North to Montreal 7/6, 7/7/12

Headed north from Boston, landed in Montpelier, VT – lovely little state capital. Onward to Canada (with passports, whew!).

Arrived Montreal, Hotel Suites de Labelle, parked the car in their garage, and didn’t use it again till we checked out. Walked along Blvd Rene Levesque to St. Patrick’s Basilica (1847) with lovely, faux marble columns, lamps in nave with 6′ tall angels, built for Irish immigrants.

Walked on to Cathedrale Marie Reine du Monde (1894) – a mini St. Peter’s Cathedral (in Vatican City), 1/5 the size, with a faux Bernini canopy over the altar, but no mini Sistine Chapel. Mass in progress, great acoustics.

Streets were all blocked to cars in preparation for the Carribean Festa parade, so easy walking on to the Info Center at Dorchester Square – lots of helpful info from Melanie, with suggestions for our Quebec visit too.

Walked on to Vieux (ye olde) Montreal, to Centre l’histoire de Montreal (local history museum) where we bought our 3-day museum passes which included unlimited Metro (public transit) cards – well worth it, considering all we like to see and do. Learned about the founding by Jacques Cartier (searching for the Northern Passage to Asia for the King of France in 1535), Natives, English vs. French, furs, fires, etc.

Then on to Musee de Archaelogie – multimedia show with more Montreal history and underground archeological dig, and a great observation deck with views of the city.

Walked along the riverfront up to Place Jacques Cartier – pedestrian mall lined with shops and outdoor restaurants, and plenty of street performers, artists, crowds. Toured Chateau Ramezay – historic home & gardens by City Hall. Ben Franklin lived there for 9 months while trying to convince the British Canadians to join the revolution against King George. He concluded that it would be easier to buy Quebec than persuade them, and came home in May 1776!

Then, Metro ride, walked under the pink balls over Rue St. Catherine, found dinner to go for last night of Montreal Jazz Fest! Saw 3 free performances, outdoors – Chica Libre (Latin groove), Bart Walker Band (US blues), and Black Mahal (hiphop, Punjabi, turntable, rap, 8-person dance-party band, including elderly drumming/singing Uncle).

Perfect weather, friendly helpful people, in English & French.

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