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Boston - Montreal - Toronto - Boston - Are We Mad!?

Ireland
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Boston - Montreal - Toronto - Boston - Are We Mad!?

Hi everyone

We are in the preliminary stages of planning our summer vacation. Initially we had hoped to visit Rockies/Vancouver this year - but whatwith the economy in Ireland at the moment - that is now a non-runner.

Anyhows - we have air vouchers to be used and have narrowed our choices down. Can get a good flight deal to Boston, but having been there a few times, we feel we should spread our wings a bit further this time. Intend to travel in September but are flexible as to whether it is early/mid or late in the month.

I have posted this on the Boston forum too - but would welcome any advise from a Canadian perspective.

Our initial thoughts are

Day 1 - Reacquaint ourselves with Boston, staying in Back Bay area

Day 2 - Pick up car.

Have already contacted Hertz about taking a car over the border to Canada - and it is fine, as long as we notify them when we collect so that they can issue us with some sort of letter

Here's the first question - Mapquest indicates a 6hour drive to Montreal. I'm not particularly interested in scooting from city-to-city, knowing that the drive is in a particular scenic area. Thinking of splitting the journey and staying somewhere en-route. What about Burlington - or is there any small pretty town/area to stay in? I'm going to factor in one night stop-off. Is it worth it?

Day 3 - Back on route to Montreal. 2/3 nights there

Day 4 - Montreal

Day 5 -Montreal

Day 6 - Head for Toronto

Day 7 - Toronto

Day 8 - Niagara Falls or Niagara on the Lake

Day 9 - DItto

Day 10 - Head back for Boston

Day 11 - Boston

Day 12 - Boston and possibly take night flight home or else factor in another day.

I'm conscious of this being like having a vacation through the windscreen - so feel free to be as constructive as you like. My own gut instinct is that it is too much - but it has been hanging in the air over the past few days and before we dismiss the idea completely, I would welcome any thoughts from you guys. I have a great big Lonely Planet Guide to Canada, a DK Guide along with bits I have torn from travel articles etc over the past few years but thought I'd ask for your thoughts on the matter too!

I know too that we wont even get to get under the skin of any of the destinations, but I'm sure that we we taste enought to ensure we return (that is, if our country ever gets out of the financial mess that it's in!!)

Cut it to shreds if necessary - but please be kind ;-)

Thanks in advance

Massachusetts
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1. Re: Boston - Montreal - Toronto - Boston - Are We Mad!?

Hi Little Pumpkin, let me try to tackle some of this.

As for the drive from Boston to Montreal, yes it is approximately 6 hours. Burlington is certainly one option of a place to stay overnight, and it would be less than 2 hours from there to Montreal. You could also go up Route 91 through New Hampshire, see the White Mountains, Franconia Notch, and stop at some little town and stay in a hotel there, such as the Comfort Inn in St. Johnsbury, conveniently located at the junction of Routes 91 & 93. Or, you could cross the border at Route 91, entering the Eastern Townships of Canada, and stay at a place like Manoir Hovey, on a beautiful lake with magnificent views and eat at their award winning restaurant. From there it is a little over an hour to Montreal.

We've done all of these and my preference would probably be Manoir Hovey. You'll see some beautiful scenery all the way and enjoy a fantastic meal.

As for the rest of your trip. I 've thought of it several times myself, but in the long run it is a lot of driving. From where I live I drive either to Toronto/Niagara area and skip Montreal, or just drive to Montreal, which we do often. So my question is this, have you ever been to Quebec City?

Swinging east to Quebec City, seeing it either before or after Montreal, though for the sake of driving economically I would say first, is a lot easier. It is only 150 miles from Montreal, or about 7 to 8 hours from Boston. From Manoir Hovey it would be about 3 hours away. Quebec City is probably the most french of all Quebec cities, cobblestone streets, the famed Chateau Frontenac, historical sights and buildings, and there is also plenty to see in the surrounding area, including the idyllic Ile d'Orleans and Montmorency Falls, higher than Niagara but as grand.

That would be might thought.

If Toronto is still your priority, post in the Toronto forum and hopefully some of my colleagues, if they don't respond here and some might, will help you there also, especially with the logistics of the drive.

Good luck and enjoy!!

JDP

Ireland
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2. Re: Boston - Montreal - Toronto - Boston - Are We Mad!?

JDP

You certainly have put a spanner in the works (as we say here)!! Thank you for your informative reply.

As a result of your information and the information gleaned from all the great Bostonians on my post on the Boston forum, we have now decided not to race around Lake Ontario. Instead we plan to

Fly to Boston and head directly to Manoir Hoevy for two nights (BIG thank you from my husband for that one!) A significant wedding anniversary this year - so thats his treat for putting up with me for all those years!

On to Montreal for a few days and onwards to Quebec and back thru Maine.

He is currently sitting with the Lonely Planet guide to Canada on his lap and we will decide over the next day or two how many days to factor for each destination.

No doubt, I'll be picking your brains again over the next couple of months, once I get something together.

Thanks again from the both of us :-)

Montreal, Canada
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3. Re: Boston - Montreal - Toronto - Boston - Are We Mad!?

Bonjour.

Yes indeed a lot of driving.

Marilyn Monroe once said that the Falls was the second disappointment on her honenymoon in Niagara!

Well all Europeans are attracted to Niagara Falls like by a magnet. So let's go with the flow for that.

As per the suggestion of Québec City well for Europeans cobblestones are not such a big thing (I remember biking in Florence, ouch, not so romantic on your "derrière") and my esteemed colleague JDP seems to suggest Qc as an alternative to Toronto and NF but if still in the program to visit Southern Ontario then, yes, driving marathon in sight!

Manoir Hovey is very nice but expensive, particularly considering the Irish economy.

The drive trough New-Hampshire on I 91 & 93 is a great way to get to Montreal if you want to see some nature.

Otherwise the drive to Burlington is not spectacular but nice and Burlington is one of the most charming and genuine small American City. Plus you can decide to visit Shelburne Museum (huge outdoor/indoor) or Shelburne Farm nearby. On the way to Mtl the next day you can drive through the Champlain Islands instead of the Interstate until the border, nice pretty area and it takes just about 15 minutes more to access Mtl + you can cross the border at Rouses Point a much less frequented and more relax border/custom point than the big ones at the end of Interstates.

Looking at your schedule and knowing that you already know Boston well I would not spend my second to last day in Boston but come back only the day/night prior to departure.

For Niagara I will just give it a day and not two as your imply. This is enough to see the big attractions and even visit Niagara-on-the-Lake which is, in my view an even a more prettified and less natural cobblestoned place than Québec City. Wine tour? Well you have so many great wine regions in Europe... And driving after a tasting session is not the best of thing.

So, instead I would spend 3 nights in total in Toronto: arriving from Mtl the first day and leaving to Niagara Falls the last morning. That way you will be able to discover the city a bit more and even, since you will have a car, drive to more remote attractions like the Toronto Zoo or the McMichael Collection of Canadian art, a really nice place that I highly recommend for Europeans wanting to discover our country.

Now the bad news: the drive from Montreal to Toronto is absolutely boring! Yes Canada is reputed for it's grand countryside but the whole area between those cities, and even going all the way to Niagara is located in the Saint-Lawrence Plain, a former seabed that is just that: plain!

But on the way you could stop in Qananoque for a cruise on the 1,000 Islands, that will make for a very restful stop. The closest interesting city nearby is Kingston but, again, in an European perspective not really worth it. Just rest as much as you like on the cruise (they last from 2 to 5 hours) and then head to Toronto as to arrive in the early evening, once the afternoon rush hour traffic has abated.

As per Montreal, as I wrote you can visit the Shelburne attractions while in Burlington but that would be better done if you drive very early from Boston and then visit those (one is enough in a day) in the afternoon. Then the next day drive early to Mtl so that you will have the afternoon and evening with us and then a full day around. Not such a grand time but enough to give you an idea of the big attractions around:

Visit of Old Montreal/Old Port and visit inside of Notre-Dame Basilica and Pointe-à-Caillières Museum in the area. Possibility to take the ferry to Sainte-Hélène Island to see the city from the water and then stroll a bit in the park with some remnants of Expo 67 and Floralies Internationales.

Visit Botanical Garden and Olympic installations in the East-End.

Go to the summit of Mount-Royal for the view.

Visit Downtown, take a stroll on Sainte-Catherine st, our main commercial drag and one of the few downtown commercial street in North-america that is not only viable but also lively and very profitable. Then head to Sherbrooke st to walk on what used to be the most prestigious street in Canada. Many descriptive plaques on the historical buildings and some institutions around: Mc Gill University Campus, McCord Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, grand mansions nearby on the slopes of Mount Royal in what is called the "Golden Square Mile".

West Grey, Ontario
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4. Re: Boston - Montreal - Toronto - Boston - Are We Mad!?

Hi LittlePumpkin;

The town that rickb is suggesting for a 1000 boat tour is Gananoque (pronounced GAN-AN-OCK-WAY), the "Gateway to the Thousand Islands".

tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g182143-d13…

www.ganboatline.com/

www.1000islandsgananoque.com

www.visit1000islands.com/

www.1000islandsinfo.com/

Best Regards

Massachusetts
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5. Re: Boston - Montreal - Toronto - Boston - Are We Mad!?

You are very welcome and congratulations on the anniversary. If you haven't visited the Manoir Hovey website do so at www.manoirhovey.com. The tasting menu is unbelievable. But be forewarned, you will be stuffed at the end of those 2 days.

As for your return thru Maine, here's another "spanner in the works" I love that term!! Coming back thru Maine can be a little tricky until you hit the interstate. Why? Because it is mostly a logging road and is 2 lanes in many places. But the bigger reason is the possibility on encountering moose. Sounds like fun, but it isn't. They can pop out of no where and you generally lose if your car hits one. Now I will say they are mostly out at dawn or dusk, but you will see signs everywhere. Also, the trip, because of the 2 lane road and moose can be a lot longer than it looks. If you decide you want to go back thru Maine, an over-night in Augusta is a good idea. But again, while the scenery can be great, keep your eyes open if you go back that way. Most of the time we recommend here that you head back to Boston thru New Hampshire, the way you came up, but seeing this is a significant trip, use caution if you decide to do it.

Let me know if I can help any further.

JDP

Montreal, Canada
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6. Re: Boston - Montreal - Toronto - Boston - Are We Mad!?

Well LittlePumpkin

It seems that you were writing your reply at the same time that I was writing mine, so yes much less rushy the way you decided. Québec City will still be interesting and, if enough time you could also go downstream a bit to visit the Charlevoix area and even take a boat tour from Baie-Sainte-Catherine/Tadoussac for whale watching or for viewing the magnificient Saguenay Fjord. There are ferries to the South-Shore so you won't have to come back all the way to Québec City to go to Maine afterward.

Also very happy to learn that Manoir Hovey will be in the plans due to the special anniversary.

Enjoy your time with us and do not hesitate to post other queries on the Montreal and Québec City forums (for Charlevoix and Tadoussac better to post on the Québec City forum as it has more readers).

Last minut thought, if enough time in Mtl you could even do a day trip goint to Montebello and then Ottawa aor, much better, do an overnight, from Montebello you could actually drive to Québec City without having to go trough the island of Montreal.

Ireland
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7. Re: Boston - Montreal - Toronto - Boston - Are We Mad!?

I'm overwhelmed with all your efforts and input.

Rickb - I get ya with Niagara - it's like most Americans that visit Ireland think that it's all about Killarney and the Cliffs of Moher!

Thank you for all your thoughts and I will be definately bookmarking your Montreal suggestions. Not staying in Boston at the end of the trip could be a good idea, but I love the city (have been 5 times), it holds a special place in my heart. We'll see how things go (and how far the money stretches). I know that the Manoir place is expensive (have been looking at the website), but I have a special husband and he deserves an anniversary treat. We have a little vacation fund that we put a few bob in every month - so it will cover it!

Rescueteam - will have to keep the 1000 islands boat tour for another time

and

JDP - I think I might break your heart with questions over the next while! Thanks again to you all

Have a pain in my butt sitting plotting and planning this all day - think it is time to head to bed!

Nite Nite :-)

Ireland
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8. Re: Boston - Montreal - Toronto - Boston - Are We Mad!?

Rick - we're at it again - crossing in cyberspace!!

Thanks again and I will look into all your additional information tomorrow.

Nite nite again!

Surrey, Canada
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9. Re: Boston - Montreal - Toronto - Boston - Are We Mad!?

Good morning LittlePumpkin :)

My own little contribution to your dream for now : http://www.pbase.com/zobroc/hovey_massawipi

If you are free to choose your date of traveling in September and would like to enjoy the breathtaking sight of the autumn colorful foliage (as in here for example http://www.pbase.com/zobroc/image/68133202 , or here http://www.pbase.com/zobroc/image/67804771 ), the 2nd half of the month would be more suitable then. Just a thought.

Ireland
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10. Re: Boston - Montreal - Toronto - Boston - Are We Mad!?

Hi again everyone

1st phase of planning sorted. Flights and car booked. Cant get to reserve Manoir Hovey over their web, so I have emailed them to see if they will have us!

I'm looking forward to planning this trip - looks like it will be a special one.

Eirelover - nice to see you and that nice creamy pint of the blackstuff! Should you require a new bodhran, some kerrygold butter, a proper packet of Tayto crisps etc etc - I'll make some room in the luggage for you ;-) We had decided to book for the 2nd part of September - so looking forward to the autumnal splendours!

Thanks again to you all for your great suggestions and advice. I'll be back in a couple of weeks with a "proper" itinerary for you all to critique :-)

Edited: 28 February 2011, 21:26