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Part 1: New York, New York The Antique Boat Museum at Clayton View Slideshow Part 2: By canal to the St Lawrence Part 3: The St Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers

2014: Autumn Colours in the American Northeast

From New York to Montreal, by canal and river

Part 4: Quebec and Montreal

Quebec

This picture shows Debbie in front of the wonderful mural in old Quebec's Place Royal, which depicts many aspects of Quebec and its most illustrious residents through the 400 years of its history. Unveiled just before the Millennium, it's full title is the "Fresque des Quebecois", and showcases the work of a dozen different artists.

 

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The mural is remarkably lifelike
This view of Quebec, from the top of its highest building, is dominated by the famous Chateau Frontenac hotel
We found a wonderful pumpkin festival in one of the city's squares

After a guided tour of Quebec, we decided not to return to the ship for lunch, but instead left the coach party and sat in the sunshine outside a small cafe at the Place Royal for a delightful snack before exploring the city on foot. We visited countless souvenir shops and bought presents to take back to England; we marvelled at the tourist sights including the pumpkin fairs; and we took the funicular railway up to the higher level in front of the Frontenac, where we discovered that the underground ruins of the old Governor's Mansion were open to visitors. The most fascinating thing about this exhibition was that because the mansion had burned down so quickly and collapsed into the cellars, not only had the occupants not had time to take their personal belongings with them but also they had not attempted to reclaim them from the rubble. As a result, recent excavations had unearthed a wonderful time-capsule of daily life in the Mansion.

 

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The Frontenac dominates the skyline from all directions
The funicular railway is the easiest way to climb the heights
The entrance to the Frontenac is directly in front of you as you leave the funicular railway

Everywhere that we went, our British accent seemed to attract conversation from the local people (especially the shopkeepers) so we found the city to be incredibly friendly, and we thoroughly enjoyed our brief visit there. Maybe one day we'll return for a longer visit (but I doubt if we'd be able to afford to stay at the Frontenac!)

Passing the enormous Holland-America cruise-ship with its thousands of passenger cabins when returning to our little ship at the other end of the harbour, we tried to imagine what life on such a huge ship could be like; the more we thought about it, the happier we were that we had been able to make this wonderful voyage on the little Grande Caribe!

Returning to Montreal we booked into a hotel where we had reserved a day-room that allowed us to leave our luggage in safety while we continued to explore the city. On our first visit, while the other passengers had toured the city by coach we had explored on foot. This had allowed us to take our time exploring the old city, including having a wonderful lunch in a French restaurant; the city, like Quebec, is extremely French in every way.

 

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Debbie finds that touching these statues for good luck is not as easy as it looks
A beautiful flower-filled avenue in the centre of Montreal ...
 ... leads up to Nelson's Column ...
... which surprisingly does actually commemorate the battle of Trafalgar

We visited a number of shops that were selling local Native-American art, where I couldn't resist buying a lovely piece of carved slate, and also the old Seaman's church which was quaintly beautiful with many model boats hung from the ceiling, before making our way back to the main square to take an extended tour of the stunningly beautiful Notre-Dame Basilica. Here we learned that the city was originally called Ville-Marie (Notre Dame is of course Mary) but was renamed for the city's hill, Mount Royal, where the Governor had erected a memorial to the Virgin Mary after the city was saved from a great flood in the early 18th century.

 

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Debbie gets a polar bear-hug
The old Seaman's Church
A horse-drawn carriage would be a good way to see Old Montreal
The spectacular front of the Notre-Dame Basilica

The interior of the Basilica was one of the most beautiful that I have ever seen. On our excellent guided tour we had ample opportunity to enjoy the magnificence of this amazing building, with its wonderful blue-and-gold colours and its amazing stained-glass windows that told the history of Montreal, but for me the highlight came when the organ started to play. The sound of this huge instrument, with its 7000 pipes, was so stunningly beautiful that I literally had to stop and catch my breath to keep the tears from my eyes!

 

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Amazing blue and gold colours inside the Basilica ...
... beautiful stained glass ...
... and an absolutely magnificent organ

The weather was not so good for our second visit, with torrential showers that drove us underground for the morning! Montreal is of course used to severe weather in the winter-time, and when the snows fall the city retreats underground, into what is in effect a gigantic shopping mall that spans a huge area of the newer part of the city, With interconnected passageways of shopping streets, and a few underground railways, it is possible to travel around the city and visit all the major above-ground shops as well as the thousands of underground shops; but we got slightly lost and had to emerge above ground between the showers to finish our journey back to the hotel at street-level.

We were collected from the hotel for our Montreal coach tour, which was slightly longer than that which the ship's passengers had taken the previous week; the driver had a wonderful sense of humour and made an excellent guide as we saw the sights of the city. He even took the coach on to the famous Giles Villeneuve F1 race-track, before driving to the top of Mont Royale for a final view of this wonderful city.

 

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On the Formula 1 race-track ...
... where in fact a cycle race was taking place ...
This Mini would have been at home on the track too.

We were worried whether we would have enough time to catch our flight, but even in the peak of the evening rush-hour it took us only 45 minutes to get to the airport by taxi, and after another 15 minutes to check in and pass through Security we had over an hour to relax in the Airport bar for a final drink before flying home. Good-Bye North America, I hope we'll see you again soon ...

 

Montreal

 

 

Part 1: New York, New York The Antique Boat Museum at Clayton View Slideshow Part 2: By canal to the St Lawrence Part 3: The St Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers
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