Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The lure of the road...

We just got back last Friday evening from a week long road trip...this time we started from home in Northern Virginia and the destination was Canada, more specifically the cities of Montreal and Quebec in the Quebec province of Canada. The trip started with the re-discovery of a 'much lost' music CD that 'magically' worked...one that 'D' and I had literally listened to in repeat mode on our first road trip together 12 years back (a trip that had taken us from the glam and glitter of New York City to the calm and placidity of the Florida keys)...The trip ended with this gorgeous view of the sun setting over the horizon as the road met the sky in the last leg of our week long road trip...what better way to end a road trip and to ensure the 'lure of the road' continues to persist!
On our way to Montreal, the pit stops in the first leg of our journey were Hershey's chocolate world in Pennsylvania, Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada and Cobourg, Canada. For someone who was introduced to American chocolates with the Hershey's miniatures and almond kisses, the chocolate world was quite a treat. We went on a tour of the chocolate factory and got a sense of the chocolate making process, something that Raya seemed to keenly enjoy as well. As far as Niagara Falls is concerned, we had already seen the falls from the US side. This was our first time, viewing it from the Canadian side. While the beauty of the falls itself is unparalleled and the 'Maid of the mist'/'Hornblower' cruises give you an amazing feel of the aura and majesty associated with the falls, I am not a big fan of all the 'touristyness' and commercialization in the town of Niagara on both the US and the Canadian sides. Raya, however, had an absolute blast at the 'Maid of the mist'/'Hornblower' cruise that took us to the base of the falls and  she definitely didn't want to come back. Coubourg is a small,quaint, cute little Canadian town we stopped at for lunch...quaint, road side tea rooms and mom and pop cafes abound here, lining the narrow streets...a very strong British influence is apparent in the ways of the people there, like much of the province of Ontario.

'Jazzy' Montreal, on the other hand, is steeped in French culture. The official language of the city is French...all road signs are in French...Creperies abound...meals are relaxed and unhurried...the city is steeped in a culture of music and art...most other things are just like the French like to do it......the old town, with cobbled walkways, boutique shops and some really great restaurants, is beautiful and again oozes that quaint European feel. We stayed in a row home  in the Plateau neighborhood of Montreal...cobbled streets, beautiful row homes with multi colored facades, each with a 'Juliet' balcony, lined with maple trees on either side of the road...interspersed with small tea rooms, quaint bars and cozy restaurants...charming, cozy and romantic...Absolutely loved the city and we were lucky to be blessed with great weather for the 3 days we spent there.
  
 
We spent a day in Quebec City. This is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec. Located on the bank of the St. Lawrence river, this city was one of the oldest European settlements in North America. It has the feel of the quintessential small French town...hilly terrain, on the bank of the river, cobbled streets, boutique shops, creperies, folks sitting around and chatting unhurriedly, under the shade of the abundance of maple trees that line the streets...it's one of those places that fills you with that absolute sense of calm and serenity.


Needless to say, while in Quebec, we hogged on 'Poutine' :). Poutine  is a Canadian dish, originating in the province of Quebec, made with french fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce.

On our way back from Canada, we made a pit stop at Princeton. We caught up with some of 'D''s relatives and spent a few hours, strolling around the Princeton University campus. We went on a walking tour of the campus and our student guide, Jake (an undergrad at the Univ), gave us a great feel of the history of the college and the approach to academics that the university pursues. I have to admit, I am one of those people who dread the thought of ever getting back to academics, as much as I used to love it at one point of time and had almost made it a career. But I won't hesitate to say that the charm and aura associated with the students
and campus of Princeton University, made me, if only for a wee bit, fall back in love with the thought of getting back to academics...
Oh well...I am afraid it's too late for that now :)

So that's that...we got back home to Northern Virginia just in time to celebrate munchkin turning 4...time flies and it brings a lump to my throat, each time I think of how quickly time is whizzing past...but yes, it has been 4 years already indeed :(

On a slightly different note...it has been 4 years...4 continents ...4 road trips for little Raya:) . In the process of all this travelling around, either 'D' and I have succeeded in sowing the seed of the love for travel in her, or for all you know, all the traveling  may have had a completely contradictory effect on her psyche LOL...what the effect has been on Raya of all the travel these last four years, only time will tell...but as the lure of the road persists for us, we nurture dreams and hopes of many, many more road trips and travel, in general, with our teenie, weenie
companion...who will hopefully grow up to nurture this 'love' for travel and the desire to explore new places, cuisines and cultures, as much as 'D' and I do.

Leaving you with a few pictures of snippets of memories from this road trip...













 



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