Skip to main content

Beauty and Pain in Montreal


No one in Montreal eats lunch at their desks.  Today, around noon, every sidewalk cafe was full.  Every restaurant was buzzing.  Every park had people eating bag lunches or doing the picnic thing -- with blankets and baskets -- the whole nine.  It felt good.  Made the city feel alive.  Unlike Ottawa, which is 20% historical attraction 80% standard issue Ontario town, Montreal is proper city.

One with crowds and traffic problems and everything you could possibly want or need.  Felt like home.  Only, y'know, Frencher.

I started at the Basilica Notre Dame which seemed like a good central spot for my Uber to drop me off.  Quick aside: This is the first time I ever used Uber.  I know they're a shady company that's done some questionable, disgusting, and probably outright criminal stuff, but wow are they convenient. 

I actually had little-to-no interest in the Basilica but I figured since I was there and the line wasn't so long...

I was honestly shocked at how beautiful it was.  It was clearly designed for a single purpose -- to awe anyone who walked in those old wooden doors.  Every surface was hand-carved with something meaningful, the stained-glass windows told stories not just of religion but of Montreal itself, and the altar was so full of artistry it made me ponder on all the incredible works created in the name of faith.  I'm not religious but that small mote of Catholicism still inside me, calcified and left to drift?  It warmed at the sight of what was inside that church, and it warmed me.



I went to two museums.  The first was the archaeology museum, but I didn't enter.  Twenty bucks is way too steep an admission price.  I can see rocks and history literally right outside.  We're in Old Montreal.  More reasonable was the Centre d'histoire de Montreal.  6 bucks and pretty worth it.  First level was an overview of historical Montreal which was in-depth and presented in a way that was interesting.  Second level was dedicated to 'The Historical Relevance of Youth in Montreal in 1967'.  It was mostly about the Expo though.  For my parents' generation Expo '67 was a cultural touchstone.  It turns out it was actually pretty awesome.  And it also turns out you can make pretty awesome things when your politicians declare that money is no object.


And lastly, here's a pro-tip for those of you considering a trip to Montreal.  Make sure to start on the far side of the Mount Royal and walk up the calm sloping hills, then go down the steep flights of hundreds of stairs leading to the downtown.  Don't do it the reverse way, like I did, or you may die, like I felt I was going to.  Especially don't do it after a really heavy lunch of brisket and poutine.

Regarding future plans:  I decided I don't have enough time to see the Cabot Trail properly so I'm sticking with the original plan of Quebec City then out towards the Maritimes.  It's a ten hour drive from Quebec to Halifax so I'm going to try to squeeze a night out of the hotel and on the road instead.  That should save me a couple hundred bucks.  In theory.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Shorts and Shows in Key West

One of the things you notice about American stores is that is that there is a ton of clothes available for fat people. While another blogger might refer to this as a sad state of affairs or a sign of American decadence run amok, I have another word for it -- convenient. You see, I too am a member of the great rotund diaspora and being able to walk into a clothing store and see clothes (ones without floral patterns no less!) in my size is a real plus (so to speak).

I picked up several pieces of attire, summer clothes mostly as I packed as a Canadian coming from a Canada that is still just thawing, and I was able to have my pick of the shorts, button ups, and Ts the stores had to offer. One oddity though: the Champs sporting goods had numerous shirts up to the 5XL size, but their pants selection only went up to 38. I wondered what strange creatures these must be... does Champs select product based on the Tweedledee body type?

After my short shopping extravaganza I headed over to Duval St,…

A Dreamy Day in London

London is a not-very-attractive city surrounding an incredibly beautiful city.  I suppose that's true for most cities but it's especially true of London.  Coming in from the east end (I arrived at London City Airport on CityJet -- basically their version of Porter but with jets -- the level of shift in aesthetics was jarring.

I took an Uber in to save a few pounds and he turned out to be a reasonable tour guide on the way, pointing out the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London as well as some other landmarks.

I arrived at around 8:30 at my hotel which understandably did not have my room ready yet.  I knew this was likely, so operating on a questionable amount of sleep (I can never sleep well before and early flight -- my brain always thinks I'm going to miss it) I headed out into London.  I stared at the Underground map for several minutes and then decided to walk.  I picked this hotel because it was relatively close to everywhere and it paid off today.

It's right besi…

At the Heart of the Ancient City

Rome is old.  Old in a way most places are not.  It;s not as old as Greece or Egypt.  But it's plenty old.

Today I walked through the remains of the Imperial Palace on Palatine Hill.  A palace so ancient it is the literal origin of the word 'palace'.  It was hard, among the ruins, to imagine the day-to-day lives of the emperors and citizens and slaves.  But I imagine they too complained about the heat, enjoyed the view, and thanked their good fortune to be where they were.  Well, probably not the slaves so much, but the other ones definitely.

After the Palatine and the Forum (the heart of Roman society) it was onto the Colosseum.  Tickets and entry for the Palatine were quick but even with the ticket that was good for the Colosseum it would've been a hell of a long wait, especially with the added crowds thanks to the Vatican Museums being closed.  So I opted to skip the line with a guided tour.  Fifteen Euros.  Easily the cheapest of the line-skippy tours, thanks to m…