Elegant and glamorous, Montreal is like nothing we’ve seen on our trip so far. It’s a nearly 400-year-old city with a mix of historic old buildings and modern architecture and art side by side. It’s filled with people from all over the world, including a notable percentage of Muslims, as evidenced by their head scarves.
Both Lee and I are blown away by the sheer beauty of the city. The Notre-Dame Basilica was awe-inspiring as all the guidebooks said it would be. The endless ornate details are almost overwhelming. Every square inch is decorated with symbols and art. It made me sad that we don’t have anything like that in our culture any more. It seems nobody thinks it’s worth building a building to inspire and make you think of the wonder of just being alive in this spinning planet in space.
The boys also enjoyed the many spectacles of Montreal. They had a great time visiting the Old Port, which includes of all things a giant pirate ship and a zipline where thrill seekers can slide from a tall building to the end of the port. They also enjoyed playing in a lively playground nearby.
By synchronicity, we’ve been able to visit with Lee’s oldest son Jeremy, who happens to be filming a movie here. We had already made our plans to visit the city when we later found out he was going to be here. Jeremy was kind of enough to let us visit the set and hang out in his trailer.
Our airbnb rental here is great- a nice change of pace from the bad streak we’ve been having. It’s a spacious basement apartment (with WiFi and a washer and dryer!!!) not far from Monkland Village. There are restaurants, cafes, health food stores and many other businesses lining the streets. There’s a great park a couple of blocks down the street and we plan to soon check out the FREE pool with lifeguards at Confederation Park just a few minutes away. That makes the second free community pool we have seen on our trip. The first was in the small town of Buffalo, Wyoming.
It seems that most places we go about half the people are speaking French and the other half speaking English. I’m surprised that I can remember at least some basic vocabulary from my three years of high school French 30 years ago. It at least helps me read the street signs and say a few words of greeting. So far everyone we meet at least speaks some English. I almost wish there was more French spoken so I would be forced to learn more of the language.
We really loved visiting Parc du Mont-Royal, which was designed by American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York’s Central Park and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park (guess he didn’t waste his life!). It’s a heavily wooded space with lots of walking/bike paths and stunning views of the city. We hung out for a while in the Chalet, a big stone building with a huge open main hall that the boys ran through. It was fun people watching at the big plaza in front of the building. When we were there, there was some type of yoga or dance class going on.
We are definitely noticing that we have to watch our budget on this part of the trip. Expenses add up quickly in cities- with parking fees everywhere you turn and admission fees to attractions. The Biodome, a zoo housed in an old building from the 1967 Word’s Fair, looks cool but we’re going to skip it because of the admission fees, which would cost about $40 for our family.