Montreal or bust, Canada: Sept 2011

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After a restless night’s sleep, we were up and out of our hotel room by 5.30am headed for Calgary airport. These early flights are a killer, as it’s on your mind all night that you need to wake before it’s light and hopefully the alarm works etc, so not much sleeps was had.

Our cross continent flight landed in Montreal for the next part of the Canadian experience but as often happens the weather rules the roost and the heavens decided to open up and the wind decided to blow and the temp dropped to 5 deg so it was rug up, cover up and head forth into the unknown.

We knew from the forecast that our arrival in Montreal would be wet and that our 3 days would see the same conditions prevail so planning what to do was challenging. Inside activities and findings ways of getting them was the goal />

We are staying at the Gault Hotel a funky refurbed 19th century building in the old town that has been brilliantly put together. The room is huge and the location perfect, easy to get to everything.
We wandered around the cobbled streets near the old port and had lunch at a vibrant very popular cafe ( olive + gourmando ) on the corner of St Pierre and St. Paul street and then up to the Notre Dame Basilica and escaped inside to a magnificent sight. This 18th century church was so beautifully finished and so highly decorated it was as good as anything in Italy or France.




We had heard about the underground city in Montreal,to escape the rain we ventured into the subterranean world but only a few blocks as there were plenty of sus characters hanging around the Metro entrances and tunnels so we passed on more exploration for the comfort of our hotel room.

Day 2 dawned to even more rain and wind so with one umbrella discarded yesterday we bought another at the Marche Bonsecours a refitted old market building that is now a mini darling harbour style shopping arcade. We visited the Hotel De Ville( city hall ) a mini replica of the one in Paris and also The Chateau Ramezay one of Montreal’s oldest homes dating from the 17th century.



There are many such buildings in the Vieux-Montreal(Old Montreal) and the restoration of the area has been done very well.
The history of the region is very interesting with the constant battle for supremacy between the French and English still raging today but it’s the First Nations people and story of their battles, cooperation, abuse and capitulation that has shaped the success of The European settlers for without the Fur trade this region would have had a very different history.

We decided to try the Metro out and retreated from the cold and wet to the subway and a trip to Downtown to the Cathedral which is a mini replica of St. Peters in Rome and sat in on a mass for a while before heading out to Dorchester Square and another journey on the Metro.

We ended up on The Plateau and got hit by the weather as we emerged,so headed for the first restaurant we could find near Square St Louis.
Our feet were wet and we lost another umbrella on the train so it was nice to sit somewhere and peel off the layers. We enjoyed our turnip soup and chicken liver salad with many of the locals enjoying their brunch on a miserable Sunday morning, but really did not want to go outside again, it was windy and really wet so our plans of exploring The Plateau and Mile End were put on hold as we jumped in a taxi to escape the miserable conditions.


Back to the Hotel for a rest before a walk to see the Old Town night lights and some dinner.
But of course only a few minutes out and it pelted down, we were drenched and after a few knock backs from Restaurants that were fully booked,we settled on a Polish Restaurant,Stash Cafe, that had a brilliant Pianist and great food and wine.
No lights tonight, maybe tomorrow, fingers crossed!!!

The weather certainly does influence how you get to know a place you visit, and unfortunately for Montreal it has rained just about continuously , so our outdoor adventuring has been minimal, even with coats and umbrellas the rain still gets you at the angle.
The underground and the metro & buses, have enabled us to get around but as we would usually walk the city streets it has given us a different impression, from racing with umbrellas and watching for puddles instead of wandering leisurely in the sunshine like we had hoped.

Day 3
We ventured back to the Plateau area again this morning after picking up our tickets from the central station for our train trip tomorrow to Ottawa. The weather was marginally better but still not comfortable for walking too much so once off the train we searched for a bus and the went up to the mile end district to check out the street life but after a bit of wandering it was still uncomfortable so we grabbed some nice lunch at ….. And then as the rain came again we jumped another bus out thru the Outrement area to the university and then ended up in the outskirts where the bus turned around a headed back. We jumped out at a metro stop and after another change we got back to the Victoria Park station near the hotel

After another siesta we woke to find the streets dry and out we went to see the town at night and that was where I went wrong. After taking the following photo I stepped off the kerb without looking despite the white dots and down I went, twisted sprained ankle, wrist, forearm and elbow and bruised knee. Bugger !!! Pain, embarrassment and massive inconvenience ahead. At the time I was more worried about my camera that me and when I checked that they were OK the pain kicked in and I realized what damage I had done.



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