We flew in on Friday 9th November and were met at the airport by DH's aunt. Aunty lives in West Island, not far from Pierre Trudeau Airport.
First step was to collect our hire car, a Toyota Yaris. Only thing is - it wasn't a Yaris as we know them. (Saw a few of those wearing an "Echo" badge.)
Nope, even in daylight, it still wasn't a Yaris. It was the size of a Corolla. And when did they start making Yaris sedans?
We alternated driving days, but I claimed the first drive. It's a really nice car. Big boot/trunk, reasonable legroom inside and lots and lots of well thought out storage spaces. The centrally positioned displays put DH off a bit (he prefers the speedo directly in front of him), but I got used to it quite fast and it wouldn't put me off buying one of these cars.
On the Saturday, we followed Goodstuff3's advice and went to Parc de Mont Royal with DH's Aunt. This is me and Aunty.
We parked up and walked up to the Chalet. Here is a view of modern Montreal from the Chalet steps.
Looks like most modern cities in North America, Australia, South Africa or New Zealand. A bit different to European cities where people still live in the centre and the central business district isn't deserted at night. I felt quite at home.
Here is a shot of the Chalet which was built to entertain the Queen on her first visit to Canada.
The rafters of the Chalet are decorated by squirrels.
Afterwards, we drove into Montreal and visited the Basilica de Notre Dame.
Although none of us are Catholic (I'm not even Christian), we attended evening mass. They have a choir mistress/Cantor with the most beautiful light soprano voice. She is easily in her 40's but sounds like a teenager. The church is beautifully decorated inside, with very elaborate paintwork. Sadly, you aren't allowed to photograph it, but you can see more here. (Although the site doesn't seem to be working right now.)
Sunday was spent watching NFL on the TV, knitting and chatting to Aunty. We had planned to go out, but the chance to watch a match or two was too tempting. So we didn't visit Old Montreal until Monday.
Headed off on our own on Monday and promptly got lost. I missed the correct exit in the tunnels that run under the city and we came out on the far side. Drove around in circles for a while DH tried to work out the map. Eventually, I did the "I'll take the next right and pull over" thing. It's just as well I did park up - I rapidly realised that I'd turned the wrong way down a one-way street!!!
After an "Oh shit" u-turn, I found a nice girl to ask for directions. And we were on our way. Five or six kilometers out of town on the opposite side to where we were staying. We parked up at the car park beside the Town Hall. Not bad value to this British resident at $16 a day. I have no idea if that is expensive to Canadians. (Parking in an equivalent spot in London would be £40+.)
To me, the Town Hall looks vaguely French, sort of colonial-Victorian with French touches. It is impressive inside - got a grand entrance hallway - but we missed the tour. It does, however, have really nice toilets that are open for the public to use.
I was really taken by the Egyptian style lamps that grace one of the court buildings nearby. Doesn't it look like papyrus?
We wandered around the shops in there and I purchased a really lovely black knitted cardigan with a shawl neck. I had been so wound up by work that I hadn't really put much thought into packing - it showed when I realised I'd only packed two sweaters. (I'll post photos of the sweater later.)
In the meantime, here is DH outside the Town Hall.
On the Tuesday, DH drove the 3.5 hours to Quebec City. We parked near the Station and Town Hall. Here is a shot of the Town Hall.
And the station. One day, I would like to take the train along the full route of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was one of my Dad's day-dreams, which I've shared.
Quebec City is the most European of all the cities I've visited in North America. Very French. It reminded me of Montmatre in Paris and parts of Geneva.
This is Montmorency Park, the site of Canada's first parliament building. When the building burnt down, the Canadians stopped alternating their parliament between Toronto and Quebec City and moved it to Ottawa. We speculated that these guns had once been trained on the English.
Whilst we were wandering around Quebec City, we stumbled over a sport shop displaying a Patriot's sweatshirt. It was the only one they had and it was the wrong size for DH. Before the shop assistant double checked the stock room, he had DH try on a Bengals sweatshirt for size. Here you are public (Amy, close your eyes!), for one picture only, DH in a Bengals top!
Quebec city has lots of sculpture in it's public spaces. I was especially taken by this one.
The building below has an aluminium roof. I think it's the local office of Alcan (their's is the plaque on the left of the door).
Quebec City is a walled, gated city. This is one of the gates.
And here I am admiring the view from the walls nearby.
Just for Kim (and any other Arsenal supporters out there), here is street sign for Rue de l'Arsenal.
Originally, I was meant to share the drive back from Quebec City, but I got cramp. We stopped to swap drivers, I got out of the car and the muscles in my right thigh and groin siezed up. Agony.
So, instead, I did the drive to and from Ottawa City on the Thursday; a drive of about two hours. DH's Aunt came with us. Here they are outside Parliament House.
This is a full shot of Parliament House. The Peace Tower is a memorial to Canada's war dead, built after the First World War.
We did the free tour and I can thoroughly recommend it. The library is amazing (sadly, no photography allowed). The tour ends at the foot of the Peace Tower, so we took the lift to the viewing deck and were greeted by an amazing view. Here is the roof of the dome of the Library, with Hull in the background.
Aren't they cute?
Later, we spotted the lions guarding the post office entrance.
I think this one should be labeled: "Just Call me Leo". Isn't he dignified?
Further down the same street, we spotted these two characters guarding the entrance to a bank:
We spent the Friday helping Aunty to rake up the leaves in the front and back gardens. She'd arranged for a handyman to do it, but he stood her up. (We'd volunteered several times over our week there - the last time, she gave in.) As you can see, we filled six or seven huge bags with leaves.
Had loads of fun squashing the leaves down, although DH managed to burst a bag when he leapt on top of it and the air couldn't vent. The above shot was taken in the afternoon before we left.