Day two of our Eastern Canada bus tour started with an early morning wake-up call on August 9, 2008. For our 8 pm bus departure we did have enough time to go for a quick breakfast just steps from the Hotel Le Concorde in Quebec City where we had been staying. A quick stroll south on Rue Grande Allee Ouest, location of many restaurants and nightclubs, took us to a restaurant by the name of St. Hubert which featured an extensive breakfast buffet. Punctually at 8 am our bus drove us five minutes into the centre of Vieux Québec where we had about an hour and half to explore the old part of the city.
I walked down into the old port area where historic limestone buildings house dozens of restaurants, boutiques and specialty shops. On Place de Paris I came across a TV shoot for the local weather station that featured the host of the show all dressed up in historic French attire, surrounded by a quartet of singers and several other extras, also sporting 17th century dresses. A walk on the waterfront allowed me to take in views across the St. Lawrence River as well as a glimpse back up to the majestic Chateau Frontenac. For $1.75 I took a ride in the funicular, which whisked me back up the hill to the Place d’Armes within mere seconds.
Shortly before 10 am it was time to leave for our next destination: Montreal. After a quick lunch in St. Hyacinthe, we reached our first destination, the Olympic Stadium, at around 2 pm. We took the cable car up the tallest inclined tower in the world from where we enjoyed a perfect 360 degree view of the City. Right next to the Olympic Stadium we had a chance to visit the former Olympic vecodrome which was converted into the Montreal Biodome in 1992, a nature museum that features replicas of four eco-systems: a tropical South American rain forest, the Laurentian Forest, the Saint Lawrence Marine Eco-system and a polar area featuring animals from the Arctic and Antarctic. The penguin feeding was particularly popular among the audience.
At our next stop we were able to admire the magnificent Notre-Dame Basilica and Place d’Armes in Old Montreal. The basilica was completed in the first half of the 19th century and upon its completion in 1843 it was the largest church in all of North America. Many famous people have visited this church: John Paul II visited the basilica in 1982 and raised its status to that of basilica, Celine Dion’s wedding took place here in 1994, and Pierre Trudeau’s funeral was held at Notre-Dame Basilica in 2000.
Our next destination was St. Joseph’s Oratory, a Roman Catholic Basilica on the northern slopes of Mont Royal which features the third largest dome in the world. St. Joseph’s Oratory is one of Montreal’s most recognizable landmarks and the largest church in Canada. Brother André, a pious man from a poor family, whose prayers cured many, began building a small chapel on the slopes of Mount Royal in 1904. As word of his miraculous healing powers spread, he attracted funding from supporters from around the world which led to the construction of the imposing St. Joseph’s Oratory. Construction started in 1924 and was finally completed in 1967. The basilica holds Brother André’s tomb as well as his heart which is preserved in a reliquary. The church is dedicated to St. Joseph, to whom Brother André attributed all the miracles. A chapel houses thousands of votive candles and hundreds of walking sticks and canes that attest to the many miraculous healings that took place as a result of Brother André’s prayers. Pope John Paul II finally beatified Brother André in 1982.
In the evening we checked into our central hotel, the Holiday Inn on Sherbrooke Street in downtown Montreal. For dinner we took a stroll over to Prince-Arthur Street, a popular pedestrian street that features a variety of restaurants. We enjoyed a sampling of Polish cuisine at Mazurka restaurant and headed back on Boulevard St-Laurent where dozens of dance clubs were attracting a crowd of stylish young people, ready to party the night away. We of course had to get to sleep for our 6:45 am departure the next day. Distributed by Tubemogul.