June 15 – 20, 2019
La Basilique Notre-Dame
Our first stop was the Notre-Dame Basilica in Old Montréal. This was the first Gothic-style church with construction beginning in the 1670s. It has a long intertwined history of being symbolic of culture and religion of the city and country. In 1982, it was given the status of Minor Basilica by Pope John Paul II and a Canadian National Heritage site by the country in 1989.
I’ve been to a number of basilicas through Canada and Europe, and they are all extraordinarily beautiful. Yet, each one is unique in its architecture style and artwork.
The Musée Grévin Montréal
Our next stop was heading to Le Centre Eaton de Montreal, a large shopping mall in the bustling area of Downtown Montréal. The Musée Grévin, or the Grevin Museum, is the Wax Museum of Montréal. I’ve been to my share of wax museums along the way, but this one topped the rest. This wasn’t initially a site that peaked my interest, but it worked well with location and was included in our passes. We arrived at opening time, and then worked our way throughout the different exhibits in the museum. There were also videos and photos that explained the process and hundreds of hours that go into each and every statue.
It was awe-inspiring to see the detail that went into not just each statue, but each display and exhibit. If you aren’t using the Montreal Passport, tickets are Adult $21.75, Student $17.75, Child $15 (in CAD $). In USD, approximately $16.50, $13.50, $11.40 relatively.
St. Lawrence River Cruise
A river cruise was our next stop at 11 AM. This left from the Old Port of Montréal and was a breathtaking experience. I got a slight sunburn, but that seems to be a core part of every trip I take so to be expected.
Saint Joseph’s Oratory is a national historical site and largest church in Canada. It is 129 metres (423 ft) tall, with much of that being the dome alone. It was built the early 1900s by in Saint Brother André as a Catholic shrine dedicated to Saint Joseph. This is a pilgrimage site where some people choose to climb 99 of the steps on their knees while praying each step. There is a total of 283 steps to the base. The crypt can hold 1000 worshippers, and there are 10,000 candles lit in front of a statue of St. Joseph in the votive chapel.
We did not walk up the stairs or explore the site further for a variety of reasons, but we stopped there long enough to admire it from afar. This is certainly a stop of interest for those interested in art, culture, religion, and spirituality.
Espace pour la vie: Jardin botanique
Our next stop was the Montreal Botanical Gardens. This is another one of those places you could easily spend an entire day, especially since the Space for Life has more than just the botanical gardens. The gardens alone has 75 hectares of gardens and greenhouses. We were given a map, but I felt just as lost with the map! There was just so much to see and not a clear recommended route.
We decided on a point to enter and just explored for a little while from there. This would be of particular interest to people interested in biology, earth science, ecology, plant science, etc.
Resto Du College
Our final stop for the day was at Resto Du College for dinner, where we sat back, enjoyed the weather, and got back to our Air BNB.
It was super hot and muggy, so that was a learning experience for next time (bring a fan if you’re driving, buy one locally if you’re going to be there for a little bit…. or search for an Air BNB with air conditioning). Also, on the note of Air BNBs, now is a good time to share one of the times that it wasn’t perfect! We had quite a few noisy guests in other rooms in the apartment, which made sleeping difficult. These situations are bound to happen, and it could easily happen with hosteling, hoteling, or couchsurfing, too. Part of the experience… perhaps. While it would’ve been better without having to deal with it at all, it was manageable. We simply prepared for it and anticipated it (and had a few passive aggressive stares when crossing paths).