I’m a little miffed that the husband won’t let me use the only thing I can say in French, ” *Je ne parle pas Français. Parlez-vous Anglais?” Everytime someone speaks to us in French, which is everytime someone speaks to us here, he sums it up succinctly in a cheery “Hi!” They always get the point.
After leaving the Ice Hotel, our GPS helped us locate a delightful fondue place for dinner. Our waiter knows enough English to take our order, but is stumped when we ask questions. Not one to give up easily, he excuses himself and returns with a young boy who speaks, much to our astonishment, French, English and Hindi! Our hunger satiated with wonderfully warm and lightly flavoured fondue, we walk back to our car. Light powdery snows falls on our faces like a thousand kisses. We consider skiing the next day.
The next morning we wake up to pristine sheets of snow. It has stopped snowing but it is drizzling. Skiing is out of question. We enjoyed our self -tour so much yesterday, that we decide to do the same today. We note down the names and addresses of the places we want to see and set out.
The husband is keen on having bagels for breakfast. He drops me outside St. Viateur Bagel shop and goes to find parking in the narrow snowed filled streets. By the time he gets back, I have witnessed the entire process of bagel making, right from taking the flour out of the bin to bagel sales. While I chat up with the workers at the shop, I see the husband drive by the window. I run out on the streets and follow him, waving my hands wildly. I can tell we won’t get parking and it makes so much more sense that I just pick up the bagels, but I don’t have my wallet or any Canadian currency on me. Luckily, he finds a spot, and I don’t have to run too far. Montrealers take their bagels rather seriously and we are about to find out why.
We came home with half a dozen bagels.
The first attraction on our list is the Oratory of Saint Joseph. We didn’t know it was a shrine till we entered. There is a certain amount of peace inside, adding to the beauty of the structure. There are more pilgrims than tourists, so it feels odd taking pictures. I am so sure that at any moment someone is going to walk up and admonish me for my sacrilegious behavior.
The brochure did say Level 4 had the Heart of Brother André and display on his life, but I was not at all prepared to really see his heart in a glass case. It is fascinating in a very macabre way. When we walk into the basilica on the top floor, mass is in progress. We stay for a bit and then creep out as unobtrusively as possible.
Next on our list is Mount Royal Park. Vast expanse of smooth unbroken snow, bare trees, each twig covered in ice, softly reflecting the ambient light on this sunless day- this place is a veritable winter wonderland; a fairytale world. There is so much beauty in nothingness. I could stay forever, but my toes feel otherwise.
We drive down to the Notre Dame Basilica. This place is not to be missed. Don’t take your pictures outside this imposing building and move on, step inside and be wowed.
The rain puts a damper on my plans of ice-skating at the Old Port. We decide to skip the science center and drive on to the Olympic Stadium. As a holiday special, they are offering free rides to the top of the tower. Normally this would costs $15. Ultimately, we don’t do it because of the poor visibility. This stadium was the main venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics. Sadly, there is no stadium tour. We go to the Bio Dome where we spot Canada’s national animal – the beaver, and do a quick walk through the Planetarium.
It’s time to go home, but we would love to come back for skiing. **Au revoir, Montreal. À bientôt.
P.S – more pictures can be seen on our FB page.
*Je ne parle pas français. Parlez-vous Anglais? – I don’t speak French. Do you speak English?
** Au revoir, Montreal. À bientôt – Goodbye Montreal! See you soon.
***Je t’aime toujours – I will always love you