A Travellerspoint blog

Canada

Quebec City to Montreal

rain 3 °C

Day 45 Saturday 30 October – To Montreal

Checked-out of the Hotel and piled our stuff into David and Linda's car and set off to Montreal. Traffic is light and before long we are crossing the St Lawrence River and heading West. Along the way we passed a number of sales yards filled to overflowing with caravans, mobile homes and other Recreation vehicles. There must have been several hundred.

Another yard was filled with all manner of buses including the traditional School Buses. David thinks that this unsold stock is due to the general economic down-turn. The weather turns ordinary and there's a hint of snow in the air and sure enough we enter an area where there's evidence of recent snow. All along the route there are large grain silos and cropping land.

As we approach Montreal the amount of traffic increases and the number of main road intersections becomes quite bewildering. Linda manages again to find the way to our hotel without having to back-track or stop for directions. You'd have to have driven in Montreal to appreciate just how difficult that is.

We checked in and went for a walk in the freezing rain to pick up some essential items. We noticed a large number of bikes in a rack outside a subway station, they are obviously available for rent, I have no further information.

Too cold and wet to walk too far so went back to the hotel. Our room is actually a studio with a bedroom, bathroom and a living room with a kitchen. The style of accommodation you'd want if you were staying for a week. Very nice just for a day too.

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Posted by greynomadm 17:29 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

Vieux Quebec

rain 5 °C
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Day 44 Friday 29 October – Vieux-Quebec

Don't let the maps fool you, distances in the city are not all horizontal, there is quite a difference in elevations and when you walk back and forth the downhill doesn't appear to compensate for the uphill. Despite a cold wind and occasional drizzle we were out and about from 8 to 5 and walking most of that time.

I'm not going to try and describe the wonder of this city, there are books that could be written. I'll mention the places and things that stood out. Firstly the railway station, most spectacular of the stations we've seen and it is still in use and connects with the long distance buses. From there the board-walk along the waterfront which must be the most extensive wooden decking anywhere – quite enormous. Across the water the extensive grain handling facilities which double as a canvas for projected lights and images. Past the very modern cruise ship terminal to the Place-Royale.

The area at the foot of the escarpment near the ferry terminal is maze of narrow streets, stairs and alleys with an incredible array of small shops selling a wild range of goods. Delivery trucks either back in to drive out or drive in and back out, there are few if any through roads and they are all narrow. So tight that the garbage collection is performed by a person in a small pick-up truck.

The Fairmont Chateau Frontenac dominates the edge of the escarpment and towers over every other building in the old city. The Halloween decorations are all over the lawn in front of City Hall (Hotel-de-Ville). We reached the city wall and peered over the top for a view of the Parliament Building and found the place where the horse and carriages rest between trips around the city.

After lunch with David and Linda we made our way to the Citadelle where we were treated to a very informative tour of the area. David had told us it lasted about an hour, we were there for almost two. The views and buildings are most impressive as is the fact that it is still an operational military establishment being the HQ of the 22 Royal Quebec Regiment. Surprisingly a part of the Citadelle is also the alternate residence of the Governor General.

Met up with David and Linda again and dined at Le Cafe de Paris on Saint Louis which featured an open fire and guitar playing troubadour. The food was superb and the service excellent. The rain started to get serious and could turn into snow by the morning.

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Posted by greynomadm 03:50 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

To Old Quebec City

overcast
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Day 43 Thursday 28 October – To Old Quebec City

All packed and ready to leave, breakfast and pack the car. Sadie (the dog that rules the house) is to be a house-guest with Frank up the road. About 9:30 we set off to drive the 450 Km or so to Quebec City. The main highway takes one through the heart of Montreal, something to be avoided.

Linda navigates until about lunch time, then she takes over the driving around Montreal. She explains that most folks have their preferred route and she has hers. I've no idea how she managed it with dozens of changes from one highway to another and numerous detours due to road and bridge works. We have strong tail wind and despite a threatening sky we avoid the rain.

After taking us clear of Montreal she hands over the wheel to David and works out the route to the hotel. Another piece of brilliant navigation she guides David right to the front door of the hotel. The Hotel Manour Victoria is on Cote du Palais inside the city walls and was established in the 1830s, this building has been here since fire destroyed the original building in 1902. We check in and hand the car over to the porter.

The rooms are spacious, clean and comfortable. We take a walk through the old narrow streets and check out the many restaurants and pubs. There are also many boutique clothing and footwear shops, gift shops and a Christmas Shop. David chooses an Irish Pub for dinner and the meal was great, the live jazz band a bit overpowering and the general level of noise precluded any conversation. By about 8:30 we're back at the hotel and retire.

There's free WiFi broadband but only in the lounge area. I'll see how I go uploading this entry.
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Posted by greynomadm 03:19 Archived in Canada Comments (4)

Day at the War Museum

sunny 20 °C
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Day 42 Wednesday 27 October – Day at the War Museum

Daybreak is full of promise, the sun is out and there's only the hint of a breeze. After another delightful breakfast Jenny and Linda set off to explore the wonders of the fabric shops in the district, David and I travel into Ottawa to visit the War Memorial.

On approach the building does not look at all impressive being set low into the ground and will in from the main road. Once inside the doors you realise just how massively large the building is. David has a magic card which provides him and a guest with free entry and we head for the exhibition wing. A long and wide passage lined with enlarged photos leads to the start of the exhibits. We don't need the directions available and David leads us down to the hall where the large collection of the machines of war are on show.

Tanks, APCs, self propelled guns and trucks are all dwarfed by the size of the hall. It is a huge area with over 150 vehicles on display and still enough free space to hold as many more. Most of the pieces are in mint condition or have been meticulously restored, others are in as was used condition with broken pieces hanging off and scars of battle clearly visible. In addition to equipment used by the Canadians, there is gear from the Russians, the Germans and some American hardware as well. It takes us over two hours to view most of this collection.

Time for lunch in “the Mess”, a spacious area with a sunny view and served by a compact cafeteria. David has to move the car to avoid the parking inspector while I nose around some of the other areas. There are a number I didn't visit, including the Gift Shop, the Theatre and the Research Centre – there just is too much to see.

The detailed displays are loosely divided into four zones or galleries. They are arranged in a rough circle and follow the chronology starting with the early wars on Canadian soil through to the present time. I was aware that the Canadians had fought in WWI and WWII and that they were prominent in Peace Keeping missions, but there's a lot more they were involved in.

The early wars were a complete revelation and it appears the fought against the British, the French, the Americans and the First Nation People. I'm sure they even fought each other when there was no-one else to fight.

The exhibits were well lit and easy to read in quite spacious corridors. Significant items of a particular period were interspersed with enlarged photos, paintings, posters and reconstructed street scapes. All in all a vast and pleasant contrast with the War Memorial in Canberra.

At the end of the last gallery there was a room which asked the question “What will you do?”. Beneath that question you're invited to express your views on what the Museum has meant to you. There is a large array of pre-addressed blank cards and you're invited to use them to send a message. The preprinted addresses include the President of the USA, the Secretary General of the UN, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Directors of the Museum, the Canadian Legion and and a lot of others I can't remember. According to a staff member these cards are regularly and frequently replenished.

Somewhat emotionally drained and leg weary we head back to Manotick, a drink and diner and prepare for the trip to Quebec City in the morning.

PS. Jenny and Linda had a great day out and bought a range of materials.

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Posted by greynomadm 04:26 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Day at the Museum

overcast 17 °C
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Day 41 Tuesday 26 October – Day at the Museum

The day is overcast and there's some fog about but there is little to no wind and the forecast temperature is for about 14 to 17. After breakfast we head off to the city, the arrangement is for David to drop us off and then return to pick us up again at 3 pm. That wonderful man will drive a total of 4 hours in traffic so that we can have 4 hours in the museum.

We visited the Canadian Museum of Civilisation, a museum like no other that we've seen anywhere. It is located on the banks of the river across from the Parliament. The structure from the outside is interesting but what is inside was far beyond our expectation.

We started with level 3 – a journey across Canada from East to West. The exhibit starts with the visitation by the Vikings, the early settlements and their struggles to turn salt marshes into farming lands. The important Cod fisheries and early Whaling are all presented in life-sized settings with detailed descriptions and artefacts of the period displayed. One of the things that was most unusual was that very little was hidden behind glass an absolute bonus for taking pictures,

Through to the fur trade and a recreated New French square complete with Inn, Boot-maker and a Hospital. All displayed and constructed in great detail. The growth of the timber industry and through the British Military presence to the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway and its impact on the development Westward. From the station a boxcar leads to the grain elevator of the prairies and an exquisite Orthodox Church that is still used on occasions.

The advent of the Unions and a re-created Chinese Laundry leads onto a small school-house of the era and the discovery of oil in Alberta about 1920. The exhibit takes on an almost modern air as we arrive in an airport departure lounge depicting the uniforms and aircraft of Canada Pacific Air “Gateway to the Orient”. We exit through the Wildcat Cafe which provides a glimpse of life in the harsh Northern Regions even today.

We'd spent an hour and could have spent a full day, there were no straight lines and lots of nooks and crannies to look at and into. The 'feel' of the floor changed with the era including uneven cobbles through to rough timber and carpet. Totally awesome experience.
Level 4 paid homage to the prominent men and women of Canada through its history. We walked quite quickly through this floor as the names and faces were not known to us. A break for lunch in the excellent Cafeteria and a quick stroll outside to take in some of the views.

Level 1 has an impressive hall that stretches from end to end and is four stories high. It houses the artefacts of the 'First Nations' and has a large number of totem poles displayed there. We spent some time exploring the four different houses, each representative of the different regions of the Pacific Coast peoples. Fifteen minutes in each was not enough time to read all the inscriptions or listen to the narratives or watch the Audio/Visuals in the little theaters.

We then meandered through the First Peoples Hall containing both original and recreated clothing, shelter, tools and hunting implements all set against beautiful backgrounds. Again there were detailed descriptions and explanations. By this time we had become quite adapt at focusing on the English text, it was on the right, French on the left. Reluctantly we couldn't stop to examine all the exhibits in detail.

On to Level 2 – the entry level – for the Canada Post exhibit, every stamp ever issued is displayed in a dimmed room and they provide magnifying glasses to examine them in detail. Yes, the lights come on so that you can see them. Post boxes from the past, activities associated with stamp collecting (I forget the word) and activities for kids.

That brought us into the Children’s Museum – kids could spend a week here, we could have spent hours but didn't have the time. One section was a scaled down theatre complete with ticket office, stage and dressing rooms behind the stage. Dress-up costumes are provided and the wardrobe mistress was a delight to talk to.

We had well and truly filled the four hours and there were many parts we had not visited but our chariot was due and we followed yet another route back to Manotick. In part we followed the Ottawa River along a broad divided parkway. David expressed his concern that it may be destroyed by a plan to use it as a light rail corridor.

Back at base we relax for a while and then join a neighbour for 5ish, a drink, a chat and some savoury nibbles at about 5 pm, very civilised and most enjoyable. Back for peanuts and drinks while Linda finishes the diner preparations. By about 8:30 we are well and truly ready for bed.

More activities planned for Wednesday.

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Posted by greynomadm 04:39 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

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