Wednesday seemed like it would be sunny overall so we thought this would be the day to take a bus tour of the city to see a bit more. We booked through Grayline via the concierge at the hotel. They offer hotel pickup but the pickup shuttle was very late. I think the traffic was bad and there was certainly a lot of construction snarling things up. Anyway we got to the tourist info centre and paid for the tour and on the bus. Away we went.
Passing the lovely Marie du Monde Cathedral, we headed for Notre Dame where we had a half hour to go into the cathedral to explore and take pictures. What an absolutely beautiful cathedral! One of my favourites for sure. I think it's the blue and gold glow that makes it so special!
The bus drove along the top end of Old Montreal, and we heard about the founding of the city in the 1600s by the missionaries. The Monastery beside Notre Dame is the oldest building in Old Montreal. There's also a church beside the Marche Bonsecours called Notre Dame de Bonsecours which is dedicated to sailors. We drove past and along the river where there are warehouses and container piers and a big bridge crossing the river. We headed east to Olympic Stadium with it's 45 degree tower looming above it. That was just a photo stop but you can go there and tour the facility and go up the tower. Next to it is the Biodome, housed in what was the velodrome. These facilities were built for the 1976 Olympics and the Olympic Village dormitories are nearby, looking like stacked pizza boxes!
Also in this large park is an insectarium and a botanic garden. The biodome would probably be very interesting to visit but we didn't have time today and didn't get there at all this week. (In summer, Grayline also does hop on hop off tours but we are now in off season so could only get the full guided tour).
From here we traveled a long way down Sherbrooke Street East and then West through the Plateau area with lovely side streets of houses with winding iron outside staircases, so typical of Montreal but of which i didn't get the chance to photograph. There are two universities in the city as well, some of which we traversed. Blvd. St. Laurent and Rue. St. Denis are the big streets for restaurants and cafes and there's good shopping along here as well.
Over by McGill university on the side of the hill of Mont. Royale, we started climbing up the narrow streets to the St. Joseph Oratory for another photo stop. This was built by a fellow that worked in the nearby college as a shrine to St. Joseph and is maintained by donations from people who crawl up to the oratory via the long stairs in front, stopping to pray for a miracle on every step. You think the miracle might be that they make it up to the top! Apparently it's enormous inside and very beautiful.
The bus then made it's way to a lookoff spot where you can see for miles over the city. the Olympic Stadium is immediately evident as is the Jacques Cartier bridge over the river. Windy and chilly but excellent views!
Back into the bus and down the hill we go. We finally arrive back at the info center for the end of the tour. Very good and very informative.
We headed down towards St. CAtherine street again, taking note of all the beautiful buildings. Montreal has a lot of great architecture, both new and old. The older buildings all seem to have lovely little details on the corners or around the doors and windows. Saw the building for the English Newspaper, the Montreal Gazette and it's really lovely!
We got back to the hotel and again needed a bit of a rest but our evening meal was planned. We walked down into Old Montreal, stopping to take photos of Notre Dame lit up at night with the blue lights at the windows. We headed for The Keg which is a national franchise restaurant specializing in steaks. They were really busy tonight but luckily we did get seated fairly quickly. We also got our starters in a good time but our main courses were delayed quite a bit because of two very large groups ahead of us. No matter, we sat and chatted and enjoyed the excellent beer. When it came, the meal was fantastic! It isn't cheap at the Keg but it's a great place for a special night out!
We wandered back through the quiet streets, looking at the buildings that were lit up and looking in shop windows.