Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Budgeting for Canada

Luckily, beautiful views are free!

Quebec City, our first stop, was less expensive in the fall than in winter and summer.  Knowing little about the city, we chose the area of the Old City and bid $112 a night for a four star hotel on our favorite site, Priceline.  We landed the Hilton Quebec-high above and at the entrance gate for the old walled city.   We didn’t have a view of the water and old town, but had a lovely view of the mountains on the city’s western side.

We dined on crackers and peanut butter on the night of our arrival having vowed not to spend a dime in Canada after our expensive border crossing.  So no expense for dinner that first night.

Window-Shopping in Quebec City
The next day, we had granola bars for breakfast (still sticking to our vow), but after walking through the enchanting, European feel of old Quebec City, our resolve faded and we found a lovely cafĂ© for lunch that had 3 course meals for around $6 for children and $12 for adults.  We also found a charming Christmas shop and picked up a Canadian Moose for $12. C’est un orignal! (It’s a moose in French.)  Strolling the city, touring the cathedral and window-shopping was free.

After another day of walking, we picked up soup, salad and sandwiches from a small bakery nearby.  The take-out dinner and pastries for breakfast the next day totaled $52.

In Montreal, we scored our best deal of the trip with a winning bid for the Montreal Hyatt Regency at $85 for the night.  This very modern hotel had a fantastic heated pool/steam room/sauna with beautiful views of the city.  The room was wonderful, too.

We found an incredible brick oven pizzeria for lunch on St. Catherine’s street in the shopping district and dined well on escargot pizza, sausage pizza, pepperoni pizza, salad, root beer and a pitcher for the grown-ups all for around $70.

That night, the kids had French Burger King in the room while the parents dined at Au Pied de Cochon (another culinary must stop.)  We had one of our best meals ever for under $175.  The kids’ meal was only $15- better for the budget, but not for the soul.

As you now know, you should budget an extra $500 for unexpected expenses at the Canadian border (or $7 for a well placed six pack of Molson, as a friend suggested.)  Canada would have been totally affordable if not for the Canadian Gestapo.

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