By Olivia Stevens (Wellesley College, USA)
After completing my studies at Wellesley, I knew a break was much-needed so decided to go on a trip to Canada. I had never been to Canada before and was feeling slightly apprehensive having heard lot about the cold weather they often get. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The weather was lovely and I quickly fell in love with country and its natural beauty. During my travels, I visited Montréal, Niagara and Toronto. Here is a list of my top five places that I saw while there.
5. Mount Royal – While climbing up to the top of Mount Royal was very tiring due to the expected hot and sunny weather, the view when I got there more than made up for it! At the first stopping point, you can get a fantastic panoramic of the city of Montréal. If you continue up to the top, you are able to see the Mount Royal Cross. A cross has been positioned there since 1643, when the founder of the city vowed to place one there when praying to the Virgin Mary to stop a flood of the city. At night, the cross is lit white and can be seen across the city. It is an amazing sight.
4. St. Lawrence Market – I love food, so when I stumbled across this food market in Toronto, I was over the moon. The range of cuisines on offer was huge and the building itself was beautiful. The National Geographic magazine named it the world’s best food market, and I’m not surprised at all. I treated myself to a cheese and ham crepe and a slice of chocolate cake, both of which were delicious.
3. Notre-Dame Basilica – Situated in the historic district of old Montréal, this church is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. The inside was wonderfully colourful. The ceiling is a deep blue and decorated with golden stars, with the rest of the structure coloured with reds, purples, silvers and golds.The stained glass windows show scenes of religious history within Montréal and are as magnificent as the rest of the architecture. Fun fact: Celine Dion got married there in 1994!
2. Niagara whirlpool – I am not going to say the Niagara Falls are not one of the great wonders of the world, as that is clearly the case. However, I must admit that I enjoyed exploring areas surrounding the Falls more, probably as they were not as popular, and therefore not as crowded. I was recommended by the owner of the hostel I was staying at to take a hike and go to the Niagara whirlpool. The hike was a little longer than I expected, but the sight when I got there was lovely. I don’t think I have ever felt calmer in my life!
1. Toronto Islands – The Toronto Islands are a small group of islands situated offshore from the city of Toronto in Lake Ontario, connected to the city by a ferry service. When I got on to the islands, I decided to hire a bike to allow me to explore the area quicker and more easily than by foot. To my surprise, the bikes didn’t have brakes and you had to peddle backwards in to order to stop. Luckily this didn’t cause any major problems! I really enjoyed my time on the islands which are home to their own community with around 300 houses, as well as daycare centres, a school and a church. The area was very peaceful and while travelling around you often found spots that gave you fantastic views of Toronto and Lake Ontario itself.
I would really recommend travelling as much as you can while away. I found it difficult to go away at weekends while at Wellesley, due to the workload, so made up for it when I finished. After visiting Canada, I went back to the US to see more of the East Coast. I spent two weeks exploring Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York and it was one of the times in my life!