Some quick observations/notes from my trip, before I forget them all during the daily grind that sure will catch up to me in a few days:
- On the way to Montreal: Traveling along I-87 north, I noticed many of the roadside display panels were outfitted with solar panels. These panels display useful info like traffic conditions or reminders about drinking and driving, etc. They are in the middle of nowhere but spend all day in the sun so it makes sense to have them run on solar power. They may cost more initially but in the long run, it's good for the environment to use something free like the sun's energy. Kudos to New York State!
- Montreal: We stayed in the Downtown area. There were many restaurants but none were all Vietnamese. I guess the Vietnamese population isn't that big there. Or perhaps the Vietnamese gather elsewhere and not on Catherine Street. The only full day we were there it rained most of the day. We spent a few hours in the Science Center, then walked to Chinatown, but on the way back we were caught in some big downpour.
- Quebec: Gotta love those hills in Old Quebec! By the time we set out from the hotel, we caught the last elevator up to the side of the hill, the portion that Highway 404 runs past. On the way back, we had to walk down. It was somewhat scary for the kids in the group, but all was safe and sound. Like Montreal, Quebec had a strong French presence. My three years of high school French didn't prepare me to converse with anyone, but it helped somewhat in reading the signs on the street, although half of time they were in both English and Francais.
- Ottawa: Nothing to see but the Parliament area. They even cancelled the light show at 9pm and 10pm, then the next morning we found out the last Changing of the Guard was held last week, no more for the rest of the year. Our large group of 14 was snuffed by the waittresses at some famous restaurant called Coaster or something like that. They squeeze us into a corner that fitted maybe ten and wouldn't bother us. We ended up leaving the restaurant and ate at a Vietnamese place on Somerset. There had to be many Vietnamese in Ottawa because the parking meters had Vietnamese instructions, along with the usual English and, not surprisingly, Chinese.
- Toronto: Fruits, fruits, and more fruits. We spent maybe 500$Can on fresh fruits. I knew all the fruits from my days in Vietnam but my in-law went crazy over them exotic fruits. My favorite is rambutan but ma~ng ca^`u dai (sorry, don't know the English name) is good too. The environmentalist in me quickly noticed that in the Toronto area, "garbage" is supposed to be separated into organic (fruit peels, food leftover, etc) and the usual recyclable (paper, plaster, glass) or real garbage. Don't forget yard waste. I'm sure it's a little pain to adhere to the regulation but that's really helpful to the garbage problem. I suppose the organic stuff are collected to be turned into compost, perhaps sold for cheap or even given away.