The Magdalen islands are fascinating. Located right in the middle of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, they are not easy to reach but totally rewarding and worth the effort. So take the plane (expensive but fast) or a ferry-boat from Montreal (expensive and slow), from Chandler (giving you the opportunity to also visit beautiful Gaspesia) or from Souris on Prince Edward Island (the least expensive option and fastest boat connection). Try to spend a week there to fully enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of these very special and highly photogenic islands.
Vancouver left me dubious… Despite a clearly strong quality of life, the high number of homeless people in the streets is troubling. When you know how overpriced real estate is in this city, you get the feeling Vancouver’s quality of life comes with a hefty price tag. Aside from this fact, here is what I liked most about it.
Attached to the city center, Stanley Park surely has something to do with the fact Vancouver is so often listed as one of the world’s most livable cities. If you have plenty of time, walk along the seashore to circle the entire park. In any case, don’t miss the famous Vancouver seawall (best and most iconic view of the city) and the totems. Both are close to the park’s urban side.
The Canadian Rockies are famous for their breathtaking beauty. You won’t be disappointed! From snow-covered mountain peaks to endless forests and turquoise lakes, the Rockies really are amongst the most spectacular nature wonders on this planet. Start from Banff to end in Jasper, with plenty to see along the way. You will drive through 2 national parks, so be sure to buy the pass for the entire duration of your visit (the national parks can be driven through without a permit but in this case you are not allowed to stop at tourist spots and take smaller roads).
Let’s face it right away, 2 days to experience both these national parks is short. But if you don’t have more time and still want to see the main highlights, it’s feasible! You just need to be well prepared. This suggested itinerary starts in Gardiner (Montana), close to Yellowstone’s North Entrance. You will go all the way down through both national parks until Jackson (Wyoming) on day 1 and then all the way up back to Gardiner via a different way on day 2 (first night in Gardiner, second night in Jackson and third night in Gardiner). Roads are in good condition and (most of) the main sights are very close to a parking, which make these great national parks easy to visit. All the attractions are clearly marked and the visitor centers provide very good maps of each site. Note that this trip can only be done in summertime, when all the roads are open.
These 2 US-cities in the Pacific Northwest region and less than 3 hours from each other by car are well worth a few days’ visit. Like any big city in the world, Seattle and Portland offer many sights to the traveller… Here is a short list of the main things to do if you have only a day or two for each city.