Acadian Adventure, Week 1: Montreal – Quebec City – Fundy – PEI

We live about 4 hours from Montreal, so we crossed the border at the Thousands Islands Bridge and made our way there. Since Canada has supposedly done away with requiring Covid-testing for entry, I was surprised to be given a take-home Covid-test as we crossed. The border agent told me I had 24 hours to complete the test of I would be fined. I was a little freaked out because I was developing a cold. I had also had Covid about 3 months prior, and although I did have a doctors note stating that PCR testing is contraindicated (because I could still test positive), I forgot to mention that to the border agent. By the time we got to our hotel in Montreal, around 4pm, I had to follow the instructions to make a telemedicine appt with the lab company they used. I then called the Canadian Covid hotline to tell them I did have the Doctor’s note about testing, and they said if I had a note stating that I had had Covid in the past 6 months I would be excused, however I needed to present that to the border agent. Since I didn’t, I still had to take the test. He also said if I tested positive I would have to isolate for 10 days! By now I was freaking out. The rest of the family went out for a walk, and I eventually had my telemed appt so this guy could watch me swab my nose. When that was done around 6, the guy looked up where I could drop the test off, and because I was in Quebec and not Ontario (where we crossed), the drug store they have people drop them off is not in the province. He told me to call Fed Ex to schedule a pickup. I called FedEx and they said since it was Friday evening they couldn’t even schedule a pickup with me until Monday. I would be in Fundy National Park on Monday! They looked up some local FedEx places to drop off the kit and found 2 near our hotel that were supposedly open until 7. It was 6:30 now. My husband and I walked to the first one, and even though it said on the door it was open until 7, it was closed! We walked to the next one, also supposed to be open, and also supposed to be closed. Now I had this stupid test kit with nowhere to send it. I called the company hotline and the woman told me she would have their logistics company call me and come pick it up the next morning at the hotel.

By the time this was all over it was after 8pm and we hadn’t eaten dinner. Fortunately there was a restaurant next to our hotel that had great reviews for their poutine, which was all the kids wanted. We had some great smoked meat poutine and I took a short walk around the neighborhood, near McGill University. The next morning a person from the testing company’s logistics division called me and we worked out that I would leave the test at the front desk and his team would come pick it up that day. I was grateful to be done with it!

We wanted to still experience a bit of Montreal, so after free breakfast at the hotel we made our way over to St. Viateur for some fresh Montreal-style bagels (thinner than NY style and wood-fired). After this we headed to the Biodome, an indoor zoo in the Olympic Parc complex. We had been there about 8 years ago when the kids were small, and wanted to go back. We also wanted to re-visit the Insectarium, which is in the same area, because we had loved it when we last went. Unfortunately they were sold out of tickets until the afternoon so we decided to start driving up to Quebec City. 

It was hot, in the 80s, and we had no A/c in the car. It had broken a few weeks prior and would cost many thousands of dollars to fix, plus it wouldn’t be ready before our trip, so we decided to take out chances and go on the road trip without it. We were going to be so far north, how bad could it get? Well we found out that day it is not pleasant when the temperature is in the 80s. We were hot and exhausted by the time we got to Quebec City. We made it to our hotel around 2:30. It was a really cool Marriott-owned boutique property called, Hotel Pur. Although our room wasn’t ready we were able to use the pool, which was large with huge windows overlooking the city. It was so nice to jump into the pool after our hot three-hour ride from Montreal. We were also upgraded to a suite which was two adjoining rooms, one had a king size bend and the other had a pull out sofa. Both rooms had huge windows with great views of the city. Another great use of Marriott free night certificates and upgrades!

After resting for a bit we took the 20 minute walk to the old city, stopping for some delicious gelato along the way. It was a beautiful sunny day and we walked over to the old fort, getting great views of the St. Lawrence river and the city. We had also been to QC about 8 years ago when the kids were small and loved it, but it had been a grey and rainy day so it was nice to see what it looked like when the sun was shining. I learned on that first trip to make a dinner reservation way in advance, especially on the weekend. I remembered to do so about a week before and already many restaurants were booked. We were able to get one for a southeast Asian restaurant with great reviews, Bati Bassac. It was in the neighborhood right by our hotel that has lots of shops and restaurants, and on this evening they had blocked off the road and had a couple colorful buses with DJs on them, making for a festive party atmosphere. Dinner was awesome and we got back to our hotel, happy to sleep in really nice beds with a lot of space. By this point my cold was ramping up and I really looked forward to resting.

The hotel also offered us all free breakfast in their restaurant because of my Marriott platinum elite status. They had a large hot buffet with lots of nice options. I was really happy with this hotel. It was in a great location, had really nice rooms and amenities, even a wine vending machine in the lobby, and the breakfast was excellent.

Lobby with wine vending machine!

After we ate we started our long drive to Fundy National Park, about 7 hours. Unfortunately it was still pretty hot so the car ride wasn’t very comfortable. It was cool to cross over into New Brunswick, a new province for all of us and one that my great grandmother was from! The drive hugged the border of Maine and went around the “hump.” We finally made it to Fundy National Park around 6:30 pm after stopping in Fredericton for some groceries since we would be camping. When we checked in we bought the year-long family pass for all of the Canadian National Parks since it would cost about the same than paying admission every day for all of the parks. Plus we can use it at any other national park sites in Canada on this trip or the rest of the year. 

We checked into our yurt around 7pm and were pleasantly surprised by the amazing view overlooking Alma beach at the Bay of Fundy. We all agreed we had the best spot in the campground. The yurt was pretty cool too. It was large and clean. The Canadian National Parks have really cool options for accommodations if you don’t have your own tent or camper. On this trip we were going to try 3 different types, a yurt, a “bunkie,” and an “Otentik.

We made dinner but got a few mosquito bites and were all exhausted, and then my youngest son threw up his soup. It’s not unusual for him to puke when traveling and he had eaten a monstrous bacon cheeseburger at Burger King for lunch. We called it a night and went to sleep.

The next morning was sunny and the kids and my husband were all excited to go swimming. I warned them that the water was likely too cold for swimming but they wanted to try anyway, so we visited one of the beaches in the park and they froze for about 5 minutes before they gave it up. Afterwards we decided to do the Matthew’s Head trail, which is about a 4 mile loop. It was a great hike with amazing views and we had lunch on the trail. Following this we did a very short waterfall hike, and by then we were all pretty hot and exhausted. The park had a saltwater pool that cost an extra $20 for a family, so we decided to go for a swim, which was a great way to cool off. After that it started to get very windy and a bit rainy, so we decided to check out Alma beach at low tide and eat dinner in town. We found a great restaurant called The Octopus’ Garden which had fresh homemade pasta that was delicious, especially with local scallops. It was still light out when we finished so we decided to go for a drive and saw Cape Enrage, which was really cool and kind of eerie in the cloudy night.

The next day we spent the morning cleaning up around the yurt and then drove out to Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park. This is one of the most famous sights in the area, where you can see how dramatic the tide is at high and low as the water surrounds and then recedes from these huge rocks on the shore. We got there at 12, high tide, and saw the water at 30 feet, with folks kayaking around the rocks. We ate lunch at their cafe and then decided to go into the nearby city of Moncton to wait for the tide to go down and buy my younger son some new sneakers. We got back to the park around 5, after stopping at a weird private park with old metal industrial items on display. By the time we got back to the park the sun was out and the tide was low so we were able to walk out to the “ocean floor” and among the big rocks. It was pretty incredible as the rocks look like some of the formations out west, like at Arches National Park, but covered in seaweed. 

The next day we packed up the yurt and started our drive out to Prince Edward Island National Park. We had to go back through Moncton and then finally over the long bridge to the island. We got there around lunchtime so we stopped in Charlottetown for lunch at a nice cafe outside. I got my first lobster roll of the trip – it was delicious! After this we stopped at a grocery store, Sobeys, for some provisions. Finally we made our way to Prince Edward Island National Park and checked into our next accommodation. This time we were staying in a “bunkie.” It was a brand new little shelter with two beds, one of them bunked on top, loft style. Next to the beds was some open space with a fold out table and cabinets, that looked to be from IKEA. There were windows facing the ocean and sliding glass doors. It smelled and looked brand new. There were a few other bunkies in the campgrounds, scattered between campsites, but I thought we had the best location, with an ocean view. The kids wanted to go swimming immediately so they headed to the beach. We had dinner, watched the sunset, made a fire, and went to sleep. It was a beautiful evening. 

The next morning we spent on the beach, playing in the ocean and walking around. The beach at PEI was so beautiful, with powdery sand, lots of seashells, and dunes with the famous PEI red dirt bordering the shoreline. The weather was perfect for swimming and the water wasn’t too cold. In the late afternoon we dried off and headed out to make an early dinner at the Blue Mussel Cafe, stopping at Anne of Green Gables house first. I have not read the books but my 6 year-old neighbor has and loves them. She was very excited we were going to PEI and asked me to take pictures of Anne of Green Gables house if I saw it, “with no kids” in the pictures. Luckily since it is a national historic site, we were able to get in free with our national parks pass. It was also very close to our campground. We toured the grounds and house where the author lived, I snapped some pictures, and then we headed to North Rustico Harbor, also very close, where the restaurant was. We wanted to get there early since they don’t take reservations and it is a popular place. Luckily we were seated right away, and we commenced to eat all the seafood! We got mussels, oysters, seafood chowder, and seafood entrees, and everything was amazing! The service was great, and we even got a slice of chocolate potato cake for dessert (PEI is known for its potatoes). I was glad we went early because by the time we left the wait was over two hours! We walked around the harbor and took pictures before heading back to our bunkie, this time driving through the park to see some gorgeous views of the ocean. The kids went for one last swim and we got to witness another amazing sunset. All in all PEI was a pretty incredible part of the trip, I can see why people love it there!

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