Tag Archives: Travels

Gaspé, Quebec vacation

We’re well into fall and it’s raining today so what better time to start planning next summer’s vacation?

If you’re like me, you dream all winter of your next summer holiday. Will it be by the beach? How will you get there? What will you do there?

With the Canadian loonie so low compared to the American dollar and the political climate uncertain south of the border, the time is ripe to stay home and explore Canada.

Last summer, my family stayed in Quebec and travelled to the stunningly beautiful Gaspé Peninsula. The ultimate destination was the seaside town of Pérce at the very eastern tip of the province, famous for its monolith, Percé Rock, in the harbour.

The Gaspé is a region of Quebec along the south shore of the mighty St. Lawrence River. The peninsula extends to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and ends at the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean.

The journey is a 2,000 km return trip from Montreal to Percé on the achingly beautiful panoramic Highway 132.

Six-day Gaspé itinerary

This is how we planned our 6-day trip:

  • Day 1: Montreal to Ste. Flavie. 575 km. 5h35 min. drive plus breaks.
  • Day 2: Ste. Flavie to Gaspé National Park. 293 km. 2h25 min. drive.
  • Day 3: Gaspé National Park
  • Day 4: Gaspé National Park to Percé. 300 km. 4h drive plus lunch break.
  • Day 5: Percé
  • Day 6: Percé to Montreal. 975 km, ouch! 10h25 min. drive plus breaks.

The rest-stops on the highway are far between but they’re clean and decent. They’re not modern like Ontario’s ONroute chain of pit stops, but you can get sandwiches and chips at most of them. We brought our own food.

There’s a breathtakingly picturesque town between Quebec City and the start of the Gaspé region in Mont. Joli. Kamuraska sits on the south coast of the St. Lawrence River next to vast mud flats that attract a variety of birds. These flats have been painted by thousands of artists over the years. A lunch-stop here includes a nip into the old-time general store, visiting art galleries and a peek at the restored town church.

In my next blogs, I’ll highlight the accommodations and restaurants that were hits and misses and of course, the attractions. There’s lots to do in Gaspé and most of it is weather-dependent, so bring rain gear and a good attitude. You’re in for quite a trip.


Ripley’s Aquarium, Toronto

More than just a place to see fish

We spent a few hours here on a cold spring-break day. We had fun and learned more than we thought we would. It’s more than just a place to see fish.

When you enter, they kind of force you through the designated path – Canadian freshwater, Pacific Kelp, a tropical reef, Dangerous Lagoon, Ray Bay, jelly fish tanks etc. We sneaked to the shark feeding session right above the start of the exhibit – outside the souvenir store, where the self guided tour ends. Do it! The shark feeding is exciting to watch. Schedules are available at the door.

sharkThe Dangerous Lagoon, with a variety of sharks, is extraordinary. The people-mover conveyer belt on the floor ensures you move through and don’t dawdle. We got off and gaped at the glass tunnel we were in – sharks swimming above and beside us. Nothing ordinary here. You can even stand in a glass bubble in the shark tank.

There’s a play area and rest area with snack shop, benches and rest rooms right after the lagoon. This rest/play area marks the half-way part of the exhibit – more or less. Part two starts with jelly fish. Some are back lit, iridescent or florescent. This space is very psychedelic. No wonder the aquarium is open until 11 pm some nights! We read that jazz nights are also held weekly in this section. It must be a real trip.

At Ray Bay, we saw the dive show. The Rainbow Reef offers the same. The show is short. A facilitator explains what’s going on in the tank. Things I learned today: Old male octopuses usually go senile; in some shark species, the dominant offspring eats its siblings while in utero; and my fav, after copulating, the female sea horse drops her fertilized eggs in the male sea horse’s pouch and weeks later, powerful contractions expel up to 100 live sea horses who swim away.

You’ll love this place. Allow a min. of 2-hours if you like to rush through these types of places. We were here longer. It’s expensive. It cost $127 for three adults and one teenager. So spend the time to make it worthwhile.