Soon, we’ll all be saying adieu to 2012. I can look back at the current year and remember half of it, mostly, the trips I’ve done. At least I visited two countries this year: USA (for the 2nd time) and Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.
JANUARY 2012 (Montreal)
I rang the New Year at a friend’s house party in Montreal. It was my very first time and I was already warned and advised NOT to visit the city in winter. “It’s freezing,” they said. “And there’s not much to see there during the freezing months. It’s boring.” Oh well, their words of wisdom didn’t dissuade me to go. And the sojourn turned out just great! I love Montreal–that I promised to experience / visit it again in summer.
FEBRUARY 2012 (Dominican Republic)
In February, together with my colleagues in school, we flew to Punta Cana in Dominican Republic where they spent their seven days in the beach, sun and sand. Me? Don’t get me wrong. I love a tropical weather, especially when you’re literally right by the sandy, white beach. But, I’m not a vacationer. I don’t wanna “waste” my time doing the same thing in the beach everyday. , where we stayed, was kilometers away from the nearest town. There’s no culture to be learned in the resort, except, the nightly cultural shows / presentations. Package vacations isn’t just my thing.
So what did I do to get away from such secluded beach? I made a side trip to Santo Domingo where I met two friends: a local (Angel) and a Swiss friend (Lea) whom I met back in Beijing. Lea and I had a really bad experience while on our way back to the hostel from attending a carnaval. We were robbed and physically attacked by teenagers who took away her purse.
MAY 2012 (Ottawa)
David (my Spanish roommate) and I went for a long weekend trip to Ottawa. I was really surprised when I learned that Canada’s capital has no subway. Really? Yes, really. LOL… We were planning to stay there for 3 days by couchsurfing but after sleeping there for a night, we decided to go back to Toronto. We were bored. There was not much to do there. But, hey, they’ve got the hottest young busker I’ve ever seen. Hahahahaha…
August 2012 (Washington DC and Philadelphia, USA)
Before David went back to Spain, we packed our bags for Washington DC and Philadelphia. I got a really good megabus deal. Toronto-Washington DC-Philadelphia-Toronto only cost me $17.50! The 11-hour trip via megabus was nothing but fun (read: sleep).
As soon as I arrived in Washington DC, I was very nostalgic to the time when I was young. Staring at the Capitol Building, I looked back to the time when I first saw it in a picture and in a movie. As far as I could remember, I didn’t even wish to be standing in front of it someday. For me, back then, it was an impossible dream for a young student who grew up in a village. But years later, there I was…. It’s almost a surreal feeling.
Philadelphia was a blast. Hosted by a very generous and accommodating gay couple via couchsurfing, our impression of Philadelphia was really great. Being a historical city, there’s a lot of things to do. As a product of an educational system that’s based on US curriculum, the places and people we studied in history books, came alive before my eyes. I set my foot in those places and “met” the icons of American history. Boy, history isn’t boring afterall. 🙂 And hey, a pitcher (yes, pitcher!) of local beer in Philly only cost less than 5 bucks! Unbelievable!
September 2012 (Montreal and Quebec City)
Before summer ended, I fulfilled my promised of going back to Montreal to experience Europe in shorts, shirts and sandals. Though it was wee chilly in the morning and late night, I was mostly garbed in shirts and shorts. The city has a different charm, indeed, in summer. The sidewalk cafes are my favorite places to hang out for people watching. At night, Old Montreal was alive with performances in city squares and parks: musicians, buskers and other performing artists show off their skills in wide, open spaces.
Quebec City is a smaller city than Montreal but it’s the center of Quebec politics. Most of the interesting stuff to do, try and visit are within the Old Quebec which was once a walled city. Quebecois, I observed, are art lovers. The city is abounding with small arts shops, galleries and street artists selling their art works. Like Montreal, I love Quebec, too. However, I won’t stay longer there. I could be bored easily. But, it’s much more interesting than Ottawa, for sure. LOL…
October 2012 (Niagara)
One weekend, I woke early with nothing planned in mind. Looking out the window, the sun teased me to go out and do something. Out of nowhere, I thought of going to Niagara again, for the 6th time. When I went to the bus station, there were only two tickets left. It’s my lucky day, I guess. There, I did the White Water Walk which is down south of the Niagara Falls for the first time. I stayed there until evening to delight in night view of the Mighty Niagara Falls. Before midnight, I took a bus back to Toronto.