Sunday Special – Montreal


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View of Montreal from Parc Mont Royal – Photo credit: Taken and owned By John Lian (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Today we will check out the city which I think is the coolest in all of Canada and that is Montreal.  This fun city is the largest city in the province of Quebec and the second largest in Canada after Toronto. Not only that, this city is the second largest predominantly French-speaking city on the planet, just after Paris. Additionally it was recently ranked as the world’s best city to study abroad by Quacquarelli Symonds. Finally, Montreal is celebrating its 375th birthday this year. Which if you don’t know, makes it older than Canada (which turns 150 on July 1).  Montreal wa founded on what was Hochelagaa St Lawrence Iroquois village in the 15th century, though First Nations peoples inhabited the area for centuries longer. It was part of New France until the mid-18th century.  Today Montreal is a vibrant and social landscape that has a bit of a European feel to it. It has been far too many years since I visited though I do recall enjoying the vibe of the city a great deal. Perhaps another visit is due.

  • Visit historic Old Montreal and take in various sites such as Bonsecours Market, the Old Port of Montreal, and the picturesque Notre-Dame Basilica. Or perhaps you’d like to wander its cobblestones streets via food tour?
  • Take in a pretty city view from Parc du Mont Royal (Mount Royal Park) or visit the Jardin Botanique de Montreal (Montreal Botanical Gardens) in Parc Maisonneuve?
  • Foodies rejoice – Montreal has some great restaurants and dining of all ranges, though do try the Montreal-style smoked meat, the bagels and of course poutine!
  • Sports fans take in all manner of games to watch:
    • Montreal Candiens NHL hockey
    • Montreal Allouettes CFL football
    • Montreal Impact MLS soccer
    • Auto racing
    • Boxing
    • Women’s hockey
    • Tennis
  • Music and comedy festivals abound

I don’t think my list has done this city justice though I hope it inspires you check out Montreal at any time of year. 

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Vieux-Port Montreal (Montreal Old Port) – Photo credit: By Joanne Lévesque (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Montreal-style bagels – Photo credit: By Garyperlman at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Montreal-style smoked meat – Photo credit: By chensiyuan (chensiyuan) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Special – Mexico City Centro Histórico (Historical Centre)


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Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City – Photo via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

I have been to Mexico 5 times. All of those have been to resort destinations. I enjoyed all my vacations as I was able to unwind and get a tan. That being said, I do claim that I have never really seen Mexico as I have only encountered that one particular aspect out of all that this country has to offer. For today’s feature I thought focusing on North America’s largest city would be the place to start to learn more. Mexico’s capital has plenty of history so let’s begin on “where it all started”, so to speak.

The oldest area in Mexico City is the neighbourhood of Centro Histórico (or Centro). It dates back to the Aztec town of Tenochtitlan (1325 CE) prior to the Spanish conquest. The heart of the Centro is the 240 m / 787.4 ft Plaza de la Constitución, commonly called the Zócalo. One of the world’s largest squares it is home to numerous concerts, fun events, demonstrations and the popular Festival de Mexico. Adjacent to the Zócalo is the stunning Metropolitan Cathedral – the largest one in the Americas with its twin bell towers housing 25 bells each. To the north-east of the square is the Templo Mayor, a large museum built on a former Aztec temple and showcases many of its ruins. These few places barely scratch the surface of what this single area of Mexico City offers. With copious amounts of history, churches, museums, architecture, food, stores, and vendors I would say it is evident that the Centro is a place where one can wander for a couple days.

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Mexico City’s Zocalo – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned By Flickr user schlaeger (http://www.flickr.com/photos/schlaeger/51220620) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

My Top 5 Cities to Wander


The Internet is riddled with Top 5 lists or whichever number is trending so I figure I will post one too. Where does this wanderer like to wander? Aside from just about everywhere I do have some faves. As I continue to traverse the globe I suspect this list will change though this is the list currently. 

It’s all about the cities. I have to say I prefer cities and the energy found within them. Of course small towns and nature are phenomenal and even entire countries I find amazing, though today it’s about the urban landscape. 

Here they are:

  1. PARIS – Paris! Paris! Paris! Arguably the most beautiful city on the planet, I always find wandering in Paris a joy. The art, the history and vibe. 
  2. ISTANBUL – An extremely close second, Istanbul took my breath away with its history, architectural beauty and culture.
  3. CHICAGO – Not only did I have a fab time in the Windy City I adored its arts, buildings and that deep dish pizza
  4. BUDAPEST – Not only does Budapest offer a gorgeous and clean city there is much to do.  Caving nearby, history, ruin bars & thermals baths makes for a very fun city!
  5. GEORGETOWN (a.k.a. Penang) & BELGRADE – tied for 5th as I was unable to decide. Both so different yet equally cool. Penang’s street art and street food within a chill atmosphere compared to Belgrade’s history, great people and fun nightlife made it a definite tie. 

There you go. My current top 5 cities. Next up will be my fav countries. 

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders the World 

 

Top row (L – R): Paris, Istanbul, Chicago
Bottom row: Budapest, Belgrade, me on boat in Belgrade, Georgtown (Penang)

 

 

Sunday Special – CN Tower, Toronto


This year my country of Canada turns 150 years old (officially on July 1, 2017).  To honour that I will be writing about a few spots in my beloved country over the months. Today will be about one of Canada’s well-known landmarks: The CN Tower. Many cities have an iconic landmark gracing its skyline. Canada’s largest city is no different. Standing at 553 m/1815 ft in downtown Toronto this telecommunications tower has been synonymous with city since its completion in 1975. For 34 years the tower was the world’s tallest free-standing structure. As us humans have continued to build higher into the sky that title has been lost yet the appeal of it’s magnificent view remains today.  It’s use of a major broadcaster for wireless, television and radio continues. Architecturally it was acclaimed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World in 1995 by the American Society of Civil Engineers. And of course, it is a major tourist attraction with plenty of ways visitors can experience it.

The first and obvious way to see the tower is to be whisked up to the observation deck in the high-speed glass paneled elevators. Three of the six elevators even have glass inserts in the floors. How’s that for seeing where you have been? The LookOut offers viewers a panoramic scene over Lake Ontario and the city-scape of Toronto. When visibility is clear one can peer for what seems like forever. If the view isn’t enough then try out the first-ever glass floor. Added in 1994 it allows you to look straight to the ground from 342m/1122ft above. Do you think you can walk across this section without feeling nervous? (Don’t worry, it’s safe – I can attest to that).  If you prefer you can enjoy a meal in one of the two restaurants floating above the city.  Horizons is located at the LookOut level with a casual ambiance. For a complete view of the city try 360 Restaurant. As its name implies, this revolving restaurant offers a feast for you eyes and your taste buds. It also has bragging rights of having the world’s highest wine cellar. I’ll drink to that!

Still not wowed? How about an even higher view at 447m/1465ft above?  Or a crazy walk outside of the tower? The Skypod is even higher than the LookOut at 447m/1465 ft. Up here you may be lucky to see all Niagara Falls (both sides). For the thrill seekers there is the EdgeWalk. Yes, as it sounds you get to walk around the CN Tower outside and up above on it’s roof! Do note that is seasonal feature. And yes,  this is on my bucket list (unless I chicken out).

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Toronto skyline at night with the CN Tower standing proudly. Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned Benson Kua [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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CN Tower including the EdgeWalk – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Sergiu Dumitriu (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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View of downtown Toronto from the CN Tower – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Philipp Hienstorfer (photo taken by Philipp Hienstorfer) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons