Montreal

Trip Start Jan 11, 2013
1
4
11
Trip End Jan 31, 2013


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Where I stayed
Le Jazz St Deniz

Flag of Canada  , Quebec,
Friday, January 18, 2013

Because all the signs in the streets were written in French, I hesitated to speak English even at a TI office. Actually, I had heard that I might be hated by French Canadians. However, when I talked to the lady at the TI of the bus station, she kindly talked to me in English, so I was relieved. After arriving at my hostel for that night, I left my backpack and headed for Mont Royal.

The mountain was centrally located in the city and not far from my hostel. When I reached the foot of the mountain, I didn't see any people climbing the mountain. So I mistakenly thought people don't climb the mountain in winter. However, I didn't feel like going back without climbing at all, so I decided to go up a little bit. After a while, I saw a few hikers, a country skier and even joggers. I got relived and made up my mind to get to the lookout. In fact, there were many visitors in the lookout. People climb the mountain regardless of freezing weather! There was a hut near the lookout and visitors were taking a rest. I took a long rest there and went back to my hostel.

Actually, I visited Montreal three times in total. To tell the truth, I was not interested in this modern city, but because it was on my way to Quebec, I stopped over at Montreal. Of course, when I came back from Quebec, I dropped by Montreal, but that time, I didn't stay overnight. I arrived at Montreal at four in the afternoon and visited Notre-Dame Basilica. Unfortunately, it was Monday and they were not open in the evening of Mondays. So I took pictures in front of the basilica and left. Because I had nothing to do after that, I went to the bus station and waited for my bus to Boston, surfing the Net with a wifi connection. Thankfully, wifi was available not only in the bus station, but also in the long distance buses and trains of Canada. I had never used wifi in a bus or train in any other country, I was so impressed. Anyway, a big trouble happened in the bus station, but I realised the trouble after I reached Boston.

Somehow, it is always exciting to cross an international border on land. I was waken up by the bus anouncement, but still I was excited. Because I am neiter American nor Canadian, it took a longer time than the other passengers to pass the security check and somehow I had to pay US$6. I had paid $14 for ESTA and another $6 at the border. Incidentally, the security check was much severer than that of Canada. It seemed that the country doesn't welcome foreign visitors.

On the 30th of January, I visited Montreal for the third time. The visit was not included in my original plan, but I had to visit again. The reason was not sightseeing, but the big trouble I had when I left Montreal last time. That is, I lost my backpack in Montreal and came back to look for it. For that reason, the bus station was my first destination of the day. As soon as I arrived at the station, I had breakfast to be prepared for a long day. Then I went to the tourist information office and asked about the lost and found of the station. Actually, it was located just beside the TI office (lol). Anyway, I asked about my backpack there, the staff member went to the storage room and said "Bingo!" there. Yes. My backpack was found and nothing was missing in the backpack. I was so happy, but at the same time, I knew that the greyhound company didn't care much about passenger's missing baggage, because they said they didn't know my backpack which was kept in the bus station where the company uses. Furthermore, I knew the lost and found office was also not serious about their job, because I found a name tag with my name and e-mail address on my backpack. In other words, they were able to contact me by e-mail, but they didn't.

Anyway, I got plenty of free time for the day. However, there were not many places where I wanted to go. Because I couldn't enter Notre-Dame Basilica in the second visit, I was eager to enter the basilica and that was the only place I wanted to go. A friend I met in Quebec City liked Old Montreal very much and Lonely Planet Canada also mentioned the old district in details, but it was not so attractive to me, because Old Quebec was splendid and I couldn't imagine that Old Montreal was as appealing as Old Quebec. In any case, Notre-Dame Basilica was located in Old Quebec, which meant I would visit Old Montreal, too.

I arrived at Notre-Dame Basilica at around half past eleven and then asked about their guided tour at the entrance. The staff member said it would be half past one. It was possible to enter the basilica without a guide, but because the guide was free, it was better to take the tour. So I went to a cafe near the basilica and killed time by surfing the Net. At 1:20, I was back in the basilica and the tour began. The guide spoke English with French accents. The basilica had English and French tours, so she might be in charge of both of them. Anyway, the basilica was gorgeous and no wonder that Celine Dion had a wedding there. The entrance fee was $5 and it was the first time for me to pay an entrance fee for a church. It was not strange to collect the fee to preserve the beautiful basilica. I was so impressed.

After that, I really had nothing to do. I visited Chinatown, but it was nothing special, compared with other Chinatown in the world. I had lunch and bought some fruits there and left. Then I got into the underground city. I just walked and walked and lost several times. I heard the underground city developed in Montreal because of the cold weather of the city. It looked convenient for Montrealers, but it was a maze for tourists. Incidentally, the underground city is the longest of the world and Toronto's one is the largest of the world. Anyway, I travelled back to Toronto by overnight bus after that and flew back to Japan.
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