As usual we were up and out of the hotel early, first touring the now very quiet Quebec City in the car. I always enjoy checking out cities early on weekend mornings, with few people around, it is the perfect time for photography – no traffic, lots of street parking, and few people to get in the pictures.
Even the old town was free of traffic and people.
We left Québec City for breakfast at a Tim Hortons in the suburbs. looking for our oatmeal and croissants. The servers addressed us in French since we were away from the tourist area but quickly switched to English, completing our order and sending us to the area to pick it up. The oatmeal was ready a few minutes later but when I went to pick up my order the server rattled off something in French, which resulted in me giving him a startled look. He then look amusingly at us and said “English?” and said that the fruit for my oatmeal is on the bottom.
Once we hit the freeway we began to pass many of the support vehicles for the bike race, but at least they didn’t block the road…
After breakfast we drove about two hours to get to Montreal, the largest city in the Quebec province, and easily the largest city we had seen since leaving Boston a week ago. The city is on the Island of Montreal, which both city and island are named from Mount Royal. We entered the city via Pont Lafontaine and tunnel
We traveled about the city trying to find the Olympic Park Tower. Accessible by a funicular, The Montreal Tower built in 1976 to host the Olympic Games is the tallest inclined tower in the world, rising 540 feet at a 45-degree angle. At its peak, you can admire the Montréal area for a distance of 50 miles. We did not take the incline to the top because we were unable to find parking, so we admired it from the street and moved on to see the rest of the city.
We headed downtown, past McGill University, and on the areas with numerous high rise buildings, before heading up the hill to Mount Royal.
Finding parking we took the trail to the scenic overlook of the city from Mount Royal was filled with many tourists, including us. The overlook provided a panoramic view of the city from our park perch, with a chalet that was constructed in 1932 as the hilltop centerpiece. The building hosts various events with a view of Montreal’s skyline. The inside of the building seemed austere and cold with the abundance of stone in comparison to the beautiful gardens and park setting outside, although the wood ceiling was quite nice
On the south side of the building, there is a bricked courtyard where a piano sat available for any guest to play. A few people tried to play a short tune on the bright orange instrument. Others meandered about the gardens and exercised in the open area.
The overlook from Mount Royal is the ‘tourist shot’ of Montreal, so we joined all the other tourists for the view.
Notre Dame Island is a man-made island in the St. Lawrence River once part of the World Fair, Expo 67 and the site of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve race track that is used for the Canadian Grand Prix. Originally named the Île Notre-Dame Circuit, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was built and finished in 1978 and remains today.
Since the track goes through a park you can drive it, albeit at 20 MPH. The last time I was in Montreal I did this, but it was pouring down rain and I wanted to go back on a sunny day. However the hassle of the traffic and detours from construction made it difficult for us to get to the racetrack so we snapped a few photos of Montreal as we drove around.
Once we had cruised through Old Montreal, and continued to run into blocked roads either for the upcoming bike race, the same one we ran into the day before in Quebec City, or just construction, we decided to start for home.
Our route home had us pass through the province of Ontario to the Thousand Island Bridge an international bridge crossing over the Saint Lawrence River connecting northern New York with southeastern Ontario in Canada, breezing through customs with only two questions asked of us and a glance of our passports.
As we continued across the New York State Thruway we could see storm clouds gathering. After a brief rest area stop we decided that even with good weather it would be midnight before we reached Columbus so we decided to take a slight detour to Niagara Falls and spend the night. The storm caught up to us for a short time but we managed to get to the Hampton Inn before the heavy wind, rain, and lightning hit. We had pizza delivered to our hotel room from a local shop and settled in for the night.