Montreal was an absolute treat of a city- I visited a friend I met many moons ago diving in Malaysia, and we managed to recreate our travel vibe from those tropical days- lots of delicious food, lots of walks, and lots of hanging out in the sunshine. Staying with Gen and her family was so peaceful and luxurious, a time filled with laughter and delicious food. Montreal was just really settling into spring, and as the trees exploded with green buds every man and his dog took advantage of the beautiful sunshine. There is something so celebratory about a city that has just endured an incredibly cold snowy winter, a feeling I don't encounter so much in Aus. We got on board the celebration train, and enjoyed a huge thrumming drum circle in the park, vegan poutine by a river, vegan icecream by the pool (yes my time in Canada heavily revolved around my stomach), and much walking up hills and around the beautiful European-esque architecture of old town. I really loved the vibe of Montreal- it is awesome to hear people effortlessly switch between French and English, the street art and architecture are both beautiful and there are outdoor terraces for every café so you can better enjoy the newly minted spring weather. Montreal was also where I finally managed to see a raccoon- despite my best efforts to find one in the U S of A and being told these 'trash pandas' were everywhere, I had sadly been disappointed until one evening when Gen and I went on our nightly raccoon patrol, and lo and behold, there was a raccoon just loitering in an archway of someone's garden. I forgot to breathe, almost cried, of course didn't manage to document the cute little guy at all, and provided much entertainment for Gen with my excitement stupor.
I really enjoyed my time in Jasper- from my friends' beautiful lakeside wedding to my week in the forest with no running water, enjoying vegan delights at a quaint café in town to racking up 15km hikes and finding snow still on some mountain trails, it was a delightful mix of catching up with friends and being out amongst the nature. Canada feels like New Zealand on steroids- the mountains are bigger and sharper, the lakes bluer (but just as cold, I can attest after an afternoon of cliff jumping), more snow and definitely more wildlife to be aware of. My bus out of Jasper left at an early 5am, but this dawn timing meant my drive to Kelowna was peppered with wildlife sightings- we stopped for a big black bear to make his leisurely way across the road, then slowed for elk and then again for a lone coyote loping along. Kelowna was also beautiful, though less striking than Jasper- more rolling hills than jagged Rockies. I was so grateful to be able to drop in on a friend from NZ exchange days (and after that an Aus summer flat share) and to be able to catch up on the last few years of our lives while basking in the sunshine by the huge lake, and of course while enjoying awesome food- we happened upon a once-yearly vegan festival and enjoyed pizza, brownies, tempeh, granola, energy bars, cheesecake, pulled jackfruit burgers, tacos... not to mention the multiple varieties of vegan Ben and Jerry's we had stocked in her freezer.
My time in Vancouver has been plotted around food and some little errands to run before flying out tonight- really hard to believe I'm about to embark on a four month stint in Central America. Here come the tropics, and trotting out my university Spanish, and more fresh fruits than I know what to do with.
Hasta luego amigos,
PS- Top photo gallery in Montreal, bottom is Jasper and surrounds.