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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.


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