seat38a
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Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:27 pm

Over the years, I've had a hard time sorting pictures, writing trip reports and working at the same time after returning from a trip which has lead to incomplete trip reports. So this time, I decided to write one ONLY after I had all of the pictures and report sorted out. I took the old folks and myself on this trip in October, but it has taken me until two weeks ago to finish organizing everything in the few spare moments I have after work. I've broken my report into the sections listed below.

United Airlines UA 660 LAX-ORD First Class
United Airlines UA 476 ORD-YYZ First Class aka Business Class
UP Express From YYZ to Toronto Union Station
Things We Did In Toronto Day 1
Things We Did In Toronto Day 2
Dinner At CN Tower
Via Rail Business Class Toronto to Quebec City via Montreal Part 1
Via Rail Business Class Toronto to Quebec City via Montreal Part 2
Fairmont Chateau Frontenac
Things We Did In Quebec City Day 1
Things We Did In Quebec City Day 2
Things We Did In Montreal Day 1
Things We Did In Montreal Day 2
Single Night In Ottawa
Niagara Falls and Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa
United Express UA3400 YYZ-ORD First Class aka Business Class
United Airlines UA 592 ORD-LAX First Class

United Airlines UA 660 LAX-ORD First Class
Trip time again with the old folks to Eastern Canada for little over a week. After a full day of work for myself and my dad, we took the FlyAway bus to LAX. All seemed good with traffic until we hit the 10 freeway at which point we slowed down to a crawl. The FlyAway dropped us off right in front of the entrance to the new Premier Check-in area. Since our last visit through terminal 7, United has swapped the location of Premier Check-in with coach checkin area and in between them, opened up a new much bigger consolidate security area. Check-in went painlessly and I was advised that our flight was running late. I thanked the agent and headed directly to the PreCheck security lane which while only had few people ahead of us, those few people created a traffic jam due their ignorance on how TSAPre works. The one lady who was creating the majority of the problem was finally moved aside and a physical pat down was performed by a female TSA agent.

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After security, we headed directly to the new LAX United Club. This whole terminal was a mess during the construction of the now open Club so I really wanted to see what it looked like. Since we were flying international in premium cabin, the three of us were granted access after our boarding passes were scanned. The new club is bigger and brighter than the previous dump. The Club had the same fluorescent-ish lighting in the terminal inside the club. The food seems to have not changed at all even with the renovation. Same stuff as last year, just in a better location. My mom did make a comment that the two soups on offer tasted freshly made and out of a can. Staff seemed to be busy constantly refilling and clearing dirty dishes away.

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I headed out to the famous patio of the new club, which after taking one look, should be called infamous patio. With all of the hype about the patio from the CC bloggers when the club opened, I was expecting something that could be the envy of every AVGeek but in reality it was small with filthy windows. The only real view you have is of whatever is parked at 70a. I mean it was SMALL.

Our flight which was already running behind was showing on the app as running further behind schedule. Our connection to YYZ was getting close to undoable. I went up to one of the customer service agents to figure things out before the caca hit the fan. The agent advised me that she could reserve my parents and I on a connecting Air Canada flight which was leaving later in the morning. She advised me that our reservation was good for our original flight to YYZ and the new one if we missed the original flight to YYZ. All we had to do was see a customer service agent in Chicago for new boarding passes if a missed connection were to occur. I thanked the customer service agent and went back to the table where why parents were at.

While waiting for very late aircraft to arrive from Chicago, my parents dozed off in the United Club. I took the opportunity to go around the club while it was not busy, taking pictures. When our aircraft finally did arrive, I was notified via the United App and we headed down to the gate. During our wait in Group 1 boarding, the app updated our flights arrival time into ORD which now would arrive after our flight to YYZ is scheduled to depart. Didn't bother me since I had already figured all this out at the club. Other passengers were trying to figure out their connecting flight issues at the gate podium but the gate agents finally made an announcement that they needed to board the flight so for everyone who has connection questions to call the 800 number or wait until they get to Chicago. Its times like this that I'm glad I am a United Club member. I told my parents that we were taking Air Canada now and we will be having breakfast on the next leg instead of a lousy muffin which United serves in the morning in first class.

Boarding for only first class passengers was called after all the pre boards had boarded due to the need for aisle wheelchair in coach. Since our aircraft is a 757-300, first class passengers would not get in the way of anything going on in coach during boarding. Unfortunately, the wheelchair jam wasn't isolated to coach as the gate agent thought and the aircraft boarding door was blocked. We must have waited in the jet bridge for a good 10 minutes waiting for whatever was going on to clear. The first class passengers ahead of me were visibly annoyed being stuck in the jet bridge. The wheelchair jam finally cleared and we were able to board the aircraft and take our seats at row 1.

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Shortly after taking our seats, PDB were offered by the FA. I took a gin and tonic but my parents passed. My seat and the cabin really was showing its age and making lots of noises if one moved a bit. The bottom practically had no cushion. I'm not sure if this was by design or if it has been flattened and worn away over the years. After the usual pre departure stuff, we pushed back and after a short time taxing, we were rolling down the runway to ORD. Due to the lateness of our aircraft, two flights tow ORD were departing simultaneously tonight. As soon as the FA's were released from the seats, they made their usual announcements regarding the inflight service on the flight. Without fail, the pilots kept the seat belt sign on until we reached cruising level forcing passengers to get up and go to the lav anyways.

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When the FA for first class came through the cabin taking drink orders, I ordered another gin and tonic. The infamous redeye snack basket followed closely behind. The FA illuminated the snack basket with a flashlight so we could at least see what we were grabbing. Once my drink and trash were collected, I reclined my seat and tried to get some sleep but it was no use. The seat was so uncomfortable that my sciatica on my left side was starting to flair up. I wished I had packed my muscle relaxer for this trip, but since I've not had a sciatica flair up in a while I didn't think I would need it, but all it took was couple of hours in this terrible seat to flair it up again.

Since I couldn't sleep, I played around with the BYOD system on my iPhone trying to kill time. I was mostly interested in the progress map to see how long I had until I could get up and out of this terrible seat. Every time I moved a bit the seat creaked and cracked. I tried to stay still as much as possible to not wake up the other passengers who seemed to be trying to get some sleep. The rest of the flight was uneventful. I did ask the FA if there was any stroopwafel available but she said no without even looking. Once on the ground we parked at gate C21. The united app also showed that our original flight to YYZ had been delayed as well and has not departed yet. As soon as the aircraft doors opened, the gate agent made announcements regarding connections and also said "Toronto passengers please go to your gate. Your flight has been delayed." At this point, we rushed off the plane and made a mad dash for the B concourse from the C concourse where we were parked.

More Pictures of the LAX United Club And United Airlines UA 660
Last edited by seat38a on Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
seat38a
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United Airlines UA 476 ORD-YYZ First Class aka Business Class

Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:28 pm

United Airlines UA 476 ORD-YYZ First Class aka Business Class
After disembarking from flight UA 660, we RAN from the C concourse to the B concourse via the underground connector. The airport was busy with lots of people rushing or running like ourselves trying to catch their connecting flight. We made it to our gate for UA flight 476, just as group 1 was finishing boarding. I handed my boarding pass to the agent to scan it and it made one of those "something is wrong" sound instead of the ping. We were directed to the podium where two agents were working. They were NOT in a good mood and while helping us, were talking sh*& about someone while typing away on the computer. It turned out that our reservation had already gone over to Air Canada and the agent had to bring it back to United. Our boarding passes were returned to us and before leaving the podium, I enquired if our luggage was going to make it on the flight. The agent who fixed our boarding passes curtly replied: "You will find out once your board." Not knowing what that meant and not wanting to push my luck with the two agents already in a foul mood, we joined the back of Group 2 to board.

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The scanner still make the "Uh Oh" noise but this time we were allowed to board. The first class cabin was already boarded and only our three seats were empty. We took our seats and we waited but at no point was PDB offered to us. I'm guessing we boarded too late for the FA to be bothered to offer us any. Flight 476 was a Boeing 737-800 with DirecTV and individual video screens at each seat. The first class seats on this aircraft was A LOT more comfortable than on the 757-300 seats that we endured for 4+ hours not so long ago. I think I would have been fine if we had these seats from LAX to ORD and may even gotten some sleep. I saw the gate agent who told me "You will find out once your board" when I asked about our bags earlier, walk down the aisle to hand over the passenger manifest to one of the FA's. I briefly considered stopping her to ask about the bags now since "we were onboard", but I decided to let it go and not rock the boat. Safety demo on this flight was via pre recorded video on the individual monitors. Since I've already seen this one on YouTube many many times, I just looked out the window and the things going on out on the apron.

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We pushed back shortly after the pre departure routines and after a quick taxi to the runway, we were off to Toronto. ORD being the hub of two major US carriers, I was expecting some lengthy taxi times but we only had one other aircraft ahead of us in line for takeoff. Once we reached 10,000 ft, the female FA with the accent that I've never heard of before, made the inflight service announcements. She then went through the cabin hading out immigration forms for Canada. This was followed shortly later with a lot of opening and closing of every compartment in the first class gallery. If I had not known that this was a muffin flight, I would have thought that the FA was preparing a three course meal with all the ruckus coming from the galley. After the ruckus in the gallery, the FA working the first class cabin came through taking drink orders. My mom ordered water and I ordered orange juice sans the vodka or champagne since I was feeling a bit hungover from the drinks at the LAX United Club and inflight on UA 660.

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After the drinks were delivered, a tray of muffins were brought out. I though I heard the FA give a choice between blueberry and cranberry, but he said it was one choice mixed berries. Judging from the conversation behind me, other passengers also thought the FA was giving them a choice between blueberry and cranberry. Unlike on my last breakfast snack flight which served mini muffins, today we received full sized muffins. I was offered a refill on my orange juice but I asked for a glass of water instead. For the rest of the flight, I tried playing around with the DirecTV system. On the ground or in the air, there is nothing to watch on TV.

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Our one hour flight time flew by quickly and it was soon time for landing. The female FA with the unfamiliar accent came back to the front jump seat and the two FA's started talking while strapped in for landing. I overheard the male FA ask where the female FA was from and she said Arkansas. Her accent didn't sound like Bill Clinton's but what do I know about accents of Arkansas. We landed in YYZ and after leaving the runway, we made a straight shot to the F gates where we disembarked. Immigration was quick and there were no lines when we entered the immigration hall. After having our immigration slips and passports checked, we headed to the baggage claim carrousel. Now it was just a matter of waiting to see our bags made it with us after our reservation got transferred to Air Canada and then back to United at the last minute. Well as soon as the belt started, our bags were the first the to come out onto the carousel. My parents and I grabbed our bags, and headed to customs while laughing.

More pictures from United Airlines UA 476
 
seat38a
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:31 pm

UP Express From YYZ to Toronto Union Station

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After handing over our immigration and customs slips from the automated kiosks to the customs agent, we followed the signs out to the main arrivals hall. I lead the way following the posted signs for the UP Express train. When we arrived at the UP Express platform, I purchased tickets for the three of us which came out to $24.75 CAD. My adult ticket cost the most at $12.35CAD and my parents senior tickets cost $6.20CAD each. The next UP Express train was already sitting on the platform and boarding passengers, so we jumped on and stowed our luggage in one of the luggage racks closest to where we were sitting. Inside of our UP Express train looked immaculately clean but also had some lingering aroma of hospital style disinfectant in the air.

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I didn't check the time but after what I am assuming to be 15 minutes at the YYZ station, based on the information that I read, the doors closed and the train pulled out of the platform. There was a conductor aboard who came by to check everyones tickets after departure from each station. One group of passengers boarded the train without a ticket and had to purchase them from the conductor via her handheld device. I'm not sure if the group boarded with the wrong type of ticket or no ticket at all but all I saw from my seat was a member of the group handing over a bank card and the conductor processing the card on her device. Our train made two intermediate stops at Weston and Bloor before finally arriving into Toronto's Union Station. The whole journey look about 30 minutes from YYZ to downtown Toronto.

The UP Express train itself was really quiet for a Diesel Multi Unit train. For those of you who live in the SF Bay area, SMART uses a similar train set that UP Express does but with some modifications.

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The platforms for UP Express does not share platforms with GO Transit or Via Rail, but are connected to the rest of Union Station and other downtown Toronto attractions via the SkyWalk. We could have walked to our hotel via the SkyWalk but having had no sleep on the flight from LAX, I really didn't want to navigate the SkyWalk maze, and instead headed out onto Front St W and walked the half a mile to our hotel. Again with the lack of sleep, what should have been a easy .5 mile walk to our hotel felt more like a 3 mile walk to our hotel, the Residence Inn Toronto Downtown/Entertainment District. I was worried that we would have to drop our luggage at the hotel and figure out how to kill time until check-in time but during the train ride from the airport, I received a message via my Marriott App that our room was ready around 9:00AM-ish local time. While free early checkin is not a guaranteed or listed benefit of Marriott Rewards Gold, I've been granted early check-in every time I've requested it so far. I have noticed though that the rooms I'm given for early check-in are not always the best, but I'll gladly trade an upgrade at normal check-in time for a less than stellar room at 9:00AM in the morning, especially after a sleepless flight.

More pictures from the UP Express
 
seat38a
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:34 pm

Things We Did In Toronto Day 1
After checking in to the Residence Inn Entertainment District in the morning, my parents and I pretty much crashed and slept for the next couple of hours. By the time I'd gotten up, it was already late afternoon. My mom, was itching to go out and about so I decided we would go down Spadina Ave to Chinatown and Kensington Market Neighborhood. We headed out of our hotel and walked down Wellington towards Spadina Ave which was busy with people heading home after work. After further walking up Spadina Ave towards Toronto University, we walked right into the heart of Toronto's Chinatown. This was the first Chinatown that we did not see the ubiquitous Chinatown Gate. Along the way, I did go into a Scotiabank to get some Canadian Dollars just in case. Later on during this trip, I learned how important it is have cash with you in Canada. In May when we visited Copenhagen, for our Northern Europe Cruise, EVERYONE accepted bank cards, but during my little over a week in Eastern Canada, I had to withdrew cash 3 times at an ATM $200 CAD at a time because of many businesses that are CASH ONLY. Even back home I probably maybe withdraw cash twice a month and its usually $40 USD at the most.

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After visiting the bank, we continued into Kensington Market which I was expecting a "market" but in reality it was neighborhood with many indie stores and restaurants. Walking through the neighborhood, the air smelled of a mixture of incense and marijuana. Many of the storefronts were old and or covered in graffiti which they call "art" in this part of town but it wasn't for us. We headed back out onto Spadina Ave and tried to figure out what to do for dinner.

After dinner, we headed back towards the Lake Ontario on Spadina. Along the way, we stopped at a LCBO store, which is owned by the Ontario Government. Correct me if I wrong but, all alcohol in the Province of Ontario is sold by the government. I've never seen a government controlled alcohol vendor so I was curious to see how it looked inside. When I think of "government controlled" the DMV immediately comes to mind, but the LCBO store was clean and reminded be of BevMo back home. The LCBO was BUSY when we visited with what looked like office workers picking up some alcoholic beverage before going home.

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On our way back to our hotel, we stopped at a Petro-Canada gas station and bought a case of bottled water, which we dropped off at the hotel before continuing our walk to Lake Ontario. We changed course and instead took the shortcut between CN Tower and Rodgers Stadium to reach Bremner Street. We eventually ended up at the small park at the end of Harbour Square where we had a different view of the CN Tower and the rest of the lights of Downtown Toronto.

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It was windy at the lake and after I had finished with picture taking, we walked back towards our hotel, the Residence Inn Downtown Toronto, but we stopped at the Boston Pizza on the corner of Front and John St at my moms suggestion. We were on vacation so we figured what the hell. My dad and I ordered ourselves a Molson Canadian along with a order of wings and one of their specialty pizzas. I've heard the joke about how Coors and Molson, two terrible beer companies from both the US and Canada merging to create one sh&*y beer but I thought the Molson Canadian was really GOOD. We took the leftover pizza back to the hotel since our room has a kitchenette. We figured one of us would eat it before we left Toronto.

More pictures from Toronto Trip Report
 
seat38a
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:10 pm

Things We Did In Toronto Day 2
We went downstairs for our included breakfast at the Marriott Toronto Downtown Entertainment District an hour before ending. The breakfast restaurant was still very busy and we were originally given a table for two with a chair pulled up on the side before being moved to a proper table for three people. The breakfast was ok but the breakfast sausages had a a bit of "cheap" texture to them. I felt it was more inline with something that would be served at Holiday Inn Express vs at a Marriott affiliate.

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After breakfast, we headed back up to our room to get ready for a day out and about town. Based on the calculations based on Google Maps data, by the end of the day, we would have walked 7.5 miles today. First thing we did was walk along Wellington St heading towards Old Toronto. Our first destination this morning was the St. Lawrence Market which was about a mile away on foot. When we arrived at the market, I was surprised at how clean and immaculate it was inside. A complete opposite from Lima's Mercado Central that we visited last year. After walking along the aisles on the main floor of the St. Lawrence Market we headed downstairs which while does not look as glamorous as the main market hall, we found ourselves a little gem of a pasty shop which was beckoning us over from the aroma of buttery pastries baking in their ovens.

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We could not pass by Stonemill Slow Crafted Bakehouse without buying anything here! The aroma from the baking going on was very very intoxicating. My mom purchased a bunch of pastries and when she went up to pay, she was informed that we get a free one for buying so many pastries and breads. Stonemill Slow Crafted Bakehouse is one of those cash only businesses that I mentioned in my last post so I was called up by my mom to pay. I paid for the airfare, hotel, rental car for this trip and my parents were supposed pay for the food and incidentals during this trip. I came back to the table where my dad was sitting and while laughing told him that he lucked out from paying with the whole Cash ONLY thing. Before leaving for this trip, my dad didn't transfer any money into his No Forex/No ATM fee checking account thinking he was going to use his CC, which gives him a rebate for all of his purchases. I did move money into my No Forex/No ATM fee checking account so I was the only one who got cash out during this trip and paid for all Cash transactions starting with the purchase from Stonemill Slow Crafted Bakehouse.

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After hanging out and enjoying couple of the pastries that we just purchased, we decided to head back towards our hotel taking Front St. We walked in front of the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Royal York Hotel but did not go inside. When we arrived back at our hotel, we dropped off the pastries that we purchased earlier and headed back out since it was lunch time. After doing a bunch of research online the night before, we decided to head back to Chinatown and have lunch at King’s Noodle Restaurant. On top of the reviews online, the place was packed with customers when we passed by the restaurant during our walk yesterday afternoon. By the time we arrived at King’s Noodle Restaurant, we've already walked 3 miles since venturing out this morning so we were ready to eat. Without a single word, we were given a table and then shortly later, again without a word our order was taken. Communication by the wait staff was pretty much through a small nod as acknowledgement that they heard you. Our food, when ready were slammed on the table in no apparent order. While this kind of service may offend the uninitiated, for the initiated like my parents and I, we know some of the best food in any Chinatown come from restaurants like this.

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I ordered 4 items from the waitress. One house special rice dish, a soup noodle dish, a BBQ rice plate with greens added, and one order of shrimp dim sum. When the items arrived, we shared and sampled each one of the dishes. The soup, house special and the BBQ rice were all delicious, but i've had better shrimp hargow dim sum back in California. Again, this was a cash only establishment so I went up the the register to pay for lunch.

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With our bellies full, our next stop was Little Italy. We headed up on Spadina and cut into Kensington Market before finally arriving on College St. From King’s Noodle Restaurant it was about another 1 mile walk to Little Italy and when we arrived, we saw what was according to their window "Toronto's Oldest Gelateria" so we decided to go in and have some dessert and coffee. It wasn't busy when we arrived around 2:30ish but business must be good for them to have been around for 58 years. Once we were seated, I ordered a pistachio cannoli, Sicilian Ice Cream Dessert, iced coffee for myself and hot coffee for my dad. My mom stuck with water. Everything was good and the coffee nice and strong.

Since we had early reservations at the 360 CN Tower Restaurant for dinner, I checked to see if there would be enough time to do more walking or if we would have to turn back. After coming to the conclusion that we probably will make it and if not just grab an Uber, we paid our bill for the coffee and dessert and headed up on Crawford St towards Bloor. Google map was showing the Koreatown was the next closest ethnic neighborhood nearest from where we were. Once we arrived on Bloor, we walked towards Spadina which would take us into the heart of Koreatown and then also put us back on Spadina. Just from my non scientific observations, Little Italy and Koreatown here in Toronto seemed quite small vs the ones you find back in California and New York.

Once we reached Spadina, we walked back towards Lake Ontario. We walked past the University of Toronto along one of its perimeter and parts of town that seemed a little sketchy. We kept walking at a higher pace without making eye contact until we were back in Chinatown. We headed back to our hotel where we plopped down on the sofa and bed and rested for a bit before dinner at the CN Tower.

More pictures from Toronto Trip Report
 
seat38a
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:51 pm

Dinner At CN Tower
For our last dinner in Toronto during this trip, we had reservations at the 360 Restaurant at CN Tower, while I made reservations almost 4 months out, yesterday night I realized I screwed up, and when I went online to correct my mistake, the only reservation left was at 4:45PM. For some reason, I made reservations for tomorrow night when we would be long gone from Toronto and in Quebec City. I had originally planned on having lunch at the 360 Restaurant, but my mom wanted dinner instead because she heard the view was better at night. Since the CN Tower was literally 5-10 walk from the Residence Inn Entertainment District, we headed out about 20 minutes before since we needed about 15 minutes for check-in and security, according the CN Tower website.

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Security to get into CN Tower was airport style but very relaxed. Camera's and phones were not required to be put through the x-ray. Only big bags and purses. Once we were past security, we followed the signs for 360 Restaurant which eventually brought us to the restaurant check-in desk on the ground floor. Our reservation was confirmed and I was given a piece of important looking paper which turned out to be nothing at all. We called further down the corridor where group pictures were taken before we were allowed on the elevator up to the restaurant. The elevator had a glass bottom floor but with all of the scuff marks on it, it just didn't have the scary factor.

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Once we arrived up at the restaurant, we checked in again with the hostess. We were told that the manager would show up shortly to seat us and just as he finished saying that, the manager showed up and took us to our window side table. When I made reservations, in the notes I requested a window table and very happy that it was granted. In 2015, when we ate at the restaurant atop of the Space Needle, we sat in one of the inside tables and it just wasn't the same. My parents started to argue about which one of them gets to sit by the window, so I gave up my seat up against the window so the both of them could have the window seats. Being near the window is important for picture taking but being right up against it wasn't.

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The restaurant rotates at a very slow rate and takes about an hour to make one full rotation. By the time we paid the check and left, we stayed a little over an hour based on where our table was facing.

The menu was extensive and had both a la carte and prix fix. My mom ordered a la cart and my dad and I ordered from the prix fix menu. To sum up the experience in one sentence: The view is spectacular but the food not so great. The view from the restaurant is spectacular that when we went down to the observation level which btw is located below the restaurant, we did not find it interesting at all. The windows up at the restaurant were spotlessly clean but on the observation level, the windows were dirty and the outdoor open air deck had wire fencing all around which really killed the mood. Also, the glass bottom floor was scratched and smudged so just like in the elevator, lost a lot of the scary factor.

My mom's steak cost just as much as the one we ate at Mastro's Beverly Hill, but taste and texture were seriously subpar for such an expensive price. Even with a steak knife it was hard cutting through the meat. My dad and I ordered the same main course which was described a "crispy pork." There was nothing crispy about the pieces of pork belly that we got.

Since it will cost you to go up to the CN Tower anyways, if it is in your budget, go eat at the restaurant. Not for the spectacular food but for the spectacular view. You will not have to wait in line with the rest of the crowd trying to get up to the observation deck and access to the observation deck is included for restaurant guests (Not Skypod).

More pictures from CN Tower and 360 Restaurant.
 
seat38a
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Wed Dec 20, 2017 8:49 pm

Via Rail Business Class Toronto to Quebec City via Montreal Part 1
After two nights in Toronto, it was now time for us to leave Toronto and head to our next destination, Quebec City. While we could have gone to Quebec City faster by flying, the cost to fly to Quebec City in coach (All cost including transport to airport, luggage etc. ) vs taking the train to Quebec City in Business Class was so close, I decided I wanted to try something different and take the train. About a month out before leaving for Canada, I booked three train tickets on Via Rail in Business Class. The booking was painless but I did have to call into Via Rail to make changes to the seat assignment because the computer generated one had the three of us spread all over the place. There is no non stop train from Toronto to Quebec City. Just via Montreal with a change of train.

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We had to be up very early to get ready. Once we had double checked everything in our room, I completed checkout via my Marriott App, and then hailed Uber to come pick us up. It was way too early and too cold this morning that I wanted to be lazy. Our Uber driver dropped us off at Toronto's Union Station and we proceeded into the main hall. I saw that our train Train 60, was already posted on the board and boarding time was close, so I decided to go directly to the platform instead of the Business Class Lounge. At the entrance to the platform for our train, a line had already formed so after scouting to see if there was a separate business class line, we joined the only line available. Via Rail staff were busy moving and setting up equipment for boarding. After what was about 15 minutes waiting in line, an announcement was made for business class passengers to come forward to board. My parents and I got out of the line we were in and headed up to the front where our tickets were scanned, my luggage weighed and tagged before we proceeded up the escalator to the platform where our train was waiting.

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Up on the platform, Via Rail employee asked us if we were in Via Rail business class and then directed us to the front of the train which was where our car was located. At the single entrance to the business class car, two business class attendants greeted us and welcomed us aboard. We walked through the galley and then stowed our luggage on the luggage rack before finding our seats. My seat was on the side with the single seat and my parents were sitting together across from me. Later before departing, one of the business class attendants came through the train to explain how to operate the emergency window which my parents side had. The attendant took a second to look at my parents and then turned to me to ask if I would be willing to operate the window in a emergency. After the attendant disappeared into the galley, we cracked up laughing. My mom made commented that they obviously looked too old and frail to help. It was really hard for me to keep a straight face until the attendant disappeared into the galley.

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Our train pulled out of the platform on time and shortly afterwards, the business class attendants came through for morning beverage service. We were offered juice, tea, and or coffee. The attendants also asked if we wanted coffee with breakfast and left an empty mug on our tray table if we did. Next came the hot towels which came pre-packed in plastic wrapping. Breakfast service started shortly afterwards with two meal carts each starting from one end of the business class car. There were two options for breakfast on today's train. The hot option was the omelette and the cold option was the cereal and fruit. Both options came with either a croissant or bagel and or both with cream cheese, butter and or jam. If a passenger asked for something, NO did not seem to be in the Via Rail business class attendant's vocabulary.

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My parents and I opted for the omelette which was described over the intercom as "western omelette." The only thing that made it "western" was the little bit of salsa on it. Overall the meal was good! The breads were served from a basket WARMED! More drinks were offered, including milk and water while the meal trays were being distributed. After plenty of time was given for passengers to enjoy their breakfast, the attendants brought the cart back down the aisle to collect the meal trays and also offer refills to anyone who wanted one. All of the passengers who originated in Toronto go their first choice but based on what I overheard, some of the passengers who boarded later down the line didn't have a choice.

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In the middle of the route, one of the business class attendant came through the train with a tray of mints for anyone who wanted one. Also they were very gracious about filling requests by the passengers. For example, a couple sitting behind my parents asked if they had any more breakfast breads an hour or so after everything was cleared away but the attendant brought some over to them heated and all!

Aboard the train, BYOD programming was available through the WiFi system. Also the internet speed was pretty decent compared to the terrible system that Amtrak offers aboard their trains.

The first leg to Montreal was uneventful and we arrived early into Montreal's Gare Central.

More pictures from Via Rail Business Class on Train 60.
 
seat38a
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Wed Dec 20, 2017 9:00 pm

Via Rail Business Class Toronto to Quebec City via Montreal Part 2
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After getting off Via Rail Train 60 from Toronto, we headed up to the escalators to the main station building of Montreal's Gare Central. I went up to the posted platform for Via Rail Train 624 but the Via Rail employee guarding the entrance looked at my bag and told me it needed to be checked. I didn't want to get into it with the employee so I followed her instructions and checked my luggage to Quebec City. BTW my luggage was carryon approved and even weighed in Toronto to make sure it was legit. After coming back from the checking my bag I went back to the employee and showed her our tickets to board but she told me that Via Rail Train 624 wasn't boarding yet and that since we were in business class, we should go wait inside the Via Rail Business Class Lounge. The Business Class Lounge was right across from our assigned platform and after entering, my parents and I presented our tickets to one of two attendants working the front desk. We were welcomed to the lounge and told she would let us know when boarding time came.

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With passengers for the Ottawa train and the Quebec train both in the Via Rail Business Class Lounge, it was crowded but my parents and I were still able to find ourselves a place to sit. A variety of beverages were available including coffee and tea but not much else to eat. Shortly after we arrived in the lounge, boarding for the train to Ottawa was called and the lounge emptied out significantly. If three trains were leaving close together, I can see the lounge becoming way too crowded. Plus there was only 1 bathroom a unisex one inside the lounge which already had a line of people waiting to use it when we arrived.

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Eventually boarding was called for Train 60 to Quebec City, and we were out of the lounge and down the escalators to the boarding platform. Unlike Via Rail Train 60 which consisted of all LRC Railcars, Via Rail Train 624 had older refurbished cars for coach and the LRC Railcar only for business class. When I arrived at the business class car, I was greeted by the male business class attendant at the door and welcomed aboard. Unlike on Via Rail Train 60 earlier which had two business class attendant and one trainee attendant, Train 624 only had two regular business class attendants. On this train my parents and I were all sitting on the single seat side of the train. The business class car on this train was completely sold out.

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Unlike on Train 60, the business class attendant did ask my parents if they were willing to help with the emergency windows and then explained the procedure for opening it to them. Obviously this attendant didn't think my parents were too old and frail to help. Right on time, our train pulled out of the platform backwards before changing tracks and proceeding forward towards Quebec City. Since Via Rail Train 624 was a lunch time train, service started with cocktails, wine and other beverages from the drink cart along with a snack mix. Cocktails were served in 16oz cups. For comparison 16oz is the size of Starbucks Grande size. Pours were generous and request for double shot were met with "oui misure!" I had a extra strong gin and tonic along with my snack mix to start.

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Drink and snack mixes were followed by hot towels pre-packaged in plastic wrapper. Announcements were made in English and French regarding the menu for lunch. There was a choice of three items on todays train. Two hot and one cold. Fish and pasta were the hot dish and the beef dish was the cold dish for lunch today. Meal carts were rolled out, one on each end of the business class car. I ordered the cold beef dish and my dad ordered the fish. While the three of us got our first choice, the lady sitting across from me did not get her first choice which was beef and had to settle for the pasta dish. Each lunch tray came with warmed bread and butter, red or white wine, and or water. Red and white wine followed feely during the meal service, after the meal and all throughout the ride to Quebec City. The 4 other Americans across from my parents and myself were well drunk and feeling good by the time we arrived into Quebec City. Requests for more cocktails were met with "oui misure" or "oui madame" from the business class attendants. It's no exaggeration to say that the whole business class car was well sloshed by the time we arrived into Quebec City. After the meal trays were collected, the tea and coffee cart came through the aisle along with bottles of the red and white wine for refills.

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After the meal services was completed, a tray of chocolate were brought through the business class car for passengers to help themselves. The choice was between dark or raspberry flavored chocolate. Train 624 arrived into Quebec City Gare du Palais ahead of schedule. Once we disembarked, I headed to the rear of the train which was where the luggage car was located so I could collect my checked bag before heading out of the platform.

More pictures from Via Rail Business Class on Train 624
 
seat38a
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Wed Dec 20, 2017 9:08 pm

Fairmont Chateau Frontenac
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Once we were outside of Gare du Palais, I hailed Uber to come pick us up and take us to our hotel, the Chateau Frontenac. We were dropped off at the main portico where the bellman took our luggage and handed me a ticket to give to the front desk at check-in. I went right up the dedicated check-in line for Fairmont's President's Club member which I am a member of where I was greeted with a Bon Jour, and I replied back in French. Then the agent switched to English and welcomed me to the hotel before asking for my name. She found my information and informed me that since I booked through Chase's Luxury Hotel Collection, that I was given a room upgrade to a junior suite and then she proceeded to list off all of the benefits that I would be getting with the Chase LHC rate. Breakfast for two was included in the LHC rate along with a $100 CAD food and beverage credit. There was a long list of other benefits such as late checkout which we would not be using. I was given keys to our room and told the agent "merci beaucoup" before grabbing my parents and heading up to our room.

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Once we entered our room, the first impression of the room was OMG it is big. When I was told that we were upgraded to a junior suite, I figured we would be getting a slightly bigger room with a extra sofa or something like what we stayed in at the Marriott Copenhagen in May. Our junior suite for the next two nights was a good 2.5 times the size of a typical standard deluxe room at a SPG or Marriott property. There was a walk in closet which itself could have been a small bedroom in New York. Our separate living room still had more than enough space to sleep couple extra people on the floor if you wanted on top of the pullout bed which the sofa converts into. The bedroom had two double beds with each room having its own TV. The only thing that was tiny in our room was the bathroom which no one minded at all. On top of the TV stand was a welcome card from the hotel and a small tin of Chateau Frontenac chocolates.

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Both mornings, we had breakfast at the Chateau Frontenac's Place Dufferin Restaurant. Breakfast for two people were included in the LHC rate and the $100CAD food and beverage credit more than covered the third persons breakfast. We were given the same table by the window with a view of the boardwalk and the St Lawerence River both mornings. My mom liked the view the first morning and when I requested it the second morning, the manager who escorted us to our table gave us the same one. Breakfast was buffet style with a separate pastry station that had killer croissants and other French style pastries. An omelette bar was available but the three of us did not partake in it. The maple bacon was hit with my mom and dad. The staff here were all friendly and always smiling. When the cooks working at the omelette bar saw me taking pictures, they asked if I wanted to take one of them. I said absolutely and snapped a few of the cooks. She asked me if the camera broke after taking their pictures and I told her ABSOLUTELY NOT, and said it was the best picture of the day! Generally staff members anywhere are camera shy but these two were really good sport!

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To be honest, I thought the breakfast and pastries here at the Chateau Frontenac was Wayyyyyy better than the much more expensive breakfast that I had in Paris at the Novotel Le Hales in 2015. This may upset some Frenchman but during my trip in Quebec City, I thought the French Canadiens baked better pastries. :D Even if your breakfast isn't included like our were, I definitely recommend that anyone visiting Quebec City have breakfast here at the Chateau Frontenac. One elderly couple on our first morning came off the cruise ship and purposely came up to the hotel just for the breakfast buffet. At the table were small jars of assorted jams and honey which btw the honey is from the bees that the hotel keeps on the roof of the hotel. Both mornings, I took the honey jars with me as a souvenir.

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Turndown service was offered each evening which included a second housekeeping service, the ice bucket filled with ice, maple shaped and flavored candy left on the bed and the beds turned down for sleeping with any decorative items removed.

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Since the Chateau Frontenac is a tourist destination in itself, the lobby and the outside of the hotel was crowded with tourists that had been offloaded from their tour buses. What was annoying was they would all crowd around the mailbox located in between the elevators taking group pictures which prevented us and other hotel guests from using the elevator freely, or we could not get out of the elevator since there was a mob waiting to take pictures.

More pictures from Chateau Frontenac Hotel
 
seat38a
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Thu Dec 21, 2017 6:21 pm

Things We Did In Quebec City Day 1
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After checking into the Chateau Frontenac, my parents and I headed outside to explore Quebec City around the vicinity of our hotel. It may sound like a cliche but everything around us felt like we were somewhere in Europe and not in North America. We hung out in the little plaza in front of City Hall on Rue des Jardins. After taking pictures until my mom was satisfied with the way the one with her and the fall foliage was to her liking, we started walking back towards the hotel since it was getting close to our dinner reservation at Chez Jules.

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We arrived at Chez Jules 15 minutes before or actual reservation time but we were seated immediately. I was all ready to greet the hostess with bonsoir but she totally messed me up by greeting me first with bonjour which I wasn't expecting this late in the day. My mind kept thinking, OMG do they not use bonsoir in Quebec? whats going on and ended up just smiling and nodding in acknowledgement. Once we were seated, our waiter came up and greeted us with bonsoir(ah ha they do use it in Quebec), and I responded back with bonsoir. Then the waiter asked ca va and I responded back ca va bien. After that he went completely off in French and when he saw the dumfounded look on my face, he smiled and switched to English. I took 3 years of Spanish and 1 year of French in High School. What I've discovered so far in Canada is that I'm better able to understand conversational French with a Canadian than with a Frenchman. Canadian French seems to lack the heavy nasal emphasis which is common in France.(Just my personal observation BTW.)

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We started off by ordering wine and a charcuterie platter which includes foie gras, to share. Since foie gras is illegal in California, what better time to try it than when in French Canada. Our wine and appetizer arrived and the charcuterie went really well with the basket of wonderful bread. I'm not sure if it is the proper way to eat it but I made myself little sandwiches with the meat, bread and the jar of cornichons on the table.

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Orders for our main course were taken after our appetizer arrived. My mom ordered the fish with butter sauce aka Sole Meuniere Fillet, my dad the braised beef cheek and I went with the classic streak frites. While my moms dish was the simplest of the three, I thought it tasted the best. My steak frites dish was ok but I was expecting something closer to traditional french steak and fries than the version that I was served.

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Once we were finished and our dishes cleared away, I ordered creme brulee for dessert. I was expecting a deep layer of custard which is common back home but from what I have read, authentic creme brûlée is supposed to have a thin layer of custard so that the caramelized sugar on top and the creamy custard on the bottom are balanced like the creme brulee we just ate.

After dinner, my parents went for a walk down to petit champlain but I headed back to the Chateau Frontenac to enjoy the hotel and the room that I was paying for. Last year when we were in Peru, I felt as if we paid for nice hotels such as Tambo del Inka and Palacio del Inka but never really got to enjoy what the hotels had to offer because we were always out and about. This time, I wasn't going to let that happen so headed back to our room while my parents went for their walk.
 
evank516
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:09 pm

What do you do for work? I need your income!!!

Great report!
 
seat38a
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Fri Dec 22, 2017 4:10 pm

evank516 wrote:
What do you do for work? I need your income!!!

Great report!


;) Thanks for reading!
 
seat38a
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Sun Dec 24, 2017 4:44 am

Things We Did In Quebec City Day 2
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After breakfast, I headed over to the concierge desk to borrow couple of umbrellas due to raining outside. I was told that all umbrellas were already gone but I was offered three rain ponchos which I accepted. We headed outside onto the boardwalk trying to manage best I can to take pictures without getting my camera wet. I brought one collapsable umbrella with me which I used for preventing my camera from getting wet. It was a challenge holding the umbrella with one hand and then taking pictures with the other.

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After taking pictures of the Chateau Frontenac and the other side of the St Lawerence River, we headed on town to Petit Champlain Quarter. We walked down break neck stairs and joined the throng of cruise and tour bus passengers while at the same time not trying to loose an eyes with all of the umbrellas. After walking down Rue du Petit Champlain, we headed over to the bank of the St Lawerence River or at least the closest that we could get to it.

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We headed back up to the upper city and walked down Rue Saint-Jean to the Quebec Fortification Walls before turning back for lunch at Paillard. Based on my research, there were lots of rave reviews about the pastries at Paillard so the Foodie in me didn't want to pass it up. When we arrived, there was a guy playing live music with his accordion wearing a beret and all like what you might see in Paris. After finding a table to sit at, I went over to the pastry section and ordered couple of croissants and coffee. I dropped the order off with my parents before heading over to the sandwich section of the bakery and ordered roast beef sandwich.

The croissant was very good! Flaky and buttery, Paillard's croissant just jumped to the top of the best croissant we've eaten before. The roast beef sandwich was delicious as well. European in taste vs your typical American style sandwiches. Anyone who visits Quebec City should not miss Paillard on Rue Saint-Jean.

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Since the rain had let up a bit, we headed back down to Petit Champlain to try and get a better look without focusing on staying dry. At the end of Rue du Petit Champlain, I saw a sign at a maple syrup vendor offering maple taffy made on snow for $2.00 dollars a piece. Since we came all the way to Quebec, I had to try the maple taffy, which I've seen on enough travel shows. I went inside the store, paid $6.00 for my parents and myself and the girls working jumped into action heating up the maple syrup mixture. I waited over by the box of snow and when the maple mixture was ready, one of the girls brought it out and poured it over the snow in a zig zag motion.

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Now, I paid the $2.00 per person for the taffy but also for the photo opportunity. What really bugged me was once the tour bus tourists saw that the maple taffy was being made, they all jammed around the snow box getting in the way of my pictures so they could get their pictures in. Some people even leaned over blocking my shot while the shop employee started to roll the maple taffy on the popsicle sticks. Just as the employee put down the rolled maple taffy on the snow and told me to let it cool for a bit longer, one of the tourists grabbed it and just a centimeter before it entered his mouth, the maple syrup shop employee who was rolling the rest of the maple taffy, told the guy thats not free! The tourist looked shocked and put it down back on the snow. Luckily there was enough maple syrup poured to make a replacement maple taffy for my parents and myself.

Just as we were enjoying our maple taffy, the rain started to pick up again. We decided to head back to our hotel and dry off and relax before dinner tonight. I wanted to take the funicular back up to the hotel but the line was way too long so we walked up all the stairs back up to the Chateau Frontenac.

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When it got close to time for our diner reservation, we donned our rain gear again and headed out to La Buche which is located a short walk from the Chateau Frontenac on Rue Saint Louis. Since we are in Quebec, I wanted to try some real Quebecois cuisine before we left tomorrow. When we arrived, we were given a table in the back with a clear view of the open kitchen. As soon as your seated, the first thing that is brought out is their signature pork cracklings with maple syrup. Our waitress came over shortly and then explained the menu to us and their specialties. I went ahead and ordered their house Poutine, (pronounced like the Russian President's name) and a bottle of red wine to start. After the wine arrived, I ordered the main courses which was the black pudding and tomahawk pork chop. The waitress asked me if I knew what black pudding was and when I told her that I knew it was blood, she smiled and went off to put in our order.

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La Buche also serves pickled beets and bread after placing your order. The sour taste of the pickled beets went well with the hearty meaty dishes that we ordered. While all three dishes that we ordered were good, the three of us agreed that the house poutine was the winner of the bunch. Personally, I thought the blood pudding was better than the blood sausages that I've had before. It was a little more minerally than say Argentine blood sausage, but I thought the firm texture was better than some Argentine blood sausages that I've had. The pork chop was good with the mustard sauce but I didn't think it anything special.

For dessert, we ordered the "poor mans pudding," which was recommended by our waitress. I liked the dessert, but it was too sweet for my parents. The restaurant itself is decorated like a sugar shack inside and the walls were made of stone. The lighting, the decorations, the historic building plus the drizzling rain outside made for a great warm cozy feeling.

After paying the bill, my parents headed outside while I went downstairs to the bathroom. Lets just say it was an interesting facility.
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seat38a
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Sun Dec 24, 2017 4:45 am

Things We Did In Montreal Day 1
After checking into our hotel, the Intercontinental Montreal, we headed on out for dinner. In Montreal, Monday and Tuesday seems to be the popular days when restaurants decide not to open. Between the closed restaurants and or no reservation slots, we ended up picking a Fusion Asian place off of Saint Catherine Street about 1.5 miles from the Intercontinental. Google Maps at first had us go down to the RESO underground walkways, but once we got down there, the Google Maps app started acting up even with full cellular service underground. We came backup and chose the second recommended route via Rue Saint Catherine street. The temperature was hovering around the low 50's and dropping as it got later into the evening. Hunger, cold, and traffic traffic lights combined to made our 1.5 mile walk to the restaurant feel like an eternity.

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At least by walking to dinner, we were able to experience Rue Saint Catherine which is a primary artery of Montreal. We passed by many corporate office towers and high end shopping such Louis Vuitton and others.

Once we arrived at the restaurant, there was a line outside along the building. The inside was completely packed with what looked like college students. My parents and I waited outside along with the everyone else until our a table able to accommodate the three of us opened up. We must have waited for at least 30+ minutes waiting outside in the cold. Inside the restaurant, it was nice and warm and the hot soup that I ordered came out still boiling in its container. The hot food helped to warm us up after the 1.5 walk and the 30+ minutes of waiting outside.

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Now full and fully warmed up from the hot soup, the 1.5 miles walk back to the Intercontinental Montreal did not seem so bad at all. I also was in the mood again to stop and take pictures of the nighttime beautiful cityscape of Montreal.

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By the time we arrived back at the Intercontinental, the temperature was in the low 40's. Any exposed skin such as my hands were starting to feel uncomfortable that I had to keep them in my pocket for most of the walk too and from the restaurant. We could have avoided the cold by using RESO walkway but everything I found online about it was very confusing and Google Maps just did not want to function underground.

Pictures from Intercontinental Hotel Montreal
More Nighttime Montreal Cityscape
 
seat38a
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Sun Dec 24, 2017 4:46 am

Things We Did In Montreal Day 2
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The first thing on todays agenda was heading over to Schwartz's for their famous smoked meat sandwiches. We went down to the basement garage and once we were up on the ground level where cell signal was available, I punched up Schwartz's Deli and followed the turn by turn direction. Street parking was not an issue, but I did have some issues figuring out how to pay for parking. I did pay for parking but to be honest, I wasn't exactly sure I paid for the right spot where I parked our rental car. At this point I figured I'd risk it and we headed over to Schwartz's across the street.

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There was only a few people waiting ahead of us and after about 5 minutes of waiting we, along with the people ahead of us were seated together. Tables here are communal and definitely not a place for people with social anxiety issues. When it came time to order, I ordered three smoked meat sandwiches, two pickles, coleslaw, french fries and three diet cokes. Had I known how big the pickles were, I would have only ordered one. Sodas arrived first followed shortly behind with our order all served together. I really liked the smoked meat. Unlike pastrami which I think is way too "cured" flavored, the Montreal style smoked meat tasted way milder but still well seasoned. The sandwiches already came with mustard on it. At first we didn't think we would be able to finish the overstuffed smoked meat sandwiches but we managed to finish everything. The coleslaw was so good that my mom ordered another one. When it came time to pay, my dad took out his credit card but our waiter told us that they were cash only. So I handed my dad the CAD I had to pay for lunch.

As we headed out of Schwartz's Deli, we noticed that a line had formed along the wall of the restaurant. We lucked out big time by arriving when we did. From what I have read and seen on TV, the wait here at Schwartz's Deli can easily be 1 hour plus. We walked back to our rental car and the first thing I did was check to see if there were any parking tickets on the windshield. Either we lucked out or I paid the parking meter correctly. I still don't know which one it was.

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The next place on our agenda was Mount Royal. According to couple of articles I read online said that Mount Royal was not to be missed when visiting Montreal. I punched up Belvédère Camillien-Houd into Google Maps and followed the direction given my the app. Well, at first the directions took me into some neighborhood on Mount Royal and ended on a dead end street. I checked and found different address for Belvédère Camillien-Houd which took us to the correct location. From Belvédère Camillien-Houd, you get a nice view of non downtown Montreal along with Autumn foliage. Just as we were finishing up taking pictures and taking in the scenery, a tour bus pulled up and offloaded a bunch of tourists along with their tour guide. All of a sudden, what was tranquil was transformed into noisy shouting of what I'm guessing was explanation of what they were looking at. So at this point, we knew it was time to go.

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The next stop on Mount Royal was the Mount Royal Chalet, which according to the reviews I read said it had spectacular views of the city. Well, all I can say is that the reviews did not lie! We parked our rental car, paid for parking and walked the trail up to Mount Royal Chalet. The distance from the parking lot to the Chalet isn't that long maybe a quarter of a mile if that. While the view from Mount Royal Chalet is of downtown Montreal and the Saint Lawerence River in the distance. Everyone who visits Montreal should definitely visit Mount Royal, especially in the fall when the cityscape in the distance peeks out of the autumn foliage in the foreground.

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Since we were starting to run out of time on parking, we headed back down to trail to the parking lot. After some consultation with my parents, we decided to check out Montreal's Little Italy neighborhood. Once again, I punched up Google Maps and followed the directions into Little Italy. I found parking on a residential street and tried to figure out what the sign said. From what I could figure out, we could park until 4PM after which it was by permit only. The neighborhood street that we parked on pretty much epitomized "Autumn in Canada." The homes had the wrought iron curved staircases along with the street lined with trees with leaving changing color and the sidewalks covered with leaves.

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We only had about 40 minutes before 4PM so we didn't do much here in Little Italy other than walk around a bit and then went inside Milano Market before heading back to our car. We found couple of cafe's that were busy with what looked like locals but due to the parking situation, we were not able to go in and try out what the locals were having.

More pictures from Schwartz's Deli
More pictures from Mount Royal and Montreal's Little Italy
 
seat38a
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Sun Dec 24, 2017 4:46 am

Single Night In Ottawa
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Before leaving Montreal, we still had couple of places that we needed to visit. We checked out of our hotel, Intercontinental Hotel Montreal and drove over to Old Montreal. We parked the car across the street from Place of Justice at a substantially higher cost than we've paid for parking so far and then crossed the street over to Place Jacques-Cartier and Old Montreal. While Old Montreal did have the old world feel to it, I didn't feel it was as charming as Quebec City was. After walking around and taking pictures we headed over to the Bonsecours Market, which unlike the Saint Lawerence Market in Toronto, felt more like a suburban shopping mall inside. Just as we were about to leave the market, we ran into a maple syrup store so I decided to take this opportunity to buy some real Canadian Maple Syrup to take back home. My mom also ended up buying a bunch of small maple syrup bottles for her employees back home.

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We got back to the car and punched up Fairmount Bagel into Google Maps and followed the direction to the bagel store. Just as were about to leave Montreal, I've finally got the hang of paying for parking so I got the number off the street and went up to the kiosk to pay for parking before walking across the street to Fairmount Bagel store. We went inside the store where we were greeted by two employees behind the counter. I told them that we flew all the way from Los Angeles for their bagels which seemed to really make them happy. One of the two employees told me that the sesame seed bagel were just coming out of the oven so we should take those. I told her I wanted a half a dozen but my dad jumped in and said why not a dozen. So I changed the order to a dozen sesame seed bagels which was bagged in a paper bag but we were also given plastic bags to store any leftover bagels to keep them fresher. Fairmount Bagel is also a cash only business so stop by at the ATM machine before visiting. We sat down outside and noshed on couple of fresh out of the oven bagels before grabbing some lunch before heading on out to Ottawa.

Ottawa ended up being nothing more than a overnight stop before leaving the next day for Niagara Falls. While we did consider visiting Parliament and Rideau Hall, we ended up having dinner with my dad's friend and heading back to our crappy hotel the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel & Conference Centre Gatineau-Ottawa. Whenever the media shows the Canadian Parliament on TV, they only show Parliament Hill and really never the surrounding area and the rest of Ottawa. I was really surprised at how busy and built up Ottawa was with government buildings and other businesses. I was quite surprised to find out that the greater Ottawa region has close to a million people living in it.

More pictures from Old Montreal
More pictures from Fairmount Bagel
 
seat38a
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:11 am

Niagara Falls and Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa
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After checking out early from the crummy Four Points by Sheraton Ottawa Gatineau, we headed out towards Niagara Falls. The previous night, my dad's friend told us to take the Trans Canada Highway ONT 7 to Toronto which according to him was much more scenic with fall foliage vs Canada's version of the Interstate. While the ONT 7 was 15 minutes slower, we were told the view was well worth the negligible increase in travel time. While the scenery was stunning, we did end up getting stuck behind semi's moving pre fabricated buildings. We ran into two convoys of extra wide transport and we were able to pass one but the second one was nearly impossible to pass due the lack of any length of straight highway without on coming traffic.

After a lunch stop in Toronto, we finally arrived at our hotel for the night, the Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa. The valet attendant gave me a ticket and told me to give it to front desk and then we walked away. I popped the trunk and began removing our luggage and only when the valet attendant caught my eye and saw that I looked annoyed did he ask if we needed help with our luggage. Well since everything was already out of the trunk, I told him no and I also put the cash I had on hand to tip him back into my pocket.

There was no line at the mobile checkin part of the front desk where I was greeted by a very cheerful employee. I gave her my name and showed her my CC and ID and right afterwards she thanked me for being a Marriott Rewards Gold Member. I was given keys to our room along with a bunch of coupons and stuff which are part of the resort fee. I was also given two coupons, one for the appetizers up at the concierge lounge and the other for free breakfast for Gold Members. I was told to enjoy our stay and then directed to the elevators which btw works really awkward here. The furthest two elevators only go up to certain levels of the hotel but the button for calling the elevators will call an of six elevators. If your room is on a floor that is higher, and if the elevators with the restricted levels arrive first, then you have to press any floor inside the elevator to send it to another floor and then press the elevator call button again so one of the 4 outer elevators that go up to all floors arrives. I even asked the front desk if their was a trick to calling the outer four elevators and I was told that there was no other way than to send the furthest 2 elevators up to another floor and then push the elevator call button again. This hotel opened in 1998 and you would think in that 19 year period, this issue would have been resolved.

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Once we arrived at our room, the curtains to the window was closed. The first thing I did was throw the curtains open and in the back I heard my mom gasp. We had an absolutely perfect unobstructed clear view of the falls from our room. After sitting around just enjoying the view, we decided to cancel our reservations later in the evening at the Skylon Tower since we already had a spectacular view from our room. The room itself was any standard two queen Marriott room but two bottles of water were in the room, which btw is part of the resort fee I paid. Inside the bathroom, the extra amenities that I requested via the Marriott App was already waiting for us.

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When it was time for the appetizer at the concierge lounge we headed up to the floor where the lounge was located and let ourselves in with our room key. An attendant was at his desk collecting the coupons given at check-in. I told the attendant that I needed to pay the $15.00 fee for the the third person and he said not to worry about it and welcomed us into the lounge. The lounge is small but we were able to find a table for ourselves before heading over to the appetizer buffet to make ourselves a plate. The window seats with the view of the falls were already taken and an unofficial waiting list had been created for the window tables. Pretty much everyone in the lounge were retired seniors, and many of them were in the lounge dressed as if they were going out to a fancy dinner. Lots of bling on the ladies and ties and jackets on the men. My guess was that some of them might have been making this their early dinner with the bottle of wine they ordered.

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At the buffet station, there was one hot item and a bunch of assorted cold items such as cheese and crackers, chips, assorted dessert, fruits and veggies. Beer and wine were available for sale billed to your room. Two fridges, one with bottled water and the other with assorted canned sodas were available for self service. The hot dish on offer today were mini spinach pies and it was really good with the dollop of sour cream!

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In the morning, we headed down to breakfast just as the restaurant was opening since we needed to eat and head back to Toronto for our flight back home. The Mortons Grille restaurant also doubles as the breakfast buffet in the morning. This wasn't made clear anywhere so we did have some issues trying to find the place. The hostess gave us a table by the window and when our waiter arrived, I handed him our breakfast coupon before heading over to the breakfast buffet. The buffet was substantial with both hot and cold and an omelette station. After the breakfast buffet at the Chateau Frontenac everything felt a bit bleh. I can't complain for breakfast that was given to us for free(for two), but the flaky buttery pastries at the Chateau Frontenac has ruined me.

I used the Marriott App to check out and then called down to have our car pulled to the portico of the hotel. After double checking that we had all of our stuff, we headed down to leave. I'm glad for the Marriott App because the line at the front desk was LONG. I handed my valet ticket to the valet attendant, and he gave me the car keys and then walked away! Again, the money for tip I had in my hand went back into my pocket and then I went ahead and loaded our luggage into the trunk myself. I'm starting to think the valet's at this hotel don't give a crap about tips or they've been stiffed too many times that they just assume everyone is going to stiff them. I don't know but I sure wasn't going to tip for the service from the valet attendants. BTW, parking isn't free here at the hotel.

More pictures from Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa
Pictures from Niagara Falls Fallsview area
 
seat38a
Topic Author
Posts: 262
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:11 am

United Express UA3400 YYZ-ORD First Class aka Business Class
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After going through pre check via Global Entry, we headed up to the Maple Leaf Lounge on the F concourse. When we arrived, breakfast was still going on and the offerings were pretty dismal. What was on offer made me long for the breakfast setup that are offered at United Clubs. Around 11PM, the breakfast was cleared and the lunch items were brought and the self serve bar was opened up. Many thirsty lushes, including myself rushed to the liquor and beer tap to pour ourselves a drink. I saw one guy fill a water glass all the way to the top with Vodka before returning back to his table. I joined the lush crowd and poured myself and my dad a double Chivas Regal over rocks before joining the line that had formed for the food buffet.

Two soups were on offer along with two types of salad and edamame. Assorted bread with butter and chocolate chip cookie was the only dessert option. The food wasn't that exciting and other than the cookie, I left everything on my plate after tasting it. When the United App showed that our aircraft landed, we gathered up our stuff and headed down to our gate. Even though we had already cleared customs and immigration, the boarding agents wanted to see our passports as well so we had to get out of Group 1 boarding and rejoined at the end of Group 2 once the three of us found our passports. This was the first time the three of us had ever been on a E175 aircraft. The interior seemed roomy but I did not like the asymmetric overhead bins. I was in seat 1A and I was barely able to put my backpack in the bin above my head. The only pre departure beverage offered was water on this flight.

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Once the usual demonstrations and announcements were made, we departed on time and taxied directly to the runway without any other aircrafts ahead of us. We entered the runway without waiting and power down the runway to Chicago. Once the FA's were released, the first class FA closed the galley curtain and I'm guessing prepped for inflight service. This was the first time I've seen the curtain used on a US Carrier since 911. Drink orders were taken and shortly afterwards, a male FA from the back brought the snack basket to first class. He offered the basket to me first and I grabbed a bag of chips. He looked at me and gave me the "Thats it! You kidding me" look so I grabbed another item. Then he gave me the "oh hell I know you want more" look so I grabbed two more items which seemed to finally satisfy him. He smiled, I smiled and I thanked him before he moved on to the other passengers. My gin and tonic followed shortly and I sat back and enjoyed my bag of chips and my cocktail. Refills were offered but I declined.

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When the first class FA was passing by, I asked her if there was any stroopwafel aboard and she said she would go check. Shortly later, she returned from the back galley with two stroopwafel for me. The 1 hour flight went by quickly and my parents slept for most of the flight. My dad was completely passed out from the whisky and red wine that he had at the Maple Leaf Lounge. We approached into ORD from north of the City so I had a clear view of Chicago from my window as we came into ORD for landing. While approaching our gate, we did have some traffic jam but in the end we were still early into ORD. Based on the announcements that were make, the crew aboard our flight was New Jersey based and I have to say they were one of the best inflight crews I've had. I read on here about the terrible and apathetic EWR based crew so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the crew were based out of New Jersey.

More pictures of Maple Leaf Lounge and United Airlines Flight UA 3400
 
seat38a
Topic Author
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:12 am

United Airlines UA 592 ORD-LAX First Class
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After getting off UA 3400, we headed directly over to the United Club near gate B6. My boarding pass was scanned first and the agent asked me if I had any guests. I told her that I was traveling with my parents and then she said that she needed their boarding passes as well. At first, I was like ... then I realized that she was probably checking us in under my United Club membership instead of under international premium cabin access. Since it really did not matter, I thanked the agent and went up the escalator to the main club. The last time we were at this club was in 2015 and since then it has been renovated and now includes hot food. During our visit, creamy chicken pasta was on offer.

We found ourselves seating before heading over to the buffet to make ourselves a plate for lunch. The pasta was way overcooked but my parents seemed to like it. While I do like the bread on offer in United Clubs, the rolls can really use a little heating up. Two heaters for soups were at the buffet, but only one was on offer. The rest of the salad bar and items were the same as any other United Club and really not worth mentioning.

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After lounging around the club and enjoying couple of glasses of wine, we gathered up our stuff and headed to our gate when the United App notified me that our aircraft had landed. Unlike last week when we were running through the underground connector between B and C concourse to catch our flight, today we strolled through since we had plenty of time. When we arrived at gate C9, our Boeing 757 300 from SFO was already at the gate and offloading passengers and luggage. Once the gate lice started to gather and got in line, I figured it was time for us to do the same.

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Boarding started a little bit behind schedule but once it began, everything moved smoothly vs the almost 10-15 min wait in the jet bridge at LAX a week ago. We turned left once inside the aircraft and sat down at our seats at row 1. These seats made the same creaking noises as the one on UA 660 a week ago. My mom went with water and I ordered a vodka and cranberry for my pre departure beverage. While we were enjoying our drinks and waiting to depart, the aircraft door at the front galley opened and catering came aboard to load the first class galley. Once the galley was catered, one of the 2 FA's that would be working in first class began prepping for service later in the air. Too my untrained eyes, all I saw was a lot of opening and closing of carts and storage bins and things being moved from one to the other. There must have been some logic to all the commotion which I'm guessing only FA's know.

Once boarding was completed, the manual safety demonstration was performed before the cabin was prepared for departure. We pushed back from gate C9 ahead of schedule and after the engines started, we taxied to the runway and departed without any delay. I think I've said this before but I'm surprised how much I've lucked out connecting through ORD. For an airport which has TWO out of the US 3 operating a hub out of, departure has always been smooth for my flights without any delay or being stuck in a long line for takeoff.

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As soon as the chime went off in the cabin, Tony the Purser on UA 592, began his announcements. Shortly afterwards, the second FA came to the first class galley and began preparations for todays meal service in first class. Tony came through the cabin taking drink and dinner order. My parents and were the first to order and the option available today was the pasta or the cheeseburger. Since I've been drinking since the Maple Leaf Lounge, I decided to go with ginger ale to drink with my cheeseburger. My dad also ordered the cheeseburger and my mom went with the pasta dish. The second FA came through the cabin with hot towels and followed up shortly afterwards and collected them. Warmed nuts were delivered next along with the drinks that we ordered with our meals.

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Shortly after the drink and warmed nuts arrived, meal trays with our choice for dinner were hand delivered two at a time by the FA working in the galley. My tray contained the cheeseburger, a separate plate with the condiments, toppings and the cheese a spinach salad with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls. Dessert was a slice of berry cheesecake. By the time the first few rows were finished with their dinner, the two FA's were still serving meals and drinks to the back rows of first class. Once Tony was done with the drink orders, he came through the cabin with the red and white wine and offered them to anyone who wanted it. I took a little bit of white wine to end the meal.

Once our meal trays were cleared, there was really nothing more to do since the inflight BYOD and WiFi were having issues on this flight. I even tried to get some sleep but just like on UA 660, the seat was way too uncomfortable for sleeping. All I could do was browse through the inflight magazine for entertainment since I was counting on the BYOD movies for this flight and didn't download anything before the flight.

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Before arriving into LAX, I ordered a club soda from Tony. Others in the first class cabin seemed to have the same idea and Tony was all of a sudden busy serving drinks again in first class. We landed in LAX ahead of schedule and taxied to terminal 7 and pulled right into our gate. I've read about the dreaded "waiting for a gate" at terminal 7 but so far I've been fortunate enough to have avoided it.

At that ladies and gentleman concludes this trip report. I'm actually heading out tomorrow, Christmas Day to Vancouver and returning at the end of the week on Amtrak's Coast Starlight. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

More pictures from United Airlines flight UA 592
 
User avatar
MarcoPoloWorld
Posts: 330
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Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:50 am

This was an awesome and well-documented trip report! Makes me want to try the rail option myself the next time I'm in eastern Canada... Thanks for sharing. :airplane:
 
seat38a
Topic Author
Posts: 262
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:29 am

Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:55 am

MarcoPoloWorld wrote:
This was an awesome and well-documented trip report! Makes me want to try the rail option myself the next time I'm in eastern Canada... Thanks for sharing. :airplane:

Thank you for taking the time to read it. I'm glad you enjoyed it :D
 
lysflyer
Posts: 110
Joined: Fri May 03, 2013 8:15 am

Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:22 pm

Thank you very much for sharing! I will actually do almost the same trip as you despite I will do Montreal-Quebec City and Toronto only.
 
seat38a
Topic Author
Posts: 262
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:29 am

Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:35 am

lysflyer wrote:
Thank you very much for sharing! I will actually do almost the same trip as you despite I will do Montreal-Quebec City and Toronto only.

I hope the report helped in your planning :D
 
lysflyer
Posts: 110
Joined: Fri May 03, 2013 8:15 am

Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:31 am

Of course it helps me well!

Thank you again
 
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TPX101
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:26 pm

Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:07 am

One of the best reports here, thank you so much, it was a joy to read!
 
seat38a
Topic Author
Posts: 262
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:29 am

Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:02 am

TPX101 wrote:
One of the best reports here, thank you so much, it was a joy to read!

Your very welcome! Thank you for taking the time to read it.
 
SaschaYHZ
Posts: 245
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2014 4:41 pm

Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:33 pm

Nice report, thanks for putting it together! When in Montreal, I pretty much consider it blasphemy to NOT go to Schwartz's Deli....it is an absolute must on my list of places to go. I've tacked on returns home from various places to give myself enough time to be able to go.
 
seat38a
Topic Author
Posts: 262
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:29 am

Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:52 am

SaschaYHZ wrote:
Nice report, thanks for putting it together! When in Montreal, I pretty much consider it blasphemy to NOT go to Schwartz's Deli....it is an absolute must on my list of places to go. I've tacked on returns home from various places to give myself enough time to be able to go.

Yup, totally agree regarding Schwartz's. We really loved the coleslaw as well. Its hard to explain, but it is just damn good! I'm not a big fan of pastrami which I was afraid Montreal Smoked Meat would be like but the Montreal Smoked Meat was 10000% better than pastrami.
 
SaschaYHZ
Posts: 245
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2014 4:41 pm

Re: Autumn Trip To Eastern Canada - October 2017 with PICS

Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:43 am

seat38a wrote:
SaschaYHZ wrote:
Nice report, thanks for putting it together! When in Montreal, I pretty much consider it blasphemy to NOT go to Schwartz's Deli....it is an absolute must on my list of places to go. I've tacked on returns home from various places to give myself enough time to be able to go.

Yup, totally agree regarding Schwartz's. We really loved the coleslaw as well. Its hard to explain, but it is just damn good! I'm not a big fan of pastrami which I was afraid Montreal Smoked Meat would be like but the Montreal Smoked Meat was 10000% better than pastrami.

Completely agree, I think the Montreal Steak Spice makes a huge difference.

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