After almost three weeks in Canada, we entered the US today in/near Sault Saint Marie. Time for a review, I guess.
We arrived in Canada by plane in Toronto and then continued by plane to Halifax (the same day). Our car was shipped to Halifax and we had to stay in a hostel for three days until we got the paperwork from the shipping company and the car from the harbour.
Our stay at the “Inn” (we don't have such things in Europe, we would say “Hostel” or “Herberge” – in germany – for it), was really pleasent. We were surprised by the soft bed. The breakfast, which came with the room, was good (more on that in “The 'problems'”, though. Stella and Wanda, the ladies from the Inn, helped us a lot with getting ourselves organized and Stella even called the shipping company for us when we needed to get some information from them.
Halifax itself is a really nice city. Everything is so peaceful and quiet around there. For a 400.000-people city, it is so quiet there, actually. Compare that to Stuttgart (~600.000) or Frankfurt – so much people on way less space! Always noisy, always stressy! Halifax was awesome compared to that! We saw the harbour area, the park and – of course – the Citadell, which was a nice trip into history of the area!
We also had our first Walmart-experience in Halifax. Damn! That's a huge shopping place! And prices are about the same as in Germany, to be honest. Some things are more expensive, but prices are still comparable, nothing over the head (and we even found some real german bread – “Pumpernickel”)!
During our stay in Halifax, we used our rental car (which we had for the first few days) to do a “short” trip down south, to Lunenburg and to the Lighthouse route. It is really nice there, too!
After Halifax, we hit the road. We drove up north to New Glasgow and then east, to visit the Cabot Trail and the area there – awesome places, really! And oh my gosh – the Highways! They are so big! And nobody is speeding! That's rediculous for us! In germany, everyone would drive 200km/h and more! But not here – most of the time it's 110km/h maximum and people obey that! How cool is that? And because the big trucks (how big they are!) are allowed to go full speed as well (in germany they are only allowed 80km/h), it is a really pleasant experience, because it does not put any pressure on anyone.
After visiting the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton, we started to drive west. New Glasgow, Moncton, Fredricton – then North to Rimouski and we visited Quebec. Quebec is a really nice City! We had a nice day in the City! We then drove further west, to the National Park de la Mauricie, where we stayed for two days and did a bit of hiking.
We passed Montreal without visiting the City, as we had Ottawa on our route as well and we don't like to visit that much big cities. In Ottawa, we visited the National Museum, which was a really nice experience for us as well, albeit a bit overwhelming (reading that much content after days – almost weeks – of forest and “lonelyness” was simply a bit too much).
From Ottawa we drove to Peterborough and then to “Ste-Marie among the Hurons”, which was really nice. We loved the trip through history and the little town they put together there, with all the supernumeraries was really worth the stay! Even the school classes which wandered around didn't lower our mood. Actually, it was quiet nice with the kids around as some of them responded very clever to the questions the guides asked them!
Wasaga Beach, though, was a bummer. Tourist-Beach would be a way more appropriate name. We left instantly – into the direction of Owen Sound and then north. We had some nice days in Bruce Peninsula NP and then took the Ferry from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island, which we passed rather quickly.
This was yesterday. Today, we crossed the border at Sault Ste. Marie.
The Canadians are really nice people. One thing we noticed, though, is that the people in the very east (Nova Scotia, Quebec and very east of Ontario) are really hearty people. We got thumbs-up, waves and questions about our car and where we're from and so on all over the place. In the west of Ontatio – not so much! But they were still friendly and helped us a lot when we had questions where to stay or where to go.
“Problems” in the title is in quotes, because these are not real problems... they are, if you're especially picky, just inconveniences for us as germans.
First – the bread (my dad keeps complaining about the bread). They do not have proper bread here. They have something we germans would call “Toast”. But they have no proper dark bread (the “Pumpernickel” we got in Halifax was in the “specials” section of the market, and most stores we've been to don't have Pumpernickel).
Next: Beer. Germans love beer, and actully they got some really nice beer here. But first of all it is so expensive. We paid 4 Dollars for one (710ml) can. In Germany that would be not even 1 Euro (1.50 CAD). Maybe not the best beer then, but still okayish. To be fair, the beer was rather good (we expected lower quality, TBH). Secondly, at least in Ontario, we had to wrap it into paper. We, as Europeans, consider that funny. In Germany (and all over Europe) you can get boozed everywhere you like. Except official buildings from the state, I suppose – but in Parks, parking lots, near schools (even in schools if its the right time of the year ;–)) and so on – no problem! Even inside cars, if you don't (plan to) operate them.
The awesome things
Most of the awesome things are described above (in “Canada”), but lets wrap it up once more:
The national parks are awesome, of course. The highways, the awesomely friendly people, everything is so calm and relaxed Quebec had awesome stores. Buying alcohol inside the same store as buying bread (or bread-equivalent) is nice. And they had a fine selection of cheese there as well, which we considered really a thing.
Thank you Canada, we'll be back!
Overall, our first three weeks in Canada were awesome. We really loved it. Now we're in the States and heading for Badlands NP and Yellowstone NP. In a few weeks, we'll be back in Canada for heading north, towards Banff, Jasper then fruther to Whitehorse, Whatson Lake and ... possibly... Alaska!