Traveling to Canada soon? Well, Empower Magazine had the good fortune of visiting Canada for the first time as part of a group’s 42-year Reunion Tour.
The group of decades-long friends (three married couples) recently met up in Montreal, Canada. We checked into the Montreal Embassy Suites for our 4-day reunion. The wife and I arrived from Houston, Texas on an Air Canada direct flight. Another couple arrived from Dallas, Texas on Air Canada, while the third couple flew in on a Delta flight out of New York, New York.
The Houston couple (wife and I) representing Empower Magazine tolerated the 3 ½-hour Air Canada flight noting that if you wanted an inflight meal, you had to pay for it. The only things complimentary were a non-alcoholic drink and a movie. Otherwise, the flight was uneventful with a relatively smooth landing.
Day-1 for our group was a night of relaxation, lighthearted conversation during “Happy Hour” and a good meal. The Hotel restaurant ambiance perfectly accented our first evening together.
Day-2: Early the next morning (Saturday) everyone was boarding a bus for “A Day in Quebec City and Montmorency Falls” Tour. Our tour guide was among the best in his trade in all of Canada; Roger Clavel, owner of Pro-Guide Quebec Inc. Roger made the 4-hour walking tour of Quebec City a very memorable and enjoyable experience.
Quebec City is considered Canada’s #1 tourist attraction rich in British, Colonial, and believe it or not American History. It’s better known for Granit and the beautiful Montmorency Falls which is second in size only to Niagara Falls on the North American continent.
Day-3 consisted of a 3 ½-hour “Heart of Montreal Motorcoach City” Tour. The highlight of the tour was supposed to be a visit inside the historical Notre-Dame Basilica; a Catholic Church initially constructed from 1824-1829. However, during the city tour stop at the Basilica, Catholic mass was in session, so we got no further than the wooden front doors. Needless to say, we all were very disappointed at not being able to take in the anticipated highlight of our Montreal City tour.
Later in the day, after a quick nap we all ventured out for beignets. We put on our walking shoes, and soon discovered while searching for the beignet bakery that the Notre-Dame Basilica was just around the corner from our hotel. We had no problems getting inside the Basilica in the afternoon to observe the beautifully majestic and stunningly detailed cathedral inside. However, the beignets we finally bought from a nearby bakery did not come close to the deliciously baked and mouthwatering beignets found at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans, LA.
Day-4: Departure day went smoothly with each couple realizing traveling grace to the airport, in the air and home.
As part of the reunion group, your well-traveled Empower Magazine representatives made note of the following International Travel Lessons Learned:
- Do your “Touring” Homework. By doing so, you will be able to plan and maximize your valuable time on a given tour already knowing those events and landmarks that are a “must see.”
- Stay on top of the 3 to 7-day weather forecasts and dress accordingly. However, it is always a good idea to take a set of cloths for unanticipated extremes in the weather. Keep in mind that forecasts are just that; an experienced projection / prediction of what’s to come.
- If going for a short stay, do carryon only. This will allow you to avoid being a part of the lost-luggage statistics, or long waits at the baggage claim carrousels.
- Watch what you eat. Unless you are a very unassuming and adventurous eater, only eat those items on a menu that you recognize. And, be extremely guarded about eating raw (sushi) or slightly cooked meat.
- Do a virtual / map recon of areas around your hotel / lodging. After completing a citywide bus tour, our group later discovered that one of the biggest historical Canadian landmarks was just a rock’s throw from our hotel.
- Make sure that travel documents (i.e., Passport) are current. Customs agents do not play when it comes to positively identifying who you are. And, baggage inspections getting out of other countries (i.e., Canada) seem much more stringent than traveling international out of the U.S. Also, when getting out and about at your destination, you can use an international driver’s license or copy of your passport as identification in most cases. In doing so, a good option for safeguarding your actual passport is to consider checking it in at the front desk. Or, you might consider securing your passport in a location that is out-of-sight / good hiding place in your room.
- A pack of gum in the pocket goes a long way when traveling. Chewing on a piece during takeoff and landing often settles the nerves, stomach and equilibrium.
- Don’t Drink the water. Depending on where you travel to, water standards might not be up to par with the U.S. In fact, it is often a good idea to avoid any cold drinks that are not sealed in a bottle / container. If you do have a need to refresh your pallet with some cool H2O, stick to bottled water.
- Book 1-way ground travel to the airport to avoid return travel issues. SuperShuttle is a good option for getting to the Airport on time but it proved for us to be a very undependable option when returning home. Even though we paid for a round trip SuperShuttle fare, we ended up using Uber after waiting at the Airport for over 1 ½-hours for SuperShuttle. The Uber ride was very affordable in comparison to SuperShuttle and took less than 10-minutes for pick up once booked.
With Canada in the rearview mirror and off the bucket list, EM, Inc. is already looking across the globe for the next exciting travel destination.