Things to see and do in Tokyo

Things to see in Tokyo: 

I’ve always been infatuated with Tokyo and although this guide is 2 years overdue I still thought I’d make it to help me remember the parts I enjoyed about Tokyo. I would recommend exploring Tokyo in parts ie. Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ueno, Ginza, Meguro, Kichijoji so that you don’t have to spend too much time travelling in one day. I’ve wanted to visit Japan since forever but it took me 24 years before I made that trip. Can you imagine the amount of hype I had towards Japan? Well guess what, it lived up to the hype. It’s definitely true that once you visit Japan once, you will want to go back again over and over again. I spent 1 week in just Tokyo as I wanted to explore each city properly and not just hope from one city to another. 1 week is obviously not enough but enough for me to get a glimpse into how amazing a country can be. These are my top places to visit in Tokyo:  

  1. Kichijoji – Ghibli Museum, Atre Kichijoji, Inokashira Park, Satou Kichijoji,  

I loved Kichijoji (and not just because of the Ghibli Museum). Kichijoji is a city outside of the busy part of Tokyo. It is around a 15 minutes train ride from Shinjuku to Kichijoji. It’s a great place for a bit of shopping, for food and to relax at the Inokashira Goen. I also had the best beef ball at Satou Kchijoji. The Ghibli Museum is an added plus. It is around a 20 minute walk from Kichijoji Station but it’s definitely worth visiting. I must confess, I’ve probably only watched Spirited Away and Kiki’s delivery service but I still enjoyed visiting this Museum. After this, I watched Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Monoke. It was just inspiring to visit the Museum and the fact that you aren’t allowed to take photos inside makes the whole experience 100% better. I can’t wait to visit Kichijoji again. This area needs at least 1-2 days to explore thoroughly.  

  1. Asakusa – Gyu-nabe Yonekyu, Senso-ji, Hozomon gate, Nakamise Shopping Street, Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center 

If you Google Tokyo, you will probably find a picture of Asakusa’s Hozomon Gate somewhere. It is an iconic symbol of Tokyo and of Asakusa. This is one of the most crowded tourists destinations in Tokyo and one worthy of its fame. Behind the millions of people, you will find an amazing temple where people come from far and wide to pray for things from school to love to health. If you want a really good view of everything, please head to the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Centers observation floor. There you will be able to see the Hozomon gate as well as the Tokyo Skytree. The view is amazing. Here in Asakusa you will find lots of old eateries that have hundreds of years of history. I don’t have any recommendations as I haven’t tried all of them but if you like beef sukiyaki you should try Gyu-nabe Yokekyu. I would definitely come back here to try more street food (I had this amazing pudding here and also a melon pan) – I will come hungry next time. I would recommend spending an entire day here.  

  1. Meguro/ Daikanyama – Tsutaya Bookstore, Blossoms, Onigly Coffee, Onibus Coffee 

One of the more off-the-path destination (kind of not really) is the Meguro/Daikanyama area. It’s a more laid back area with tons of artsy stores, coffee shops and book stores. You could spend a whole day here exploring (which I wish I did). I came during spring as I heard the cherry blossoms near the Meguro river is beautiful and boy were they correct. This is a place you would never get sick of and during Cherry Blossom season the shops have booths set up outside for you to purchase items as well. Would 100% recommend this area off the beaten bath.  

  1. Tokyo Station – Rokurinsha, Glico-ya Kitchen, Tokyo Character Street, Marunouchi Plaza, The East Garden, Imperial Palace  

No visit to Tokyo would be complete without a visit to the East Garden and Imperial Palace. Unfortunately I was only able to visit the East Garden as I was again short on time. The East Garden and Imperial Palace is only a short walk away from Tokyo Station. I would recommend exploring The East Garden and Imperial Palace and then going back to the Tokyo Station to explore and eat. They have a Glico-Ya Kitchen and Tokyo Character Street for you to shop to your hearts content. They also have lots of restaurants hidden throughout the train Station. Be careful not to get lost in here. I learned the hard way by exiting and then having to pay more to enter the train station again. It was a hot mess but an adventure no the less.  

  1. Shinjuku – Shinjuku Gyoen, Uniqlo, Shinjuku Loft, Blue Bottle Coffee, Isetan Dining,  Don Quijote, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building  

My hotel was situated in Shinjuku (the APA at Shinjuku Gyeon – very small and not the closest to the main train station – wouldn’t recommend). If you are looking for a view of the Fuji Mountain as well as the entire Tokyo – I recommend visiting the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building as it’s free. It’s around a 10-15 minute walk from the train station but definitely worth it. Go early as the line forms quickly. Shinjuku is an area full of shopping – they have a great Uniqlo, Muji and Don Quijote. I recommend the Isetan Dining for food if you are really indecisive and want to eat everything. They have every kind of food imaginable (if you go at night, a lot of the food is discounted which is great). You can take your food to the rooftop garden to eat. They have some seating at the garden and also some cherry blossoms. You would need 2-3 days to explore the entire Shinjuku thoroughly (at least).  

  1. Harajuku / Ometosando– Yoyogi Park & Meiji Jingu, Gindaco Takoyaki, crepes, Line friends flagship store, Tokyo Plaza – Ometosando,   

Harajuku and Ometosando are right next to each other. Both equally exciting but in their different ways. I would never imagine that such a coming place like Yoyogi Park would be situated next to the hustle and bustle of Harajuku. Yoyogi park along with the Meiji Jingu Temple would require at least a half day to explore (for us we got lost and it took a little longer than expected). If you are lucky you will get to see a marriage happen at Yoyogi Park making the whole experience just a little more special. After Yoyogi Park, I recommend spending the rest of the day at Harajuku exploring the many streets and shops. Remember to get crepes at Harajuku as they are known for it. Behind Harajuku are the calmer street of Ometosando. There are so many shops and coffee shops to explore that you will definitely be overwhelmed and realize that you need more than a day to explore all these let along the Tokyu plaza and the Line Friends Flagship store. I would highly recommend spending 2 days exploring this area.  

  1. Shibuya – Shibuya Crossing, Shibuya 109, Shibuya Loft, Shibuya Modi, Tokyu Plaza Food Show 

You can’t visit Tokyo without visiting the Shibuya Crossing in Shibuya. My main question is why is the crossing so big but the time you get to cross it so short ><. Shibuya is HUGE and there’s so much to see. Shibuya and Harajuku and complete opposites. Harajuku is like the cool older sister and Shibuya is the hyper younger sister. You can find everything in Shibuya from cosplay clothing to Disney to stationary. The streets here are not straight making getting lost so much easier. You can easily get distracted here by all the flashy lights and stores attracting you in. Personally I prefer Harajuku to Shibuya but I can’t wait to go back to Shibuya as I only spent around 3 hours here and didn’t get the full experience. I would say you probably need a whole day to explore Shibuya.   

  1. ShinOkubo – Korea Street 

The Korea Street (not even town) of Tokyo. It is literally a couple blocks of just Korean culture. You will find Korean Corn Dogs, coffee shops with Korean themes and lots of lots of LOTS OF K-pop stores with any kind of merch you can think of. There are stores crammed in basements, on 2nd floors. They are EVERYWHERE. I recommend taking a break and trying a Korean Corn Dog before venturing on to the merch stores. The streets get really crowded here and there are lots of back streets with Korean style clothing to explore as well. Side note if you are looking for somewhere to buy groceries at a cheap price, I would recommend Gyomu Super Shinjuku Store. They are essentially a wholesale place and although they don’t have the biggest selection, their prices are definitely one of the cheapest.  

  1. Ginza – Uniqlo, Department stores, Itoya  

Ginza is known for being an area with lots of expensive brands. The department stores here carry very nice brands and are good for window shopping. They also have one of the biggest Uniqlo’s (9 stories tall). It makes for one great photo. On the weekends, they close the main street for pedestrian use only, making it really nice to explore. If you like shopping this is the place for you.  

These are my Must visits when visiting Tokyo and I’m sure I’ll find more as I explore Japan again (hopefully in the next couple years). Some places that I visited that I didn’t include include Roppogi, Ueno, Tsukiji Fish Market, Odaiba, Tokyo Skytree and Akihabara. The reason I didn’t include them in my must visits was not because they are not worthy but because I didn’t spend enough time at these places for me to include them and recommend them. Roppogi, I visited at night and saw the beautiful view of the Tokyo Skytree from there but nothing more as it was too late at night. Ueno – I walked through the park and visited the market there but didn’t see anything worth recommending. I didn’t get a chance to visit the Zoo either so I can’t give you a thorough guide. Tsukiji Fish Market – is always on everyone’s list but I only went to the old Tsukiji Fish Market location and didn’t visit the new part. The old part had lots of food and I did a good amount of shopping there but I don’t think I would go again as it was very crowded and very touristy. I visited Odaiba briefly for dinner and saw the knock of Statue of Liberty. There is a lot of shopping to be done at Odaiba but I wouldn’t visit it again as it is quite out of the way and it’s just a huge shopping area with brands I can find anywhere. But the train ride to Odaiba was lots of fun as you could see a lot of famous sites from the train. Akihabara is also another area on many peoples list as it’s filled with manga/anime/gaming related shops and buildings but for me there wasn’t anything interesting. I went to a lot of electronic stores but again didn’t spend enough time in Akihabara to recommend it. Tokyo is definitely a city to be explored. From just the above calculations, it seems like you would need at least 14 days to thoroughly explore the city. Not including the hidden areas. I can’t wait to be back! 

Where is your favourite place to go in Tokyo?  

My Top 12 Things to see and do in Sydney

Right after my trip to Melbourne (link to blog post here), we travelled to Sydney. Both Sydney and Melbourne both feel very artsy but Melbourne felt like the more young and vibrant city. Sydney had more historic vibes and was huge in contrast. I stayed with relatives in Sydney which helped a lot in terms of learning about the different areas in Sydney and that Sydney is HUGE. The CBD itself is very spread out and the architecture here impressed me just as much as Melbourne did.  

  1. Queen Victoria Building (QVB) 

This building is in the middle of the CBD in Sydney. It was built back in 1893 and has been restored to its former glory. It used to be used as a marketplace but now it’s filled with tons of shops and little restaurants for you to enjoy. The inside is glorious and the details in the windows and architecture is awe-inspiring.  

  1. The Rocks 

The Rocks is one of the most historic areas in Sydney and you can tell from the buildings. Please remember to visit on Saturday or Sunday. They have a night and day market where you can find vendors selling all kinds of things. I had the chance to try kangaroo and alligator here. Also picked up some handmade rings and souvenirs. Great place for some shopping and eating therapy.  

  1. Sydney Fish Market  

Yes. Extremely touristy and small but they have a lot of seafood and it’s the perfect place for foodies. You can get fresh oysters, baked scallops etc. There tend to be a lot of people but for good reason. It isn’t located near everything else but it’s a great place to see. Beware when eating outside – the big Pelicans. They can be a bit vicious when it comes to food so just beware.  

  1. Cabramatta – Vietnamese Town  

Everywhere around the world you can usually find China towns and Korea towns but you have to visit the Vietnamese town in Sydney. This area has all of your Vietnamese needs from meats to pho to sugarcane juice. You need to check out this place for the food and to get out of the bustling CBD. You won’t regret it.  

  1. Paddy’s Market  

I’m sure all of us have heard of Paddy’s Market in Sydney. It’s located near the Central train station so it’s very convenient to visit. Again, it’s a major tourist site so the crowds are pretty intense but it’s worth visiting. I found the souvenirs here to be cheaper than other places in Australia. It probably has something to do with all the competition inside. You can find multiple shops selling the same things. It’s your task to find the ones with the best prices. You can find everything from shot glasses, T-shirts to magnets and anything else your heart would desire. I found myself visiting here multiple times over my stay as the prices here were better than elsewhere in the country.   

  1. Darling Harbour  

The view is beautiful. No matter where you stand on the bridge, the picture is going to be amazing. It’s definitely worth walking over the bridge as the Sydney Fish Market is on the other side.  

  1. The Three Sisters  

Another worthy tourist attraction. Easiest way to get here is by car or by tour bus. You can see the three sisters from top or also take a hike down to see a different view. I would recommend doing the little hikes from the Three Sisters. The view is breathtaking. If you take the three sisters, giant stairway and honeymoon bridge – the hike is a bit steep so if you are afraid of heights (like me) then be warned. But the view is 100% worth it.   

  1. Sydney Opera House 

I don’t think the Sydney Opera House needs any introduction. Seeing in person is definitely different from seeing it in pictures. You can see it from The Rocks as well as up close. No visit to Sydney is complete without seeing the Sydney Opera house.  

  1. Bondi Beach and Pool 

I have never seen a beach with so many people until I visited Bondi Beach. People are so tightly packed that I had to take a picture. Remember to visit the pool. The pictures you can take there are just as amazing. There also a lot of street art on the walls surrounding the beach. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to actually enjoy the beach as we had to catch a flight to Brisbane but I imagine it would have been very chill and enjoyable.  

  1. Parramata  

If you are a huge historic buff, then visiting Parramata is a must. It’s the oldest inland European settlement in Australia. You can see the old town hall, the old Government house as well as the St. John’s Anglican Cathedral. If you don’t really care for the historic part of Sydney, this area is pretty far from the center so I wouldn’t recommend visiting.  

  1. O Bar for the views 

If you want to enjoy the views of Sydney – the Opera House, The Bridge and all of it’s surroundings – then O Bar is the place for you. It’s a rotating Bar so you get all 360 degree of Sydney. The drinks and food are subpar but the views are amazing.  

  1. Contemporary Art Gallery 

One of the things I loved about Australia is that almost all of their art galleries are free of charge. I love visiting art galleries and I took this opportunity to try to visit as many as I could. I visited both the Contemporary Art Gallery as well as the Art Gallery of New South Wales and I preferred the Contemporary Art Gallery over the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Please let me know which one you like more. Note – On the roof of the Contemporary Art Gallery there is a coffee shop/ restaurant with a view of The Rocks and a bit of the Sydney Opera House  

Places to try: 

Black Star Pastry – Watermelon Cake 

I saw the Watermelon Cake on Instagram a couple years back and I remember thinking to myself that that can’t be real or it can’t be good. I finally had a chance to try it and boy was I wrong. Have you ever had a cake and afterwards thought wow – that is refreshing. That’s what this cake was. I thought I wouldn’t fall for the hype but I was wrong. I loved it and would definitely eat it again.  

Coffee Places to try: The Grounds for Coffee and Coffee Alchemy Coffee. Both excellent places for coffee.  

There’s really no end to the number of things to do and see in Sydney. From exploring old neighborhoods to enjoying coffee on a patio to finding the best chocolate (KoKo Black vs. Haigh’s), you name it Sydney has it. They have beaches and mountains to explore as well as Art galleries and historical buildings. There is no end and I can’t wait to go back again and explore the unexplored. Comment below anywhere I missed in my guide of Sydney  

Surfers Paradise – Gold Coast Australia

After my brief trip to Brisbane – we headed off to Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. It is approximately 1 hour trip. Surfers Paradise is filled with tall buildings and has a beautiful Coast line. It’s a place to relax and just chill by the beach. But other than surfing and enjoying the beach, I would recommend the following:  

  1. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary 

Located a bit outside of the center of Surfers – you will find the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Here you can take pictures with Koala’s, watch bird shows and alligator shows. You can pet kangaroos and watch a sheep be sheered. There is so much to do and top of that you can ride the train around the Sanctuary. It is a bit pricey (and pictures with Koala’s is extra) but the Koala’s are too cute to pass up.  

  1. Watching the Sunrise 

Walking up at the crack of dawn is no one’s favourite activity but something about watching the sun rise from the water makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable. Never mind the unwashed faces or the messy bed head, look at that sunset, it’s something you’ll never forget. And hey, afterwards you can jump right back into bed.  

  1. Fish and Chips at Peter’s Fish Market   

Some of the best Fish and Chips I’ve ever had can be found at Peter’s Fish Market. It’s located on a weird turn on Seaworld Drive but the seafood is fresh and the cost is pretty reasonable. Usually I hate the chips at the fish and chips place but their chips are perfect. Not overly salty. Crispy on the outside and pillowy on the inside. I can’t wait to come back here. Again, beware of the Pelican’s. They can be hostile (as I can be) when they see the chips.   

  1. Pelican Feeding at Charis Seafood  

If you aren’t afraid of hundred of Pelican’s surrounding you, then this is the place for you. The Pelicans come at around 12:00 pm for “feeding time” by this fish market and tourists crowd around to watch them be fed. Please don’t taunt the birds with food as they will bite you. It’s definitely an event to see.  

  1. Aquaduck  

This is one cool experience. The Aquaduck is basically half boat half car. It can go in water as well drive on land. It’s also very cute (please search up photos). If you get seasick, don’t be afraid as it’s pretty steady in the water. The rockiest it gets is when you go from land to water – the waves can get pretty big.  

Surfers Paradise is like your little getaway from the city. They also have a huge casino (which I didn’t have time to go to) and also a huge mall which you can explore. It’s definitely a beautiful vacation getaway. You can walk the beach for hours and never get tired of it. On the weekend, there is also a pop-up market where you can see things from reptiles to souvenirs. The hotels aren’t too expensive and there’s all different kind of food to explore. Definitely a great destination if you get sick of the history of Australia and just want a break from the city. 

GoWest vs. Extragreen (Melbourne tours)

I went with two different tours here in Melbourne. One was catered towards the Chinese tourists (cheaper one) – Extragreen and the other one was in English – Go West. 

Extragreen 

https://www.extragreen.com.au/tour/great-ocean-road-bilingual-chinese-english/

Let me talk about Extragreen first. The price for 2 people was $90 or $45 per person (we chose the Chinese tour). We joined the Great Ocean Road and 12 Apostles tour. You must meet the guide at 8:00 am at 260 Swanston Street. There you will see hundreds of people waiting for the tour to begin. This does not include the tip or any meals. There were lots of buses that went out with ours. These buses are big tour buses and they have ones with just Chinese speaking tour guides and ones with Chinese and English speaking tour guides. It depends on what you sign up for. For us, it didn’t really matter as we speak both so we got divided into the Chinese and English tour guides (FYI this one is listed as 89$ on their site). Now in each bus, there are around 40-50 people but we were lucky and got divided into a bus that wasn’t full (I’m pretty sure not enough people signed up for Chinese and English which is why the bus wasn’t full). Anyhow, you get to see Anglesea, Memorial Arch, Apollo Bay, Port Campbell National Park, 12 Apostles and Lord Arch Gorge.  

The first stop on this tour is the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie. They tell you before you get on the bus that this is really just a pit stop for the bathroom so I don’t know if I would recommend the chocolate to buy. But I personally didn’t try any of the chocolate so I can’t comment on it.

The next stop is the Memorial Arch. There is a beautiful beach there and an Arch that is really hard to take a proper photo of. You get around 15 minutes before they tell you that they are leaving without you.

The next stop was Anglesea. This is basically a lunch stop with a view of the sea. It’s a quaint little town for tourists to stop at. After lunch it’s time for the main attraction.

Port National Campbell National Park is where you stop to see the 12 Apostles. I mentioned the 12 apostles in my other blog post, please refer there for more information on that.

The last stop is Lord Arch Gorge and wow I think this was prettier than the 12 Apostles. Just something about the waves crashing against the rocks and washing into the inlet made the whole thing more memorable. That’s the whole tour. You get back to the CBD around 7:00pm just in time for dinner.  

Overall: This tour was very cost effective to say the least. You get an allotted amount of time and they give you a slight backstory while you are on your way to the destination. Once you get to the destination, it’s all you. If you don’t need a tour guide following you every step of the way, then this is the tour for you. The price is good and you get what your promised. It might not be the most informative but you have fun and the transportation is comfortable.  

GoWest Tours – Phillip Island Tour  

https://gowest.com.au/our-tours/phillip-island-penguin-parade-small-group-eco-tour/

Now I know this isn’t a direct comparison of two tours as they are different places. But I thought that this will give you some insight into the kind of tour that you might appreciate. Both of these tours were 1 day tours. For me personally, I found the pick up location for Extragreen to be a little more convenient for me as I was staying near the Emporium. GoWest didn’t have a pickup point (back then) that was really close to me. We got picked up at the Adina Apartments (now it seems they have a pickup point at Somerset which would have been perfect back then (regardless)). The GoWest tour starts a little bit later in the day but also ends later at night as the penguins are best seen at night. The pick up time for us was 11:35 and they were around 10 minutes late. We noticed that there are lots of GoWest buses. Their buses are much smaller carrying around 10-20 people. Honestly, between the big charter buses and these small 10-20 people buses I prefer the big charter buses as they are more comfortable. I found the small buses from GoWest to be cramped and slightly uncomfortable for long haul trips. There was free onboard wifi – but it was really slow so I ended up uses my own data.  

The tour guides on GoWest Tours are very friendly. They give you a thorough introduction of each site that you visit and they do their best to accommodate your needs. Our first stop was the Brighton Beach Boxes which I mentioned in my other Melbourne post. They give you around 20 minutes to look around before hoping back into the bus for the next destination.

Our next stop was Moonlit Sanctuary. Here they have the option of buying food ahead of time on the bus. They will help you put in the order ahead of time. I had brought food with me to guarantee that I wouldn’t go hungry but we still ordered a mac and cheese from the sanctuary. (Wise word of advice, don’t order food from the sanctuary – enough said). You get around an hour to feed the animals and check out the shows. One hour is enough to see everything at the sanctuary. It is very small but there quite a few animals to see.  

After this they make a pit stop at Phillip Island National Surfing Reserve. It’s VERY windy so be careful of your hat. Then finally its time for the highlight.

They first let you visit the visitor centre where you can buy souvenirs and also see some penguins that are in their little homes. Be careful, there is a high chance you will see some penguins that have died. We were told by our guide that more and more penguins are dying because their mate is unable to make it back in time with food due to many reasons (lost, global warming, not enough food). So brace yourself. After this, you get driven to the place where the penguin parade happens. Try to get a nice spot near paths where penguins have a high chance of walking up. This is really an experience you have to check out when you are visiting Melbourne. It’s very different and fun. It’s like you are in touch with nature. (Please do not take pictures of the penguins at night as it blinds them) Watching the penguins find their mates is the cutest thing but also sad when they are unable to. (Please beware of spiders as it’s hard to see their webs but easy to spot their huge bodies.) 

Hope this guide helped you decide which tours to go with. For me personally, I would choose to go with Evergreen again as language is not an issue with me. Even if you decide to go with Evergreen and can’t speak the language they have Chinese English tour guides (although in all honesty, the Chinese part of the tour is more informative than the English part). If you prefer a more personal tour, then I would recommend GoWest as they make you feel like you are part of a family travelling together and not a bunch of strangers. They also give you more information about the places you visit (but in all honesty, I’ve forgotten all the information they told me about already so it wasn’t really worth it for me). Evergreen is more cost efficient, time efficient and the bus is more comfortable. GoWest is more informative and friendly but for a higher price. It’s up to you which one you pick. Both of them were just as enjoyable but in different ways and you won’t regret either choice.  

Limited time in Melbourne? 11 Things to do in Melbourne

This post is VERY overdue but I thought I would write it just as a personal diary to myself (anyone else very forgetful and forget about things 5 years down the road) and also share some of the experience I had down under. This was my first time to Melbourne but definitely will not be my last. Melbourne is an eclectic city – filled with the old and the new. Downtown or the CBD as it’s known has an interesting layout and is made up of lots of beautiful arcades and malls. There’s an unlimited number of things to do and eat there. After traveling here, I understand why Australia is the coffee capital of the world and I can’t wait to be back (after COVID – is there is an after COVID). The following are the Top 11 places/things to visit/do in Melbourne. Of course, there are many places that I did not get a chance to see in Melbourne and my apologies in advance for missing your favourite site. But these are the ones that I found I liked the most and I hope that you do to!  

Upon arrival, you can take the Skybus to the CBD or take a taxi/Uber. I would say the price is basically the same. Skybus is $19.95 per person and a taxi/Uber would run you about $40. It’s up to you which one to take.  

  1. South Melbourne Market  

The South Melbourne Market is located outside of the CBD but it’s an easy one train ride away.  There’s lots of things to see and eat here. It’s sort of split into three sections. One area filled with fresh seafood, another with all kinds of ready to eat food and another area to buy trinkets/souvenirs and groceries. Don’t forget to try the oysters! They are well priced and so fresh and delicious. 

  1. Brunch  

Brunch is a MUST when you come to Australia. The food at these two particular restaurants were not just appealing to the eyes but also tasted amazing. Both of these restaurants have their own style and deserve to be visited. The coffee is also delectable (the coffee art in Australia is definitely on another level). Of course these are not the only two places in Melbourne for brunch but they are the only 2 that I got to visit as I was on a time crunch. Both restaurants impressed me so I knew I needed to include them on this list. I won’t give you suggestions on what to order as we all have our own tastes just go with your heart, you can’t go wrong with their menu.  

  • Hardware Society  – 10 Katherine Place Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia 
  • At the time of my visit, I visited their store on Hardware street. But as of COVID, only the new Katherine store is open.  
  • Please also take note (if the original location is open again) don’t make the mistake of walking into the incorrect Hardware society café. There are couple restaurants on this street with the name Hardware (some say Hardware café etc. As this is Hardware street) and only spots away from each other. It’s very embarrassing and don’t ask me how I know. 
  • White Mojo Coffee  115 Hardware St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia 
  • Only a couple stores down from Hardware Society is White Mojo Coffee.  
  • If I had to choose between the two, I can’t, they were both delicious and you have to visit both.  
  1. Phillips Island and Noobies Ocean Discovery Centre  

These are the smallest penguins in the world and also probably one of the cutest. At phillips island you can see them come out at night and although no photos are allowed – they are ultra adorable (just take my word for it). At night, these penguins come back from the sea to find their mates that are waiting for food in the mountains. It’s the cutest thing to follow these little penguins around and watch them find their mates. They make calls to recognize each other. When visiting at night, please be warned that picture taking is not allowed as they are very light sensitive. These penguins and becoming more and more extinct so do your part and obey the guidelines they have set out there. The easiest way to visit this place is to join a tour (that’s what I did). Unless you want to rent a vehicle and drive out yourself. The guide did mention that there is a limit of the number of people allowed to visit, but I am not sure as we followed a tour to this place. (Everything about the tours I joined will be at the end of this blog). You won’t regret visiting. At just after sunset, the penguins that went out to hunt return from the sea and you can watch as they make their way in to find their mates. It’s a beautiful and magical thing to experience.  

  1. 12 Apostles  

The 12 apostles is a very popular tourist site. There used to be 12 but now I’d say you can only see 6-7 limestone stacks as erosion has gotten the best of them. To be honest, I was very hyped up about visiting the 12 Apostles. Some of my coworkers had told me it’s one of the best experience they had in Melbourne but I was slightly disappointed. It’s very beautiful and the walk around that area is somewhat breathtaking but if you can’t make the trek out, I wouldn’t fret. It’s a beautiful site but i wouldn’t say it’s a must  

  1. Brighton Boxes  

The brighten boxes is definitely an Instagram worthy site. You can take lots of photos in front of these boxes and they all come out really pretty because of the colourfully painted boxes. You can relax on the beach and enjoy the seaside as well. But please respect the boxes as they are actually owned by people and not public property.  

  1. Moonlit Sanctuary  

A great place to visit if you want to see animals in the “wild”. There are tons of wallabies and kangaroos that you can see just roaming around. You can also purchase food to feed them as well. Most of the animals that you think of when you think of Australia can be found here – like the koala and the Tasmanian Daredevil. The kangaroos and wallabies roam free here and they are mostly human friendly. The sanctuary is not too big and not too small – so it’s great for a quick 1 hour stop.  

  1. National Gallery of Victoria  

This gallery is huge. The architecture of the building is beautiful. Their exhibitions range from modern to ancient and from fashion to international art. There are portions of the gallery that are free and some parts that require payment. They have a great collection of artifacts. I would recommend visiting if you love art galleries and history.  

  1. State Library Victoria  

Another Instagram worthy spot is in the library of this building. The Library itself is huge and has many floors but it’s easy to find the Instagram worthy spot. Head to the tribe reading room and you’ll find the spot you’ve been looking for. It’s all over Instagram so it’s no secret. If you really can’t find it, just follow the hoards of people also looking for this room. The room itself is very quiet, so please respect the people studying and reading in this room.  

  1. Malls – Emporium Melbourne, Melbourne Central Shopping Mall, QV Shopping Mall  

These four malls are all walking distance within each other and are somewhat connected. It’s a great place to just shop and you could definitely spend a whole afternoon exploring. My favourite part about these malls is that they are very close to each other so I don’t need to brave the heat to visit the other parts of it.  

  1. Hosier and ACDC Lane  

Melbourne is famed for its artsy graffiti filled lanes. You can find them almost anywhere but Hosier and ACDC lanes have some of the best pieces and you can even see people working on new pieces as well. It’s a picture worthy and visit worthy place. If you are lucky, you might even see some people adding new pieces to the wall.  

  1. The Block Arcade and The Royal Arcade  

These historic shopping arcades are located in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the CBD. The Victorian architecture and cute little shops is what makes these arcades so unique.  Although not many people shop there anymore, it still attracts tourists alike for its beautifully crafted artsmanship.  

Other Places to try:  

  • Short stop donuts  
  • Maple Bacon and brown butter – enough said.  
  • Sensory lab coffee  
  • Multiple locations throughout the city available for your morning fix. 

Melbourne sets an enchantment over you. It’s somewhere where you want to explore more, whether it be the food scene or the art scene, it makes you keep on wanting more. Transportation around the CBD is free on the trams and it’s also really easy to get places. There’s also a tram that takes you around the core of Melbourne so that you can experience all the sights. The airport is easily accessible via the airport shuttle or by bus. Great place to explore and I can’t wait to be back.  

My Top 12 Things to do in Manhattan

New York City, the big apple, in particular Manhattan. Many people have fantasies about New York City. It’s where some people come to make dreams come true and for others it’s just a place people come to make a living. The people who come to make their dreams come true are also the people who come to make a living for themselves. Although it may not start of as glamorous as one might imagine. You never know what’s around the corner.  

I must admit, I am no expert on the City but I’ve experienced it as a tourist and also stayed there as a short staycation and when I say short. I mean short. My first experience was a bit hazy but I hit most of the spots that I had wanted to hit and my second experience was one spent as almost a “local” – as in I followed my dear friend around the city to do things that they would do on a typical person living in New York. New York City is a mish-mash of different people. You have the high ballers who have lots of money to spend, but little time to spend it as they spend most of there day on wall street. Then you have the ones who are slaving around and living the not so glamour New York City life. Manhattan is split up into so many different areas and districts and it would take a long LONG blog to describe it all. It’s best to experience it for yourself. After visiting New York. I read Edward Rutherfords book New York and it really opened up my eyes to the history behind Manhattan. It makes you feel more connected to the city and realize that what made Manhattan/New York what it is today, took a lot of work and effort from the people who have lived there and built it, literally from the ground up.  

Okay. Enough Talk from me. Onto my top things to do and see in Manhattan  

It all starts from the airport (if you are flying). You are either going to land in JFK, LaGuardia or NeWark. If you are unlucky like me, you will end up landing in NeWark which is technically in New Jersey. It is the farthest from the city and I would say the hardest to get to and from. Now, I can’t tell you how to get to and from the city as I decided to take an Uber. But there are lots of blogs on how to do it (there are bus options, trains etc. from what I hear but I was too lazy and had too much anxiety about getting lost by myself). I decided to take an Uber Pool to and from the airport. Now this is not going to be cheap as there are tolls going into and out of the city. Going into the city it took around $70 from Newark to Midtown and after lots of beeping, traffic and swearing.  

My Uber driver was ultra sweet. He shared his story on how he immigrated to America from Egypt and how lucky he is to have been able to. He lives in New Jersey and loves it but he hopes that one day he can reunite with his brother in America.  

List of top Things to see/do in Manhattan: 

  1. Watch a musical  

I know I know. This is on EVERYONE’S list but I am not joking that watching a musical on Broadway is definitely life changing or at least week changing. You’ll be on a “musical high” with all the songs you’ve memorized and wished you could watch again. Of course, it depends on the musical you watch and the cast. But generally, I would say most musicals are 90% of the time are not going to be a let down. These are the pros of the pros performing for you. They’ve all climbed the “musical ladder” to get to where they are today. It’s definitely a must do.  

You can get tickets a couple ways.  

There’s an online lottery where you can win tickets link here: https://lottery.broadwaydirect.com/ 

  • I’ve never won tickets but hopefully you will  
  • You can also get it from the ticket booths at the front of the theatres 
  • My recommended route is to get tickets from the TKTS – which is how I usually get tickets. The booth is right in Times Square and you can choose where you sit. I would recommend sitting closer – although it might be more expensive – you are on vacation right? Might as well treat yourself – it’s worth it.  
  • There are other ways of getting tickets as well ie. standing tickets etc. that are cheaper but when in New York time is money and waiting around to see if you will get these tickets is kind of a waste of time to me. I would say the best way it get them from TKTS – they are not cheap but at least you can choose seats and they aren’t TOO expensive  
  • The price of the tickets usually depends on the popularity of the musical. 

2. Soho / Little Italy / Chinatown  

Great area to walk around, window shop and eat. There are so many restaurants to eat at and cute coffee shops. You could spend a whole afternoon taking photos and such. Some of the restaurants I would recommend include:  

  • Piccola Cucina Estiatorio – This is the sister restaurants of 2 other restaurants. Their seafood pastas are just delectable.   
  • Dominique Ansel Bakery – VERY touristy – as there is a huge line in front of the store almost at all times – but their desserts are very creative and definitely picture worthy  
  • Raku – Japanese Udon – if you are looking for some hearty comfort food this is the place 
  • Balthazar – again VERY touristy but also a very iconic restaurant.  
  • Lombardi’s – the clam pizza is their most famous – I’m going to be completely honest here. I wouldn’t go again. It just felt again VERY touristy. But if you’re looking for a famous restaurant. This would be the one to check the boxes. 

Other than food you’ll find any brand you can think of here. I’m not much of a shopper myself, but this must be heaven for people who love brands. If you have time and don’t mind walking to the nearby Greenwich village then you can visit the Friends Apartment Intersection (if you are a fan of course). You’ll be able to find it’s available on Google Maps but also, you’ll see a crowd there.  

3.  The High Line  

One of the newer editions to Manhattan and I must say one of the best editions. Very crowded on weekends on sunnier days but it gives you a glimpse of New York. I would recommend walking from the Meatpacking district up towards 34th street so you end at the Vessel (which is also a new edition to Manhattan). It’s a very easy walk and you can see lots of art and also catch glimpses of the Empire State Building. This is definitely a MUST DO. It makes you feel like you are not in the city while you are actually in the city.  

4. Flatiron Building/Madison Square Park 

This is a very iconic spot in Manhattan. It’s been featured in so many movies and pictures. But it never ceases to take my breathe away. It’s sort of a ritual (and I mean like 2 times when I say ritual) whenever I visit Madison Square Park to get a Shake Shack Burger and sit down at the park. Although filled with tourists and locals alike – it’s great to stay still while the city moves around you. The Flatiron Building itself is so pretty and picturesque. No photo will ever do it justice and if you turn around after taking a photo of it – you can see the Empire state building. Next to the Flatiron and Madison Square park you can find the LEGO store and also EATALY. I love EATALY because you can eat and grocery shop at the same time. Although slightly overpriced, it’s a great spot for foodies alike and who knows you might find pastas or ingredients that you’ve never seen before. 
 

5. Central Station  

I feel like every site that I’m mentioning is getting MORE TOURISTY as this list goes on. But tourist locations are often the most classic. Central Station has so many quirks about it that it’s worth visiting more than once. You can see people zooming in and out of the train station – especially during rush hour when they are trying to catch the train home. Tourists taking photos of the grand hall. People whispering into the corners of the walls. The architecture is brilliant and the ambiance is breathtaking. Definitely a must visit.  

6. Central Park  

You could spend an ENTIRE DAY in Central Park because it’s just that big and there’s just that much to see. It stretches from 59th to 110th. That’s how big it is. There’s Bethesda Fountain, Cleopatras Needle, Belvedere Castle to name a few. Also there are tons of museums lining the huge park (more on that later). Although crowded with locals and tourists alike – it’s definitely a worth seeing kind of place. You could bike it or walk it. It’s worth seeing.  
 

The next couple MUST SEE’s I will be mentioning, are all sites that can be found in the CityPass New York book. It’s only worth purchasing the city pass if you are going to visit almost all of the passes it gives you. If you’re only going to go to 1 or 2. I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s also a lot to do if you are only visiting for a couple days as you don’t get to fully enjoy everything (I learned that the hard way but I’m warning you now, don’t rush it).  

7. Visit a Museum  

I’m not going to say which museum you should visit but just visit one. New York City is famous for many things. The cocktail, the sports, the men in suits but I think art in New York is one of my favourites. There are so many museums in Manhattan, it’s amazing. Now the most famous 4 would be the MOMA, Natural Museum, the MET and the Guggenheim. All 4 are special in its own way. You should choose which museum based on which kind of art you prefer.  

  • The MOMA recently got a new renovation upgrade. It’s filled with abstract pieces and for the people who don’t like abstract or don’t understand it. I wouldn’t recommend it. But for people who love abstract art pieces, this is the place to be. The pieces really make you think.  
  • Same with the Guggeinheim. Depending on the time of year you visit, they have pieces ranging from different eras. Although most pieces I saw were more modern. Again they make you think. They display pieces from all different kinds of cultures and it’s really refreshing to see.  
  • The MET is HUGE. That’s an understatement. You would need to spend an ENTIRE DAY at the MET to really appreciate all the pieces they have. These pieces range from prehistoric to more recent times. The line for the MET can get long so be warned.  
  • The Natural Museum of History is filled with stuffed animals and not the cuddly kind. It looks at every piece in history and dissects it for you. You also need a full day to explore the entire Museum.  

If it were up to me I would say the MOMA and the MET would be on my top list of museums for people who are visiting New York for the first time. Visit both of them. It gives you a good comparison as to how much art has developed. My least favourite out of all of them would be the Natural Museum of History but that’s just my personal preference. If I was a huge fan of animals and history, I would appreciate it 100% more. Of course, there are many other museums that I haven’t touched on but these are the ones that I’ve visited and when I get a chance to visit again, I’ll give a more detailed description. But promise me. Just visit a museum. It will not be a waste of time.  

8. 9/11 Memorial, The Occulus and Wall Street – Financial/ Downtown Area 

In the Financial district area, you can hit a couple of Manhattans most famous sites. The 9/11 memorial – wow. I don’t think I’ve ever visited a site and literally shed tears. This was a first. It’s just thinking about the tragedy that happened here and the lives lost, it was too overwhelming. But to see people taking pictures, smiling at this site. Is another story. The Occulus which was built to look like a dove is also amazing to see. I actually came up from the inside of it. I had taken the train down from midtown and didn’t know that I would come up right into the Occulus. It was also breathtaking to see the light shining through the wings of the dove. It is a sign of hope and peace. If you walk a couple streets over, you’ll find the Bull and Wall Street. Nothing really to see there, just take a picture and be on your way. Remember to line up with the rest of the tourists to touch the balls of the Bull for good luck. I wouldn’t say the Bull and Wall Street is a must visit but if you’re already in the area why not.  
 

9. Empire State Building vs. Rockefeller 

I had mentioned the City Pass earlier. It gives you tickets to both the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller. I would say if you must visit one. Just visit the Rockefeller. You might be thinking why? The Empire State Building is the most iconic building. Why visit the Rockefeller. It’s exactly because the Empire State Building is the most iconic building that’s why you would want to visit the Rockefeller. From the Rockefeller you can get a stellar view of the Empire State Building. That’s what you want in your photo. Of course, if you have time, you can visit both. I would recommend going to one during sunset and the other during the day time. Just to give you those nice sunset photos and night time photos.  
 

10. Statue of Liberty  

I have a confession to make. I’ve never been onto the island (Liberty Island) where the statue of liberty is. I’ve never had the time to visit it nor did I make time to go see it. There are other options that are free. From Battery Garden you can see the Statue of Liberty from afar and just glimpse at it or take the free ferry from Whitehall Terminal and see it from closer. If you bought the CityPASS you can see it via the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise which I would also recommend. I took the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise and you get a guide giving you an explanation of what’s on each side of you. You can, not only, see the Statue of Liberty but also a bunch of other famous buildings in New York City while also passing by many of the other boroughs and bridges.  

11. Nightlife  

From my experience, which is not a lot, there are quite a few options for nightlife. Visit a rooftop bar, hidden bars, nightclubs you name it they got it. Surprisingly, from what I felt, night time in Manhattan did not feel unsafe whatsoever. Walking around at 2 – 3:00 am in the morning felt surprisingly peaceful and very enjoyable. Anyways, if you are looking for nightclubs to go to I would recommend Mission or Marquee. Both extremely popular and great for an enjoyable night. To finish it off, walk over (yes I said walk) to Koreatown and grab a table at BCD Tofu House and try to avoid getting spotted by others who have walked over from the embarrassing/enjoyable time you had at the previously mentioned clubs (because yes BCD tofu house is where everyone goes to sober up).  
 

12. Brooklyn Bridge 

This is one of the most overrated destinations. But if you want that photo of you on the bridge to prove that you’ve been there then you should go there. If you aren’t a photo person just avoid it. There are so many tourists and a good photo would take a lot of patience and time as the tourists never stop. In my opinion, avoid it but others may say otherwise.  
 

You may have noticed I didn’t put Times Square on here. You already know about Times Square so I won’t mention it here as one of the places you must visit as it was already mentioned in Musicals. It’s worth visiting if you want to see a lot of bright lights and a lot of people. Lots of souvenir shops and people trying to lure you on tours.  
 

Recommended Restaurants (that were not mentioned above): 

  • Per Se – Michelin Star restaurant – I’m not a huge fan of Michelin star restaurants but I thought I would try one since I was visiting. The presentation, food and service was all impeccable not to mention the view.  
  • Lady M Boutique – very touristy and available in other countries. But since New York was where it originated you have to get it. All of their cakes are delicious (and pricey) would recommend the strawberry shortcake (surprising right? Considering they are famous for the crepe cakes) along with the crepe cakes.  
  • Sushi By Bou – fastest omakase sushi you will ever have. The quality may not be stellar but the whole atmosphere and experience is on a whole other level. The price is also not bad for the location and food (multiple locations in the US). Service is super friendly and fun. The interactive-ness between the chef and the customer is great and although you know you are on a time constraint you don’t feel rushed.  
  • Jongro BBQ – Korean BBQ in Ktown. The quality and variety of meats is pretty good. It is on the pricier side but the service is attentive and the side dishes are also good. The line is long so make sure you line up on Yelp ahead of time.  
  • La Boqueria for their “buffet” brunch – unlimited drinks and an array of dishes for you to choose from. The unlimited drinks sold it. There are many places in Manhattan with this concept of unlimited drinks during brunch. You must try one.  
  • Los Tacos No.1 – if you are looking for some fast food before your musical showing. This is the one to visit. The line gets long sometimes but it goes fast. The prices are affordable and the tacos are pretty good. Lots of toppings to choose from as well.  

Tips: 

  • Avoid walking on 8th Avenue because you will get stuck behind tourists 
  • You will get lost on the train – I’ve learned my lesson more than once. Do not get on the express. I repeat, DO NOT get on the express.  
  • Would recommend taking an Uber or Lyft to get around if it’s further than a walkable distance but most places in Manhattan are within walkable distance 
  • Manhattan is totally walkable. In fact there are maps online that will tell you how to walk the entire island to see the most of Manhattan’s sites. Definitely do it as it is so much more fun that taking the train.  
  • If you get lost, don’t be afraid to ask. It isn’t as scary as how they depict it in the movies

After writing this blog. It reminded me of how fun Manhattan is. Besides the mountains of trash and rats in subways, it’s a vibrant lively city with endless things to see. There is always something going on in this city that never sleeps and it would take more than a couple visits to see everything. I hope that this blog has inspired you to travel somewhere and just enjoy. If you want a 3 day plan to explore  Manhattan – leave a comment below and I can try to help! Thanks for reading!  

Ottawa’s Top 6 Things to Do

We spent around 2 days (1 full day) in Ottawa so we only had a chance to explore Downtown Ottawa. I won’t sugarcoat it, Ottawa is not the most exciting place in Canada. But if you want to feel like a true Canadian you must visit at least once. It’s where Parliament Hill is located and where the history of Canada lies.  

  1. The Light Show at the Parliament Building  

In the summer, they have a light show at the Parliament Building. Lots of people gather to see it every night. It’s definitely something fun to experience in Ottawa.  

  1. Byward Market (Open May 1st to October) Farmers Market  

Byward Market is open from May to October. It’s an outdoor market where stalls set up with baked goods, fresh produce and homemade goods. It’s very small but fun to explore.  

  1. La Bottega 

I haven’t had the sandwiches from La Bottega but back when they had a restaurant in the back, the Italian food was very good. The service was very friendly and the food was a good price. The pasta was flavourful and the pizza was perfectly charred. It’s a very casual place in the back of La Bottega but very delicious.  

  1. View from the Alexander Bridge  

The Alexander Bridge divides Quebec and Montreal. It has a killer view of the Parliament building and is a nice walk from Byward Market.  

  1. Wellington Street 

Take a stroll down Wellington Street and you can see everything from Parliament Hill to Senate of Canada Victoria Building to the Bank of Canada.  

  1. National Gallery of Canada  

The classic spider shot can be taken in front of the National Gallery of Canada. It’s a bit scary but worth an Instagram photo.  

Looking back on it now, Ottawa is a very laid back place to visit which is interesting as they make some of the most important decisions here. It may not be the most exciting place to visit but it is definitely one of the most patriotic places to visit in Canada.  I can’t wait to be back in the Winter to skate along the canal.

Must See’s in Quebec

I went to Quebec back in 2018 so this Blog is from quite awhile back but again, this is just for my memories and so I remember where I visited.  

We stayed at Hotel Pur in the Saint Roche Area. This is a bit outside of the main attraction area in Quebec. I would not recommend Hotel Pur as it is quite dark and dingy. The hotel has an old smoke smell and the bathroom had a lot of streaks of who knows what. I did like the Saint Roche Area as there were a lot of restaurants and bakeries to visit. I would definitely like to come back to Quebec one day to explore more. We only spent 2 full days in Quebec and drove back to Montreal afterwards. Below are the attractions I would recommend in Quebec: 

  1. Fairmont Hotel  

The Fairmont Hotel in Quebec is the center of the old town in Quebec. You can see it almost any point you stand in Quebec. It’s beautiful inside and out.  

  1. Fontaine de Tourny and Parliament Building 

The parliament building was closed by the time we arrived in Quebec by car but the outside was just as nice to enjoy. There is also a fountain outside. If you’ve watched the Korean drama Goblin, you will recognize it from the drama.  

  1. Chez Boulay Comptoir Boreal 

I had some of the best pastries I’ve ever had here. I regret only getting two items instead of all of the items they had on display. I recommend this place for people who have a sweet tooth. Their pastries aren’t too sweet and they are beautifully crafted.  

  1. Place Royale  

This square is part of the lower area of the old Quebec city. It looks like a place out of a fairy tale I’m not sure why I didn’t come sooner. It feels like you are in a folktale or an old town in Europe.  

  1. Dufferin Terrace – Perre Dugua de mons terrace 

This is where you get to see the beautiful view of the Parliament view at its finest. It also leads to this beautiful walkway and up to the Pierre Dugua de mons terrace. It’s around a 20 minute walk up to the top and and I would recommend doing it. The view at the top is of the water and it’s a great spot to just rest and take it all in.  

6. La Boutique de Noel de Quebec

This cute little boutique is hard to miss. It’s located close to the Fairmont hotel and the beautiful front display is alive all year around (not just Christmas). Inside you will find everything you could think of that’s related to Christmas and even things you never even expected. You can’t leave here without buying a little souvenir for home.

This old area of Quebec is very nice to get lost in. It’s divided into a lower area and a higher area. I would recommend a whole day to just explore the little shops that are spread out throughout the old city.  It is such a picturesque area filled with history and beautiful architecture. You may have caught on now but this Quebec trip was a very Goblin (Korean drama)based trip. We tried to find as many sites as possible that were in the drama and I think we did a good job. FYI I did take a picture of the red door but I don’t have one without me in it. I would definitely come back to Quebec again to try more restaurants and learn more about the history.  

6 Must Visit Places in Montreal

WARNING***The next couple posts on this blog are from quite a long time ago. Pre-COVID as I like to call it. My apologies in advance if some of the details are not up to date.***

I was in Montreal for only a very short time back in 2018 but I loved it and would definitely go back for the food and to explore some more. I spent around 2-3 days here and my main impression from this trip was the amount of beautiful building there were. It was my first time to the East Coast of Canada and it felt very different from the West. For one, it was very hot as it was summer time. Everything felt very ancient and old – like it had history compared to cities in the West. These are my top places to visit in Montreal: 

  1. Le Plateau Mont Royal– bagels – St. Viateur vs. Fairmount, Portuguese tarts, Portuguese food, Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich – Main Deli vs. Schwarts  

My favourite place to explore is Le Plateau Mont Royal area. There is so much food to be had here. It’s little Italy and Little Portugal put together. You can find Portuguese Tarts here, Smoked meat sandwiches and bagels. I don’t think I’ve had a really good bagel under I bit into a bagel from St. Viateur. Between St. Viateur and Fairmount I have to choose St. Viateur. I even crave those bagels every so once in awhile now. When we were returning from Quebec to Montreal, we stopped at St. Viateur to bring back with us. We bought like 30 more to share with family and friends. Believe me, getting them on the plane was a whole other issue. We were also on the hunt to find the best smoked meat sandwich and after trying both Main Deli and Schwarts I still can’t decide. Leave your favourite in the comments below. As for Portuguese tarts, we tried multiple bakeries in this area and none of them lived up to the name. We are still on the search for the best one.  

  1. Notre Dame de Basilica  

I think this is a given. It’s definitely a must to visit the Notre Dame de Basilica. It’s modeled after the one in Paris and although I’ve never been to the one in Paris I’m sure it’s very simialr. When I stepped into the Notre Dame, it sent chills down my spine. If you’ve never been, you must visit at least once.  

  1. Old Montreal  

The street of Old Montreal are very picturesque. It again feels like you are in Europe. You will find random artists shops and coffee shops and bakeries. There are also many historical buildings in Old Montreal that are worth visiting and just exploring.  

  1. Jean Talon Market  

This farmers market is in Little Italy. It’s a bit far from downtown Montreal but it’s definitely worth visiting. They have THE BEST CORN. You must get corn when you come here. Did I mention the corn? They also have lots of food and other fresh produce that you can get. It’s a nice place to visit to get away from downtown.  

  1. Underground tunnel/ Downtown Montreal  

I won’t explain the underground city of Montreal as it’s somewhere for you to explore yourself. The entire downtown is connected by this tunnel and I had lots of fun exploring the underground. Some of the paths look very deserted but don’t worry about it, you are probably allowed to enter. I followed the above map and was able to see many things on my way through these buildings.  

  1. Saint Joseph Oratory of Mount Royal  

The Oratory is a bit out of the way from downtown but the view is beautiful and again it’s one of the buildings that will send chills down your spine.  

I can’t wait to go back to Montreal to get my hands on some of those delicious bagels from St. Viateur and also continue my hunt for the best Portuguese tarts in Canada. Suggestions welcome!  

Bibimbap – Mixed Rice

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