A Road Trip to Gaspésie

A rejuvenation for the body and soul.

We decided on this one week road trip quite randomly. Dan said that he needed to disconnect hence a holiday far away from home is ideal. Our far away equates to more than three hours drive from Montreal. Since I have not visited the region of Gaspésie, Dan thought it would be a good place to visit because he enjoyed his previous trip there.  We decided to camp at the National Park of Gaspésie.

Our total drive time was approximately eight hours (one way). We broke down the travelling time into two days where we stayed over at a hostel in the city Rivière-du-Loup for a night. This is the longest road trip I have done thus far and I have learned certain important lessons during the journey.

Be mentally prepared – Anything can happen during a road trip, whether it is human created chaos or Mother Nature taking her course. We should definitely have an plan for our trip but we need to be mentally prepared for things to happen unexpectedly and adapt accordingly. In our case, we had a flat tire just after 45 minutes of car ride. Under the hot, sweltering summer sun, Dan had to change the tires and we had to send the car to the nearest mechanic right after. We got delayed up to four hours.

Give sufficient travelling time – Due to the flat tire, we reached the hostel at 8pm. Imagine if we were ambitious and tried to reach our destination in a day. We would have reached the park at midnight where we would be buried in darkness, feeling tired and frustrated.

With abundance of time on hand, we had the luxury to stop over at places of interest. We were drawn to fromageries (a place where they produce and sell cheese) and the one that blew us away was Fromagerie des Basques at Trios-Pistoles. They are known for selling a type of cheese which makes the sound ‘kwick kwick’ when you chew on it. I was definitely in cheese paradise.

Cheese from Fromagerie des Basques at Trios-Pistoles

Cheese from Fromagerie des Basques at Trios-Pistoles

Check the condition of your car – We forgot about this totally. Since we do not have our own car, we missed out the important routine of checking the condition of a car before heading out on a long drive.  Areas of inspection include the wipers, fluid levels, the car battery, the rubber of the tires and the car’s brake pads.

Dress comfortably – Whether you are the driver or the passenger, you are going to be in the car for a long time so put on clothes as comfortable as your pajamas!

Once we reached the park, we set up our tent and got ourselves installed. We were blessed with good weather as it was sunny until the day where we were supposed to depart. Situated near a lake, we took daily dips in the chilly water where freshwater leeches hid under rocks. We did not know about the leeches until one day, a family with two kids warned us of leech sighting in the water. I was afraid of going into the lake initially but when we caught a leech in a small scoop and the little girl fondled it curiously, I realized that they were not so dangerous after all.

Sunset by the lake

Wanting a challenge, we did a five hours hike up Le Pic du Brûlé. We were rewarded with a magnificent view of an array of mountains but at the same time, we were exhausted at the end of the day. I was reminded of my first and last half marathon where my knees and ankles throbbed with unpleasant sensations at the end of the race. We took three days to recover from the fatigue before doing our second hike which was only two hours. The view was no less satisfying. We also managed to catch sight of a female moose with her child.

Right on top

Overseeing the mountains

 

Le mont Ernest-Laforce

The moose on the trail

Last but not least, Gaspésie has fresh seafood everywhere! Back in Singapore, I did not really crave to go a restaurant just for fresh fish, prawns, crabs etc because you can always buy them at the market. However, in Montreal, it is almost impossible to find fresh seafood (or it is really pricey) since the cargos have to be shipped from other cities, provinces or countries. We feasted on various types of fishes, prawns, scallops and lobster. Enough cholesterol for the next few months!

Fresh scallops and prawns with garlic

Signing off with love,

Esther

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A Summer Outdoor Guide in Quebec

A Brief Summer Guide to Explore Quebec

What’s great about summer in Montreal? Almost everything! I have heard hearsay from so many locals about how great summer is but now, I am finally experiencing it for myself. Today was another of those Imagehot, sunny days. Since Daniel wanted to hit the gym, I decided to bike together with him as a form of workout for myself. His gym was near Atwater Market, a place which I have wanted to visit quite some time ago but the plan was never fulfilled until today.  The market mainly sold local products i.e. vegetables, fruits, meat and cheese produced by the farmers in Quebec. The prices may cost more than what you can find in a regular supermarket but the quality of the products is definitely higher too. Aside from consumables, my eyes were presented the beauty of the colourful flowers which were waiting to be taken home by their new owners.  It made me dream about having my own little garden, with my homegrown fruits, vegetables and flowers! I am not sure if I am blessed with green fingers. The only type of plant which I have grown is bean sprouts from green beans. It was a project which I had to do in Primary Three!

Two weeks ago, there was an Outdoor and Travel Festival (http://www.parcjeandrapeau.com/254-Outdoor_and_Travel_Festival-event.html) at Parc Jean Drapeau. There were many exhibitors sharing their love and passion with regards to outdoor trips and activities within and near Quebec. When I say Quebec is big, I think that is an understatement. Some of the places which I thought were interesting to visit were at least 8 to 10 hours drive away! My list of top summer activities includes water rafting, camping, kayaking and trekking. Since I have collected a number of brochures which would be forgotten soon, I decided to make a brief summary of what I have for my safekeeping and also for those who are planning their summer trip in Quebec.

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Quebec Province

Côte-Nord Duplessis (www.tourismeduplessis.com)

This region offers a change in scenery. With a shoreline which stretches out up to 1000km, this place offers an abundance of maritime heritage. The main excursions are guided through Sept-îles and Mingan archipelagos where are you able to see St Lawrence River becoming a gulf. Other activities include whale watching, horseback trail ride, trekking to the waterfalls and camping.

Essipit (http://www.essipit.com)

Another town near the coastline, Essipit is known for its aboriginal community, called the Innus. They have whale-watching cruises and camping too. However, what’s special about this place is that they have hunting grounds where you can actually hunt for bears and moose! Not a fan of animal hunting but this was probably the way of life in the past. 

Île Saint-Bernard (www.ilesaintbernard.com)

Île Saint-Bernard is located in Châteauguay, only 20 minutes drive from Montreal. Many activities have already been planned out from May to October this year. You can check on the website to see if any particular event or activity catches your eye. Environmentally protected, you can embark on hiking trails that are perfect for bird watching and photography. There are also educational activities created for children to learn about the surroundings around them.

Propulsion Rafting (http://propulsion.ca/)

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The Rouge river is located just one hour from Montreal. It claims to offer some of the best whitewater rafting experience in North America. They offer different kinds of rafting experience, depending on what kind of challenge you are up to. I highly suggest that you go with a group of friends because the fun factor will be doubled or even tripled!

United States:

Adirondack Coast Wine Trail (http://goadirondack.com/)

Adirondack Coast is not located within Quebec but it is part of Vermont, United States. Vermont lies to the south of Montreal and you will need about 2 hours drive to reach Adirondack Coast. If you are not a Canadian, do check that you have a valid visa to cross the borders. The land is filled with grapes, growing from the hybrids of European grapes and hardy American rootstock that can withstand the cold winter temperatures. Hit on the trail if you have a special love for wine!

Virginia Beach (http://www.virginiabeach.com/)

With all the on-going camping and trekking activities, now we have a beach which may prove to be the ideal location to chill and simply do nothing at all. Virginia Beach is located in the East Coast of United States, about 14 hours drive from Montreal. Unless you are up for a road trip, taking a plane may prove to be a much easier option. Some of their activities include nature and eco tours, fishing and boating, and surfing. They also have golf courses for those who might want to give a swing.

Whatever I have stated here is probably 1% of what is out there. This will give a brief idea of what can be expected this summer but if you have something particular in mind, for example, camping with kayaking experience, please do more research to ensure that you have the best pick possible. All the best and have a kick ass time!

Signing off with love,

Esther