We left Magog later than planned and headed back to Montreal to drop off the hire car and to check into our hotel, the Roberval. It is relatively new and not yet in the guide books. We could not get into our room until later in the day but when we did it was a surprise. The "room" was like a small one bedroomed flat. It had a double bedroom, small bathroom, equipped gallery kitchen and a lounge/dining room with a TV. We had benefited from an upgrade but the standard room has all the same facilities, just studio style.
We let our bags in their luggage store and headed into the city centre. We have free high speed internet access in the room but have to buy a network cable to be able to connect! This was easily done at the Eaton centre but a tad frustrating. A quick detour to Tourist Information confirmed that there was nothing on tonight in town that we fancied seeing. Needing maps and some new novels we headed to Indigo, one of the bookstores (Chapters is the other) with English language books. It was a bit like Waterstones and had equally friendly and helpful staff.
We will be driving coast to coast through Canada and want to try and get a good road atlas. Indigo could not help but referred us to a specialist map shop (they only accept payment by card, they've been robbed too often and no longer take cash!). No joy here either so we have had to settle for a number of different maps. Not really a surprise bearing in mind how big the country is.
For most of the rest of the afternoon we followed one of the walking tours of Old Montreal. We joined the route at Square Victoria near Montreal's World Trade Centre. The square was really a rectangle and running down and through it was a fountain - nice cool water in the heat of the city centre. The route took is through part of the old business district with old Victorian houses still making a statement even today.
|Vieux (and Not-so-vieux) Montréal|
We walked down and past the old Grey Nun's Hospital, now mainly ruins, and on to the waterfront. here we stopped at the Archeology and History museum. It is in a fairly new and modern building but the site on which it stands has been key to the ongoing development of Montreal over the centuries. There was a short film outlining the changes over the years from an original settlement battling with the local Indians to the conflicts between Britain and France and up to the modern day. Combined with the tour of the museum, it also charted the development and modernisation of the city from a small town fortified with wooden defences through to buildings made of bricks and stones. I got confused with the orientation of some of the places they were talking about - there were lots of references to a river but no river visible - it is now an underground sewer.
In the basement you can still see the foundations of some of the buildings that used to stand on the current site. It was a cleverly done walk back through time and I would have liked it if they had guides on hand to answer the questions that were springing to mind. It seemed odd seeing old photos of massive blocks of ice right up to the these buildings - the harsh winters caused many problems.
Back outside we ambled along the shore of the river. Earlier, we had seen a huge container shop backing up the river, it makes the Thames in London look a bit small. We wandered past the piers and the Bonsecours market before heading back up to our hotel. Our route took us past an old train station, now home to the Cirque Eloise. Similar to Cirque du Soleil, we had seen them a few years ago in London with my Mum and Dad, Beccie and John, and hoped to catch a show. Something was going on tonight - red carpet laid out - but it is a private function. No information on future performances was forthcoming so we continued on our way.
By the time we had checked in and unpacked our stuff it was after 8pm. We both fancied going out to "do" something other than just eating and checked what was on at the local cinema. The best choice was Batman Begins. The nearest cinema was less than five minutes away and with the film starting at 9:30 we had enough time to grab something to eat beforehand. Fortunately, we went to buy tickets before eating and found out it was the French version i.e. dubbed into French. No good for me and Stef wanted to see the original version too.
On Rue St Catherine we had passed a Paramount Cinema so we hopped on to the Metro heading downtown. The original film was showing here and we bought tickets and went in to what was a very empty cinema. We were not sure if this was because the film had already been out for a while, or because it was in English not French, or because it did not start for another half and hour or so at 9:45. In the UK, I would not not think of going to see a film at this time as I would be guaranteed to fall asleep before the end!
It was an OK film. There were good links to the "sequels" that have already been made but I would not rush to see it again. Michael Caine made a good Arthur the Butler and it was splattered with big names - Liam Neeson, John Lithgow, Morgan Freeman, Rutger Hauer. I have no idea who was playing Batman though.
It was past midnight when we got out of the film and we had to walk around for a while to find an open tube entrance. The only time I felt slightly uneasy was when we were walking through an underground tunnel and a young guy was behind us. From the number of women I have seen walking around late at night though I do not think there is a safety problem here - not like Quito!
We had asked at reception whether there were places open late to eat and were assured that there were loads on Rue St Denis just around the corner. Most of the restaurants were shut or closing but there was still a steady trade in late night bars, most of which only just seemed to be waking up. Hungry we succumbed to McDonalds, open 24 hours and with a big discount in prices for eating at this time of night! Needless to say it was pretty dire. The service was very slow and most of the other customers were well oiled. Stef won Olympic Gold for the speed with which he devoured his burger - he clearly just wished to get away!