Up, up and Away to Montreal
Trip Start Sep 15, 2008
35Trip End Jan 20, 2009
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Where I stayed
Everything went like clockwork; the taxi arrived early and got us to the coach station in time for john to buy a cappuccino and lunchtime sandwiches. The trip to Heathrow was comfortable and uneventful and on schedule; baggage drop (I had checked in on-line) fast and even security didn't take long. Air Canada flight 865 to Montréal on a big comfortable A320 was on time and as OK as a 7 hour flight can be. From Montréal Pierre Trudeau Airport, our taxi took us quickly the 12 miles to our hotel - Chateau de l'Argoat. The hotel - carefully selected using Travel Advisor - met expectations and turned out to be 2 minutes from the Latin Quarter in Rue St. Denis. We ventured in the very first evening and were immediately made aware of the dominance of French culture
Day two dawned bright and clear and our early start enabled us to take full advantage of a truly magical morning with the air still, sweet and fresh, the sky clear blue and making the buildings, old and new, glow warm and bright. A further trip down Rue St. Denis took us to "vieux Montréal" and the "Vieux Port" on the St. Lawrence River, formerly the most important port of entry into North America, it is now converted for leisure with a marina and various attractions, including a stunning view of the skyscraper dominated Montreal skyline. Vieux Montréal contains the largest number of 17th, 18th and 19th century buildings in North America, which adds greatly to its character. We meandered back into and through the old town then downtown, enjoying the mix of handsome old and shiny new buildings - literally shiny with their reflective glass curtain walling. We discovered some truly magnificent churches, mostly Catholic, such as the 'Basilique de Notre Dame' with its breath-taking sky blue and gold interior, competing with the best in Europe. We also saw many excellent examples of 'Art Deco' architecture, very well preserved. The city appears to have a civilised pace of life and is not too teeming with cars and people
Day 2 also dawned bright and clear, though windy, and we took the metro out to the stadium built for the 1976 Olympic Games and took the funicular up its astounding 168 metre high 'leaning tower', that supports the stadium roof. This gave us a marvellous panorama of the city and the surrounding countryside. We then crossed the road to the city's large botanic gardens and this was well worth the visit, especially the very fine Chinese Garden with colourful illuminated 'paper' figures. I have seen many botanical gardens, but this one still managed to delight me with its quality and extent. Anne was particularly delighted when a chipmunk ran out from under her feet and later 'posed' briefly for her. This evening torrential rain replaced the fine weather we have been enjoying, as we went out for a Tibetan meal - pleasant, but not outstanding. Tomorrow we are off to Vermont, hopefully to see some autumn colours higher up in the mountains, so watch this space. Photos soon.