Our last day in Montreal began like any other with a tortured first hour spent in bed fighting off the morning daylight with pillows over our heads. We were determined to make the most of this day however and eventually dragged ourselves out a whole hour earlier than we usually manage. Instead of trying to find another place for breakfast we decided to hit up the hotel’s in house restaurant, a chain that was apparently started by Celine Dion. The food there was quite adequate considering the price and just under an hour later we were on our way to our first destination, Montreal’s Olympic park.
I was mostly interested in this thing as it was a marvel of engineering and architecture but also because it would provide a pretty nice view of the entire city of Montreal. The weather was predicted to clear up around midday but by the time we arrived it was still very overcast. Thankfully though there was no rain in sight so the olympic tower stood out like a sore thumb, a giant amongst the rather subdued surroundings.
It was almost impressive as the disrepair the building has fallen into over the 24 years. Any exposed steel was rusting considerably and much of the concrete was beginning to crumble away. Undaunted we bought a ticket to the observation deck and spent all of 30 seconds getting from the bottom to the top. The view from there was quite impressive as was how dated everything was in there. It was relatively untouched down to the pictures of the skyline that labelled everything you could see through the windows. We spent about half an hour there before being done with the place, along with a bunch of other tourists who’d only got there 10 minutes before us. We did take a quick look around the facilities and the olympic pool seemed to be a hive of activity, but the rest of the place was eerily deserted.
After returning to the warmth of our car we made our way to Mount Royal, one of the highest peaks in Montreal and home to a couple of local attractions. After driving around for a while and stopping at one lookout we realised that we had driven past the main area and quickly made our way back there. We first checked out a small house that had a cafe and a souvenir shop (where Rebecca picked up her new friend, Douglas the Moose) before hitting up one of the trails. That took us up to the the chateau that gave us one of the most beautiful views of downtown Montreal we had seen thus far. We weren’t finished though as Mount Royal is also home to a giant illuminated cross that we were both keen to have a gander at.
The site was currently undergoing some upgrades so I couldn’t get right up to it, but it’s basically just a giant radio tower covered in lights. The area it was surrounded by was quite picturesque though, almost completely unspoiled by the hive of human activity that went on around it. We spent another half an hour walking down the track to get back to our car figuring we had time for one more attraction before it was time to meet up for our last dinner with Laura. Really there was only one place to go: Saint Joseph’s Oratory, the largest church in Canada.
Now most of you will know my rather complicated stance on religion, identifying primarily as Atheist but having my own religion that I don’t talk about much since it seems to offend anyone who has even the slightest inclination towards a theistic belief¹. Still I love big buildings and churches are usually amongst the biggest and oldest buildings around. We made our way simply by looking for the top of the church as it towered over every other building that surrounded it, but even that didn’t prepare me for just how big this thing was.
Standing in front of this behemoth of a building I couldn’t help but marvel at how well maintained it was in comparison to so many of the other older buildings I had seen around Montreal. The gardens were perfectly landscaped with sandstone blocks encasing the pathways. The church itself was none too bad either with the exterior barely showing any signs of its age with several places undergoing renovations as we were walking through. Inside it was unlike any other church I’ve been in with long halls and one room with a roof that had to be over 30m high. We wandered around for a good hour and half just soaking in the almost unfathomable splendour that is this church.
Soon after we departed to meet up with Laura for our final dinner. We were to dine at a restaurant called Elixor, a slightly upper class place that had portions to rival its American counterparts. We foolishly ordered an appetizer and when the main course came both of the girls could barely touch their meals. I managed to down most of mine but was hesitant to go much further as Laura had mentioned they had fantastic cheesecake. Since I’m a bit of a sucker for cheesecake (especially a peanut butter one) I ordered up a slice that was quickly devoured by everyone at the table, despite them being “too full” to continue with their dinners. We said our goodbyes as we might not see her before our flight tomorrow and made our way back to our hotel.
Tomorrow we will be jetting off to New York, New York for a week high above Broadway in Times Square. I’ve been told that a week is the minimum required to see a good chunk of this giant metropolis and I’m very much looking forward to soaking up its culture. It will be sad to leave behind this town that I’ve just begun to get the hang of but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for what awaits me in New York City.
¹I’ve considered writing about this a number of times but never felt like anyone would really be interested in a formalised version of what amounts to my belief system. If you are genuinely interested in hearing about it drop me a line, I might be persuaded to write about it 🙂