Our mini-vacation began on August 28th, Friday. We flew to Burlington, Vermont and drove to Montreal on 27th night.(direct flight tickets to Montreal cost a bomb!). We were planning to visit Montreal on 28th and 30th and drive to Quebec city on 29th. We were planning to drive back to Burlington early on 31st and had our return flight at 2:30pm.I have split the travelogue into 4 parts, one for each day.
Most of the pictures here have been taken by the husband, and all credit goes to him(I was asked to give ample credit where it is due).
So 28th dawned and we were ready for it! The hotel had a big breakfast spread and we got it to our room and ate there.
After breakfast we set out to explore the streets of Montreal. The first stop was the Basilique Notre Dame, the Notre Dame Church. It was the most beautiful church I had ever seen. The huge stained glass windows brought in colored light, the prayer benches were all dark wood, the altar was tastefully decorated and the general ambiance was one of peace.
We hung around for a while, taking pictures and taking in the spirit of the place. Taking pictures here was a huge challenge, there was very little light, and no flat surface to keep the camera to take an auto picture.(reminder to self to buy a tripod). Here is one with yours truly trying to pose like she doesn’t care that her picture is being taken!
Then we walked behind the altar to see the secret altar. This one was tucked into the back, and was made of wood before it was burnt down in a fire, and rebuilt in bronze.
We then got out of the Basilique and walked into the streets. This was the view of the church exterior.
Montreal downtoan has very NY-like streets, with tall buildings lining the sides. The only difference was that the buildings looked victorian and French, not the modern ones like in NYC!
The next stop was the Pointe-à-Callière Museum, the museum of archaeology and history. This museum shows collection of artifacts from the aboriginal people of this region(called First Nations), how the culture developed and changed when the French and the British regimes influenced the landscape and culture. It was amazing to see how each of the people who lived here built on the structures that already existed, leading to a rise in the ground level. When archaeologists started digging, they found complete walls and edifices underground.
The First Nations lived here for a long time, settling in this region because it was close to the river. Then the French arrived and saw a great opportunity to spread the ‘culture’. The picture of this journal shows their plans to educate the native populace in culture!
This one says – pour la converfion des sauvages de la novuelle france, that means, for the conversion of the savages of New France (of course since the French landed there, they called it New France). Then the British landed there, and after a battle, defeated the French and took over New France! All this history was recorded in the various layers that formed underground as a result of building on top of existing structures! The history of the place is well alive underground.
The museum done, we were ravenously hungry and walked to this vegetarian place that the guide-book recommended. It was an all-cuisine buffet where we ate platefuls of food –
-and lots of dessert!
By this time we were so full and unable to move that we went back to the hotel room for a nap! Nap done, we were refreshed and hit the town again! We walked to the old town again, and just walked the streets, capturing the very beautiful sights and sounds. The small streets were all cobble stone-paved, and had quaint little stores and restaurants all around.
There were assorted pieces of art of the streets. I felt like i could keep walking and looking and staring and posing for pics..hehe
We were walking and were hungry so stopped by to take a look at a restaurant menu. It is here that we were accosted and pushed in by a very enterprising bistro-manager who forced us to take a seat and order! We had heard from a friend that a ‘poutine’ is a must try, so we ordered a vegetarian one. A poutine is……………….tada….
Fries doused in a gravy and mixed with bits of cheese! That is a poutine! Fries and cheese…and it was divine! The fries were succulent as well as crisp and the cheese was soft and yummy. It was good, but we couldn’t finish it! The bistro itself was very small and was in a courtyard like place, surrounded by walls, but was open to the skies.
We were done eating, and walked until we could go on no more. Finally we called it a day and went back to the hotel room. All in all, Day 1 was just amazing. The local food, the vibrant streets and the warm people just started to grow on me, and I was falling in love!