Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009 - In Montreal

After an uneventful and short flight, we had hoped the some turkey would be roasting during our Thanksgiving weekend trip.

All through Montreal, our family strolled along during the warmth of sunny days, and despite the frosty weather by evening, we were able to visit some amazing sights and listen to the sounds of the busy city.

The most historical architecture in Canadian history was here for all to see, including an abundance of churches; there was a Basilica, Cathedrals, St. Joseph's Oratory, and beautiful buildings galore to gaze upon, and realize the deep richness in them, knowing that this area was once referred to as; "New France in The New World".

Our hotel was centrally located and made walking about easy for all.

Well, lots of stops were necessary along our adventuring, even when hopping onto a tour bus for a day's sight seeing narration of the area.

Thank goodness for real live stop signs, for there were times when they became handy to lean on for a while to recover from fatigue.

Right next door to the hotel was "Mere Marie Reine Du-Monde Cathedral" where we were able to partake in our Sunday obligations.

Perhaps we were scattered in our thoughts during mass while there as we took in the many ornate and exquisite designs overhead and in our overall surroundings.

It was breathtaking for sure to be there, and dwell in all the sacred beauty.

A family photo in front of the Cathedral on another day when the sun was just right (but oh so COLD!) for taking the picture.

Underground shopping is huge in Montreal, for life with a subway system allows folks the luxury of keeping warm during the cold winter months. Shopping malls and business lay underground, people and crowds everywhere!

This flower shop below always caught my eye when we were near, such lovely and colorful floral displays.

Speaking of the subway, it was our children's first experience not only seeing, but also riding the subway. After purchasing six tickets, well, um, to no where, we hopped on just to ride it to the very end of the system and back again, for the experience and all.

Waiting for our no where.

Subway ticket, in french.

Montreal is a haven for ice hockey lovers, knowing the likes of Maurice Richard and others offered Canada a rich history for the love of the game.

Everywhere we went, symbols of "Montreal Canadiens" were in our midst, reminding us of our country, and our family's love of the sport.

Even though our guys are not absolute fans of this team, it was fun to be part of the cultural surroundings, specially when all were in another language accompanying all.

Imagine, a new apron with this logo?

Okay, I like this window display mom, you can go ahead and take a picture of me in front of it.

One of our hotel restaurants was the location for a very nice dinner, just me and my hubby together while the children happily volunteered and opted to remain in the hotel room with pizza and a movie.

No matter how hard we searched about, there was no turkey dinner offered anywhere to keep up with our Canadian Thanksgiving tradition, thus the impromptu date with my man, alone. It was scrumptious!

St. Patrick's Basilica was another church down the road from our hotel and what a history this one has, mandated as a heritage building and sight! Irishmen from near and far have quite a history here.

Onward ho, beyond the core of our hotel room, we sought a bus tour of the city, and as I said above, no one could escape the presence of the Montreal Canadiens logo.

Our bus for our tour was even decorated with the logo!

Walking through the financial district, some of the oldest buildings filled the skyline with fabulous architectural works of art.

Love this red beetle bug!

Old Montreal was very much like Old Quebec in some ways.

We loved the street names here.

Ohh la la, a coffee shop in Old Montreal.

Notre Dame Cathedral was actually closed for the day due to several weddings and privacy expected.

We were highly disappointed not to be allowed into the interior of the historical church, and dismayed that if we were, a fee of 5.00 per person was imposed on all visitors to assist with the upkeep of the property.

Did you know Celine Dion was married here? Neither did I. Apparently though, our tour bus operator told us one had to book their weddings up to five years in advance to secure this as their wedding location, as it is a very popular choice.

St. Joseph's Oratory was another area of interest that was closed for the day due to restoration work in progress.

This is the site of Brother Andre's life work, now beatified as a "Blessed" in the church. How disappointing! Two in a row!

This was pointed out to be the residence of "Pierre Eliot Trudeau", our former longest running Canadian Prime Minister in history. The family still owns the home long after his death. Here in the photos, a house maid was outdoors talking on her cell phone when we passed by.

Montreal's Olympic park - home to the 1976 summer Olympics.

This was the first Olympic to have security issues become an all time high for the world's athletic participants due to what had transpired in the 1972 Olympics with deaths in the middle east.

An underground tunnel was built to keep the athletes safe from harm, between living and competing quarters.

Such a beautiful autumn day beckoned us onward during our city bus tour, the sun so bright and cheery and yet the evening becoming a frosty and wintry cold.

An epic moment for our family's photo session, trying to keep our footing for the amount of wind kicking up and threatening to blow us down.

Architectural beauty is everywhere in Montreal! Gorgeous pillars and details galore made one stop to ponder what they were walking close to.

Christmas in the city came year round with this fun Christmas store.

Not a bilingual sign anywhere!

It was great for our children to get a feel for their country's French language, and wonderful for me to know what they actually meant.

I love this photo!

I call our daughter our "Channel Girl", not that the photo has anything to do with her, rather it's a classic photo and a lovely "birthday gal" posing under it.

The girls were trying to make out what the signs said.

May I ask you - what is a French excursion without a freshly baked croissant?


Famous for their pulled pork sandwiches, my husband led us here to have dinner one evening because when he travels here for work, he loves to come here. Famous since 1927, it is a real gathering spot for lovers of good old fashioned food.

Another view of the Olympic park, but this one was from atop of Mount Royal, the one and only mountain in Montreal, the mountain with historical significance to boot.

Our final travel experience for our children was taking a passenger train home.

The five hour trip was smooth and easy, all excepting our youngest daughter caught a bug of some sort and she soon became visibly ill with motion sickness affecting her tummy.

Withstanding that, my hubby and I were stunned for a bit when realizing all of our ticket seats varied around one entire rail car, no one together at all. This was not going to work!

With a little verbal communication, we settled for myself with one, my husband with one, our daughter by herself and our son on his own. Everything turned out just fine and everyone loved the ride, a nice change from anything we've ever done before.

Our older son ended up with three others when his seat faced the family he was seated with, a couple from Toronto with their daughter. Both the older gentleman and his daughter were doctors and our son was highly entertained and spoke nonstop with all three throughout the trip.

Our older daughter had a book she was able to dive into, happy as all get out to be able to have this down time alone.

For all of us, this was prime travel because we were allotted seats in the business class section, complete with dinner meal and pampering galore. Like my husband told me before; "It beats flying business class on an airplane hands down", and naturally being in the transportation industry, he was right about that.

Thanksgiving 2009 was vastly different from any other year for our family here "in the east", but without additional or extended family around, and not knowing a soul in these parts as yet, it was the perfect small escape trip we were able to make yet. We loved it all, but felt the lack of family presence for sure.

It was especially fun watching the children while attempting to figure out what people were saying when they spoke french to one another. :)

Will we do this again? Once is okay, but never say never. It would just have to be another destination for further adventures with our family "in the east". Maybe the "Maritimes" next time? We'll see....