I decided to combine my hiking trip to the Adirondacks with an overnight visit to Montreal, only two hours away from where I camped. I visited it once before for a few hours during my ski trip to Quebec. I only remembered it was cold, dark, and the food was good. I heard so much about Montreal’s European charm, I thought August would be a perfect time to check it out.
After two nights of camping, I could not wait to check into a nice place with my own bathroom! Embassy Suites by Hilton Montreal delivered all I wanted and more. I had a living room and a kitchenette, a large bathroom, and a good size bedroom. Everything looked new and clean. There were two TV’s for me, but as usually I did not even turn them on. TV gets on my nerves at home so I do not even bother when I am traveling. It came to me as a surprise that I received two coupons for free drinks for the hotel’s happy hour. I did not want to take any chances for them to expire so I started my sightseeing tour of Montreal at the bar. After my two drinks I was ready to explore.
The old town’s main attraction, Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, was just around the corner from my hotel. There is an entry fee to get in and no credit cards are accepted. I did not like that. (see why) The basilica turned out to be the most beautiful church I have ever visited in North America. It is heavily ornamented but there is a certain lightness about it, created by blue light coming from an altar. There were so many beautiful details around me, I did not know where to turn to take another picture.
There was still a day light when I out stepped out. I took a stroll around the old town but I could not find the charm I was looking for. It did not feel like Europe, not even like Boston with its beautiful Newbury St. This first impression started to change when it become darker and the lights were turned on. They perfectly highlighted the old architecture and transformed the city into charming old fashion scene. It almost felt I stepped back in time. Two glasses of wine I consumed with my dinner possibly had something to do with it. On the way back to my hotel, I stopped at the basilica to check how it looked at night. Once again, the lights did the trick. The blue background glow made it look beautiful and heavenly.
I slept like a log that night. I almost missed my free breakfast next morning. Good thing I did not. It was very good. After checking out, I drove to see my final attraction of the city – Montreal Botanical Garden (see report from that visit)