Like many North Americans, I had traveled throughout Western Europe, even hitting some places more than once (albeit via those frenetic Asian tour buses, so it probably doesn’t count). London, Paris, Barcelona…those destinations pop up again and again in your social media feed. And even if Eastern Europe is mentioned, Prague, Vienna and the stunning Croatian coastline basically overshadow everyone else. Which means that underrated Budapest has stayed out of the limelight, quietly chugging along. *Again, this is only from the North American perspective halfway across the world. Budapest is a popular tourist hub within Europe, that’s for sure.
The next morning, I awoke in a sombre mood, and trudged downstairs to breakfast with heavy steps. Our B&B owner politely inquired, “How did you sleep?” I responded in a bitter tone, “Terribly!” Ever the gracious host, he gasped with horror. “How come?!” I stared at him incredulously. “Because…the election!” He breathed a huge sigh of relief, thankful that it wasn’t an issue with his pride and joy, and nodded. “Oh yes, it was quite the shock.”
The second thing I love most about Montreal is its love and respect for art, especially street art. Brooklyn and Berlin, another two places I’ve been, also share that passion. Toronto is sorely, woefully lacking in colourful and interesting visuals amidst the greys and browns. The first thing that I love about Montreal, of course, is the abundance of wifi partout. There are many things Toronto does better than Montreal (which I’ll list in the next post, the conclusion), but in these two areas, it’s not even a competition.
For Canadians, Toronto vs. Montreal used to be the mother of all rivalries. Nowadays, the rivalry is a mere shadow of its former self, thanks to two major factors: 1) Toronto hockey sucks, and the city has finally woken up to this fact, and 2) Toronto has experienced rapid growth, while Montreal remains mostly the same (which is part of its charm, of course). I hadn’t been to la belle province (Québec) since I moved from Ottawa almost a decade ago – though my past visits shouldn’t really count since they were basically just nightlife tours. This time, I would do Montreal proper, especially since I was with someone whose entire country thinks the capital of Canada is Montreal :p
Just 2 hours from Toronto, before Kingston, is a desert beach (a desert and a beach all rolled into one) that, once again, makes you question whether you’re still in Ontario or an entirely different country. Prince Edward County (PEC) is more known as wine country, but if you’re just a casual vino fan like me, fret not, there’s still other things to see here. Not a whole lot I admit, but still worth it to come for a couple of days.
When C told me she was raised on a farm, I grew starry eyed, barely able to contain my excitement. “Like…a real farm?” I whispered, eyes widening. As I get older, I find myself yearning more for big skies and fields of green. When I was younger, I thought I’d never leave the city, and couldn’t for the life of me understand why people wanted backyards and gardens. I didn’t (don’t?) mind small spaces, and I loved the vibrancy of a bustling metropolis. Some things haven’t changed; I still love the convenience (especially since I can’t drive!) and diversity of cities, but now I really want a garden. Actually, I want a greenhouse with a fountain like you see in those botanical gardens, but I should probably start small ;p
We romanticize and wanderlust after overseas travel so much that we forget there are gems in our own backyards (unless you live in like, Hawaii). A few years ago, I came across a stunning picture of what looked like the Caribbean sea, except, incredibly, it was only a few hours’ driving distance away. I sent the picture to my friends with the emphatic caption, “WE HAVE TO GO THERE!!!” My friend C responded with a casual, “Oh, I’m from there.” Thus began years of trying to experience this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in person, until I finally managed to make the trip this summer. In the meantime, Bruce Peninsula National Park had exploded in popularity thanks to social media, which seemed funny to locals like C. Growing up, they never imagined that people would go crazy over the “Caribbean of Ontario”; to them, it was just a pretty and fun place to hang out with your friends. The grass is always greener on the other side…