When I say continental, you say breakfast! Continental! Breakfast! Continental! Breakfast! So that’s how our day started, with a delicious continental breakfast! Sausage, eggs, more sausage, pancakes, yogurt, cereal, juice, coffee, the list goes on and on! WHS travelers were sure to fill up on good eats before heading off to our first adventure of the day. Unfortunately, it was gray outside due to the rain that had been hitting Montreal at 6 am in the morning. As we headed into the city, we kept our fingers crossed that the weather would clear up like it said it would in the forecast. Please let there be soleil! Spoiler alert : it was sunny for most of the day, so our dreams came true there.
Our first activity was a tour of Montreal, led by a step-on tour guide, Louis. A bilingual Canadian with a great sense of humor, he took us around the city for two hours, pointing out landmarks and relaying their histories to the group. A couple of stories struck us as really interesting. For example, the cemetery of the city used to be in the city center, right where one of the main squares is today. As the city developed, the Montreal-ans (Montreal-ers? Montreal-ians?) decided that in case of an epidemic, they did not want bodies to be around where there were lots of living people. So, they shifted the cemetery up to Mount Royal. However, when archeologists came to dig to see if the original bodies were moved along with the cemetery, they immediately found human remains. So, if you’re ever in Montreal and standing in Dorchester Square, you are actually atop hundreds of human remains! Our tour guide took the opportunity here to make a zombie joke, which who wouldn’t!? How creepy is that!
Because it is the year of Montreal’s 375th birthday, there were a lot of decorations that were lent from all over the world to the city. Taking St Catherine Street in the bus, we passed 192 flags that were hung up along the lampposts. These made for a beautiful display of unity and celebrated differences across the world for Montreal’s birthday. We also descended the bus to spend a little bit of time in le musée dans la rue, the museum on the street. Essentially, artists and museums from all over the world had loaned Montreal artwork to be displayed in the street for its 375th anniversary. We got to see artwork from all over North America. And it was right there on the street! A favorite was the design that was on one of the streets used from construction zone materials. Talk about turning one man’s trash into Montreal’s treasure!
We drove past a few other monuments, two of the four universities in town, the gay district on the other side of the river, and some of the oldest buildings in the city. We finished our tour with a guide of the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was built in the Gothic Revival style of architecture. It was beautiful inside, which is not typical of gothic style cathedrals, as typically most of the decoration is on the outside as to not distract from the purpose of the mass once Catholics are inside the church. Louis told us that the funny thing about the cathedral was that it was in fact built by a Protestant, who converted to Catholicism just before dying so he could be buried under the church. Why did a Protestant build a Catholic church? Well, apparently he was the only guy around who knew how to do the Gothic style, and that’s what Montreal wanted, so they put aside their differences in order to construct this beautiful building.
After Notre Dame, we had some free time for lunch! Maci, Taryn and Sage found a cute café (eventually!) to eat some sandwiches, and followed their meal with dessert at the American Embassy. Just kidding, that’s just what I call Starbucks anywhere internationally (pretty dad-jokey, I know.). Taryn’s favorite part of the day was getting a free Starbucks drink after her order got messed up. Double Starbucks for Taryn meant double smiles! The rest of the group headed to get poutine. Alisha tried her poutine with fried onions on top (yum!) and Grace tried hers with Italian sausage. The rest of us? We went with the regular poutine. Zoe, Andrea, and Jaden realized they probably should have just shared one as they didn’t love the poutine enough to eat a whole serving of it! Poutine, if you didn’t know, is one of Quebec’s specialties. It’s french fries, covered in gravy, topped with cheese curds. Kinda sounds like a Wisconsin thing… but, nope! It’s a Canadian specialty! After poutine (which I forgot to mention we also ate on a beautiful patio!), we headed to get some ice cream and walk the streets a bit. We ended up walking the pier to catch a beautiful view of the river and relax on a bench for a little while before we had to head back to meet up with the group for our next activity.
Another activity!? Can you believe how much we are getting into one day here, people!? It is quite amazing. So, oui, our next adventure was off to the 46th floor observation deck at a building downtown Montreal. After a 40 second ride to the 43rd floor, we switched elevators to continue our ascension to the 46th. Up above, there was a photo exhibit explaining what was surrounding the area and a BEAUTIFUL panorama view of the city. Thank goodness for no rain, again! We had clear, blue skies all around and this made it to be Andrea’s favorite part of the day. Check out these awesome pics of WHS travelers and the view!
Following the observation tour, it was time for our first museum trip! We went to an archaeology museum of Montreal, where the city was originally founded. In this museum, WHS travelers got a tour of how the city developed over time, and what the context of the outside world had to do with Montreal. We learned that Montreal was actually a very important port for trade up until the 1960’s! While its port is still used for trade and tourism, it does not match up to what it was 50 years ago! Grace’s favorite part of the day was getting chocolate honey bread with Chaperone Ebling and Dominic (our stand-in tour guide for the day!) while the others were on the tour. Sometimes you just gotta eat! And best to do it with great company!
Are your tummies rumbling yet after all these activities? Ours sure were! Next stop, the Port Steakhouse for, you guessed it, STEAK! Some of us got pasta (the vegetarian option), but man oh man was the steak delicious! Perfectly cooked and charred, it was just what we needed after the long day of walking and sightseeing. Followed by a scrumptious chocolate cheesecake, we were ready for our final activity…bowling!
Alright, so, you have to be forewarned of the bowling dilemma. Unfortunately, Taryn, Sage, Maci, and Alisha’s lane kept breaking down, so they didn’t end up getting to finish their game (it was really frustrating…), but on the positive side Alisha’s favorite part of the day was unintentionally marking zeroes in every frame and resetting the lane a billion times (I’m serious guys, that’s what she told me!). I must say, she reset that lane like a champ. There must be something therapeutic about pressing a button and watching pins line up. In all seriousness, Alisha had a great time and definitely gets brownie points for keeping a smile on her face in the wake of irritation!
The other bowling dilemma? Or should I say duel? It was Hunter vs. Madame, big stakes on the line. All day, Hunter and Chaperone Ebling were challenging each other to compete in the bowling match of the century. Jokes were made, anticipation was high, and the bowling was serious. So serious, in fact, that we actually had a wager. Kitana, Andrea, and Jaden helped Hunter think of a fair deal… IF and ONLY IF Hunter won the bowling match would Ms. Ebling put up a horrible picture of her sleeping on the trip. It was a grueling match… so close! Ms. Ebling definitely blew it when she tried to bowl between her legs and got a 0, losing the match by 6 points. If only, if only. So… for Hunter’s favorite part of the day and for your amusement, a photo will follow (tomorrow morning, because Hunter is asleep!). The bowling match was all in good fun, and we had a great time competing!
What a beaut!
Overall highlights of the day for Zoe? Hearing her first Canadian say “eh?” at the end of a sentence. For Sage? Today it was really just hanging out with her best friend Taryn around the city. And for Kitana? She really enjoyed hanging out at lunch and after lunch, catching the city vibes and spending time with cool people.
We have another full day ahead of us for tomorrow! We can’t wait for what Quebec City has to bring us…we’ll be transporting there following the biodome (I know, I know, you are on the edge of your seat!). Stay tuned, our adventure continues in the morning! Bonne nuit, tout le monde.