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Overnight Trip to Montreal

June 1, 2009

Last weekend being a three day weekend, we took the opportunity to take a road trip to Montreal. Took about 6 hours or so throught beautiful New Hampshire and Vermont, both of which we have to visit as well!

After we arrived, we started off by exploring downtown a little, which was basically just like any other downtown, with a prominent street lined mostly by the same stores you see everywhere. Then we headed south (southeast?) towards Vieux-Montréal (Old Montreal). Along the way was the Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde (Cathedral-Basilica of Mary, Queen of the World).

Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde

We briefly stopped outside the famous Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal (Notre-Dame Basilica) as we approached Vieux-Montréal. I patiently waited in the plaza across the street to take some photos with these nice tulips that were there to include as a foreground element, but this group of 2 couples would not stop taking pictures in front of me and acting all goofy and being generally annoying so I gave up. At this point I figured I didn’t have time to go inside unless I rushed so we headed off, towards Place Jacques-Cartier. This seemed like the equivalent of Boston’s Faneuil Hall. They had street performers, stalls of what seemed like mostly caricature drawing folks, and restaurants along the sides.

I hadn’t eaten lunch but didn’t want to waste time so I figured I’d drop in a McDonald’s I saw along the way. I would rather have eaten at a local sandwich shop or something but there weren’t any around. I was third in line and it took me TWENTY MINUTES for them to get my order. Coming from Japan, I thought the USA was ineffecient but that took it to a whole new level. Looking around, it didn’t seem to be an anomaly as those that were waiting in other lines also seemed to share the same fate. On top of that, after receiving my box of what should have been a Double Big Mac, what was inside was a regular old Big Mac. Luckily they only spent another 5 minutes getting me the correct thing, but seriously.

After wolfing down the burger, we walked to and along Vieux-Port (old port) and luckily the sun was about to set and the sky was turning this beautiful deep red so despite the lack of a tripod, I did take some photos of the Nelson Monument at Place Jacques-Cartier:

Nelson Column and Place Jacques-Cartier at Sunset

Nelson Column at sunset

We then checked out some shops at the port, and walked around a little more. The building lights were now coming on and the whole area looked really nice along with the darkening sky:

Marché Bonsecours at Dusk

The above is the Marché Bonsecours (Bonsecours Market).

We then stopped into one of the cafe’s on the side and had yummy gelato and called it a day.

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The following morning we went to the Jardin Botanique de Montréal (Montreal Botanical Gardens). The Montreal Olympic Stadium was just next to the gardens, and goodness, for a city with such great architecture, I’m suprised that the abomination that is the slanted tower of the olympic stadium is still allowed to stand.

At any rate, off we went exploring the Gardens:

Jardin Botanique de Montréal

We were quite excited because near the entrance there were tons of tulips and we thought if the OUTSIDE was so pretty, the INSIDE must be AWESOME. Unfortunately, once inside for those looking for tons of flowers, there weren’t that many. We did notice quite a few rose bushes, but those were not in season, so I presume the best time to visit would be the in the fall when they are at their peak. There were scattered small tulip gardens here and there as well which were nice but not as many as we had hoped (and were led to believe by the tulips outside)

Despite the lack of flowers, we did manage to enjoy things like the Chinese Garden:

Chinese Garden

And after some walking and exploring (and a helpful tip by a stranger) we came across the Lilacs which were in full bloom. Yes, they were nice:

Lilacs

Lilacs

And this little thing was cute but I’m not sure what it’s called:

Not sure what this is called

And finally, near the exit, there was a small collection of tulips. Here is a pink one:

Tulip

After finishing the gardens, we went back to Vieux-Montreal to check it out during the daytime. It was a beautiful day, and there were tons of people milling around, eating in the outdoor patios, etc. Maryam somehow bought a magnet with all the spare change we had, and we were now left with zero Canadian dollars! (Excluding the five dollars and twenty five cents we needed for the train ride back to the hotel).

One last pic of Vieux-Montreal, and we headed back home:

Vieux Montreal

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