Monday, September 24

Montreal birthday

We've enjoyed a quiet couple of days in Montreal. Yesterday was rather foul day weather wise so we hung out most of the day in our hotel. I've booked us into the Westin Hotel located on the edge of the old town. This was a last minute decision influenced by a discount the hotel published a week before we began our vacation.

The hotel's most renown archetechturial feature is its swimming pool located on the fourth floor. A large section of the pool's base forms a glass roof over the valet parking entrance. We've seen more than one robed person in the lifts clearly determined to swim their way across the heads of arriving guests.

Montreal's old town is appropriately quaint. Many of its old stone buildings have been beautifully perserved and several streets are still cobbled. This is reputedly North America's oldest European founded city (back in 1642).

We wandered the cobbled streets today enjoying sunshine that broke through early in the morning. We even stopped for a hour to toast my mother's birthday in a rooftop bar over lookimg the old port and St Laurence River.

Our afternoon was spent checking out the magnificant Olympic Stadium complex that almost bsnkrupted the city back in 1976. The site is currently in the midst of an extensive refurbishment with a dramatic new planeterium curently under construction.

Our day then finished with a tasty french meal in a simple stone building in the heart of old Montreal. We toasted Mum's birthday with superb French wine and ate our fill of pork medallions, venison and filet mignon. Delicious!

Oh yes - one final word of advice for any intrepid traveller planning to hire a car in Montreal. Don't! Driving here is a nightmare. The city operates a completely random one-way traffic system clearly designed to discourage inner city driving. The urban maze is then magnified by an endless series of construction sites and their accompanying detours. On more than one occasion I found a ten minute drive into town transformed into an journey into automotive hell.

Finally, to add insult to injury, many of the city's road markings are worn and thus impossible follow in the dark.  Try finding them at night during a torrential downpour! If you'll excuse the pun, this system of one-way streets, foul weather and poor road markings was the perfect storm that greeted me last Friday evening when I drove out of the airport in an unfamilar rental car (on the "wrong side" of the road).  The drive to our hotel will always be remembered as an experience bordering on insanity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Mum. It looks like you and Dad have been having a fantastic time. The kids are envious of your visit with Sponge Bob!
Love Matt