Weekend escape to Montreal…week of research ahead

Reed and I had a little get-away to Montreal, Quebec, this weekend. I’ll be doing some research here this week as part of my sabbatical project, and it was real bonus to get to kick it off with my husband as my travel buddy. We were quite delayed out of Portland Thursday night, but thankfully, we made our connection in Newark and arrived in Montreal Friday morning. It was rainy, windy, and cold to start, but the skies have cleared and I am looking forward to a few warm, sunny days here. There is a lot of evidence around of a brutal winter here, so I think the québécois people are ready for spring!

Friday we got to know our neighborhood; we are staying downtown, not far from the University of Quebec where I’ll be working (we are also very close to McGill College, so there are lots of students around). We found some crêpes for a late lunch, and I enjoyed chocolate fondu for dessert. We got a few groceries, rested a bit, and made our plan for the weekend. In the evening, we walked to Benelux, a brewery that got high marks online, even from Portlanders. It did not disappoint, and we went back Saturday for another pint of “American IPA,” which doesn’t really even make sense. Anyway…

Saturday we ventured out via bus and metro to Vieux Montreal (i.e., the old part of the city). We first visited the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal, which is basically a smaller version of the one in Paris. It also contains Chapelle Notre-Dame du Sacré Cœur, which is a smaller chapel behind the main altar…this is where Celine Dion was married, if there are any fans out there. We hit a few souvenir shops…no big purchases as we are good on hockey and winter gear. Well, and Reed is repulsed by all of the maple flavored sweets.

We walked to Chapelle Notre-Dame de Bon Secours, which in Montreal‘s oldest chapel, dating back to 1771. It is also known as the Sailors’ Church and has model ships hanging from the ceiling, which I was quite fond of. We walked to the port, and we were still searching for what people like so much about Montreal. So far, it was a bit less than impressive. Then we wandered onto St. Paul Street. This was what we were looking for. It is a quaint, old cobblestone street with lots of cafés and shops. We settled into a little French-inspired café and had some quiche for lunch. It was delightful.

We sojourned on to the other side of the city to see Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal. This huge shrine on a big hill is where pilgrims flock in hopes of miraculous cures. Brother Andre, a humble cleric, attributed his curative powers to Joseph, and Andre petitioned for donations to build the oratory. It is the second largest dome in the world, after St. Peter’s in Rome. It was finished in 1967, 30 years after Andre’s death. He was canonized as a saint by Pope Benedict in 2010, as the two posthumous miracles required by the Catholic Church occurred in 1958 (cured cancer victim) & 1999 (boy emerged from a coma). At the oratory, you see discarded crutches, canes, and wheelchairs, supposed evidence of healing. We took in a mass while we were there, which was good of course, and we checked out all of the Oratory’s features, from the crypt church to the votive chapel and the dome, of course…even Brother Andre’s heart is on display! It was an interesting experience…you’ll have to ask Reed for his take on it all!

Today we enjoyed lunch at an English pub with a large selection of Scotch. The Manchester United vs. Manchester City match was on, so it was quite a boisterous crowd. Reed packed up and I left him at the bus stop, headed to the airport…definitely the low point of the weekend. I walked to the Musée des Beaux-Arts (art museum) and strolled through the many exhibitions for a couple of hours to take my mind off his departure. I enjoyed seeing works from Degas, Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Rembrandt, Rodin, Picasso, and Dali. I walked back to the hotel in the warm sunshine, so that helped me feel a bit better too. I’m just not the same person without Reed by my side!

I am so thankful for our weekend escape and the new memories that were made. Now it’s time to get to work on my research so I can jet back home on Friday! Here’s hoping for a productive, and quick week…

 

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