Montreal Island Tour

Trip Start Aug 02, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Canada  , Quebec,
Sunday, September 23, 2012

Our belated trip to Montreal was a week later than planned originally.  I had to cancel when I realized I had sent my passport to the Ethiopian Embassy to get my visa.  I called them early Monday morning and they were able to process my visa and send my passport back within the week so our rescheduled trip was a go.

Marie had to modify her plans and meet me in Troy for the Rockoberfest at lunchtime rather than at 5 pm but we managed.  I stuck around and read while listening to the second performer, then met Kara at Stuyvesant Plaza.  We got some coffee for the road and headed north to Montreal.  We reached our motel around 10 pm.  Kara was tired from driving so she fell asleep right away.

I had planned to visit some gardens from my Garden Guide to Canada:  the Jardins des Floralies on Ile Notre Dame and what I thought was the Biodome on Ile Sainte Helene.  The Ile Notre Dame gardens were a bit strange:  they were leftovers from Expo 67 and a garden exposition called Floralies representing several countries.  I think the plantings were very nicely done but the feeling of abandonment marred them.  Plus it is off-season so tourist facilities were no longer open.  Yet, the place was buzzing - with roller-bladers, cyclists and runners.  There were signs for some sort of marathon and the parking lot had a sign that it was closed but we were directed to park there anyway.  It was sometimes hard to tell which country we were in and a lot of the plantings were similar.  In retrospect, I think it was a lovely garden - it just wasn't what we were expecting.  The casino building(s) popped up in quite a few garden vistas which made it a bit stranger.  Even though I had gone to Expo 67, I don't really remember anything about it other than it was hot and extremely crowded.

After finishing the Floralies, we headed to Ile Sainte Helene for the Biophere which we could see in the distance.  It was an exciting structure and had some interesting exhibits, especially the one of clothes made out of various recycled materials, including shell casings.  I liked the gridwork from the upper stories and the nature photo close-ups.  I had been hoping to see more of the close-ups inside but the outdoor ones were all there was.  Kara was anticipating seeing plants and animals, including piranhas.  Later, when I looked in my guide book, I saw that the reason I couldn't figure out whether the place was called Biosphere or Biodome was because there were two different ones and we were not at the one I thought we were going to.  Oh, well, hopefully there will be a next time!

We finished the Biosphere around 3, walked back to the car on Ile Notre-Dame and crossed back over into Old Montreal.  I totally forgot our trauma of the the morning.  I purposely booked our hotel on the east side of the river to make it easy to find as we were getting in late.  When we went to cross the Pont Jacques Cartier to get over to the islands (the roads that looked like they went to the islands didn't apparently), the access ramp was blocked.  We drove around for what must have been over an hour - since it was nearly noon when we arrived at the Jardins.  Finally we got directions from a gas station and crossed a bridge farther north.

We walked around a little bit to find a restaurant we could both agree on.  Kara was looking to expedite the process and would have gotten pizza.  We decided to eat inside since it was a little cool and breezy despite being more sunny than we had expected from the weather report.  Happy about that!  The restaurant turned out to be super - I had moules et frites - one of my favorites and Kara had some sort of penne.  I got a sweet potato/squash soup that was tasty and coffee with my meal.  The coffee was useful so that I could talk to Kara on the drive back and keep her awake.  Something in our conversation made me mention Stuyvesant Plaza - otherwise we would have gone straight to my house and left my car there.  As it was, it worked out OK and we were home before midnight.

It was a nice little trip - with interesting experiences.  There was a gorgeous sunset as we drove out of Montreal on our way home.

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