Saturday, October 2, 2010

Road-trip holiday with Gaby's mum from Toronto to Tadoussac and back...

A few weeks ago Gaby's mum Margot joined us for another 3 week O/S jaunt, which was lovely.  Our last holiday together was Beijing last Nov, and we last saw her in Germany before leaving for Mexico.

There she is - in the stripy top in the middle background.

A few days after picking her up at the Airport we went went (back) to Niagara Falls. Besides checking out the falls we watched the IMAX film, had another all-you-can-eat mega-meal buffet at the Casino.

According to Mr Google et al, the Niagara Falls were formed when glaciers receded at the end of the last ice age, and water from the newly formed Great Lakes carved a path through the Niagara Escarpment en route to the Atlantic Ocean. Straddling the Ontario / New York border, the falls attract some 12 Million gawkers annually, and although only medium'ly tall, they're rather broad, and apparently flow at a rate of more than 168,000 m³ per minute of water during high flow, and are a valuable source of hydroelectric power. To keep the tourist cash-cow going,however,the falls are diverted less during the day and more at night, and were it not for that diversion the falls would be eroding even faster - up from 1 foot per year to 5-7 feet.

Me taking a photo of Margot taking a photo of Gaby, taking a photo of me...

In Montreal we visited the Museum of Art - great art, in a funky NeoClassical / Post Modern set of buildings. We got there a bit late and had to rush, which was a pity, but what a gallery !

Beside the Montreal Museum of Art - Kinda Jeffrey Smart, eh ?

Quebec is such an arty city - I love it - that there is civic art everywhere. And not just "proper" art, but grass-roots stuff too. The horse below is laser-cut mild steel - kinda lazy photocopy-art, but art nevertheless I guess. 

A telegraph pole in Quebec City, outside a local gallery

Funky bronze in the port of Old Quebec

We've just told Margot she's going to see Cirque du Soleil
in Amsterdam for her birthday. And that we're meeting her there !

 Something that's really satisfied recently was a bout of retail therapy in Burlington, Montreal & Quebec. Outdoor stores here are truly wonderful ! What with the weather changing somewhat from what we've mostly been experiencing (usually 25-49 deg C) to a bit chillier for the ride to Halifax, we've geared up for the cold. So Gaby and I each have a new goretex-type jacket, winter riding gloves, warm long tights, and waterproof pants.

On the way north from Quebec, we stopped off at the Basilica of St Anne de Beaupre, which we'd almost missed. Anyway, it was very much worth turning round for. The carved granite building is all vaulted ceilings and at least as big as a footy field, and covered throughout in painstakingly detailed mosaics.

The village of Tadoussac, which is at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Saguenay rivers is quite the tourist destination, mostly because of its facilities for whale watching and the rugged beauty of the Saguenay fjord. The cold, fresh water from the Saguenay and the warmer, salty water of the St. Lawrence, support an abundance of krill, making the area very attractive to the cash-cow migratory whales. Most just pop by each year to feed though some - belugas - live there year round.

The weather was sufficiently shitty that on the day we went out on a Whale Cruise that we didn't see much to talk of - but the bloke at the hotel who sold us the tickets (and owns the cruise line it turned out too ) was decent enough to send us out for free the next day. If you really squint, you can just make out that the tiny white blob in the middle of the pic below is a beluga whale about 200 metres from the boat.

While there we visited the Centre d'Interprétation des Mammifères Marins (CIMM) which was surprisingly informative, with heaps of displays, skeletons, videos and stuff.

Back in Toronto we went up the CN Tower. They claim it's the tallest one around, and it may well be, but the facilities are a bit sub-par; the windows are rather small, and the much-touted "glass floor" was a bit disappointing...

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