Updates from our little North American train adventure

by Audrey on June 27, 2014 · 20 comments

Well, well, it has been a quiet few days around the blog!

When Sam and I first finished our 15 month backpacking trip we were planning to spend most of the summer back in Toronto. However, before our suitcases were properly unpacked or our laundry was even done, we decided on a little North American train adventure….because why not?

We chose 3 cities that we wanted to visit - Montreal, New York City, and Chicago – and that’s where we’ve been for the past few weeks. We have literally been running around town, soaking in all the sights, and filming city guides that we’ll be putting up on our YouTube channel. I feel like I’ve been neglecting the blog a little, however, by the time I get back in from a full day of sightseeing I’m usually ready to hit the sack! I still haven’t edited any of my photos or started writing about our time here, but here’s a look at some of the highlights so far:

Montreal

Oh, Montreal! This is always a nice place to revisit because it’s the city where I was born. Even though I haven’t lived in Montreal since I was 6 years old, it’s always nice to go back and learn new things about a place that my family once called home. So what did I do on this trip?

 

Even though our visit was mostly rainy, on Sunday the skies finally cleared up and we made our way over to Mont Royal Park. Every Sunday afternoon during the summer months, the grassy hill by the George-Étienne Cartier monument plays host to Tam Tams – a drumming sessions where people come to picnic and enjoy some music. It’s a lot of fun to come and people-watch.

 

I devoured more poutine than one should consume in an entire year. During this visit I discovered La Banquise, which is the city’s most famous establishment for poutine. If you haven’t heard about poutine you are seriously missing out. We Canucks like to devour greasy french fries with cheese curds and gravy poured overtop. My favourite was a ‘gourmet poutine’ that came with goat cheese and bacon. I was in foodie heaven!

 

I also got to watch a brilliant performance at the Cirque du Soleil. Last time I tried to catch a show in Las Vegas tickets were sold out, so when I saw those striped tents in the Old Port I just had to get tickets. A little googling revealed that their new show Kurios was in town for the summer and it was amazing!

 

Imagine my luck when I discovered that a movie was being filmed in the heart of Old Montreal. The cobbled street had been turned into a vision of Paris with lots of flowers, red umbrellas, and cute cafe tables. I wasn’t allowed to be on set while they were filming, but I managed to capture this shot once they were dismantling for the day. Très Parisien, non?

 

The Mural Festival just so happened to take place while I was in town. The Saint-Laurent Boulevard was shut down to vehicles and opened to pedestrians. Twenty local and international artists were invited to come and create new murals in this neighbourhood, and the best part was that anyone could watch the artwork unfold.

 

Our visit to Montreal turned out to be quite a social one! We got to meet up with the lovely Marie Eve from A Montrealer Abroad who took us to a cute little cafe in the Plateau and shared lots of little gems about her city. We also got to meet up with Sam’s old friend from high school hailing all the way from BC. And my 2 friends Hannah & Dallas from Ontario also randomly happened to be in town that weekend, so we got to spend some time with them.

New York City

What a difference a second visit can make. My first visit to New York City was with 4 other girls, and while we had fun in the city, our time was mostly skewed towards shopping and flashy sights like Times Square…so I didn’t leave with the best impression of NYC. This current trip was about exploring the different neighbourhoods so I came with more time and visited Brooklyn, Harlem, Inwood, and Roosevelt Island. By the end of the week I was raving about how great New York City is.

  

This looks like I’m in Spain or Italy, doesn’t it? While in the city I made it up to the Cloisters over in the very Northerwestern tip of Manhattan. I had to climb a hill that nearly did me in, but the prize was travelling back in time a few hundred years. Definitely worth checking out!

 

During this visit I learned just how massive Central Park is. I mean, I knew it was pretty big, but then Sam and I spent an entire day walking around and that gave me a whole new perspective. We walked for hours and came across Belvedere Castle, the Shakespeare Gardens, Strawberry Fields, the Central Park Zoo, the Carousel, Hans Christian Andersen’s Ugly Duckling, the Alice in Wonderland statue, the lake filled with couples in rowboats, and I don’t think we even saw half of it!

 

I love it when a city repurposes something that is no longer of use; a prime example being what is now known as the High Line. This 1 mile stretch of railway previously connected Chelsea to the Meatpacking District, however, overtime it became redundant. The track lay abandoned and corroding for decades, but today it is a beautiful stretch of park with some pretty cool art along the way.

 

Of course there were more blogger meet-ups – both planned and bump-ins in the street. (It seems like everyone is in NYC during the summer!) Here’s a shot from a night out at a German pub with Jackie Travels, Dani from Globetrotter Girls, Nomadic Samuel, TravelFREAK, The Expeditioner, Cultural Xplorer, and Souvenir Finder.

Chicago

And now we’re in Chicago!

 

It was a 20 hour train ride from New York City, and what a great way to see more of the country. Planes may get you there faster and buses may be cheaper, but nothing beats breezing through the countryside by train. I got to see a completely different side of the United States; one filled with forests, lakes, and prairies. I can’t think of a better way to travel. Maybe I am ready to take on the Trans-Siberian sometime soon…

 

Meet Sue! We’ve been visiting a lot of art galleries and museums over the past few days and The Field Museum was one of my favourites. This is a shot of Sue, the world’d largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex specimen to have ever been found.

 

I have never been in a city so foggy, but it also makes for great pictures. Here’s a shot I took from the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower. The fog just kept rolling in from the lake.

 

And I can’t leave you without an iconic shot of The Bean a.k.a. Cloud Gate!

There are plenty of posts to come, but in the meantime you can follow my updates on Instagram. :)

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

CurlyTraveller June 28, 2014 at 3:46 am

I lived in Montreal for 6 years and I love that city! Seeing your pictures brought back many wonderful memories!
I used to stroll though the streets and photograph murals all the time, but there was no Mural Festival then. How cool that it was there when you were there!

Since shooting a movie in Montreal is cheaper then in many other cities, it is often used for movie shoots.

New York is just fab. During neither of my three visits tho did I get around to visiting The Cloisters. It’s still on my list;-).

I have never been in Chicago, do you recommend it?

Looking forward to your upcoming posts!
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Audrey June 28, 2014 at 4:59 pm

The Cloisters seem to be Manhattan’s best kept secret! I heard about them through a friend, but they really don’t pop up in too many guidebooks or articles. Maybe it’s because they’re a bit of a trek to get to…

And Chicago has been a lot of fun! I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the city as much as I have. They have so many great museums and galleries (the Art Institute and the Field Museum being two of my favourites), the architecture in the downtown area is truly impressive, and they also hold a lot of free concerts and movie nights in Millennium Park during the summer months.

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Ivana June 28, 2014 at 10:30 am

We’ve never been to these cities, but they are definitely on the list. One shouldn’t miss this part of the world while being on the road, right? Looking forward to your upcoming posts :)
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Audrey June 28, 2014 at 5:01 pm

I hope you two get to hop over to North America when the SE Asia portion of the trip is over. We have some pretty cool cities and landmarks over on this side of the world! ;)

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Katie June 28, 2014 at 10:47 am

Chicago has never been this foggy!! It’s not normally like this, I swear! Seriously, the extra cold winter we had has kept the lake colder than normal, which has created the fog as the air temperatures have been warming up (or so I read the other day).

If you guys are around a bit longer, would love to meet up for a drink!
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Sarah June 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm

I wouldn’t usually be inclined to do a train trip in North America, but you make it look like such a great trip! That poutine… nom nom nom
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Lauren June 28, 2014 at 3:17 pm

I loved seeing all of your shots from 3 fantastic cities! We’ll be headed to Quebec City in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait!
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Renuka June 28, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Interesting summary! Sounds like you had a great time in all the cities – especially Montreal where you spent your earliest years. Waiting for more detailed stories!
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Maria June 28, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Sue is awesome – so glad you included her in this post.
Let me know if you ever want a tour of Arctic North America
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Justine June 28, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Montreal looks like an all around fantastic city. And that poutine sounds divine. How have I never heard of it before? I think I need to travel to Montreal just to try it!
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Zoe @ Tales from over the Horizon June 28, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Montreal looks really interesting, I’ve heard so much about poutine recently. I really want to try it!
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Franca June 29, 2014 at 5:36 am

I’d love to see the Cirque du Soleil too, I heard so many good things about them and also saw some footage of their performances, they are great and must be awesome to watch them live. The mural festival sounds pretty cool too considering I’m a street art lover, I’d love to watch the artists creating their masterpieces. Glad you are having a good time Audrey!
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Ashley June 29, 2014 at 11:25 am

I’ve always wanted to go to Montreal and would love to re-visit NYC as well! Also, that poutine looks unreal.
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Chanel | Cultural Xplorer June 29, 2014 at 3:34 pm

It was great meeting you and Sam in New York! Come back again sometime and visit! :D
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Kendel June 29, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Oh NYC, be still my heart. All of these photos look amazing!
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Kristin June 30, 2014 at 8:26 pm

Hi Audrey, it was great to meet you guys! It looks like you hit my top two NYC favs– the Cloisters and Central Park. Fab photos!!

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Karyn @ Not Done Travelling June 30, 2014 at 9:44 pm

I was thinking to myself too that a lot of people seem to be in NYC right now! Glad you are having a great time!
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Jon Blomquist June 30, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Yayyy Chicago!! It’s my kind of town. I hope you are enjoying your stay. I always say it’s the best city in the world, during the summer at least! There is always something going on, so much soul, the people are great, amazing restaurants, nightlife, beaches, entertainment, theater, etc. The fog is rare, though, at this time of year. It’s an effect of the unusually long winter. I hope you’re going to neighborhoods outside of the downtown area.. There is so much to see!
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Angela Travels July 1, 2014 at 12:05 am

Looks like an amazing trip. I need to travel more by train!
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Katie @ Domestiphobia July 5, 2014 at 1:02 pm

So bummed I missed you in Chicago! What a fun city. And that fog was amazing! I wish I’d had time to get to the Signature Room for the views, but I still had a blast!

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