To Montréal! (Part 1)
Trip Start May 14, 2012
79Trip End Ongoing
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We jumped on a main thoroughfare (Grand-Alleé) driving past the Old City gates, our old parkade, the demolished monastery, Chez Ashton (fast-food poutine joint) and twelve McDonalds' before finally making the left onto the bridge towards Lévis.
It was a beautiful day and the road was smooth - with only a brief what-bridge-do-we-take-into-the-island-now-what-turn-to-get-onto-Sherbrooke-but-wait-why-are-we-back-on-the-highway moment of confusion we were into the city. We drove past the Biodome, a neat kind of zoo enclosed in a (you guessed it) dome, on route to our hostel: the Auberge de Paris, a great little hostel that seems to think it's in Europe
We settled in much later than we wanted to and decided to check out the Biodome the next day instead of that night - but we unlocked our bikes to head over to St. Joseph's Oratory, one of the coolest churches in the entire province. From the top of the church steps you can see the entire city. However, being that high up means biking uphill for a stretch - needless to say my sister was quite excited by the prospect. It suffices to mention we survived the ordeal.
The interior of the church is huge - it's hard to imagine how they built it so many years ago. Regardless of its age, though, within the shape of the church and its statues there's a deep sense of the modern. The synthesis here between traditional and more contemporary sensibilities makes me think the oratory is what all Western Canadian churches tried to be (sorry, friends) - even though it was started nearly one hundred years ago.
The crypt is just as impressive as the surface, complete with hundreds of crutches symbolizing the healings attributed to St. Joseph and the prayers of St. André Bissette, a man who is both a Québecois folk hero and a saint of the Catholic Church. He initiated the building of the oratory itself and is buried in its crypt (his heart is on display one floor above his body).
The church St-Marie-Reine-du-Monde is also staggering - it claims to be a scale model of the inside of St. Peter's in Rome. I wouldn't be surprised, as it's huge and hugely ornate. Everything seems to either be carved or etched with some fresco. Québec architecture, in general, makes me rue the day I moved to the West - but as I'm effectively homeless at the moment the sting doesn't seem to hurt much.
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