I never thought about Canada as a “must-see” destination. I don’t know why, I just didn’t. But after completing a road trip from Newfoundland to Ontario over 3 weeks, my view has flipped.
Canada, you freakin’ rock!
TBEX Toronto (Travel Blogger Exchange) was just a couple of months away at the time when I got a message from my buddy Zak of Sparkpunk, who I had only ever chatted with a bit online in the past. He heard I was headed to TBEX, and wanted to get together a bloggers crew for a road trip.
TEAM GEOGASM //
So the awesome Geogasm Troupe was born. More on the name later…
I had never met these other bloggers prior, and had little clue as to what to expect. Candice, Zak, Seattle, and I would meet for the first time in St. John’s, then we’d be stuck in a car together for the road trip which spanned thousands of kilometers in an itty-bitty Kia Forte through snowstorms, mountain ranges, and flatlands.
Somehow we didn’t
kill hate each other by the end.
At the start of this epic road trip I kept a day by day recap, but with the loss of my Macbook charger (or me leaving it in a hostel) I couldn’t keep up with daily stories.
So instead, I whipped up a whirlwind recap of the entire trip. A time-line of photos and Vine videos for you to follow along with. Make sure you watch some of the Vine videos, they are hilarious at times!
Enjoy the ride.
DAY 1: DC TO MONTREAL, WEE OUI! //
The northern states and the changing landscape whipped past while on the 16hr train to Montreal, with no place to stay for the night. Almost to Montreal and greeted by a beautiful old brick and iron bridge at sunset. First order of business in Canada once I arrived (though after getting hassled at the border) – try poutine for the first time! I went out of my way to a lesser known poutine joint, and much more delicious establishment! It was just as good as rumors told.
- Took the train into Canada
- Almost wasn’t allowed in because border control thought I was someone else
- Tried Poutine for the first time, and I describe it like sex.
- Found out about the crazy politics of Quebec versus the rest of Canada
- Couch-surfed without meaning to after meeting someone on the train
DAY 2: ST. JOHNS NEWFOUNDLAND EH? //
I didn’t know how difficult it would be to get to Newfoundland. Even though I was already in Canada, it would take 2 flights only 2 hours long each, and a 5 hour layover, before I reached St. Johns.
And I flew on my first propeller plane ever! You can tell by the photos and videos that I was quite captivated. And maybe a tad bit frightened.
Talk about a freakin’ wide load though! Yes I snapped a selfie in the bathroom of the airport… but it is excusable by the fact that I even surprised myself at how much I was walking around with! But at last I had arrived at my destination, and at the beginning of the road trip!
- 2 Flights and 10 hours of unnecessary travel time
- Tweeted about the hot Porter Airline attendants. They tweeted back. And bragged.
DAY 3-8: EXPLORING ST. JOHNS //
A walk about the quaint harbor-side town. All of St. John’s houses are brightly colored. Maybe it makes up for how often it is overcast.
After arriving, Candice and Zak were up for a quick hike to Signal Hill which overlooks St. Johns. The semi-strenuous hike offers views of distant lighthouses warning sailors of perils coming into the harbor.
READ // Lighthouses of Eastern Canada
Cape Spear and its dual lighthouses are perched atop a rocky hill close to old World War bunkers protecting the coast.
Cape Spear is also the most easterly point in the North Americas. Rogue, unpredictable waves slam the rocks, though it was tempting to hop the fence and get a better view!
The motley bloggers crew finally assembled after a few days and once all together, Zak, Candice, Seattle, and I were in for some crazy shenanigans and an epic road-trip!
Getting “Screeched In” before leaving St. John’s was a must to become an honorary Newfoundlander. And yes, I smooched a dead fish. It was as sexy as it looks.
Legitimate Newfoundlander. I feel even more badass.
But with the “Screeched In” came an epic hangover to match. Candice tries to gather the strength the morning our road trip was to begin.
- Acquired my first of many hangovers
- Hiked to Signal Hill
- Wandered around Cape Spear and the lighthouses
- Got “Screeched In” drinking bad rum and kissing a fish
- Tried Cod Tongue and Moose
DAY 8: A SNOWY STORM TO GROS MORNE //
The road trip of road trips finally began. Though a tad bit later than we had hoped, we were on the road, and that’s all that mattered.
And I had my first taste of religion in Canada – Tim Horton’s. But how can you not love a coffee with a smiley face in every cup?
Little did we know, we’d hit a freak snowstorm on the way to Gros Morne National Park. Obviously we lived, but there were times when I thought we wouldn’t make it through…
To ease the stressful and death-defying first day of driving, we cozied up in Gros Morne Cabins. Look at it. Freaking comfortable looking huh? It was.
Though it was a snow-flurried day getting to Rocky Harbor in Gros Morne, the weather let up to give us one helluva finale in the form of a fiery sunset.
- Had my first taste of Tim Horton’s. 1/22 times we would visit.
- Survived a deadly, hydroplane filled drive to Gros Morne.
- Ooohed and Ahhhed at the sunset, before calling it an early night.
DAY 9: POPPING MY FJORD CHERRY //
Our second day in Gros Morne National Park had us hiking to check out the fjord nearby.
Calm black ponds and grasslands to traverse before getting to the fiord. And of course a funky pose photo is called for on the pier of the pond.
Steamed the windows while cooking the staple backpacker dinner…spaghetti. Thought I’d leave a message for the next person who cooked here.
To cap off our last night in Gros Morne, we went to a small bar to see a band play for Trails Tales & Tunes that was OVERFLOWING with people. But it was a wicked performance, enhanced by plenty of beer.
- Hiked to my first fiord, and admired Mother Natures gorgeous chasm.
- Tried a moose burger for the first time
- Didn’t see a single LIVE moose while on the hike.
- Drank beer made from glaciers. It was damn good.
- Jammed out to some tunes at a bar I assumed would be a shack in the middle of nowhere.
DAY 10: 13KM HIKE TO THE ATLANTIC //
We couldn’t leave Gros Morne National Park without one last hike, and one last attempt at spotting the elusive ninja moose. Green Gardens is a 13K hike through the wilderness along a river that flows into the Atlantic.
And I’d come to find out just how out of shape I was! Wooden walk-ways helped traverse areas that were unstable, muddy, or on one of the many wicked inclines. Trust me, I was hating life walking back up this one!
The fresh water flows into the ocean beside hills of volcanic rock that the river had carved caves into.
Boots came off and I crossed the river over the slick round rocks on the river bed. I felt quite the wilderness man at this point.
However crazy and intense the trail was, it was worth it for these views!
- Hiked 13K through the Canadian wilderness and bear country, but survived!
- Attempted to leap over a part of the river, and almost made it, but failed.
- Completed a track that was the hardest I had ever done at that point.
- Found out Pringles are back to eat while hiking an incline. Nearly choked.
DAY 10: FERRY TO NOVA SCOTIA //
After a long day, it was time to relax on the ferry that took us from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia. So what do bloggers do in their bedroom in a ferry? Well surely that don’t sit around…
It was Candice’s first time on a ferry and she was über excited. Me? Well, this reminded me too much of the extremely cramped quarters of the cruise ship when I worked on one in Hawaii. After a few hours of writing, and a couple EXPENSIVE drinks at the bar, we called it an early night.
DAY 11: THE CABOT TRAIL //
The snaking Cabot Trail, a 298K roadway looping around the Northern part of Nova Scotia. The drive gives you some of the most scenic views in Canada as we drove through highlands, valley, and forests.
There are a freakin’ ton of scenic stops…we found ourselves every couple of minutes yelling, “STOP! Pictures!”
Small Scottish rooted towns pop up along the drive.
I stand on trash cans to get better views.
Seattle frolicks, and snaps photos of me on a trash can.
I fall off the trashcan.
Seattle photographs my embarrassment and agony of falling off said trashcan.
Along the Cabot Trail is a brief hike called the Skyline trail which takes you through the highlands and gives you one wicked view of Cape Breton. The trail was stunning, and said to be filled with moose, but alas, they alluded us yet again. Though we spotted no animals at all, Zak did step in a rock sized pile of bear shit. Heh heh.
Lion King Moments on the rocks are a must.
“The hard winding road yields more adventure than the easy straight road.”
What better way to cap off a day of long hours of driving, a few hours of hiking, and Zak stepping in an EPIC pile of Bear Shit? Well…relaxing at an amazing hostel on the water and cooking burgers for your friends works. And yes…I cooked those burgers!
- Landed safely in Nova Scotia.
- Drove the beautiful Cabot trail, stopping off at scenic views and a coyote sanctuary.
- Hiked the Skyline Trail, and spotted no moose. But took TONS of photos of each other posing. Oh bloggers…
- Stayed in Bear By The Lake Hostel and cooked burgers for the crew.
- Zak washed his bear shit covered shoes with grimace.
DAY 12: BEER O’ CLOCK MONCTON //
We were supposed to head to the party town of Halifax, which apparently rivals St. John’s (though both sides will fight about it) but our allotted amount of kilometers for the road trip were already being exceeded. Instead, we chose to head to Moncton which was on the way to our next destination.
I had no high expectations for this small town, and maybe that is why we had such a damn good time!
That night we took to Twitter and got recommendations from people who had been to Moncton to check out a local brewery. So glad we did. 20+ beers were presented to us for tasting, and at a super low backpacker friendly price.
(click video to watch Vine snippet – Glorious shots of beer)
(click to watch Vine snippet – Blogger trickery & My fear of Mustard)
These EVIL and scheming bloggers I was traveling with decided to play a prank on me with my fear of mustard as I returned from the bathroom. Damn them.
- Stayed in an old historic mansion turned hostel.
- Drank, and drank, and drank at a brew pub and got to know each other more.
- The bloggers played a terrible trick on me.
DAY 13-14: QUEBEC CITY //
Of course the rain which had followed us the entire road trip followed us to Quebec City. Though it would be saturated, Quebec was filled with awesome times as we explored the city, stayed in an utterly shitty hostel, and acquired more hangovers!
One of my favorite things about a city is street art and graffiti – and Quebec City is covered in it!
Looking over the new city is the Old Town, surrounded by old defensive stone walls topped with cannons.
Beautiful statures all over Old Town Quebec City.
Brick row buildings with boutiques around every corner.
Looking up at the Chateau from the heart of the Old Town.
Stone houses, wooden shutters, cobble stone streets. Love it.
Seattle started off our night by frolicking again, this time with a random sparkler that she pulled out of thin air.
One bad thing about going back into Old Town to party at night – the stairs. It was quite the unexpected struggle…
- Explored Quebec City’s Old Town in the rain. It was still stunning.
- Stayed at a crap hostel Maeva…don’t ever stay there.
- Explored and photographed a TON of graffiti and street art.
- Partied the night away at Quebec’s famous bars on Grand-Allee which just so happen to have dancers on hoola-hoops hanging from the ceiling. Epic.
- Ate even more Poutine. Mmm. Poutine.
DAY 15-17: MONTREAL //
Montreal is one awesome city. Though we wouldn’t do too much exploring of the city itself, we checked out much of Montreal’s famed nightlife on St. Catherine and St. Denise.
This is what bloggers do in their hostel rooms…
At an Irish bar in Montreal, a Celtic rock band jammed out to a packed house. And played an Irish rendition of “Jump Around”. Epic.
Explored Mount Royal, famous for the massive TAM-TAM drum circles that take over the park on Sundays. Unfortunately due to the rain, there was only a small gathering over youngsters flailing about to dubstep music.
Ate at the famous Schwartz’s…and had one of the best corned beef sandwiches of my life.
Before leaving the last day, we strolled through Montreal’s old town. Like I’ve said before, Old Towns are my favorite, and this was one of the most beautiful I had ever been to.
- Stayed at an amazing hostel in the heart of the city.
- Jammed out to an Irish rock bad that played rap songs like they were made for the Irish.
- Convinced Zak to join Foursquare after discovering a free beer offer in Old Town.
- Had rad dubstep bed bunk parties in the hostel.
- Ate at the famous Schwartz’s…I’d eat there every day…
- Decided Montreal has the worst Mexican food place I’ve ever eaten at.
DAY 16: NIGHT IN A TREEHOUSE //
We stayed in a treehouse in Nominingue, a lakeside town north of Montreal. Yes, a freakin’ treehouse! Like Swiss Family Robinson, but way more awesome.
Talk about cool. Definitely one of the gnarliest places I’ve ever stayed in.
Suspension bridge to the lookout/cocktail area. So awesome.
(click video to play Vine snippet – Harmonica in the Treehouse)
- Fulfilled a child-hood dream of staying in a treehouse.
- Cooked stuffed peppers and burgers for the gang.
- Roasted marshmallows in the cast-iron stove.
- Serenaded everyone with a harmonica song.
DAY 17: RANDOM STOP, OTTAWA //
Originally the gang planned to check out the potentially haunted Ottawa Jail turned hostel , but Candice’s Uncle enticed us over to his house for a BBQ, copious amounts of drinking, AND a free place to stay for the night. Can’t pass that up.
But as you can see, this night would lead to a late start this next morning. With Toronto calling us, I would miss out on exploring any of Ottawa. Maybe next time.
DAY 18-22: TORONTO AND TBEX //
After thousands of kilometers and 20+ stops to Tim Horton’s, we reached our final destination. Toronto was hosting this years travel blog conference, and 1,300 bloggers and PR’s we flocking to the city. Between seminars and workshops, we would explore this booming city and take to the bars to mingle with other bloggers.
Picked up our key to the city, a pass letting us into tons of the museums and attractions that Toronto has to offer.
Rode Toronto’s trippy metro rail which has no doors cutting off any cars, just an Inception-esque never-ending train.
The CN Skytower and Toronto skyline een from a boat tour.
A little TBEX chalk art near the convention center.
Dave and Deb of the Planet D giving a rad keynote presentation on blogging and where they think it’ll be headed.
Enclosed malls, walk-ways, and underground malls are all over Toronto making it easy to traverse the city without even stepping foot outside.
When I said booming, I meant it. Right now, Toronto is expanding at an extremely fast rate and holds the world record for skyscrapers under construction at one time: 175.
Toronto Skyline shimmers at night as seen from Center Island and the Expedia party for us bloggers.
Had the pleasure of meeting TONS of amazing bloggers and travelers during TBEX. Pints and pitchers clanked and slammed as we partied hardy and enjoyed the company of friends that never get to hang out. Some of the best times I’ve ever had, and some of the greatest people I’ve ever met.
- Learned some eye-opening tips and knowledge from top bloggers.
- Had more hangovers than I could count.
- Collected business cards like Pokémon cards.
- Went to the Expedia party dressed as a Vampire.
- Explored the beautiful and evolving city.
DAY 23: NORFOLK COUNTY //
Norfolk County…the epitome of small country town Canada. Native reservations all over the county, with small towns like Waterford separated by kilometers of farm land. But even though I expected a relaxing, and maybe even boring town, it was filled with some pretty nifty things to do.
My first time EVER seeing buffalo.
Hungry deer at the deer park in Waterford nom-nomming some bread.
Visited, and got kicked out of, the many haunted or abandoned houses all around Norfolk County.
Checked out nearby beach town Dover, and the Dover Lighthouse.
Chillaxed on the beach a bit, and wrote a message in the sand to everyone: Visit Canada!
(click video below to see Vine snippet – Visit Canada)
- Explored small town Waterford.
- Checked out the surrounding beach towns.
- Dislocated my shoulder trying a backflip.
- Fed some greedy deer
- Found a trashcan full of cute and vicious raccoon babies
- Got threatened and kicked off a property that had an abandoned farm-house.
Visit again I shall. This was one gnarly road trip. I met amazing knew people and made new close friends, stuffed my face with food oddities that are staples in Canada, and fulfilled some of my life long dreams…like sleeping in a freakin’ treehouse! Sorry, it just still excites me =)
Hope you enjoyed this visual timeline, and plenty of individual stories are to come!
Have you ever been to Canada? If not, want to go now?