I recently went to Canada for the very first time, and I already want to go back.
Over seven days, I traveled to Niagara Falls, Toronto, Montreal, and Québec City, mostly by train.
I want to return to Québec and Niagara Falls, and take more Canadian trains to other provinces.
I recently left my home in New York City to spend a week in Canada for the very first time.
Last week, I went to Ontario and Québec — two eastern provinces of Canada. It was my first time in the country, and it definitely won't be my last.
I traveled to Ontario and Québec by bus, train, and plane, hitting cities and attractions from Niagara Falls to Montreal.
I traveled by train from NYC to Niagara Falls, New York, and walked into Niagara Falls, Canada, on foot.
After three days in the Niagara Falls area, I took a bus up to Toronto for a night. From there, I traveled to Montreal and Québec City by train and spent one night in each city before flying home to New York.
As a seasoned Amtrak rider, I found Canada's train system, Via Rail, to be so impressive that I want to come back to try out more classes and routes.
So when I traveled to Canada, I was excited to try out Via Rail, which is Canada's train line that is similar to Amtrak in that it's one of the most accessible and popular ways to travel through the country. Via Rail has economy seating as well as business class and sleeper accommodations, just like Amtrak.
Even after only two rides, I thought my first experiences on Canada's Via Rail system were more comfortable than Amtrak equivalents I've experienced, thanks to seats I found to be more comfortable, and top-notch service and amenities.
I booked a business class ticket from Toronto to Montreal for about $200 and found that it came with perks that Amtrak only offers to first-class passengers, such as meal service and access to lounges at select stations, including Toronto.
I also booked an economy ticket on Via Rail from Montreal to Québec City for about $150, and thought it felt more spacious and than an Amtrak seat.
Overall, I found train travel to be more comfortable and pleasant in Canada than I typically do in the US. This makes me want to explore more of Canada by train and perhaps try more classes, like the sleeper cars and prestige accommodations.
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After trying poutine, a dish that's popular in Canada, for the first time, I have to go back for some different renditions.
Poutine is a Canadian comfort food. Originating in Québec, it's a pile of fries topped with cheese curds and smothered in gravy, according to the Food Network.
Before visiting Canada, I had never tried poutine or even seen it on a menu. But that all changed in Montreal when I dined at La Banquise, a casual joint serving classic poutine, as described above, as well as more creative renditions loaded with meats, veggies, bacon, or more sauces like Caesar and chipotle.
I decided to go with the classic since it was my first time trying it. The fries were crispy and greasy — just like I like them. I thought the gravy was reminiscent of Thanksgiving dinner, and the curds added a unique texture without adding too much flavor. All together in one bite, I could see why this dish was so popular and comforting. I found it to be warm, filling, and nostalgic as it transported me back to the Thanksgiving dinner.
Next time I'm in Montreal, I'll go back to La Banquise to try some of the more loaded poutines on the menu.
I thought Niagara Falls was epic and beautiful. I'd love to go back during the off-season to see what it looks like when it's not as crowded with people.
Seeing Niagara Falls up close was an unexpected highlight of the trip. Since I've seen so many pictures, I wasn't expecting to be quite so entranced with the falls. But once I saw them for myself, I was able to realize how amazing they are.
I felt completely in awe of how massive, beautiful, and loud the falls were. To me, it was witnessing a powerful force of nature commanding people's attention. And it succeeded. The boardwalk lining the falls also reminded me of Times Square on New Year's Eve for the excitement it drew.
However, that also meant there were a lot of crowds. From the attractions surrounding it to the packed crosswalks around town, Niagara Falls was so full of people that I spent a lot of time waiting in lines and standing on my tippy toes to peer over peoples' heads. It would have been much more enjoyable without so many crowds.
I would love to go back to Niagara Falls when it's less crowded to enjoy a more peaceful moment to myself in front of the falls. According to The Points Guy, Niagara Falls tends to be less busy in early spring and late fall.
I got a break from the crowds when I stayed at this treehouse Airbnb outside of Niagara Falls. It was the most peaceful part of my trip.
On my trip, I wanted to mix time in big cities with the chance to get a feel for life in smaller towns and take a moment to relax.
While looking for the most unique Airbnbs in the areas I was traveling to, I found this treehouse on a property located between a vineyard and the woods.
I stayed for one night and found it to be so peaceful and relaxing. I loved feeling totally alone in this quiet, natural place equipped with all the comforting amenities of a home. I thought it was the perfect place to reflect on my travels thus far, jot down notes about my observations, and go through the thousands of photos I'd already taken. Sitting on the porch amid a forest of trees, I thought this treehouse was the best remote office I've had the pleasure of working in.
I'd love to go back for a few days to completely recharge. I didn't get a chance to cook a meal in the kitchen or spend a day just reading outside — something I used to do a lot as a kid. The next time I come to this treehouse, it'll be for a vacation.
I loved exploring Montreal on foot.
Montreal was one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen, thanks to the stunning and contrasting modern and historical architectural styles, from Art Deco to Gothic Revival, according to Culture Trip.
Walking up and down the hills of the city was tiring but rewarding as I enjoyed some impressive all-encompassing views that made me wish I had more time to explore.
Since I only had one night in the city, I got up around 6 a.m. and walked from my hotel downtown to Mount Royal, a small mountain in the middle of the city. It was a 30-minute uphill walk followed by another half hour of climbing stairs that traversed the mountain. It was tiring, but when I got to the top, it was totally worth it. I could see the whole city and I wished for more time to wander specific streets.
I also was able to walk around Old Montreal, a neighborhood reminiscent of Europe with cobblestone streets. While I took beautiful pictures, I didn't have time to go inside the many shops, museums, and restaurants along the way. Next time I'm in Montreal, I plan to find accommodations in Old Montreal so I can learn more about the city's history.
The neighborhood of Old Québec in Québec City made me feel like I was in Europe without the long-haul flight.
Québec City is a 400-year-old French-Canadian city that made me feel like I was in Europe with its cobblestone streets, old-world architecture, and French signs and storefronts.
I had roughly 24 hours in Québec City and spent all of it in Old Québec, a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the famed Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, a luxury hotel where I spent the night in a 180-square-foot room with a stunning view.
I thought it was the most beautiful hotel I'd ever stayed at, and located in the ideal spot for sightseeing in Old Québec.
Just outside of the hotel was Dufferin terrace, a boardwalk with restaurants and benches overlooking the St. Lawrence River, and 0n the other side of the hotel was lace d'Armes, a beautiful small park with a large fountain. I also spent time exploring and photographing the surrounding streets full of shops and restaurants but wished I had time to go into these places, like Quartier Petit-Champlain.
I left Québec City longing for more time to explore, shop, and dine.
Canada is so large that I left feeling like I had barely scratched the surface. There are so many more places to explore.
It's wild to think that my big first trip to Canada was just within a small fraction of the country. According to World Population Review, Canada is the second-biggest country in the world after Russia.
Now that I've been there, I have a longing to see more of it. Not only do I want to spend more time in the places I've visited already, but I also want to explore other provinces like British Columbia to see what life is like in Vancouver, a big city on Canada's west coast.
Overall, my trip to Canada was only a taste of what the country has to offer. I thought it was a rich bite that left me hungry for more.
On my flight home from Canada, I was exhausted and ready to be back in my own bed. But I knew from the moment I left that I would be back, and hopefully soon.
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