Nice, if pricey, breakfast at the hotel, which is right on top of the central station of Montreal. The city has a huge underground network of interconnected passages with a vast range of shops, cafés, banks, etc, all integrated with the Métro underground rail system. All we had to do was to go downstairs from the hotel and we were right there.
Absolutely extraordinary. There’s a whole underground city here.
Emerged blinking into the sunlight and headed for our pre-booked bus tour. Got our official armbands, entitling us to two days of this service, and boarded an old London double-decker bus – it was even right-hand drive and the number plate put it at around 1966 vintage.
So passed a thoroughly entertaining and interesting couple of hours, as we stayed on the bus the whole way round. It did rain, but very little, and certainly not enough to spoil the experience.
Montreal is fab. History, energy, scenery all around. Unlike Vancouver, Toronto and particularly Ottawa, I think we saw only one beggar. It’s an amazing place. So many areas of activity, full of people, massive buzz. Shops, bars, restaurants everywhere. Just confirmed my initial instincts that I was going to like this place. Didn’t take many pictures, as the view from the bus was restricted at times, but these may give a flavour.
The bus then returned to base, and we walked the 10 minutes back to the hotel, resolved to see more of this great city.
After a brief respite, we set off to the Notre Dame basilica, a 20-minute walk, with the intention of entering it. However, when we got there, there was a huge queue to get in, so we contented ourselves with a few pictures of the exterior.
We then walked down to the Pointe de Calliére, which had caught our attention earlier in the bus tour. Very busy, and there were some loud bangs from a gathering of “soldiers” firing guns into the air for some reason.
This area specialises in people dressing up in fashions of old and displaying wood turning, basket weaving and other techniques from days past. Really crowded, though.
Walked back eastwards along the path via the Old Port of Montreal alongside the St Lawrence River.
We’d now been walking in reasonably warm weather for quite a while, so a beer was definitely called for. We eventually managed to find somewhere that was prepared to serve us a beer without requiring us to order food. How hard can it be??
We’d checked with the concierge earlier for recommendations for decent restaurants for tonight’s meal. He’d come up with a couple of suggestions, and undertook to see if he could reserve us a table. Unfortunately, they were both fully booked, so he took it upon himself to book a table at a restaurant called the Pois Penché (The Leaning Pea??)
Good of him, as it was excellent. Proper Parisian vibe, even if the area looked a bit dodgy.
Walked back to the hotel and tried to get a flavour of the night life round here.
Time for bed. It’s been a long and really interesting day. So much more to see tomorrow, so hope I can do it justice.