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​I was nervous approaching the Canadian border, not knowing what to expect. I got a young, very muscular, heavily tattooed, shaved head guy who looked like he was fresh off the poster shoot for the USA/Mexican border patrol. He asked me no less than 5 times if I had firearms on board. And here I was worried about the carrots and celery I didn’t dump before crossing.

A rainy border crossing into Canada.

We had a bus tour of Montreal.  Our first stop was the Basilique Cathedrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde.  There is only one cathedral per city and that’s where you will find the archbishop.  This cathedral was built to be a scaled down version of St Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.  It was very impressive, very ornate and slightly subdued in color.

Basilique Cathedrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde
Basilique Cathedrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde

Next, we went to Parc Olympique (Olympic Park) where they held the 1976 Olympics.  There is a Formula 1 race-car track out there (Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve) where they have the Grand Prix du Canada every year.  Our bus driver (perhaps illegally) took us for a spin around the racetrack.  When they aren’t racing, it’s 1/2 bicyclists, joggers and rollerblading; the other half is cars.

Racing the bicycles in a bus.

The BioSpere was out there as well, which was the US Pavilion during the World’s Fair they hosted in 1967.

Here’s a group photo at the BioSphere. I’m 3rd from the right.

We drove to Old Montreal, and it doesn’t look very old.  Perhaps it’s because it’s a young city, only 150 years old.

This was in their World Trade Center Building. The story goes that the guy in the penthouse originally saw the statue of Amphitrite, wife of Poseidon somewhere in France, offered more money than they could turn down, but couldn’t install it up in the penthouse. So he put it on the ground floor with a reflecting pool so he could still enjoy it.

Old Montreal didn’t look as old as places around Erie where I grew up.  In fact, most of the architecture in Montreal was very modern – box and angular.  This is Habitat 67, an housing project competition for Expo 67.

Habitat 67. Sorry, it’s a bus window photo.

In Old Montreal we visited another church – the Basilique Notre Dame de Montreal.  This one was bigger, more colorful, louder and more  crowded than the first church we visited.  It almost had a circus atmosphere.  Probably the guy playing show tunes on the pipe organ added to that feeling.  I expected hymns.

This alter at the front was all carved out of wood.
And this was all carved out of wood from the same tree trunk.
The pipe organ in the back of the church.

Our lunch was a picnic in Mount Royal Park which is similar to New York’s Central Park, since they were designed by the same person.  It was such a laid-back experience with picnic blankets dotting the lawn, rowboats on the pond and kids feeding ducks and fish.  It was a very George Serault type of a scene.  It was probably aided by the fact that it was a beautiful, sunny, warm day and everyone was off for national Canada Day.

A croissant sandwich with a French tart for lunch, in Mount Royal Park.

After lunch, we walked to the overlook of the city.  It was quite a view.

The Montreal skyline from Mount Royal Park. I’m so glad the weather was so good this day.

Driving to our next stop, we stopped to get a better look at someone they are very proud of – Leonard Cohen.  This was in front of the Art Museum, which a lot of interesting sculptures around the building.

The Lenoard Cohen mural as seen from the Art Museum.
A crazy rabbit trying to tell this poor baby elephant which way to go.

Our last stop was the Jean-Talon Market.  It has to be the best farmers market I’ve ever been to.  It had everything – flower stalls, fruits and vegetables, a bakery, a cheese shop, a fish monger, a butcher and more.  They even had a SAQ (Societe des alcools du Quebec) – a liquor store, across the street.  They say the wine controlled by the government is much better than what you can buy in the grocery stores.

Being in the Quebec province is more like a foreign country than I expected. Those 200 days of studying French with Duolingo did little to prepare me. Isn’t it amazing that in 200 days of study that one wouldn’t have learned the meaning of Arrêt (Stop). And I just figured out today that 20 EST on a road sign means 20 East, not Eastern Standard Time.  But I can tell you “Je suis le chef au travail, et mon chat est le chef a la maison.” (I am the boss at work and my cat is the boss at home.)  Lot of good that did me at the grocery store.

An English woman with a French poodle.

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