Showing posts from July, 2018

Québec City: A Culinary Tour

Quebec City is like a fairy-tale landscape with a castle, Le Chateau Frontenac, that stands impressively on top of the hill with fortified walls. This best-known landmark of Quebec is part of the Historic District of Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is made up of two parts: The Upper Town, sitting atop Cap Diamant with fortified ramparts, a citadel, and other battlefield grounds, and the Lower Town, which is around the area of Place Royale and the harbor.  And it was down at sea level, Lower Town, where we began our culinary tour. Prior to the organized culinary tour, I wandered through the Marché du Vieux-Port -- the city’s wonderful farmers' market, where I found the freshest vegetables and the reddest strawberries. Little did I know that the culinary tour would start at the Marché du Vieux-Port or I should have known because “Good cooking starts with good ingredients.”  Our culinary guide explained that the strawberries and fresh vegetables come

Montreal: Lost in the Jazz

I arrived in Montreal late Thursday night and checked into my hotel after 12:00am. I walked into an elevator full of musicians, each holding a musical instrument. They obviously knew each other and got off the same floor – one floor below me - except for the one guy who apologized for holding up the elevator. He said he was just saying Goodnight to his friends. Guess what I saw and heard when I turned on the TV? It dawned on me that I just had an elevator ride with one of the famous bands that had a hit song in the ‘90s, the name of the band was mentioned in the news relative to the cost of concert tickets. My trip to Montreal coincided with the biggest Jazz Festival in the world – The Festival International de Jazz de Montreal. The hotel that I stayed in was in the Complexe Desjardins mall downtown, the core of the festival. It was past 9:00am when I stepped out of the hotel to explore the city when I noticed lots of people walking in front of the Jardin complexes, towards the

Alaska: Port of Call Skagway

Skagway The  tiny town of Skagway is a very popular port of call for cruise ships. Its main draw is its historical district of about 100 buildings from the gold rush era and the White Pass and Yukon Route that runs its narrow-gauge train during the summer months, mainly for tourists. Instead of taking the most popular White Pass Train Ride, we opted for the bus tour to the White Pass and Yukon territory because I thought it would provide lots of opportunities for pictures. We drove through the Klondike Highway, which paralleled much of the Gold Rush Trail of 1898. We saw an amazing panorama of mountains, glaciers, gorges, famous waterfalls like the Pitchfork Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and many other smaller waterfalls, historical places like the Moore Creek Bridge, and views of the White Pass & Yukon Railroad along the route. Our driver/guide did a great job of retelling the history of the Gold Rush, how stampeders or prospectors struggled to climb the trail carrying tons

Alaska: Port of Call Juneau

Juneau It was raining when we arrived in Juneau. After breakfast, the fog began to rise revealing the mountains. I could see a red cable car ascending toward the mountain towering above from the ship's panoramic window. As soon as we got off the ship, I realized that the cable car station called Mount Roberts Tramway was just a few steps from the pier. It was considered one of steepest (the most vertical) tramways in the world. Juneau is a popular tourist destination. I found so many stalls at the pier offering different types of tours including the most popular tour to the Mendenhall Glacier. Of course, we pre-booked this tour from the cruise ship. We hopped onto the bus to travel twelve miles north along one of Juneau’s two major roads with the bay side on one side of the road and the fog-covered mountains on the other side. Our destination was the base of the Mendenhall Glacier. Our driver would point to an eagle on top of the streetlight, and a few more in the open fields

Alaska: Port of Call Ketchikan

Ketchikan I just had time to muse about my wonderful experience exploring the Inside Passage and some parts of the Tongass National Park while on a cruise to Alaska with my sisters. Our first port of call was Ketchikan, a very small town famous for three things: rain, salmon, and totem poles. So, most of the shore excursions involve rainforest, fish and totem poles. The weather forecast on our arrival was rain, but for a city dubbed as the “rain capital of Alaska”, it was beautiful and sunny when we arrived. The arch sign “the Salmon Capital of the World” greeted us as soon as we got off the ship. I gathered from the sign that Ketchikan was a small enough to explore on our own because only small towns would build or put out signs as tourist attractions to draw crowds. We could have explored the whole town on our own in no time, but we already pre-booked a walking tour. We arrived a couple of hours before the scheduled tour, so we walked around to check the shops out (mostly souvenir