Leaving our hotel first thing in the morning, we started out on a walking tour we planned in the area. Just a couple of blocks down from where we were staying is Chinatown so we decided to walk through to our destination in the port. It is chilly but
we are bundled up and ready to enjoy the day. I have to take a moment and say that a Teri and I reviewed the pics for this post, it strikes me that I have not put on a jacket, gloves, hat, boots or any winter wear at all this year. This is a very good thing (apologies to those of you who did for the reminder). Walking through Chinatown on a business day is busy. Restaurants are preparing for the day or already serving up traditional Chinese meals alongside Canadian favourites. You can literally say, “I’ll have the Congee with french toast and back bacon” here and get it. I love this about Canada and Montreal embodies the mosaic well.
On the other side of Chinatown brings us to the Financial District on our way to Notre-Dame Basilica. Again art abounds and we find our heads spinning as we walk to catch it all. The Bank of Montreal museum showcases the history of the city’s oldest bank and was a point of interest for our debit card wielding kids. Do you remember the days of handwritten deposit slips and bank books? How about ledger books? What is remarkable as we push open the ornate, polished doors is the opulence of the decor. A far cry from the drywall, fabric and steel banking environment of today, the furniture and art in the room are a physical representative of the power of the bank. Beautiful to look at and marvel but also bending toward the insidious reminder of who is in charge of your money, we take it in but quickly head back into the street to our next destination.
Back on the street I chuckle as I spot two sculptures standing in the midst of the district that clearly have an editorial bent to them but nevertheless stand.
A short walk and we arrive at our next stop the gorgeous and ornate Notre-Dame Basilica. It is breathtaking in its beauty and grandeur. While there are signs reminding tourists that this is an active church and quiet is in order, they seem unnecessary as we walk awestruck at the immense sanctuary. As we walk and take it all in, I can’t help but think that the bank must have learned something from the church…. just saying. Maybe it is the excitement of travelling or a little bit of early morning grogginess yet to dissipate I’m not sure, but there was a bit of shenanigans perpetrated culminating in a much needed visit to the confessional prior to our departure to ensure we carried no guilt away as we departed. Confident we are forgiven, we continue our walking tour.
The port area greets us with an eclectic mix of cafes and businesses nestled beside large ships in winter storage and a picturesque waterfront. It is a brisk walk but enjoyable as we move toward City Hall and a planned lunch stop for some authentic Montreal foods. The Science Centre is on our way so we duck in to check it out for future reference as it is not open for the day yet. It is a great space and we stumble into the preparations for an event in a common space. This is a theme in Montreal where interesting spaces are created and utilized for multiple purposes. The group mulls over the idea of staying for opening but the original agenda with food imminent wins.
The walks between planned stops are as much fun as the destinations. Everywhere there is something interesting to see and we are all enjoying hearing both official languages engaged and intermingled as we carry on. It isn’t even noon yet and we have already seen so much and are in love with this fantastic city.
Tune in next week and we will do lunch, Montreal Style, visit City Hall and the Biosphere!