Canada • '06 Aug: Quebecois ooo-La-La       Click HERE and all the pictures will get big.
August 5

Tomorrow Elizabeth and I fly from Boston to Montreal, stay 2 nights then take the train to Quebec City, stay 2 nights then take the bus to Trois-Rivières, stay 1 night, then take the bus to Montreal and stay another 2 nights. Go Go Go after 2 weeks of relaaaax.
August 6

We arrived in Montreal on separate flights and met up in the airport. The host at the B&B where we are staying, Reno, picked us up and took us on a lovely get-orientated buzz through town.

Here he is with Elizabeth at the Parc du Mont-Royal Belvedere du Chalet where there is potentially a fabulous view of the St Lawrence river and the main part of the city, the view being now mostly obstructed by trees.

The B&B is in it's own little community that is a 15 minute walk or a bus ride to the subway and then a subway ride or two into town so the orientation was most welcome.
Montreal is built around an ancient volcano which is why there are all these view spots. Here's another one opposite of where we were in the above photo and looking down onto what Reno called 'the plains'.

Notice all the churches! As Reno reported, Montreal is a very Catholic city.
One of these days technology is going to produce the lens of my dreams and until then I'm going to complain every time my close-ups aren't sharp.
We settled in at the B&B and then made our way into town by bus and subway. It was easy and fun. We took the subway back and then walked the bus leg through the commercial part of 'our' neighborhood.

It was almost 5pm by the time we got going and not having eaten since dawn we were hungry so we went straight into Old Town, Vieux-Montreal and the nearby Vieux-Port, for some sightseeing and food.

This is the Place Jacques-Cartier, a public square created in 1847. It is surrounded by restaurants, with street players and vendors mingling in. Nearby are the oldest streets in Montreal all pretty touristified with galleries, shops, and restaurants.
We stopped at one of the innumerable cafes and had a perfectly delicious meal.

These girls were sitting beside us and when the waitress delivered their pina-coladas and a tequila sunrise I just had to take their picture. What is the drinking age in Canada? Eighteen it turns out.

And there's no smoking in restaurants which will be great but plenty of smoking on the 'terrace'. Basically any table outside even right up to the street is on the terrace.
The Basilique Notre-Dame has an interesting story. In the early 1800s the church wanted to break up Montreal Island into parishes to be administered by the Bishop of Quebec but the rulers of the day, the Sulpicians, were opposed so they built this massive cathedral so that all the residents of Montreal Island would worship in one place and forestall the Bishop's plan. The residents weren't so delighted about having to travel so far for church but there you go.
A close-up of the middle statue above. The starry halo is sweet.
August 7

On the subway. Montreal knows itself as an entirely international city and claims that its bilingual requirement is partly responsible. Questions of language are so prominently on every-one's mind and so politicised - I'm not convinced.
Saint-Louis Square, central gathering spot of the separatist movement in the 1970s. We were witness to what the guide book remarks, "today the square is more likely to resound with American folk songs than with separatist chants.

"...The park is surrounded by two story Victorian style row houses greatly prized by Montreal's French speaking artists, film makers, writers, and actors."
Rue Prince-Arthur is a small pedestrian street devoted to outdoor dining. Most of the places don't have a liquor license but package liquor stores dot the street and you can byob.

The law says that just because the restaurant can't afford a liquor license doesn't mean you should be denied a civilized glass of wine with your dinner. They take their French heritage seriously.
From the side of a truck.
A view from the Place d'Armes subway station.
We went to the Musee d'Archeologie et d'Historie de Montreal and this ooo-la-la cutie-pie guide was introducing people to the layout of the museum and said 'if you have any questions please ask.'

So after everyone had passed by I asked 'do you have time to walk around with us and tell us things?' 'Mai oui. Of course. My pleasure.' So for half an hour we walked around together getting his-eye-view of the history of Montreal and it was tres ooo-La-La.
Check out the pigeons! What's a statue without pigeons? This stature is in the Place d'Armes, the central historical site in Montreal, and is of the founder Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve, 'brandishing the standard of France.'
August 8

We had the morning in Montreal before taking the 3 hour bus ride to Quebec City so we decided to walk to the Musee d'art contemporain de Montreal.

Some of the work I liked very much and I lot of it not so much, but the building was wonderful as was the gallery space. Great floors, high clean walls with beautiful natural and artificial light.

This scene was in the same complex but not part of the museum. Praises to the JP Getty folks who let us take pictures in their museum!
A more typical street scene than I would have guessed. These modestly scaled neighborhoods with mixed commercial and residential use are scattered throughout the city.
The bridge that connects Montreal Island to the mainland. The bus ride was utterly painless although not particularly scenic.
Arriving in Quebec City we settled into our quite deluxe and tres cher b&b and then went for a late walk.

The Parc des Champs-de-Bastaille (National Battlefields Park) is right in our neighborhood and includes the Plains of Abraham where in 1759 the British had a decisive victory that eventually led to France's defeat and the Treaty of Paris in 1763 when the Canadian territory was turned over to Britain.
In the same space the British built four of these towers, called the Martello towers between 1808 and 1812 to keep the Americans from invading.
These rides are extremely popular, touring inside the city walls.

Our place is a solid 15 minute walk to one gate of the city wall but just two blocks away is another local commercial street of shops and restaurants that is charming and delightful. We ate dinner there. Too much dinner actually, but it was such a relief to be out of the TouristZone that we lingered.
August 9

There he was. Posing. ''allo monsieur, bonjour!'
I took a tour of the Hotel du Parlement, which is not a hotel but is the Parliament building. It was wonderful, and free. I have been quite less diligent in searching out the free things this trip!

The most interesting part was quizzing the young guide on the current status of the Separatist movement and how he feels about it. Language is a powerful thing, that's obvious, and if trends continue California is going to be facing a majority non-English speaking population relatively soon so start getting your opinions in order!
There were paintings all down one hall of all the past Premiers. Doesn't this look like Peter Sellers playing the roll of Quebec's Premier?

That's the building in the background, in the winter obviously, under about 20 feet of snow. Today there was so much construction going on around it and even the tower was encased in green mesh, that it didn't look so pretty from the street.
The Chateau Frontenac, the iconic image of Quebec City, although not from this angle so you might not recognize it.
The Chateau is prominently placed on the highest site inside the walls and looking over the St Lawrence river. She makes a rather dramatic backdrop to all the small streets, plazas, monuments, churches, etc. that surround her.
The Chateau dominates the Haute-Ville or Upper Town. Basse-Ville or Lower Town is the area below the Chateau, just outside the city walls and in front of the Vieux-Port.

It's lively and dense with just what you'd expect including the shoulder to shoulder crush of tourists. The tourist season here is pretty short making for even more urgency to get-it-all in the few months of good weather.
Elizabeth wanted a picture here at her family's favorite restaurant in Quebec City. Hi Les! Hi David! I miss you!
In the foreground is the Musee de la civilisation. It was late and we didn't tour the museum so they'll be something left for next time. I haven't yet figured out what is the building above.

I can say that all those hills get mighty dang steep and my calves are knowin' it! I was out, on the road so to speak, for more than eight hours today. Why can't I eat what ever I want?
August 10

Aged copper roofs have such cool lines and color. Elizabeth and I separated for our morning walk she having some shopping to do and I out looking for photos...
This fellow was doing a tour at the Parc des Champs-de-Bastaille (National Battlefields Park) and I was trying to catch a snap. He saw me, ran into his bus, and emerged as this!
Elizabeth was gaga awe-struck by the profusion of flowers in Montreal and Quebec City and comparing each and every bed to her own garden and what she had and didn't have and whose was better. Gardening, as it turns out, is a competitive sport.

We left Quebec City this afternoon by bus for a quick one-nighter at a lovely town halfway between Quebec City and Montreal.
And here we are, at Trois-Rivieres, the second oldest city in North America and best known for its paper mills and for its poetry festival. Nice combo, no?

It is a charming place having once been a dynamic boom town, fallen onto hard times, and revived itself as the mills become more computerized with a refurbished downtown, several one-of-a-kind museums, and the poetry festival.
Trois-Rivieres is home to an Ursuline Monastery as well as the many Catholic churches you find in all Quebec towns and cities.
We were sitting at dinner, that's a bug screen you see in the foreground. What were those kids up to? No one knew! They were a drum and fife corp who, after a long series of military-like drills, fired off muskets and then left. It must have been a re-enactment but of what?
It was a nice place and a good dinner. Here's the chef!
August 11

Our B&B in Trois-Rivieres was an elegant affair including a large formal breakfast, formal public rooms, even formal hosts.

All four places we've stayed, from the funky-but-ok-it's-clean to chic-chic-boutique-hotel, have had a free wifi connection you can just hop on. Now if I ever came upon a place without a free wifi I'd be disappointed! Just like that, it's amazing how major expectations can change in one short week.
The Musee quebecois de culture populaire. The contents of this museum is unique to say the least. Their website is www.culturepop.qc.ca. Culture Pop, that about says it...
...mirror mirror on the wall.
The Vielle Prison, built in 1816, closed as a prison in 1986, and now open for tours. The guidebook points to the nine chimney stacks as evidence of the British concern for the welfare of the inmates. The tour guide thought otherwise.

The guidebook also noted that this building features some of 'the best surviving examples of Palladianism in Quebec.' Palladianism? So I looked it up! Travel! The Internet! A match made in heaven. Click here to learn about Palladianism.
A few artifacts are strategically placed around the rooms.
Since you can only see the prison by tour, and since we wanted an English speaking tour, it was just the two of us and our guide Normand.

Normand was an ex-inmate here as are all the other tour guides. He started learning English two years ago off the internet(!) and tv. It was literally amazing. He spoke like a Canadian news-broadcaster. We learned a lot about his long and colorful life for sure ya'know.
Here's another shot of the Ursuline complex.
Another of our private guides and wow another total cutie. This place is The Pulp and Paper Industry exhibition Center or, in French, Centre d'exposition sur l'Industrie des pates et papiers, the most important industry in Trois-Rivieres, dominating the economy.

The exhibits speak extensivly on technology and environmental concerns and actions. It was great fun. Too bad we didn't have enough time to do their big hands on Make Your Own Paper project.
A shot from one of the displays. We had to hurry off to catch the bus back to Montreal.
August 12

We spent our last morning at the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal. I really don't understand the capitalizing rules of French since this one is how I'd expect but so many others are not.

The museum is in two buildings one across the street from the other. These two churches are on opposite corners. This is confusing. It is interesting though, the century apart style of these next door churches.
In the lobby of the museum.
This picture called my name. The artist is Karel Appel but I can't read the inscription. It's a portrait of the anarchist poet and art critic Sir Herbert Read, 1962. He looks so eccentric and entertaining.
That's it. Elizabeth is off today and if the transportation-gods smile I leave tomorrow morning for an all day train-ride to NYNY.





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