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A slice of Canada

Breathtaking scenic beauty, cosmopolitan urban centers and beautiful landscapes, Canada ranks at the top of various lists of most livable countries. We bring to you a guide to the country, the must visits and what not to be missed while you are there.

india Updated: Apr 27, 2011 02:29 IST
Zabeeh Afaque

CANADABreathtaking scenic beauty, cosmopolitan urban centers and beautiful landscapes, Canada ranks at the top of various lists of most livable countries. Even Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar says that his favourite cities to shoot in and stay at are Vancouver and Québec city. We bring to you a guide to the country, the must visits and what not to be missed while you are there.

TORONTO

Variety adds spice to life and certainly makes for a zesty holiday in Ontario, Canada’s vast southern province packed with all sorts of earthy experiences from mighty rivers, dozens of waterfalls and great lakes to dazzling cities, including the country’s largest metropolis, Toronto. Originally constructed for the purpose of communication, the third tallest tower in the world today houses a revolving restaurant - 360 degree which is officially opened in 1976. One feels high – quite literally - at this 1,815ft tall tower. You will be surprised to know how much time it would take to reach 1,815ft in a lift - just 56 seconds; it is the world’s highest wine cellar. Worth relishing here is the Dessert Dark chocolate tower with fruits.

The city is as awake in the night as it is during the day. From fancy pubs to clubs, the city is a haven for party hoppers. The Cameron house is beautifully painted from outside with people having beer open on road.

For a coffee lover, Second Cup coffee chain is the place to be. From fresh brews, handcrafted classics to frozen favourites, they sell almost everything one could ask for. Mostly frequented by college types, the coffee shop is open till midnight. So, one can enjoy a cup of tea during the freezing weather.

Hôtel Le Germain Toronto, ranked eighth, is situated in the heart of the city.

The most sought after destination for any tourist in Canada is the Niagara Falls. A ferry service called Maid in the Mist - amidst the dense mist of spray inside the curve of the Horseshoe Falls( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseshoe_Falls ) - was a nerve wrecking and thrilling experience at the same time. The mood changed as we were under the shower of cold water and birds around. After touching the chilled water of the Falls, it was time to be in contact with the air as we took a helicopter ride above the falls at “Niagara Helicopters ( http://www.niagarahelicopters.com )”. A fine mélange of deep blue and pure white colour, the falls exhibited a visual panorama and you will land on earth with a feeling that heaven was right there. It is worth a try.

Niagara on the Lake, a haunted village but best known for its ice creams, is more of a picnic spot. The Peller Estate Winery ( http://www.peller.com ) is a must visit here. Surrounded by exotic colourful wine yards, the experience of wine tasting was something one should not miss. The in-house restaurant served us some exotic breads and delicacies. Peller Estates Icewine is a souvenir, which you would like to get from Canada. Its “Ice Wine” made from the frozen grapes that are picked on the coldest days. One frozen grape gives one drop of ice wine. It is served in wintry cold and also taken as dessert, before dessert or with dessert. It would cost around $90 for a bottle of Cabernet Franc Icewine 2007 of 375ml.

The Muskoka region is the next place to be. Been a vacation getaway for the Canadian and American populace since the 1860’s, American President Woodrow Wilson had a home here, while present day celebrities like Shania Twain, Goldie Hawn, Donald Sutherland, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones continue the tradition. The Precambrian rock of the vast Canadian Shield is responsible for the rugged and rocky terrain that provides the defining geography of Muskoka. The region has over 1,600 lakes.

Just beyond the northern border of Muskoka, is the Algonquin Provincial Park, Canada’s oldest provincial park and an icon of the Canadian wilderness.

The Delta Grandview Resort, with cemented road tracks are the perfect lanes if you love to walk, and if you get lost in the beauty, don’t worry there will be a helper with a shuttle to reach your own hut. When it comes to the beauty to enjoy sunset and sunrise, we are sure you will forget the Indira point in India.

OTTAWA

OTTAWAThe capital of Canada – Ottawa is the city that overlooks the dramatic falls and rapids on the Rideau River. Rideau is a paradise for joggers, boaters or the cyclist, so whatever you choose, the canal will definitely have something for you.

Fairmont Château Laurier, a national historic site and now a hotel, is a living paradise in itself. The hotel, which opened its doors in 1912, is a stunning example of old-world architecture in the heart of the city. The Château, as it is known locally, is a favoured destination for a wide range of discerning travelers including kings and queens, heads of state, politicians and business people.

Almost synonymous to the city is the Tim Horton coffee chain found in 1964 in Ontario, which is known for coffee and donuts. The largest food chain in the country, Tim Horton overtook McDonalds few years ago.

One must take a stroll to the Parliament Hill to get a taste of Canadian political infrastructure. The Parliament Buildings on the hill are home to Canada’s federal government. The best time to visit is evening when the sun plays hide and seek. You are also likely to find lots of cats around. While coming back, do take a walk around the Rideau Canal.

The ByWard Market is one of the oldest and largest farmers’ markets in Canada, as well as the name of the eclectic neighbourhood that surrounds it. Ottawa’s entertainment district is filled with great restaurants, clubs, bistros, coffee shops, boutiques and food retailers. Offering a colourful and fresh view is Ottawa farmer’s market. From farm grown vegetable and fruits to the organic ones, the market offers a wide variety of eatables. Very unusual to its type in India, is the multi-coloured corn available in this market.

While in the ByWard Market, a must try is the BeaverTails pastry– a real Ottawa delicacy. These whole-wheat pastries are enjoyed year-round in the ByWard Market, but there is nothing more Canadian than enjoying one on skates on the frozen Rideau Canal in winter. BeaverTails, which was first served in 1973, is a purely Canadian culinary icon, whole-wheat pastries are handmade and stretched to resemble the tail of a beaver. Canadian singer Bryan Adams is a big fan too.

With a view overlooking the Rideau Canal, is the Le Café at the National Arts Centre. One can savour the award-winning cuisine of Executive Chef Michael Blackie who offers a wonderful selection of Canadian contemporary cuisine as well as internationally inspired dishes. An open space to dine outside the restaurant just next to cycling lane at the crossroad makes the feel of dining more delicious.


MONTREAL

Identical to the popularity of Montreal is the Montreal Olympic Tower. Built for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, the Olympic Stadium is a centrepiece, a bold design by French architect Roger Taillibert. A funicular-type elevator brings visitors to the top three observation floors of the Tower, with an aerial view of the city you will feel you are in a sports county…playgrounds everywhere, football grounds, cycling ground, tennis in the parks …its the tallest inclined tower in the world, which offers a spectacular view of the city. The sports centre is at the foot of the Tower.

Minutes away from downtown Montreal, Parc Jean-Drapeau has two islands to offer: Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame. Every summer and winter, Montrealers come by bike, car, subway, boat or on their rollerblades, either to relax on the beach, enjoy the shady trails, have a picnic, attend an outdoor show, or a sports competition, or for a perfect getaway or to experience the thrilling rides at gigantic amusement park La Ronde. Gilles-Villeneuve F1 circuit is home of the Montreal Grand Prix.

There is no place more conducive to a dreamy step back in time than the romantic district of OldMontréal. Its cobblestone streets have witnessed the passage of time for more than 360 years. Today, art galleries, artisans’ boutiques, terraces and cafés conduct business within the walls of these gracious 18th and 19th-century buildings. One of the spectacular historic icon is Basilique Notre-Dame,built in 1870’s , the symmetry and wood work and the fabulous stained glass inside will take you to the history walk. Among the many historic religious and cultural events at the Basilica since its founding was the wedding of famous Canadian singer Céline Dion. Céline Dion and René Angélil were married at Notre-Dame Basilica on December 18, 1994.

MONTREALThe multicultural flavours and sights of the Jean-Talon Market have been attracting crowds to this little Italy like market since 1933. In addition to the ubiquitous fruit, vegetable and flower stalls is a tasty array of specialty shops that feature spices, oils, cheeses, meats, pastries and exquisite products that are specific to Québec. You will find all working men and women shopping for their daily needs of vegetable and fruits, we also bought the maple Syrup at canadian $7 and virgin olive oil with an offer of buy one and get one at 14 Canadian dollars. It is cheapest in the country.

Multi-coloured houses, outdoor staircases and small shady streets are all part of the Plateau Mont-Royal, where the country’s greatest concentration of artists resides. Home to young professionals and artists alike, the Plateau is also where the ‘in’ crowd likes to socialize. Bordering the western edge of downtown, Greene Avenue has a typically British aura, with red brick sidewalks adorned with magnificent flowers. Fashionable boutiques, superb art galleries, libraries and antique shops line Greene Avenue.

A genuine Montréal establishment, Saint-Viateur Bagel has been preparing oven-baked bagels since 1957. This family-run business treats visitors to the aroma of coffee and warm bagels, which you can order to go or enjoy at its bistro-style tables. What you should not miss is the bowl of cookies and lollies right next to the entrance and the paintings which shows the mood of the city on the walls.

Downtown has always been identified with Sainte-Catherine Street, Montréal’s renowned commercial thoroughfare. Stretching for 15 kilometres across the city from east to west, the street is lined with the major department stores, shops and restaurants that have been the pride of Montréal for more than a century.

When it comes to mouth watering holes of the city, la maison cacao is one of them. And if you smell pure and unadulterated chocolates…keep following. The crafty packing will impress you more. HT City suggests don’t leave Montréal without tasting it.

Crudessence is a vegetarian restaurant that doesn’t believe in being flashy and fancy but focuses on serving you healthy food. The food is served without cooking, without animal products, without gluten and with authentic flavor. When in Montreal one should not miss experimenting at crudessence ( http://www.crudessence.com )

University of Concordia right in the heart of the city is a mix of diversity and culture when it comes to students. You will still find a fallen bicycle and old man playing music. It’s a sight that will take you to the college again.

The evening over beer with young people around is best spent at Sir. Winston Churchill pub, close to Concordia University on Crescent Street, it’s a perfect place to find peers.

QUEBEC CITY

QUEBECVia Rail — the train journey — It has wi-fi and is well organised, with delicious food served while you are busy working. Québec City is full of history. Called a World Heritage Treasure by the UNESCO, the city is considered the cradle of French civilization in North America. And if you don’t get drunk while enjoying the drinks, don’t miss the full wall graffiti across the road. If you happen to be art and nature lover, you are at the right place, perfect balance of colors on the walls of the city; looks like some artists have painted the collars of the city. Every street has variety in architecture and colours. The historical site and wall painting is in the form of a riddle. Mural of Quebecers is 420metre in height.

For the ones, who can’t get enough of India even when they are in any part of the world, is Le Taj Mahal restaurant that serves their Indian specialty drink – India Cheetah Beer, though made locally.

The Château Frontenac’s, one of the most fashionable and beautiful hotels of the town was opened in 1893, it was the first hotel in its series to be built in castle style. The hotel is now operated by Fairmont, a hotel company. According to the Guinness book of records, it’s “the most photographed hotel in the world”.

Travel Tips:

1. When you check in to the hotel, the first thing you must do is collect maps and visiting cards of the hotel, in case you are lost.

2. While checking in make sure reception has a duplicate of your room keys, and you too have one spare to be kept with your passport.

3. Try grabbing a coffee at free wi-fi coffee shop chains like second cup in Canada.

4. Carry a raincoat and all the warming cloths, as if you are out for camping because the weather here is very unpredictable.

5. Use calling cards that will come for four Canadian dollars and will give you almost nine hours of calling.


How to get there?

1) Direct flights from New Delhi and Mumbai which would take 15 to 17 hours depending on the flight. But there are flights available with one or two stops.

Air fare varies from Rs 33000 to Rs 153000 which is dependent on the time of the flight, airways and number of stops. Booking early always helps. Lufthansa is a better choice if taken on one-stop at Frankfurt where the break is for six hours*.*

2) Within the cities cab service is very handy for long distance, but only if you are in a hurry. People generally prefer taking bicycle on rest or catch a bus.

3) When you plan to go to other cities “Via Rail”, a national railway of the country is the best, most comfortable ride at nominal price and has easy booking facilities.

4) When in city, walking is the best choice.

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