Posts for North America Category

CANADA TRAVEL GUIDE

Canada, Travel Guides - Ross French - August 15, 2017

CANADA TRAVEL GUIDE

Being the second largest country in the world, Canada attracts thousands of tourists every year with its diverse landscape and rich history. The culture and the people of this great country is as diverse as its landscapes. From tundras to forests to deserts to huge mountains to rocky beaches, Canada is a country where each and every traveler is in for a treat. It is such a huge country that at least a few months should be spent exploring the beauty and culture this country has in store to offer. This extensive Canada travel guide talks everything Canada – from accommodation costs to food to daily budget to must do activities – so that you can plan the perfect trip to this Great White Northern country.

Essential Information:

Languages spoken: English (85.6%) French (30.1%)
Currency: Canadian dollar ($/C$)
Best time to go: Autumn (September – October)
Main concern for travelers: Frequent snow storms and avalanches in the mountainous regions in winter.

Destinations:

• Toronto
• Vancouver
• Quebec city
• Montreal
• Whitehorse
• Ottawa
• Nova Scotia
• Calgary

When to Visit:

Although Canada is such a huge country, the weather condition remains more or less the same throughout the country. The peak season in Canada is during the summer months. During June to August, the far Northern regions of Canada thaws for some period. The warm weather and sunshine attracts travelers from all over the world. However, this is exactly why the prices of accommodations remains really high during this period. From December to march, the Northern ski resort towns remain equally busy and expensive.
The best time to visit Canada is actually during the autumn months. The weather during September and October remains really pleasant. Temperature all around the country starts to fall, but remains comfortable. Crowds during these months becomes thin, and the prices drop nearly 20-30%. In addition to some awesome bargains, you’ll also be able to enjoy the foliage in full bloom in these months. The winter months are marked as low season for everywhere in Canada except the ski resort towns, as temperatures drop too low. However, if you want to travel really cheap, you can find the best bargains during the months of November and April.

Money and Costs:

Accommodation:

The cost of accommodation in Canada does vary a lot from city to city. Normally you’ll be able to find a dorm bed at C$27 – C$30. If you want a little more privacy, then you can get a private room in a hostel within C$60 – C$70. In larger cities however, the prices tend to be quite higher than this. Especially in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa, accommodation prices can be really high. A double room in a budget hotel will cost anywhere between C$75 – C$180. A luxurious double room in high end hotels will cost upwards of C$200 (above C$250 in larger cities).

Airbnb is quite popular in Canada, especially in the larger cities. You can find lots of options for a shared room at about C$30. For entire houses or apartments, you’ll have to spend over C$80/night on an average. There are plenty of options for camping as well across the country. Camping at a basic pitch will cost about C$10 – C$30 per night. However availability of camping pitch can be an issue. So make sure to book your pitch well in advance, especially if you’re travelling during the peak season.

Food:

Cost of food in Canada is almost as diverse as the country itself. The food in restaurants is generally on the higher side. A regular meal at a budget restaurant can cost about C$15 to C$30. Meals at mid-range restaurant will cost over C$30. And if you want a taste of the most delectable offerings of Canada, then a three course meal at a high end restaurant will cost well over C$50 without drinks. However, you can also have a decent meal for fairly cheap if you want to. Meals from various street food stalls, self-service meals at markets or supermarkets or fast food items will cost about C$8 –C$12 per meal.

A pint of imported beer at restaurants will cost about C$6.50 whereas half liter local draught beer will cost about C$6. You can buy the same pint of imported beer from a store for C$3.01, and half liter bottle of domestic beer for C$2.59. A bottle of mid-range local wine will cost about C$15 off the shelf.

Transportation:

Canada is a huge country, and it is known for long drive tours. The country is best explored by car. You can rent a car to drive between its provinces for about C$35 – C$65 per day. This is also a great option if you are staying for a long time in the country. However, if you want to travel by train, then the VIA Rail service is there for you. They connect most of the major cities and the journeys are known to be really scenic. Tickets start from C$33 and can go up to C$397 for a ride in their economy class. For a more luxurious train ride though, fares can go well over C$1500. You can also opt for air travel. However with only two major airlines, the plane tickets cost quite high in Canada.

Most travelling within a city, the public transport service in Canada is really nice especially in bigger cities. A one-way ticket for the metro service costs about C$3. There are also a lot of buses to travel within and between cities. Megabus is be the cheapest option to travel between cities. You can travel between Ontario and Quebec for as low as C$1 if you book your ticket in advance. Red Arrow, Greyhound and Coach Canada are some other options if you want to avail bus service in Canada.

Activities:

Canada, with its rich history, culture and its varied landscape, has a lot of attractions and activities to offer. Entrance fees for most of the activities cost between C$5 – C$20. There are a lot of outdoor activities like kayaking, snowboarding, rafting etc. Costs of these activities range from C$20 – C$100. Guided tours also cost about the same. A skiing day pass starts from C$50 – C$80 per person.

Approximate budget per day:

• Up to C$100/day for backpackers with meals from markets and some sightseeing.

• C$150 – C$250/day including meals at decent restaurants and entrance to most attractions and few activities.

• Over C$€300/day including meals at high end restaurants, skiing day pass and guided tours.

Budget Tips for Backpackers:

1. Buy bottles of wine and beers from local shops. The prices will be much lesser than buying from a bar.

2. Eating from cheap sandwich shops will save you a lot of money.

3. Always eat from cafes instead of restaurants.

4. Buying groceries and cooking you own food will be much cheaper.

5. If you’re travelling during summer, then keep an eye out for free outdoor summer festivals.

6. If you’re renting a car, then make sure you buy gas from native reserves. You’ll find the cheapest rates here as the taxes are much lower.

7. Use coupon sites like Groupon or Living Social to get deals in local restaurants or attractions.

8. Look for rideshares on Facebook, Couchsurfing, Craigslist etc. for travelling between major cities.

9. Couchsurfing is a great option to avoid the huge accommodation costs of Italy.

Must See Attractions and Must Do Activities in Canada:

Visit the Niagara Falls:

The most obvious inclusion in any Canada travel guide is a trip to the Niagara Falls. Situated between the province of Ontario and New York is this world famous site. It’s the collective name of three large waterfalls located in this area. One cannot fathom the grandeur of these falls without experiencing them in person. The captivating beauty and the misty landscape will surely blow you away. You can go for a helicopter tour over the iconic Horseshoe Falls, or an adrenalin filled jet boat ride through Niagara Gorge. The Niagara region also has a lot of other activities in store for you to enjoy – ranging from live music, theatre, museums, cruises etc.

Explore Vancouver:

Located in British Columbia, this west coast city of Canada is beautiful with its coast mountains on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The easygoing, cosmopolitan vibes of this beautiful city is win over you with all its beauty. You can enjoy the metropolitan beauty of the busy streets, and within ten minutes go hiking in the mountains. You’ll love the blend of nature and city life Vancouver has in store for you. The friendly people, the delicious Asian food, the beautiful weather, everything about this city makes it a must visit place in our Canada travel guide.

Take a trip to Vancouver Island:

From Vancouver, take a trip to the Vancouver Island to enjoy some leisurely days. Enjoy the delicious sea food, go hiking, shop and busk under the sun at the beach. You can also spot some whales here. This is a perfect place to enjoy some relaxing days while you’re in Canada.

Visit Montreal:

Montreal, the second largest city of Canada has an extremely French flavor to it. It’s a modern yet romantic city which will surely win your heart. Wander through the cobbled roads of Old Montreal. Visit the quirky stores, cafes and the colorful houses of Le Plateau. This city also hosts the world’s largest jazz festival in June and July.

Take a tour into history in Quebec City:

The Old Quebec is the only remaining walled city of North America. A trip to this UNESCO listed city will take you back into history. The 17th century houses, the age old architecture and the café culture make this city unique in its own way. Witness the luxury of Chateau Frontenac, visit the star shaped citadel indulge yourself in the local arts and crafts while you stroll through this historic city.

Drive through Cabot Trail:

Enjoy the beautiful region of Nova Scotia while you drive through Cabot Trail. This beautiful trail has become the most popular recreational activity of Nova Scotia. Its winding roads, the cliff-top panoramic views, the picturesque beaches the artists’ workshops beside the road will surely make your Canadian road trip a memorable one.

See the Northern Lights:

One of nature’s most beautiful phenomena, the Aurora Borealis is frequently witnessed from the Northern regions of Canada. Experiencing these ethereal lights can truly be a once in a lifetime experience. That is why couldn’t help but include it as a must do activity in our Canada travel guide. Take a tour from Yellowknife city across a frozen lake, or hole up in Labrador city for a chance of witnessing this natural magnetic wonder.

Whale watching off the Bay of Fundy:

This 270 km long Atlantic bay is to home the largest tidal range of the world. The bay stretches from the province of Nova Scotia to New Brunswick. You can go whale watching, watch the incredible changes of the inter-tidal zones or go for a rafting trip while you’re here.

Food tour in Quebec City:

The UNESCO listed World Heritage Site of Old Quebec also has some of the tastiest French-Canadian cuisine for you to try. In your trip to Canada, going on a food tour through the cobbled streets of Quebec City is a must. Discover the hidden local gems in Old Quebec and St-Jean-Baptiste, and indulge in a plethora of regional delicacies.

Go Skiing:

During winter, the mountains of Canada becomes perfect for snowboarding and skiing. If you have a taste for skiing and snowboarding, then these will be a must during your winter vacation in Canada.

Visit Banff National Park:

Banff National Park is the oldest national park of Canada. With its 6,641 square kilometers of beautiful mountain scenery, 26 square kilometer hot springs reserve and the supremely beautiful Lake Louise, this park is a must visit attraction for all the travelers.

See the polar bears and beluga whales in Churchill, Manitoba:

The small town of Churchill is most famous for the large number of polar bears that move inland from the shores during autumn. You can safely view the majestic polar bears from the specially modified buses known as “tundra buggies”. Also in July and August, thousands of beluga whales migrate to the Churchill River estuary located in this region. They are one of the major summer attraction of this region. Polar bears are also present during this time.

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8 Reasons to Visit the USA this Spring

Central America, North America, South America, Travel Blog - Ross French - March 10, 2017

USA

The USA has a diverse climate, ranging from hot and humid to below freezing point. Many travellers who plan to visit America need to be well-informed about its varying climate. However, the spring months between March to May is a perfect time to visit the US.

Since each geographical region in the US is different, visitors can experience a generally mild and pleasant climate in all regions during spring time. In the Northeast and Middle Atlantic states such as New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, spring is mild and beautiful. In the Central Plains region of Kansas and Nebraska, spring is short and pleasant, and in the Southeast states like Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee, spring time is awash with colourful blooms.

Here are 8 great reasons to visit the USA this spring. Choose the most compelling reason, plan a trip well, take our travel insurance, and go have your spring adventure.

1.Portland Rose Festival – Portland, Oregon

Portland’s weather in April, May, and June brings spring showers to the city, which is why it is an ideal place for roses to thrive. Every year, the city of Portland celebrates spring with their signature festival, the Portland Rose Festival. Known as the “City of Roses”, you also get to see and smell thousands of rose varieties all-abloom at the International Rose Test Garden. In April, Portland also hosts the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival, where visitors get to see 40 acres of tulips and daffodils in bloom in an event which also includes food, wine, and pony rides.

2.Historic Sights and Beautiful Beach – Cape May, New Jersey

Recognized as one of America’s best beaches, Cape May is a historical seaside town in New Jersey. Being one of the oldest resort towns in the US, the town is dotted with Victorian architecture and it is also a top bird-watching location. Spring is the best time to relax in this beach town, before the summer residents and holidaymakers descend.

3.National Cherry Blossom Festival – Washington, D.C.

From late March to early April, the country’s capital Washington, D.C. is awash with wonderful cherry blossoms. This is why the city celebrates the National Cherry Blossom Festival every year. The mild weather is also perfect for bike rides, moonlit river cruises, and walking around the city where many attractions are free, including the National Archives and the Capitol building.

4.Yosemite National Park – California, USA

Spring time is the perfect season to view the stunning waterfalls at Yosemite National Park. Since warmer weather are starting to melt the snow, you will encounter the gushing falls at its most powerful as you hike through snow-free Yosemite Valley and Hetch Hetchy, which are already snow-free by April. The tourist crowd has not arrived yet, so you get the feeling that you have the vast park to yourself. Weather in the Yosemite Valley is quite variable, though, and lightning-caused fires may sometimes occur. To protect yourself from these calamities, it is best to get proper travel insurance coverage before visiting the park.

5.Post Mardi Gras – New Orleans, Louisiana

When the revellers of Mardi Gras have come and gone, New Orleans still has a lot of fun. Springtime is the best time to visit with its cool weather and list of music festivals and outdoor concerts such as the French Quarter Fest. It is also great to walk around the city and see its best sights by foot. Spring is also crawfish season. You haven’t experienced New Orleans if you haven’t tried boiled crawfish!

6.Santa Fe, New Mexico

The weather in Santa Fe can get extremely hot in the summer, so spring time is an ideal time to visit and appreciate the city’s sweeping view of the desert and its artistic and cultural vibe. This city of art and culture is also an ideal place to visit if you’re into old churches, and interesting architecture.

7.Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is bordered with 1 million acres of forest land, and many people visit this place for its stunning skyline and sandstone colour palettes, which range from burnt orange to mustard yellow. Summer time is stifling hot, but March to May has ideal temperatures. The place is in full bloom with stunning desert flora, and it is an ideal time to engage in outdoor activities.

8.Great American Road trip – Skyline Drive, Virginia

America is known for its vast, scenic highways, and while there are many beautiful highways in this great country, one of the best routes to drive through in spring is 105 miles (169 kilometres) of Skyline Drive, which stretches through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Spring adds blooming flowers to the landscape. The National Park hosts the yearly Wildflower Weekend to showcase its more than 1,000 species of plants.

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Casino Resorts: A Brief History

North America - Ross French - March 4, 2017

Casinos today are more than just games of chance. They’re the biggest hotels, concert venues, theaters and offer a multitude of experiences. A symbol of entertainment and indulgence, modern casino resorts, complete with over-the-top architecture and flamboyance, are on the bucket list of most travel junkies.

While no one is sure where it all started, there are references to games of chance all through history. It was in the early 17th century in Italy that a venue was created that could be remotely associated with the casino of today. Soon such venues appeared in several places in Europe, but it was America that gave the world its first casinos as we know them today, in the form of gambling saloons.

The first few casinos were found in Chicago, San Francisco and New Orleans during the early 20th century. However, it was only in 1931, when gambling was legalized, that everything changed forever. Casinos have evolved a lot since then and we now have casino holidays that are widely popular and there are entire cities that are totally devoted to it.

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Universal Studios – Must Visit Attraction for All

North America, Travel Blog - Ross French - December 20, 2016

Universal Studios, Orlando is a world-famous vacation destination with production studios, exciting rides, a water park, film sets and onsite luxury hotels. Situated within the Universal Orlando Resort area, the site is home to four exciting entertainment experiences in one location and includes more than 40 thrilling rides and 3D shows. It makes for an ideal destination for a family vacation. However, to make the experience hassle free, it’s wiser to get your tickets online before you go! Continue Reading

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3 Fantastic Things To Do In New York City

North America, Travel Blog - Ross French - July 21, 2016

New York City

There is something about New York City. It is one of the most memorable cities in the entire world. Known for its bright lights, vibrant energy, and the endless list of things to experience…there is a reason so many people long to visit. Is The Big Apple on your wish list? Have you been dreaming of an unforgettable vacation? Here are three fantastic things to do on a trip to New York City.

Do Some Serious Shopping. There is one thing we all love to do on vacation: go souvenir shopping. It is exciting to bring unique gifts home for friends and family. Oh, and splurge on ourselves a bit, too! Not to worry. There is no shortage of great shopping in NYC. In fact, the shopping in New York is legendary. There is absolutely everything to choose from. Whether you have an unlimited budget, something more modest, or fall somewhere in between. You can find unbelievable places to get your shop on. The city is full of traditional souvenir shops as well as mid-range stores (think Forever 21, the Disney Store, and other Times Square drawing cards). Then there are the high-end shops. 5th Avenue has it all. Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Armani, and Prada, to name a few! Whoever you are shopping for – and whatever your budget may be – New York City has what you want.3 Fantastic Things To Do In New York City 2

Go And See a Broadway Production. It simply isn’t a trip to The Big Apple without seeing a Broadway performance. It doesn’t matter if you choose a play or a musical…. the experience is one that cannot be missed. There are many different performances to choose from at the moment. (Hamilton is easily the most popular. Not to mention the hardest to get tickets for.) So take a look at the scheduled time of your trip. Then determine what is playing and book some tickets of your own. On a budget? That doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your Broadway experience. Just head to one of the many discount ticket boots in the city. They sell cheap tickets for same day performances. The selection might be a tad limited but it’s a great way to save some cash.3 Fantastic Things To Do In New York City 3

Check Out The Iconic Sights. It doesn’t end there! Your trip to New York City should also be packed with things to see. There are so many incredible sights! Like the iconic Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Times Square, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is even the famous restaurant exterior from Seinfeld. Yes, the city boasts architecture, history, entertainment, and so much more. That is what makes New York such an exciting city to visit. You can customize your trip to match your interests. Just be sure to add Central Park to your travel itinerary. It allows you to slow down a little. The expansive grounds, large trees, and breathtaking sights will add to your vacation. Not to mention the Central Park Zoo, the restaurants, and the John Lennon memorial. Walk around and fall in love with New York City.

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