August 11th, at night, we left our home at 9PM after having dinner with my cousin Shanta and his family,I drove to Maryland with my mother, my wife Rhadhika and daughter Zina to my friends, Sumitra and Keshab’s house. We arrived there at 1:00AM.
We slept there, and in the morning, leaving my mother behind at Sumitra’s house with Sumitra’s mother, Sumitra, Keshab, Radhika, Zina and I set off for Canada, with no real plan, but with the idea of going to Toronto or Montreal. We took off North at about 11:00 AM in the morning, and headed for Niagara Falls. Having been there just two years ago, we didn’t visit the actual falls this time, but we spent the night on the New York side at Quality Inn (NY181) 7708 Niagara Falls Blvd. Niagara Falls,NY 14304. The next morning, August 13th, we crossed the border into Canada, and the guards at the checkpoint questioned us how long we plan to stay. We said we would spend three or four days in Canada, for a little vacation, and we went to Toronto. We booked into a Motel Six in the afternoon, and went to look at the view of the city from the CN Tower. The brochure for it says, “Dare to look 342 m straight down from the world famous Glass Floor.” Radhika didn’t want to step onto the glass part, so she skipped it. The elevator to the top was like a rocket.
|Giraffes at African Lion Safari. Toronto, Canada|
Then we went to Ram Kaji’s house and they feted us with a barbecue, choila, wine and beer, all prepared by him and his wife, Gita. The barbecue was on the deck behind their house, which was a nice house in a little neighborhood full of maple trees. Then they took us on a nature walk up the stream near where they live, to empty our stomachs for more dinner.
While we were walking, he took a photo of me holding my big camera and posted it to his Facebook page from his cellphone, so suddenly the world knew I was in Canada. We had more food, and spent that night in their house with them. The next morning Ram Kaji left early for work, before we awoke. We had said our goodbyes before going to bed. He works for the post office, and his job starts very early in the morning. His wife prepared a nice breakfast for us when we got up. We had wonderful visit with them. We left close to noon and drove to Montreal, which took a few hours driving through a flat landscape. I have thought Canada would have more hills, but the route we took, at least, didn’t have them.
A lot of the hotels we called in Montreal were booked up, but we finally found one Quality Inn & Suites P.E. Trudeau, Airport ( CN967) 1010ch.Herron Road,Montreal, QC H9S 1B3. It was about 15 miles outside the city. By the time we got there it was night, and we booked that same suite for the next day as well. The double bed suite cost us $259.66 for two nights which included continental breakfast. The hotel staff told us that it would be better to take a bus into Montreal to sightsee because parking is almost impossible, and they suggested visiting Old Montreal. But we drove anyway, and found a lucky spot in front of a science museum in Old Montreal. We walked all over the old city, to the clock tower by the sea where we walked inside and up the spiral 192 steps to the top of the Big Ben of Montreal. After that we wandered around the old loading docks at the harbor. There were lots of little narrow alleyways, and it reminded me of Paris and Kathmandu. There were lots of homeless people all over the park benches. I didn’t see any of the so-called New Montreal, but the old city seemed to have lots of homeless, sleeping on the grass as well as on the park benches.
|Street performers at Old Montreal|
One thing I liked the most was visiting the botanical gardens.There were all kinds of different gardens, such as the 250-year-old bonsai trees in the Japanese gardens. The Chinese section has their own style landscaping with exotic plants and flowers. The greenhouses in the botanical gardens had thousands of different types of cacti and plants, even banana trees.
|"Menu Girl" at a Restaurant casting bait at costumers.|
|Botanical Garden. Montreal, Canada.|
|Our Captain who sailed us around Thousand Islands.|
We drove as long as we could. Many motels were booked solid as we passed Lake George, August being the pinnacle of tourist season. Finally we found one Ramada Hotel about 15 miles away from Lake George, in Queensbury, New York. By then it was after 9 PM. We spent our night there. The next morning we were supposed to be back in Maryland, but Radhika wanted to see Lake George. So we changed our plan of waking up early and heading back. Keshab, Zina, and I went to enjoy the indoor pool at the hotel before heading to Lake George. About 30 of our friends had spent July 4th weekend there and told us about its beauty, so Radhika was very curious. When we got there, we saw the steamboat and the sunbathers and a lot of parasailing. Zina wanted to go parasailing, but we didn’t get out of the car. We just drove around the lake. It was a very beautiful and satisfying drive.
We made it to Sumitra’s home via the Jersey Turnpike on August 18th. We spent the next day there. We visited Great Falls, which is in Virginia, on the Potomac River. Radhika had lived in Virginia for many years but she had never visited Great Falls, so it was a first visit for everyone. There were lots of kayakers and lots of warnings posted for them along that stretch of the river about how dangerous it is, especially when the water is low and the rocks are sticking out.
On Monday the 20th of August, we said goodbye to our friends in Maryland, fetched my mother and drove back to Queens, to our home sweet home.
|(from left to right) Zina, Radhika, Sumitra and Keshab|