June 3, 2019

Montreal, Canada: Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel + Underground City; hotel review + things to do


Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel  900 Rene Levesque Blvd. W, (866) 540-4483, (514) 861-3511.  950 rooms; 21 stories.  Pool; full-service spa; exercise room.

exterior of Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada
exterior of Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada


Opened in 1958, this was one of the first hotels in North America with escalators, centralized air conditioning, and direct dial telephones in each room.  It is located conveniently adjacent to the train station.  In 1969, the hotel shot to superstardom when Yoko Ono and John Lennon stayed here on their honeymoon in suite 1472.  Their “bed-in for peace” lasted two weeks, and during this time they composed and recorded “Give Peace a Chance.”  And now it is possible for guests to book this suite!  The Marche Artisans gift shop purveys items from local makers as well as food treats.  Offering low-key luxury, this hotel remains the largest in the city and offers an entrance that was the first link into the Underground City.

lobby of Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada
lobby of Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada


Marche Artisans gift shop at Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada
Marche Artisans gift shop at Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada



Underground City  Montreal's underground pedestrian network extends for about 20 miles and is the world’s largest.  It connects shopping centers, performing arts venues, and other buildings, but also has shops lining its tunnel passages.  The entrances are in different areas of the city, and some sections are connected by subway (so the tunnel is not continuous; it has lapses).  And though the network is not always underground, it is always indoors, and it is especially popular in summer, when it is air-conditioned, and in winter, when it is heated.

Information Map at Underground City in Montreal, Canada
Information Map at Underground City in Montreal, Canada

shop in Underground City in Montreal, Canada
shop in Underground City in Montreal, Canada


entrance/exit in Underground City in Montreal, Canada
entrance/exit in Underground City in Montreal, Canada



More things to do in Montreal.

More things to do in Canada.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


May 30, 2019

Montreal, Canada: Montreal bagels might be the best in the world!


Montreal bagels might be the best in the world!

baskets of fresh bagels at St-Viateur Bagel in Plateau area of Montreal, Canada
baskets of fresh bagels at St-Viateur Bagel in Plateau area of Montreal, Canada


Montreal bagels are boiled in honey-infused water before they are baked, making them much sweeter than their famous NYC counterparts.  It seems to be generally agreed that the two best places in Montreal for bagels are these two places, which are positioned quite close to each other.


St-Viateur Bagel  263 Saint Viateur Ouest, Plateau Mont-Royal/Mile End, (514) 276-8044.  Open 24/7.

exterior of St-Viateur Bagel in Plateau area of Montreal, Canada
exterior of St-Viateur Bagel in Plateau area of Montreal, Canada

Serving bagels warm from the oven since 1957, the sesame here is the hands-down favorite.  I became an immediate fan, and would even go to say that it might be the best bagel I’ve ever eaten.  Who wouldn’t be won over by eating one of these warm-from-the-oven bagels that is  completely covered with fragrant little sesame seeds on the top and the bottom.  More St-Viateur Bagel  outlets and several cafes are scattered around the town.

St-Viateur Bagel & Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

bagels fresh from the oven at St-Viateur Bagel in Plateau area of Montreal, Canada
bagels fresh from the oven at St-Viateur Bagel in Plateau area of Montreal, Canada


purchase counter at St-Viateur Bagel in Plateau area of Montreal, Canada
purchase counter at St-Viateur Bagel in Plateau area of Montreal, Canada


Fairmount Bagel  74 Fairmount Ouest, Plateau Mont-Royal/Mile End, (514) 272-0667.  Open 24/7. 

This nearby bakery seems to have just as many avid fans, so I’m sure you can’t go wrong, but I didn’t get to personally try one of their bagels.  So if you have time, you might want to do a comparison.



●At the airport on my way out of town, I settled for a sesame bagel from the Montreal Bagels, and it was definitely very good.  I was not disappointed.  However, it wasn’t a St-Viateur Bagel and it was lacking some sesame seeds.



More things to do in Montreal.

More things to do in Canada.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


May 29, 2019

Montreal Canada: A visit to Vieux-Montreal + Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal; things to do


A visit to Vieux-Montréal and the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal

The site of the original city of Montreal, Vieux-Montréal is the center of the city's culture.  The beautiful 18th-century European-style buildings now house small museums, popular boutiques, and souvenir shops, and horse-drawn carriages rolling down cobblestone and brick streets now transport tourists.  Strolling here takes you past such notable sights as the Basilique Notre-Dame, the Hôtel de Ville/Town Hall/, the Vieux-Port/Old Port, as well as the Marché Bonsecours/Bonsecours Market.  Here, visitors mingle with locals at sidewalk cafes overlooking the river and at bars and clubs after dark, and everyone enjoys the summertime street performers at Place Jacques-Cartier. 

grand old building in Vieux-Montréal, Canada
grand old building in Vieux-Montréal, Canada


horse-drawn carriages waiting for a fare in Vieux-Montréal, Canada
horse-drawn carriages waiting for a fare in Vieux-Montréal, Canada



Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal   110 Notre-Dame Street West, in Vieux-Montréal, (514) 842-2925.  M-F 8am-4:30pm, Sat 8am-4pm, Sun 12:30-4pm.  Can$8, 7-17 $5; 20-min. guided tour included.  Looking quite simple from the street, as is the wont of so many grand cathedrals, Canada’s first Gothic Revival church seats 3,500 people.  It has two bell towers--one holds a 10-bell carillon and the other an 11-ton bell.  This grand basilica is dedicated to Our Lady Mary, and the interior sanctuary and altarpiece are strikingly gorgeous with a deep blue background and highly ornate gothic façade.  Detailed carved figures surround the masterpiece black walnut pulpit, and an impressive 7,000-pipe organ perches above the entrance.  Elaborate stained-glass windows made in Limoges, France, depict the history of Montreal’s founding.

The little Notre-Dame du Sacre-Coeur chapel behind the sanctuary was rebuilt after a fire in 1978.  It displays a huge, 32-panel bronze altarpiece that was cast in England and holds a 1,648-pipe organ.  This is where Céline Dion famously married her now-deceased husband.

exterior of Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal in Vieux-Montréal, Canada
exterior of Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal in Vieux-Montréal, Canada


interior of Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal in Vieux-Montréal, Canada
interior of Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal in Vieux-Montréal, Canada




pulpit in Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal in Vieux-Montréal, Canada
pulpit in Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal in Vieux-Montréal, Canada



7,000-pipe organ in Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal in Vieux-Montréal, Canada
7,000-pipe organ in Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal in Vieux-Montréal, Canada


More things to do in Montreal.

More things to do in Canada.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


May 23, 2019

Montreal, Canada: Un Po’ Di Piu + Montreal Observation Wheel/La Grande Roue; restaurant review + things to do


Un Po’ Di Piu  3 rue de la Commune St., Old Montreal, (514) 861-8686.  L-D daily.

couple seated at bar in Un Po’ Di Piu in Montreal, Canada
couple seated at bar in Un Po’ Di Piu in Montreal, Canada


Located across from the St. Lawrence River, this is one of the newest restaurants in Old Montreal.  The best way to begin a meal here is with a classic Negroni, or maybe a bubbly and colorful Aperol spritz.  For a non-alcoholic winner, order up the strawberry-balsamic-basil drink.  The cozy decor is actually brand new, but the menu is Old Italian with contemporary presentations.

drinks arrive at Un Po’ Di Piu in Montreal, Canada
drinks arrive at Un Po’ Di Piu in Montreal, Canada


I dined here with a group and we were presented with samplings of the menu.  Indeed, the menu is mostly small and medium plates meant to be shared.  Everything was delicious, but favorites included focaccias, a rather bizarre-but-tasty gnocchi with crispy chicken skin and squash, an apertivo tower, a burrata plate with roasted vegetables, and giant meatballs.

apertivo tower at Un Po’ Di Piu in Montreal, Canada
apertivo tower at Un Po’ Di Piu in Montreal, Canada


gnocchi with crispy chicken skin at Un Po’ Di Piu in Montreal, Canada
gnocchi with crispy chicken skin at Un Po’ Di Piu in Montreal, Canada


giant meatballs at Un Po’ Di Piu in Montreal, Canada
giant meatballs at Un Po’ Di Piu in Montreal, Canada

After dessert, enjoy another after-dinner treat--a ride on the nearby Montreal Observation Wheel.


Montreal Observation Wheel/La Grande Roue  362 rue de la Commune E, Old Port of Montreal, 514-325-7888, lgrdm.com.  Daily 10am-11pm.

Montreal Observation Wheel/La Grande Roue glows purple
Montreal Observation Wheel/La Grande Roue glows purple

Stretching 197 feet/60 meters high, this is the highest observation Ferris wheel in Canada.  The 41 enclosed compartments are heated, and each holds 8 passengers.  It lights up in a rainbow of colors, and views include the St. Lawrence River, Old Montreal, downtown, and the mountains.

Montreal Observation Wheel/La Grande Roue glows white
Montreal Observation Wheel/La Grande Roue glows white


Montreal Observation Wheel/La Grande Roue glows white
Montreal Observation Wheel/La Grande Roue glows white




Montreal Observation Wheel/La Grande Roue glows red
Montreal Observation Wheel/La Grande Roue glows red




More things to do in Montreal.

More things to do in Canada.


More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers



May 20, 2019

St. Peter, Barbados: Sugar Cane Club; hotel review


Sugar Cane Club  2015 Sugar Cane Club, Maynards, St. Peter, (246) 422-5026.  47 rooms; must be age 14+.  2 pools; squash court; exercise room; health spa.  2 restaurants; 2 bars.

grounds of Sugar Cane Club in St. Peter, Barbados
grounds of Sugar Cane Club in St. Peter, Barbados


pool at Sugar Cane Club in St. Peter, Barbados
pool at Sugar Cane Club in St. Peter, Barbados

Located at a mid-island high point, this all-inclusive resort is also mid-point in its service and cuisine.  This was the first time I’ve encountered a policy that imposes a fee for changing towels more frequently than every two days.  Sheets are part polyester, which is an issue in a warm climate.  And though the food was generally good, the pastries were dismal.  The staff was mixed regarding service--some were professional and efficient, others the opposite.  Sometimes when I ordered a drink I got one right away, and other times I waited while the bartender did this and that.  However, the rum punch and pina coladas were worth a short wait.

bar at Sugar Cane Club in St. Peter, Barbados
bar at Sugar Cane Club in St. Peter, Barbados


shrimp salad for lunch at Sugar Cane Club in St. Peter, Barbados
shrimp salad for lunch at Sugar Cane Club in St. Peter, Barbados


The room decor is tropical style with bamboo accents, and I did like the separation of bedroom from living room and veranda, but the bedroom had only air conditioning.  The living room had only a ceiling fan with the controls too high to reach and adjust, and it took me two days to realize I could open the bathroom window.  The relatively remote location makes this property one you should choose with thought, but shuttles are available at specific times to take you down to Speightstown to an affiliated beach house and to where you can access the local bus service into Holetown, and farther on to Bridgetown. 
One enjoyable dinner was a buffet of local specialties served by the pool, with live singing for entertainment.  A schedule of hotel-sponsored activities includes rum tasting, a complimentary glass-bottom boat excursion, and a guided gully walk that ends with a freshly cut coconut drink.  Nicely manicured grounds are planted with colorful flowers, and monkeys and giant snails are among the fauna to look for.  Tips here are given in an envelope at the end of stay and shared by the entire staff.

guest room at Sugar Cane Club in St. Peter, Barbados
guest room at Sugar Cane Club in St. Peter, Barbados


pink hibiscus greeting in guest room at Sugar Cane Club in St. Peter, Barbados
pink hibiscus greeting in guest room at Sugar Cane Club in St. Peter, Barbados

Overall, I recommend a stay here if you are able to secure a great price and also if you want a non-beach-centric, up-island experience.  Note that this property will be incorporating upgrades and building three new rooms during the period of July 1 through August 15 2019, and so will not be accepting bookings during that period.



More things to do in Barbados.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


May 1, 2019

Bridgetown, Barbados: Hilton Barbados Resort; hotel review


Hilton Barbados Resort  Needham's Point, St Michael, 11000, Bridgetown, 246-426-0200.  355 rooms+suites.  Pool and hot tub complex; fitness center; 4 tennis courts; health spa; beauty salon.  5 restaurants.

view from room at Hilton Barbados Resort in Barbados
view from room at Hilton Barbados Resort in Barbados

Located on a prime peninsula position at the southwestern tip of the island, this hotel offers an ocean view from every guest room.  Each room also has a private balcony, and bathrooms have a separate bathtub and shower.  The pool complex is expansive and well equipped, and though the surf is often too rough for swimming, plenty of hammocks and lounge chairs await napping or reading.  Children under five eat for free and those ages 5-12 years get free breakfasts.  Additionally, the hotel provides activities and areas for kids as part of its Kidz Club program.  My room on the 6th floor had a divine high ceiling, and I was able to turn off the air conditioning and open the balcony door to a perfect temperature and the sounds of the surf.  It also attracted a sweet little bird that stopped by regularly to raid the coffee tray.

guest room at Hilton Barbados Resort in Barbados
guest room at Hilton Barbados Resort in Barbados






A 17th-century fort and one of the island’s four lighthouses are on the hotel’s grounds.  Built at Needham’s Point in 1650 by the British military to protect beautiful Carlisle Bay from any enemy attacks, Charles Fort was originally called Needham’s Fort.  Its name was changed in 1660.  With 33 guns (at one time it had 40) and 4 swivels, this important fort was part of the garrison and the largest of the forts built around the island.  The fort became a part of the British Military Garrison in 1836.  Visitors can see how the cannon were strategically positioned.  The area now fronts an important nesting beach for Hawksbill turtles.

cannon at Charles Fort at Hilton Barbados Resort in Barbados
cannon at Charles Fort at Hilton Barbados Resort in Barbados


Constructed in 1855, the Needham's Lighthouse is the second oldest lighthouse on Barbados.  Featuring an octagonal shape and a stationary light, it is also a little different from the others that are all located at Harrison Point.  The lighthouse tower is closed to visitors.

Needham's Lighthouse at Hilton Barbados Resort in Barbados
Needham's Lighthouse at Hilton Barbados Resort in Barbados


Just a short walk away, guests can find several inexpensive local snack shacks.
●A popular roti house is around the corner of the entrance gate.
Cuz Fish Shack is a short walk away at Pebbles Beach.  Customers step up to the window of this popular fish shack to place their order.  The menu is simple--a fish cutter (a “cutter” is a sandwich)--and the price is right, BB$10.  Customers squirt in a condiment sauce or some mayo.  The day I ate here the fish was fresh marlin, and it was pretty darn good washed down with a cold local Banks beer.  Choices for seating are few--one bench is adjacent, and a beach wall where you can perch and enjoy the atmospheric surf is just a few steps away.

Cuz Fish Shack near Hilton Barbados Resort in Barbados
Cuz Fish Shack near Hilton Barbados Resort in Barbados


Cuz Fish Shack near Hilton Barbados Resort in Barbados
Cuz Fish Shack near Hilton Barbados Resort in Barbados


cutter/sandwich at Cuz Fish Shack near Hilton Barbados Resort in Barbados
cutter/sandwich at Cuz Fish Shack near Hilton Barbados Resort in Barbados


More things to do in Barbados.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images and video ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

April 29, 2019

Bridgetown, Barbados: The Garrison Savannah Historic Area; things to do


The Garrison Savannah Historic Area  St. Ann’s Garrison, St. Michael. 

This district is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It was once the largest British military headquarters in the Caribbean, and remains the most complete British garrison in the world.  Because this is a limestone island most buildings are constructed with it, but some buildings here were built of brick in the 1800s.  St. Ann’s Fort is an example.  It is also a perfect hexagon and isn’t visible from the sea.  Historic 18th- and 19th-century military buildings encircle the savannah and horseracing track, which consist of a hot flat field without shelter.  It was once known as a “death hole,” because at one time up to 10 deaths occurred per day.  The extensive cannon collection here is one of the world’s largest and contains several that are extremely rare.

exterior of Main Guard House and Clock Tower at The Garrison in Barbabos
exterior of Main Guard House and Clock Tower at The Garrison in Barbabos

Main Guard House/Clock Tower  This is the geographic center of the garrison and the main parade grounds.  Soldiers were dispensed from here to guard houses around the garrison.  The formal Changing of the Sentry stopped in 1905, but was started up again in 2011 for show and now takes place every Thursday at noon in front of the building’s Clock Tower (it uses Big Ben chimes to announce the time).  As the noon chimes start ringing, the colorful parade begins.  The sentries dress in the Zouave uniform originally worn by the famous West India Regiments.

sentries in the Zouave uniform at the Main Guard House and Clock Tower at The Garrison in Barbabos
sentries in the Zouave uniform at the Main Guard House and Clock Tower at The Garrison in Barbabos


Changing of the Sentry at the Main Guard House and Clock Tower at The Garrison in Barbabos
Changing of the Sentry at the Main Guard House and Clock Tower at The Garrison in Barbabos




The Garrison horse racing track  One of the world’s oldest race tracks--certainly the oldest in the Americas--this track started up in 1843, and races are still held here.

horse racing track and line of cannons at The Garrison in Barbabos
horse racing track and line of cannons at The Garrison in Barbabos

Also in The Garrison:

Barbados Museum & Historical Society

George Washington House Museum



More things to do in Barbados.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images and video ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


April 22, 2019

St. James, Barbados: The Cliff Beach Club; restaurant review


The Cliff Beach Club  Derricks, St. James, West Coast, (246) 432-0797.

check-in at The Cliff Beach Club in Barbados
check-in at The Cliff Beach Club in Barbados

This restaurant nestles ocean-side on the rocks next to her sister restaurant, The Cliff.  It maintains the same high standards as The Cliff, but with a more casual atmosphere.  Chef Jérémy Dupire mixes in his French influence with Bajan flavor.  Three dining rooms are arranged in tiers leading down to the splash of the ocean waves.  The decor is splashy, too, with colorful lights at night.  Portions are large, and menu items include both the exotic--octopus carpaccio and barracuda steak--and the simple--burrata mozzarella salad and pan-seared sea bass.  I was delighted with my appetizer choice of a prawn-avocado salad with mango dressing and a main of blackened local tuna with potato mash.  Though fish does seem the way to go here, a variety of meats and pastas are available as well.


dining decks at The Cliff Beach Club in Barbados
dining decks at The Cliff Beach Club in Barbados


dining deck at The Cliff Beach Club in Barbados
dining deck at The Cliff Beach Club in Barbados



prawn-avocado salad at The Cliff Beach Club in Barbados
prawn-avocado salad at The Cliff Beach Club in Barbados



More things to do in Barbados.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

April 18, 2019

St. Michael, Barbados: Mount Gay Rum Visitor Experience; things to do


Mount Gay Rum Visitor Experience  Exmouth Gap, Brandons, Spring Garden Highway, St. Michael, 246-425-8757.  M-F 9:30am-2:30-pm, Sat also (Nov-Apr) 10:30am-2:30pm.  Tasting US$20+, 6-17 US$8.

exterior of Mount Gay Rum Visitor Experience on Barbados
exterior of Mount Gay Rum Visitor Experience on Barbados

Even people who know nothing about Barbados generally know the name Mount Gay.  Founded in 1703, it is generally considered the world’s oldest rum company.  The iconic Mount Gay logo is seen everywhere on the island, and their rum seems as well to be in everything foodie.  And this location claims to be the “only air-conditioned rum shop on the island.”  Though the tour stays in a museum-like space, it provides a look at the entire production process.  A short film in a replica rum shop adds another dimension.  After learning about everything from the harvesting of the sugarcane to the bottling of the final product, you finally get to the tasting.  Visitors sample a half-dozen varieties.  Actual rum production occurs elsewhere.

museum at Mount Gay Rum Visitor Experience on Barbados
museum at Mount Gay Rum Visitor Experience on Barbados


life imitates art at Mount Gay Rum Visitor Experience on Barbados
life imitates art at Mount Gay Rum Visitor Experience on Barbados


tasting set-up at Mount Gay Rum Visitor Experience on Barbados
tasting set-up at Mount Gay Rum Visitor Experience on Barbados


tasting bar at Mount Gay Rum Visitor Experience on Barbados
tasting bar at Mount Gay Rum Visitor Experience on Barbados


More things to do in Barbados.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers