Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Day 8: Montreal

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

We woke up on the last day of our cruise with the sunrise again, and we were treated to a spectacular view of Montreal waking up. We had to be off the ship pretty early, so just like that, it was over, but we still had two more days to explore Montreal, and drive home.

We were super lucky that we could get in to our hotel room at 10am, and we were incredibly pleased with our hotel room! Brian and picked out Le St. Martin Hotel Particulier, and it was an excellent choice – one of the highlights of the trip. Spacious, great decor, a fireplace and a ginormous tub, with a sliding door opening up to the rest of the room. We settled in a bit, then took off to explore Montreal.

We headed straight to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which has a wonderful collection in a cluster of lovely buildings. They have a cut-out model of Florence’s Duomo, which was pretty incredible to see. Then we headed over to the Notre-Dame Basilica, which was absolutely phenomenal. It was easily the largest of the many churches we saw this week, and the deep blues and greens of the altar and the vaulted ceiling were incredible!

After a warm croissant or two, we continued wandering around. Later in the evening, we visited another church very close to our hotel, the Basilica of Mary Queen of the World (sounds better in French). It was very beautiful and peaceful, and it had a baldacchino altar very similar (but smaller) to the one at St. Peter’s in the Vatican.

We continued our evening stroll through a neighborhood with tons of shopping and McGill students, found some dinner, then headed back to our cozy hotel to relax for the evening. We’re happy, exhausted, and ready to head home!

Day 7: Quebec City

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

The timing of the sunrise and our arrival in Quebec coincided perfectly, and I got to see the Quebec skyline in a lovely red glow first thing this morning. I also got to see the Montmorency Falls, which is something I had heard of and knew we would likely miss, but I saw the enormous waterfall at a distance as we passed Ile d’Orleans just before arriving in Quebec City.

We got off of the ship, and soon found ourselves in the very Medieval-looking square of Place Royal. It was still pretty early, so we made a few mental notes of places to visit later, and continued towards Chateau Frontenac. My boss, who knows that stairs are often my enemy, warned me about the huge stairways leading up to Frontenac, and I’m grateful for his advice to take the finicular instead – great views of harbor as we went up!

We checked out Chateau Frontenac, a massive hotel that completely dominates Quebec’s landscape, and then we wandered down the boardwalk, with lots of great views of the river. Then we spent the next few hours in our usual routine of exploring a new city by way of its churches, cafes and jewelry stores.

First, the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, then the Basilica of Notre Dame, and by that point, I was long overdue for my first crepe in Canada! Chocolate crepes make excellent lunches, and then we were on our way again. We wandered through the lovely streets, did a bit of shopping, found a lovely little art market, then turned a corner and ‘discovered’ what turned out to be one of my favorite churches of our whole trip: the Chalmers-Wesley branch of the United Church of Canada. When we stepped inside, I was struck by two things simultaneously: it was very beautiful and very very quiet. For a few precious minutes before other tourists showed up, we were alone in the church with one other guy, and it was utterly completely totally silent! It was quite a treat, and of course, so was the stained glass.

We worked our way back to the boardwalk that led back to Frontenac, back to the funicular, and back to Place Royal to check out a handful of really beautiful shops, and eventually back on to the ship to make the most of our last evening aboard the Maasdam. As I’m writing this, I’m in a café on the ship as we’re leaving Quebec, and we’re travelling along the St. Lawrence River towards Montreal … heading out in a few minutes to watch the sun set along the St. Lawrence.

Brian’s Photos:

Day 6: Gulf of St. Lawrence

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Although I had planned to sleep in on our full day at sea, I found myself awake at 4am because our bed (and the whole ship) was listing to port (towards my feet), and then I heard the somewhat amusing sound of my bedside drawers, and the drawers in several nearby rooms, sliding open all at once. As we continued to ride what must have been some pretty big waves, I managed to get back to sleep but only for a short while, and we headed up for an early breakfast where we all found it challenging to carry our food to our tables without stumbling as the ship continued to ride very choppy waves. I was rather pleased with myself for not falling over, but I did spill coffee on myself.

In his typical dry tone, our captain announced that the overnight weather forecast had turned out to be completely incorrect, and what was supposed to be “a little bit windy” actually turned out to be hurricane-level winds.

After a mid-morning nap, and calmer seas, we were ready for our day at sea: reading, drawing, walking and eating. It actually turned out to be a very clear blue day, with great views of New Brunswick in the distance!