2015

I always find men with a swag in fashion interesting. But I also appreciate someone who is simple AND confident about himself.

To me, Confidence is Attractive. Not to overdo it as to look cocky, but just being able to use the right amount of suave in the way he carries himself. How a man presents himself is really important. Different people have different personalities and these can be manifested in the way they dress, the scent they wear or the little stuff they bring with them every time. For example, I find that a man's sense of fashion says a lot about himself. 

So here are some of my observations:

  • A guy who constantly wears plain tee could likely shout "Hey! There's more to me than just my Looks!". He could be someone who wants to take things simple and neat. He is one of those who believe that Simplicity is Beauty. He is uncomplicated, conservative or humble. Not wanting to draw attention to himself, this guy may be said to be selfless, which is a significant quality, at least for me. A guy who does not put so much effort on his physical appearance could suggest that he is confident enough as to put forward his other inward qualities more than those that meet the eyes. 

So NEVER underestimate these guys!

  • Men who love Slim Fit Pants, Pointed Shoes, Sleek Coats, Stylish Blazers and High Fashion brands could be perceived as Metrosexual. By wikipedia's definition, a metrosexual is someone "who is especially meticulous about his grooming and appearance, typically spending a significant amount of time and money on shopping as part of this". As per  observation, men who are metrosexual mostly have good social status, financial stability and fine fashion sense. They can talk you through the latest Men's Prada, Vuitton  or Hermes collections.  You'd be surprised, he could be the first to tell you that you're out of the fashion trend. Also, I gather that some of them, though not all, either have high standards when it comes to the qualities they look for in a partner or are just extremely career-oriented, which explains why a good number of them are still single or the last ones to get hitched. At least, I could say this for the guy friends I know. 

David Beckham is one of the world's most popular Metrosexuals. Credits to the owner of this collage.

  • Guys who always go shirtless or topless may lack or love attention. I think I have to make it straight here that I am no fan of shirtless guys on social media. There are only 5 instances wherein such over display of body, biceps, triceps or WHATEVER you want to show off is acceptable for me: 1. If you are a participant in a bodybuilding competition on the actual post date; 2. If you are on the beach or pool on the actual post date; 3. If you are a fitness instructor and the nature of your job warrants your showing off your body; 4. If you are an eligible model, in such case you do have bragging rights but please do not overdo it; and 4. If you are Chris Evans - Please, if you can do it everyday, would be much appreciated! Thanks! Haha! Kidding. Anyway, I am not discriminating here, O.K.? I would be hypocrite if I tell that I do not appreciate muscled or toned body (Well, I only squeal if it's Captain America though!). But I do not understand why those men who are fond of unnecessary flaunting their body do it so often. Are they seeking attention or are they just full of themselves? There is also a danger that you may be conceived to be suggesting either a narcissistic or lascivious behavior. So before you flaunt  yourself on the social media, think twice!

Credit to the owner of this Photo

  • Perfumes can reveal a man's masculinity or even his mood on a particular day.  I could say this because I am so into fragrances myself. And I had acquired this fondness from my dad who would bathe in his favorite Jovan Musk or Brut perfumes every time he goes out of the house. Based from experience, I have the impression that men who see fragrance as one of their daily essentials are extremely particular about how they present themselves to people. They command attention or cast attraction spells. Not everyone finds spraying perfume everyday as important as wearing his undergarments. Also, I could tell if they are the masculine or effeminate type by their preference in the scents. Or perhaps, depending on their mood on a particular day, they could be all perky if they are wearing a citrusy scent or yet for others who may want to project their machismo image will prefer a more masculine scent. Scent is one of the easiest ways to get a woman's attention. Either with your bad or good scent, it works both ways. 

Credits to netluxury.com for this photo

  • Those who bring Handkerchief with them everywhere are likely to be hygienic. Not every man sees the need to bring handkerchief with them. But I would not be surprised to know that for someone who actually has handkerchief in his pocket all the time is a neat-freak or highly hygienic. My mom even adds that you can almost expect this guy to have neatly cut nails, regular shaving routines, and other impressive grooming habits. And maybe, or most likely, his neatness extends to how he maintains his own place. 

Photo taken from Pinterest. Credits to the owner.


Of course, these indicators are not all conclusive. It could be otherwise. 

However, I still leave it to you Guys to confirm! You are still the best judge, of course. I could be wrong. :)

So, which point(s) in the list do you agree or disagree with? Haha!