Sunday Oct 19 – Montreal
Bonjour – Hello Canada – nice to see you again!
We arrived in Montreal after an uneventful flight from Boston. We went directly to apartment #1, a one bedroom in the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Griffintown. The host and apartment were great and we were very central.
Tonight we had a dinner date! Our newest daughter-in-law, Linsday, arrived from Vancouver today and we were thrilled to be able to spend some time with her tonight. Lindsay manages the Metrotown Sephora and had been invited by their marketing team to participate in meetings all week. We think she is their rising star and we are very proud of her!
So we walked into downtown to meet Lindsay at a popular Italian restaurant. It was so nice to see her – another family member on our trip!
Monday Oct 20
Most of the morning we spent doing laundry and regrouping. I also had my first haircut away from home. The nice gentleman stylist assured me he could understand English so I clearly told him to leave the front long. He said something about ‘refresh’ and ‘texture’ and cut my bangs off! Good thing hair grows back….
From there we walked through McGill University grounds and up to Mount Royal Park. We decided to return tomorrow to explore this beautiful 200 hectare park.
Tuesday Oct 21
Today we walked to the top of Mount Royal with no stops, mostly uphill – took a good hour to get there. My calves were very sore the next day! But it was worth it; the views are incredible!
I called this squirrel and he came running up to me so fast I thought he was going to jump on me!
On the way back we walked into Old Montreal to see if we could find the boutique hotel we stayed at for our 25th anniversary – and we did!
According to my brother Les, no visit to Montreal would be complete without a visit to Dunn’s Restaurant for a Montreal smoked meat sandwich. So we stopped here and had a fantastic lunch – the meat was like nothing we had tasted before! And they certainly don’t skimp out on the meat. Thanks for the tip, Les!
Wednesday Oct 22
This morning we first heard the breaking news about the shooting in Ottawa…..such a tragic day.
Our friends Nicole and Steve Yandon (from Ottawa) were joining us in Montreal tonight for a 4 day visit and we were excited! We checked out of our 1 bedroom apartment and moved across town to a 2 bedroom townhome. We were greeted at the door by 3 hosts; which seemed odd but when you consider they are entrusting us with their close to $1M property, a little visual check was probably not out of line.
The townhome was incredible! The couple that greeted us were the architects that designed the townhome from two older existing apartments. It was almost 2000sf – we would have loved to enjoy the outdoor spaces too but the weather did not permit. All this for $200 per night or $100 per couple.
While we shopped and prepared for the Yandon’s to arrive, I started to receive texts from Nicole – she was in lockdown in Ottawa! Nicole is the EA for the City Manager of Ottawa and her office is a block from the shooting. Nicole discribed the lockdown as very disturbing….as we can all imagine. Luckily Nicole was able to leave her office once the lockdown was lifted but encountered a backup in the transit system too:
Joe and I went to a Portugese restaurant for a quick dinner before our company arrived and received lots of tips on Portugal from the owner and a customer. Exciting!
The Yandon’s finally they arrived in Montreal safe and sound and we had a nice visit. It was like old times in our Richmomd neighbourhood in the late 80’s and early 90’s and it was heartwarming.
Thursday Oct 23
After a nice breakfast in, the four of us walked to Old Montreal. It was raining a little when we left but that wind was nasty. Steve’s umbrella spent more time inside out than anything and he muttered a lot about Dollarama. We took cover for awhile in a Greek restaurant and enjoyed a nice lunch.
Our next stop was the Basilica Notre-Dame; a very beautiful church in the heart of historic Old Montreal. (Trivia: This is where Celine Dion got married in 1994.) We spent some time inside the church marvelling at the wood work, art, vibrant colors and candles. The many confession booths had names written on them and we wondered if priests were sitting inside.
Across the street I noticed this cool statue:
We walked home very quickly now as it was pouring rain and less than pleasant. Joe was leading the pack and he was merciless. He walked too fast and with having to side step puddles, it was hard to keep up.
Once home, the guys barbequed under the umbrella and we had a great evening of laughs and Pictionary. The guys kicked our butts which had never happened before!
Steve reading the card with 2 pair of glasses and flashlight:
Friday Oct 24
Today we walked to Mount Royal park from this side of town and had another great hike.
We walked around our own neighbourhood a bit too. It is referred to as Plateau Mont-Royal; a creative neighbourhood with twirling staircases and colorful houses. Boutiques, bars, restaurants, bakeries – it was a happening place. A taxi driver said he is always busy until 5am on the weekends here. We all felt lucky to have stayed here.
We discovered Montreal is an island – interesting! It is the most populous island in Canada and the 37th most populous island on earth. Montreal Island also has the largest population of any island in the world on fresh water!
This evening we walked to the Botanical Gardens to see the annual lantern festival known as Gardens of Light. The display consisted of two gardens; the Japanese Gardens were illuminated by glowing lighting designs and structures, quite serene and subtle. The Chinese Garden was lit up with The Magic of Lanterns, a Chinese tradition. We enjoyed this!
Right across the street was the Olympic Stadium. We didn’t go in but you can sure see it from a long ways away. The stadium was built in the 1970s as the main venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics. It has been called “The Big O,” for both the Olympics and also the doughnut-shape of the stadium’s roof. “The Big Owe” name has also been used to reference the astronomical cost of the stadium and the 1976 Olympics as a whole.
When the Montreal Expo’s left the city In 2004, the stadium was without a main tenant, and with a history of financial and structural problems, it became a white elephant. The stadium currently holds special events (e.g. concerts, trade shows) with a seating capacity of 65,255. (Thanks Wikipedia for the facts and figures!)
When we took a taxi home, we couldn’t believe how far we had walked to get to the Gardens! It had taken over an hour so pretty sure we clocked a few more KM’s.
Saturday Oct 25
Today Steve suggested we walk across Jaques Cartier bridge. It was a great idea!
The Jacques Cartier Bridge is 3.4km across the Saint Lawrence River from Montreal Island, to the south shore at Longueuil, Quebec.
The bridge off ramps allow you to visit Parc Jean-Drapeau and La Ronde Amusement Park (6 Flags). I believe this is the area for Expo ’67. We chose to explore Parc Jean-Drapeau. Our thoughts of lunch here faded when we discovered nothing was opened. So back across the bridge we trudged in search of somewhere to have a quick bite; which turned out to be wraps at McDonalds. This was a customer (banana) across from us:
We went through some interesting areas of Montreal on the route home including the Gay Village, a sketchy district and some beautiful residential neighbourhoods. We figured we logged 12km’s today. We hope the Yandon’s recovered!
Tonight we had a dinner reservation at La Bottega, a restaurant Nicoles’ boss highly recommended as the best Italian/Pizza spot in Montreal. It did not disappoint! We were going to start with the shrimp appetizer but when the waiter asked how many pieces we wanted at $8 PER, we shared the calamari instead. We each ordered a pie and shared a slice with one another. They were all so good; such a nice, light crust. Good wine, great friends – great way to spend our last night in Montreal. Thank you for dinner Steve and Nicole!
Once home, we completed our Pictionary challenge. The Guys by some miracle, won 5 out of 7 rounds. Good job! Here is a picture of one of the girls drawing pages. Can you guess the answers?
Sunday Oct 26 – Paula’s Birthday
It was hard to leave the beautiful townhome behind today but more difficult to say goodbye to our dear friends. We know we will see them again in 2016 when they make a return trip to BC. Wishing you continued good health Nicole!
Joe and I really enjoyed sharing a place with the Yandon’s. It was nice to have their company and separate quarters at the same time. Very economical too when you consider splitting grocery costs. We look forward to meeting others along the way!
We departed for our next stop in a car rental. We are staying off the main highways in a town called Sutton. Sutton is located on the border with Vermont, 110 kilometres southeast of Montreal. Sutton has one of the highest median ages in Canada, at 54.8 years; mostly composed of artists. It is also primarily English speaking.
We booked a B&B in Sutton and while it was charming, the size of our room was shocking at first compared to the townhome we had just left. However we quickly adjusted and settled in. Our host recommended a French restaurant for dinner a short walk from the B&B. We had a fantastic birthday dinner consisting of two appetizers each, duck a l’orange and pepper steak, dessert and two 1/2 litres of wine for $105! Very good and very reasonable.
Monday, Oct 27
After a delicious homemade B&B breakfast we went for our hike. You have to pay to use the trails here, but it was included in our package. The trail was very wet and muddy. There were many times we just stood on a rock wondering which mud puddle would have the least chance of sucking our hiking boots off our feet. Overall it was a nice climb and very cool to see all the new tree growth. Luckily the descent was not as bad as we thought it would be – the sun had already started to dry off the rock tops.
Later we went to a nearby town for a tapas lunch. The waitress spoke French and Spanish but no English so we picked a few familar words off the menu and had a great tapas lunch. They had very cool bar stools:
This area also is home to several wineries; the other aspect that made Sutton interesting to us. We visited 3 or 4 wineries but bought only one bottle. Mainly because space is limited for us but also each winery described their wine as very dry; almost as a warning – yet they were all incredibly sweet. Still very interesting to see these small growers and meet the people. A much more intimate experience then some of the Okanagan’s big commercial vineyards. Art at a winery:
Dinner was at another great restaurant where we sat near three large tables of big groups of couples in their 70’s. They drank and laughed, and sang songs; actually one gentleman put on his reading glasses and read the lyrics and sang Ann Murray’s ‘Snow Bird’. Other songs we did not recognize. One woman came by our table and told us they were all golfers and one couple was heading down south so it was their last dinner together as a group. We enjoyed being an audience to their entertainment.
Today (Tuesday) we left for 5 nights in the heart of Old Quebec City. We are driving towards blue sky as I speak! We know this will be another enjoyable stay. November 2nd we leave for Atlanta to start our next road trip in Savanna, Georgia. We are hoping for 5 weeks of sunshine! Talk to you soon!