04.01.2012 - 04.01.2012 -11 °C
Wednesday 4 Jan 2012
We decided to give the Novotel breakfast a chance to impress us. It didn’t – the buffet was too expensive, and the trio (a selection of fruit, cereals, pastries and drinks) had too many ‘ors’ and not enough ‘ands’.
We were booked on a city tour at 10am so slipped and slid our way over to the Tourist Information Centre, from where the bus was leaving. The lass inside the office pointed outside, telling us the bus was there – we were a bit confused as there was more than one bus to choose from. However, we were drafted aboard the right one and Angelo, our guide, began his spiel, speaking French and then English and sometimes vice versa, both heavily accented in a way that indicated that neither was his ‘mother’ tongue.
First stop was the Basilica of Notre Dame – spectacular inside and worth the $5.00 entry fee, however, I still maintain that the Basilica of St Anne de Beaupré is more beautiful. Notre Dame has some incredibly detailed wood carving in the decorations and some beautiful stained glass but seems gloomy and heavy. St Anne’s has a lightness about it that I found more appealing.
Our route took us past the buildings from the summer Olympics held in 1976. The buildings now host a variety of other enterprises such as the Sports Medicine Centre, and the Olympic village now houses old people.
We were able to see the outside of the Oratory of St Joseph which occupies an elevated position accessible by stairs that the penitents go up on their knees, praying as they go. Our guide said at least 2 hours is required to make a proper visit so we could ‘click, click’ but sadly no time to go inside.
Next photo stop was Mount Royal park – excellent views on a clear day, however, not quite so good today with some snow showers about. The park’s lake, Beaver Lake, freezes in winter and becomes a skating rink. We could also see an area used for tobogganing – the landing area was lined with hay bales – not sure that would make for the softest landing. Beside the park is the largest cemetery I have ever seen – impressive.
Back in the city we followed up on something Angelo had mentioned – the ‘underground’. This is much like the +15 system in Calgary. We went down, and had a happy time wandering around below ground. Load of shops, eateries, and the Metro. Robyn is still scratching her head and wondering if you call the conveyance a bus or a train – it has wheels like a bus, but is contained between rails, more like a train.
We had to be back at the hotel for a 6pm rendezvous with Ozlem whom I knew from my semester abroad at University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming, USA a couple of years ago. She has transferred to University of Montreal and it was a real pleasure to see her again. She knew of a good Indian restaurant just around the corner from the Novotel so we went for a leisurely and tasty meal. Ozlem had bought us each souvenirs to remind us of our trip to Canada – a lovely evening for our last in Canada.