Montreal – July 2019 – Random Views of the City

We end the visit to Montreal with the random views of the city starting with this stylish building – once a gas station designed by none other than famed architect Mies van der Rohe. Today it serves as a community center.



Montreal has an efficient subway system, built in the 1960s and 1970s. This station is on Ile Notre Dame.



This island, and one next to it (Saint Helen’s) were greatly expanded to be the grounds of Expo 67, a World’s Fair. Today it is the home to a very large Park Jean Drapeau as well as the Formula 1 race track.

The city has recently started tours of the island on electric carts. We opted for this tour where Sonya and Andre provided amusing and interesting information about the island, and Montreal in general. Unfortunately we didn’t get much over 20 MPH on the track.



Unlike most World’s Fairs, Montreal has retained many of the pavilions that were built. This one was the French and Quebec pavilions, and now serves as a casino.



This geodosic dome is known as the La Biosphère de Montréal. Today it serves as an environmental museum, but during the expo it was the U.S. pavilion.



From the island you have a nice view of downtown Montreal.



Montreal is the 2nd largest French speaking city in the world, and at times they like to take their cues from Paris – like this retro (but accurate) Metro sign.



We say adieu to Montreal with some random scenic views of the city.














Montreal – July 2019 – Vieux (Old) Montreal

Montreal is a very old city for North America, and as such has many outstanding vintage buildings. Most are in the Vieux (Old) Montreal section, but some, like the Mary Queen of the World Cathedral, is downtown.





The main train station has reliefs depicting Canada culture with the words of the National Anthem ‘Oh Canada’ written underneath.



There are numerous vintage buildings throughout the area, with the usual cool details.











The Old Montreal tourist area has numerous shops.



Some very narrow passages.



The Port of Montreal Clock Tower dates from the 1920s. It is also known as the Sailors Memorial Clock, dedicated to World War I Canadian Sailors.



The original sections of Bonsecours Market date from the 1840s. In addition to serving as a market, it also housed government functions.



Place Jacques-Cartier is the center of Old Montreal tourist activities.









Finally a stop at Notre Dame Cathedral, and an amazing (but brief) light show.








Montreal – July 2019 – Botanical Gardens

The Montreal Botanical Gardens is one of the finest, if not the finest, botanical gardens in North America. It has a large number of specialty gardens, such as a Chinese Gardens (covered in a separate posting), as well as numerous thematic gardens – including one dedicated to poisonous plants!

Overall the gardens are amazingly beautiful, and well kept.


























































Montreal – July 2019 – Olympic Park

The city of Montreal was the host of the 1976 Summer Olympics. The area that most events were held still exist in the east side Olympic Park.



A number of the venues are still used for sporting events.



While it has recently been remodeled, the pool complex dates from the 1976 games. It is used for competitive events, with seating for 3,000, but is also used as the neighborhood pool when not in competitive use.




The Montreal Olympics are the poster child for cost overruns often associated with hosting the games. It is estimated it cost 720% (not a typo) more than originally planned.

Much of the cost overruns was due to the construction of Olympic Stadium.

Today there is a small museum dedicated to the games and the construction of the stadium.





The stadium looks like a 1970s sci-fi movie space ship. The large tower on the left was originally built to remove what was to be the first retractable stadium roof in history. Unfortunately it was not completed in time for the games, and when it was eventually completed it didn’t work.

So for the first 12 years or so of the stadium it was open air, and after that a permanently closed dome.



Walking around the large concrete plaza on this day with very few people gives one the feel of desolation in the middle of a large city.

Many North American stadiums used to sit in the middle of large concrete plazas like this – the newer generation of stadium more integrated into the cities are far nice, even if one can question the cost for holding so few events a year.



After the Olympics the stadium became home of the Montreal Expos baseball team. Unfortunately in 2004 they left town, moving to Washington DC. leaving the stadium largely quiet, except for a few concerts and other events like monster truck racing.



The cavernous domes stadium echos with the smallest noises. I did have the opportunity to attend a couple of baseball games here (one with the open stadium, the other with the roof in place). It was a great experience, baseball in French, with passionate fans using their own unique to Montreal style of cheering on their team.

Hopefully some day major league baseball returns to Montreal (but to a more appropriate venue).



The tower is now a tourist attraction. The inclined elevator is billed as the longest in the world.



The top of the tower offers panoramic views of Montreal.



The view of the Olympic Pool, and other venues in the park.



The Olympic Village apartments are still used. The soccer stadium is a recent addition.



The day was a bit hazy, but made the views towards downtown interesting.



Montreal’s east side is a working class neighborhood with numerous row houses.



The view of the islands in the middle of the St Lawrence River, as well as some of the bridges crossing the river.



Because much of Europe is fairly far north, the port of Montreal is the shortest route between a European port and North America.

Olympic Stadium cost the city of Montreal and all of Canada significant money, but as with most things Canadian, they have made the most of it.





Montreal – Late Summer 2016 Road Trip – Day 15

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.

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Even the old town was free of traffic and people.

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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…

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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

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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.

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We headed downtown, past McGill University, and on the areas with numerous high rise buildings, before heading up the hill to Mount Royal.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Montreal – May 2011 – Wet Canadians

After the long train ride the day before from Pittsburgh it was nice to be back in a car. We left Boston northbound, passing through New Hampshire on the way to Quebec. The highlight of New Hampshire was Franconia Notch.

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Eventually we reached Quebec.

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A couple of hours later and we were in downtown Montreal.

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Once there one of my first stops was Ile Notre Dame, where the F1 track is. While you can drive it, slowly, we had arrived via the Metro subways so we walked around on it.

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The 1967 World’s Fair was held here, and some decorative art remains.

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Old Montreal is the most touristy area of town.

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We had on and off showers which dulled the view from Mount Royal.

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Eventually we took the steps down the mountain to our hotel.

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