In the second installment of the Montreal excursion I present you approximately 400 or so words on why I love this city and to go along with it a handful of images. Normally I like to give some sort of back story or history lesson with my posts but Montreal is an old city and I don’t feel like typing that much! For a 6.5 hour drive it does not leave you wanting more, the locals are so friendly it is almost scary and the city is cleaner than most I have been to. We shacked up at the Le Meridien which was within walking distance to Mount Royal Parc. Those of you who pay attention to my posts already know that this park was landscaped by Frederick Law Olmstead who also designed Central Park. Although we went after the foliage was in full bloom the park was still beautiful and full of life. We managed to make it to the summit and visit the deck of the Chalet for a wonderful view of the city.
Naturally at an area like this there are tourists taking a million pictures (guilty) but you honestly can’t help it once you get up there. Inside the Chalet is an architectural gem with ceilings meticulously crafted and old world chandeliers.
One of the most amazing things about Montreal is it’s similarity to Brooklyn. Old stone everywhere, young, hip crowd and everywhere you turn there is an art gallery. As a photographer I can appreciate a city with so much art, be it graffiti (which there is plenty of) or fine art on display. We had a wonderful first day roaming the streets and taking it all in, needless to say we had arrived and could not wait to see more. We decided that the next day was going to be spent in Old Montreal. There was so much to see and do there, plus the metro was $8 for the whole day so why not take advantage? To start the day we ate a small cafe on Rue Notre Dame where the food was just amazing and so where the people there. We thought it a good idea to fuel up since we had a long day ahead of us.
After breakfast we walked across the street to pay a visit to the Basilica Notre Dame. James O’Donnel was commissioned to design the new structure when the congregation outgrew it’s old building. Ironically he was a Protestant at the time and did not later convert to Catholicism until he was on his deathbed. Many believe it is because he came to the realization that he could not be buried in the church he designed. He was and is still the only person buried in the churches crypt. The main construction took 5 years to complete with the inside was finished in 1879. It was the largest church in North America for the next 50 years. You can visit the church for a $5 donation and take photographs while there. To be honest I couldn’t wait but while inside I did take a moment to appreciate what was in front of us. This was hands down one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It actually made me stop in my tracks because of how overwhelming it was to see the inside.
When we finished we decided to head over to Olympic Stadium and see another piece of history. The summer games of 1976 were here and they had a good amount of fun facts to go along with them. The US had what was considered the greatest boxing team of all time. Nadia Comaneci scored a perfect 10 at the age of fourteen and Canada had no gold medals which was a first for a host country in the summer games. It was a nice thing to be able to walk around where the olympics were held and I felt a sense of pride saying that I was able to go there. After we finished the tour we tool a ride in the olympic tower which sadly was not finished in time for the games but still in operation. It goes up about 500 feet and gives you great views of the surrounding areas including the old olympic village which they have since turned into housing. The rest of day two was spent wandering around Old Montreal taking in the sites and enjoying some much needed time from work. Day three was our last and as it turns out we headed out of the way to Little Italy to check out the local market.
There were all kinds of vendors with everything from produce to a butcher shop. Funny as it sounds, you can go to Fairway or the weekend farmers market in town but when you are traveling the market always seems better. Maybe it is a nostalgia thing or maybe it is a way of telling yourself “I made the trip so it had to be better” either way we enjoyed it and picked up a few things to bring home.
While it was an amazing journey that we both were glad we took, I feel like we only scratched the surface of what Montreal has to offer. It goes without saying that we will be back and spend some time finding more amazing things to see and do. As always I will leave you with a few parting shots and appreciate the support from my loyal followers.