Toronto and Montreal

I spent the entire day Saturday with a friend from Australia who also lives in Toronto (one of the three that I met in Cairns who's from there). She was gracious enough to spend her entire Saturday showing me around a few parts of Toronto that are popular, which was really great because I likely wouldn't have found them otherwise.

We spent our day touring through a very large market with fresh fish, meats, produce, and every other farmers market items you can think of. 

Toronto skyline from the island just south of the city.

Afterward, we decided to rent some bikes and take the ferry over to the island just south of the city out into Lake Ontario. Again, Lake Ontario is one of the Great Lakes I haven't spent much time around, so I was excited to get a chance to see it a little more. I'll be honest, though, in saying the this, so far, is probably my least favorite of the Great Lakes. The water is so contaminated this far down the chain that people who live in Toronto won't even swim in it for sanitary reasons...

Tangent: I really hate this and it's so shitty that we've gotten so many of our lakes and other natural beauties to this point of pollution. I hope that at some point everybody will finally start to realize that human civilization is killing the planet, and not as slowly as is often said. It's happening right now, and once it's gone, we're not getting it back. Sorry for the rant, but it had to be said. 

The island to Toronto is like Central Park to NYC, in that it provides a nice haven away from the urban setting of the city. I was unaware that Toronto is the 4th most populated city in North America until this trip, so getting outside of the city to the island was definitely a great addition to the day. 

My final day in Toronto was spent at the Toronto Blue Jays baseball game where they played, and lost, to the Boston Red Sox. It was a neat experience to see yet another MLB park, as this now marks the 5th stadium I've been to. 

I left early Monday morning for Montreal and made it there in a pretty reasonable amount of time. In Montreal I'd be using for the first time ever, so I was a little nervous about that upon arrival. Though there were certainly some inconveniences in the whole process, all-in-all my first couch surfing experience was great. The guy who hosted was very gracious and accommodating to me, and it made my stay in Montreal more comfortable than a hostel may have been. 

Selfie in front of the Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal

During my quick day-and-a-half stay in Montreal, I essentially walked the entire city (or at least it seemed that way). Montreal is located in French Canada, and they are VERY strict and proud about this up there. The entire time I was in Montreal I continually felt as though I was in France not just due to the language difference, but also all of the buildings and architecture are very European in appearance. I guarantee that this is done intentionally in order to preserve the French heritage, but it was all just a bit surprising to see it in person while being in Canada. 

Inside the Basilica in Montreal

Montreal, over all, is a pretty neat city though. It's situated on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, and was one of the first cities discovered along the river in North America. Situated at the base of Mt. Royal (hence Mont-real as the name), there are numerous picturesque views of the city to be seen, both from the water and from land.

I hiked up Mt. Royal early in the morning of my one and only full day in the city, and then spent the remainder of the time on foot walking the entire city to try and see if all in one day. I think I pretty much succeeded in that endeavor as by the end of the day I was quite exhausted. 

After a few drinks out in Montreal to watch the Canadiens (Montreal's NHL team) lose to the Tampa Bay Lighting (similar to my Detroit Red Wings), I met up with my couch surfing host and some of his friends for a house party nearby. We called it an early night though as I needed to get to bed in order to make the drive back south into the States in the morning. 

Coming up for me are a couple of nights camping in Vermont followed by a few days in Boston with a great friend from back in Madison, WI who's now living there. Looking forward to being back down in the U.S. and making my way south toward Florida over the coming couple of weeks.