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Monday, June 19, 2017

Montreal, Quebec - What a Great City!

What a great city--Montreal is celebrating its 375th birthday!  It is a city under construction with multiple highway construction projects. We stayed at a great little bed and breakfast outside the city so we had the chance to experience Montreal traffic every day as we entered and exited the city. 

While Montreal is the second largest largest city in Canada, it is one of top five largest French speaking cities in the world. We never had a problem though as most people were bilingual. We did fine with our very basic French and their rudimentary to excellent English.  I laugh because the infamous joke about what you call a person who can speak three languages? Trilingual.  Two languages? Bilingual.  One language? American.  This seemed so appropriate.

Montreal is built on a 30 mile long island along the convergence of the St Laurence and Ottawa rivers. The city is named after Mount Royal the triple peaked hill in the heart of the city, a whopping 764 feet above sea level. The flag of Montreal has a fascinating history with respect to the different components that make it up. Click here if you'd like to learn more.

Montreal is a foodie's city, so many great places to eat and trust us, we tried! One thing Montreal is famous for is smoked meat, bagels, poutine, etc. Regarding poutine though, it didn't click. We love french fries, gravy and cheese curds, all separately but together - meh. Their definition of smoked meat is very different from ours, think pastrami vs a Texas style brisket--a great taste but different smoking / cooking styles. 

Montreal is a melting pot filled with really friendly people, cultures and so many things to do.  We'll be back. Our two days touring the city zipped right by!

A double decker bus tour of the city is a great way to get an 
overview of the city and learn things you might never hear 
otherwise. Bob used to be skeptical and think they were 
hokey--he's had a change of heart.

Montreal has many outdoor markets, the Jean-Talon 
Market is one of the most famous. 

Great charcuterie shop in the Jean-Talon. We especially
loved their strolghino. If you visit, bring us back some please!

The bagels were fantastic at the St. Viatoeur bagel shop, well 
worth the stop. Recommend getting whatever is fresh from the 
oven. This was sesame for us, a great choice! The top bagel places 
are open 24x7. 

The Montreal Botanical Gardens is well worth a visit! 
We especially enjoyed Japanese Gardens and the Insectarium. 

St. Joseph's Basilica is stunning and is the highest point 
in Montreal. It is well worth a visit and is among the top 10 
things to see in Montreal.

Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral is amazing; it is a half-sized 
version of St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome. Wow!

Celebrating its 375th birthday, there are all kinds 
of events across the city. This band was singing on the steps 
of Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral and well worth the stop! 
A fun city, you never know what you will see around the 
next corner.  See all those hanging orange balls!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Quebec City, Quebec Canada - Parlez-vous english?

Luckily most French Canadians speak some english! Founded in 1608 by the French, Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America. It is a beautiful, vibrant city with less than one million people, manageable traffic and is the capital of Quebec province. Old Quebec (Vieux-Quebec) is surrounded by fortified city walls and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. So much to see, do and eat!

For a good city overview, we recommend the hop-on-hop-off bus tour. We sat on the top deck, enjoying a wonderful sunny day, taking lots of pictures, and saving our legs for the many miles that we would walk later. One of our favorite places was the Museum de la Civilisation. We went in on a rainy day thinking we would spend an hour or two. Five hours later, we walked out in awe--who knew a museum could be so much fun! It is on the top 10 things to do in the city, rain or shine.
The Museum de la Civilisation is located in the historic Old
Quebec. You could spend an entire day or more here. It's very
hands-on and fun with everything presented in french and english.

An exhibit on birds is in a room of mirrors, so where is Bob?

The temporary exhibit, "Mad About Brains" was our favorite!
We learned so much about this amazing organ, when it works
well to when it does not. Especially enjoyed watching brain surgery.

Remember "Where is Waldo?" It was part of the
exhibit on cats and dogs.

See if you can find Waldo and his friends...

Now that's a lot of water! Montmorency Falls in Quebec City
is 30 meters taller than Niagara Falls.  

A creative city with lots of street art; what cool bridge columns!

Sightseeing from the top of a double decker bus, a great way to
learn a lot about the city in a short period of time.

Cool street art--there were about 20 large lanterns hanging
over this street.

Beautiful Fountain de Tourney--striking construction workers
vented their anger by adding foam, shoes and strike notes to the
fountain. See the news crew filming a piece for the evening
news. It was cleaned up the next day.  
Founded in 1871, J.A. Moisan is the oldest grocery store
in North America. Yes, we had to stop! 

He needed a hand! 

These are poetry chairs--each has a different poem.
Yes, you can sit in them too! 

It was spring in the city!