Thursday, October 17, 2013

Travel Update - Montreal, Canada

Dearest Family and Friends,

We arrived at the port of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River at 7:00 AM and were cleared by immigration and off the ship by nine o'clock.  We then boarded a tour bus for an extensive eight hour tour of this very beautiful city.  Vicki and I had been here

with friends some thirty years ago.  We took the train out of Toronto (across the river from Detroit) and spent the evening visiting the still-under-construction Montreal Underground City, a labyrinth of shops and eateries which is one of the largest underground complexes in the world.  Today, it covers more than 22 miles over a nearly 5 square mile area connecting shopping malls, apartments , condominiums, hotels, banks, offices, museums, a university, two train stations, and seven high speed metro stations.  If you stumble in there after a few wines, drop bread crumbs or you might end up like Charlie, from the old MTA Song, as the man who never returned.  Over 500,000 people use the underground every day and it is an amazing, multi-level sight to see.

The city is lovely and I think some of the ground level shots I got and those from up on Mount Royal, overlooking the city, can attest to that.  The leaves were turning nicely as fall descended upon the second largest city in Canada with its 1.7 million people and the weather was a perfect 73 degrees and sunny.  Totally enjoyable.

One of the centerpieces of the city is the "The Big O", the architecturally famous stadium built when Montreal hosted the 1976 Summer Olympic Games.  The residents of the city came to call it "The Big Owe".  The cost of the stadium was outrageous and the city went in the hole for an astronomical $ 1.5 billion which took 30 years to pay off.  In addition, it was architecturally famous because it was unique and striking, but also because it was an engineering disaster.  The cable supported roof collapsed twice and had to be rebuilt using different materials every time.  It is a tourist attraction today but some residents still consider it a political and economic boondoggle that rankles them.

The old town area houses the famous Cathedral d' Notre Dame, modeled after the one in Paris and it is quite spectacular.  My photos could not capture it but I tried.  Inside is just too massive.  Hope you enjoy a hint of its grandeur.  Across the plaza was the old financial district which used to be the "Wall Street of Quebec".  Years ago the financial firms and banks all moved to Toronto.  The only institution left is the old and new headquarters of the Bank of Montreal, standing side-by-side, massive columns juxtaposed with high-rise glass.  By the end of the day we were exhausted but very satisfied with our visit to this impressive city.

Hope you have enjoyed sharing our travels to these North American treasures.  Next up, we visit a part of Asia we have not seen yet on an 18-day cruise from Hong Kong to Beijing with stops in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and The Great Wall of China.  Hope you will come along.  As always, we welcome your questions and comments.

God Bless you all,

Jud and Vicki Smith

1 comment: