Friday 30 January 2015

America/Canada Adventure Part 5.....

Day Six, another early start, passports at the ready for our drive northwards through Vermont and our crossing the St Lawrence into Canada for a two night stay in Montreal!

After a couple of hours on the road we made a short comfort stop at a Dunkin' Donuts in Burlington, before a short painless wait at customs as we crossed into Canada and, after an hour or so drive, we had our first sight of Canada's second city Montreal. 
The magnificent bilingual city of Montreal Occupies an island at the junction of the St. Lawrence and Ottowa rivers, and although hundreds of miles from the sea, it is a major port. 

On the way to our hotel we had a tour of the city with our guide pointing out various places of interest, such as The Sun Life Building in Dorchester Square, where Britain's Gold reserves, negotiable securities and Crown Jewels were stored during WW2 for safe keeping.
These were secretly packed in crates labelled 'Fish' and shipped across the Atlantic, arriving at Halifax on July 1, 1940, they were locked in an underground vault three stories beneath the Sun Life Building, guarded around the clock by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The gold was shipped on to Ottawa.

The extremely secretive UK Security Deposit, operating in the vault, arranged for the sale of Britain's negotiable securities on the New York Stock Exchange over the next few years to pay for Britain's war expenses. The 5,000 Sun Life employees never knew what was stored away beneath them and not a single piece of the cargo went missing nor was any information about the operation ever leaked.

We passed the Marie-Rein-Du-Monde Cathedral, which is a one third replica of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
We also passed the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, this was where John and Yoko conducted their Bed-In between May 26 and June 2 1969, and recorded 'Give Peace A Chance' in room 1742.  

Another interesting site is the French Metro entrance, the only one in Montreal, on Victoria Square opposite the statue of Queen Victoria.
It is one of Hector Guimard's art nouveau entrance porticos from the Paris Metro. One of the few authentic installations on a metro station outside Paris, it was given in 1967 by the RATP (RĂ©gie autonome des transports parisiens) to commemorate the collaboration of French and Canadian engineers in building the metro.

Our next stop was Place d'Armes, a square in the old quarter of Montreal. In the centre of the square there is a monument in memory of Paul de Chomnedey (February 15, 1612 – September 9, 1676), a French military officer and the founder of Montreal in New France
and Notre-Dame Basilica.  In 1657, the Roman Catholic Sulpician Order arrived in Ville-Marie, now known as Montreal; six years later the seigneury of the island was vested in them. They ruled until 1840. The parish they founded was dedicated to the Holy Name of Mary, and the parish church of Notre-Dame was built on the site in 1672.   A beautiful building from the outside
but, oh my, when you get inside it literally just takes your breath away!
I almost cried when I saw the altar!

Unusual for a church, the stained glass windows along the walls of the sanctuary do not depict biblical scenes, but rather scenes from the religious history of Montreal.

Ordered in 1929 to mark the church's centenary celebrations, the windows were designed by Jean-Baptiste Lagace, which were then brought to life at Francis Chigot's workshop in Limoges, France.
Carrying on with our tour we spied Nelson's Column!
Erected in 1809 at Place Jacques-Cartier and dedicated to the memory of Admiral Horatio Nelson following his death at the Battle of Trafalgar it is the city's oldest monument.

Other interesting architecture is Habitat 67,  a model community and housing complex designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie. It was originally conceived as his master's thesis in architecture at McGill University and then built as a pavilion for Expo 67 the World's Fair  1967.
Our next stop was Christ Church Anglican Cathedral.
The first Christ Church opened on Notre-Dame Street in Old Montreal in 1814. The cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1856. The present cathedral was completed in 1859 and consecrated in 1867.  In the 1980s, a vast real estate project was undertaken below the cathedral. The project consisted of a 34-floor skyscraper, Tour KPMG built north of the Cathedral, underground parking, and two levels of retail stores situated beneath the cathedral. For a period in 1987, the Cathedral was supported on stilts while footings for the underground mall, Promenades Cathedrale were excavated.

We were taken below ground into the malls where we were able to see the fascinating storyboard showing how the cathedral was supported during the excavation. Click on pics to biggify.

Montreal has an underground city of 23 miles!

This sculpture, The Illuminated Crowd, where 65 people of all ages, race, facial expressions and conditions are depicted on four platforms, illustrates the degradation of the human race and symbolizes the fragility of the human condition.  It is quite 'dark' in places, but fascinating just the same.
 Whilst this sculpture, Gardons Le Soleil - Keep the sun in Montreal, immediately lifts your spirits.
Following the exhibition Chihuly: Utterly Breathtaking, hundreds of people called, wrote and emailed the Montreal Museum of Fine Art to say how much they would like The sun to remain in Montreal. Faced with this spontaneous enthusiasm and with the contribution of the artist, the Museum decided to respond to this public outpouring by launching an appeal to allow tourists and Montrealers to make a contribution, according to their means, in order to help The sun shine in Montreal all year long.

Back on the coach our last stop before the hotel was Mount Royal, with it's wonderful views of the city.

The first European to scale the mountain was Jacques Cartier, guided there in 1535 by the people of the village of Hochelga. He named it in honour of his patron, Francis I of France. He wrote in his journal:
And among these fields is situated and seated the said town of Hochelaga, near to and adjoining a mountain ... We named this mountain, Mount Royal.
It is a corruption of the name Mount Royal which gives the city its present day name of Montreal.

We also had a magnificent view of the Olympic Stadium which dominates the skyline
 and the Olympic village.
Tour over, we finally arrived at our hotel and were pleasantly surprised to find we had a rather nice suite for the next two nights.

Do you remember how in Boston we were able to meet up with my blog friend Linda Are We There Yet?   Well, after seeing my account and photographs of the meet-up on Facebook another friend I met through blogging, Ann who lives in Montreal, mentioned it was a shame we wouldn't be visiting her city.   Well of course we were, so before we arrived we were able to arrange to meet up for dinner on our first evening!

We told Ann where we were staying and she stayed late at work and came to our hotel to meet us.   She found us a lovely little French restaurant she'd been to before and we had a great couple of hours enjoying good food and conversation.
Thankyou Ann, it was so good to meet you at long last!

I hope you enjoyed our first day in Montreal and will join me in Part 6 when we visit Quebec for the day.

Thursday 22 January 2015

America/Canada Adventure Part 4......

Day 5 and we were up early packed and breakfasted ready for the 8.30am departure and the journey through the New England Countryside.   Just on the outskirts of North Conway we spotted another covered bridge
though we didn't have time to stop and stare.

Our first stop of the day was at the Willey House Historical Site.
The Willey House, formerly a small inn and residence in Crawford Notch, is the site of a landslide that claimed nine lives in August of 1826.   Though the surrounding area was strewn with boulders and debris, the Willey House stood unharmed.   The family however, perished in the landslide, becoming part of the legend of the Willey House.

Just across the road is the Saco River, which indirectly was the cause of the demise of the Willey Family, you can read about it here.

Surrounded by the panorama of Crawford Notch, the views around the site are amazing and has picknicking areas nearby, along with hiking trails and campgrounds.

Setting off again it wasn't too long before our guide pointed out the Mount Washington Site Lodge Hotel
The Mount Washington Hotel and Resort is one of the last surviving grand hotels in the White Mountains and includes an 18-hole Donald Ross-designed golf course, as well as the hotel's original 9-hole course designed by A.H. Findlay.   It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. Our driver decided to take a detour and took us right up the drive past the front of the hotel!
 Back on the road again, the lovely Sugar Hill river view,
to our next stop the lovely town of Bath, it seemed strange to be visiting Bath on the other side of the world when we've never been to Bath in England!  The population of Bath was 1,077 at the 2010 census, it is now mainly a tourist destination,

with it's little church,
covered bridges, of which this is just one,

ice cream parlour, of course we had to try one and delicious it was too.
The fascinating Brick Store, the oldest store in the US which has been continuously operated since 1790.

The inside is a veritable emporium!

Fortified by the ice-cream and the leg-stretch we boarded the coach again for our journey through Vermont to our stop for lunch, Montpelier.
The first permanent settlement began in May 1787, when Colonel Jacob Davis and General Parley Davis arrived from Charlton, Massachusetts. General Davis surveyed the land, while Colonel Davis cleared forest and erected a large log house on the west side of the North Branch of the Winooski River. His family moved in the following winter.

It was Colonel Davis who selected the name Montpelier after the French city Montpellier. There was a general enthusiasm for things French as a result of that country's aid during the American Revolution. The settlement grew quickly, and by 1791 the population reached 117.

You can see the dome of the State Capitol Building in Montpelier in the distance as we approached.
Here it is close up. 
We quickly found somewhere to have lunch, so we could spend the rest of our stop looking around and taking photographs of the buildings and places of interest.

By population, Montpelier is the smallest state capital in the United States.

 I'd love to live somewhere like this, right next to a river.
 Always remember to look up, you could be surprised at the view.
 There's the Golden Dome of the Capital Building again in the distance.
Lunch break over we were back on the road again to be surprised by an unscheduled but welcome stop at
and what a fun place it is!

With a $5 correspondence course in ice cream-making from Penn State and  a $12,000 investment ($4,000 of it borrowed), Ben and Jerry open their first  ice cream scoop shop in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont.  Read the full story here.

We walked up the hill to the cemetary,
the discontinued flavour cemetary that is.  Great view from the cemetary.
Take the time to zoom in to see the various flavours that have been killed off.

After a fun couple of hours it was time to get back on the coach again for the final leg of the journey for Day 5 to our stop for the night, Stowe, and once again we arrived with just enough time to unpack the necessaries, eat and retire for another early start the next day.

Join me in Part 6 for our journey across the border to Canada and Montreal.