Day 13 – Ottawa to Montréal

Woke up super early because we had to be out of the house before our host Terri departed for work. Went to Tim Hortons for breakfast and to use the wi-fi to find a laundrette nearby. We have 12 days worth of clothes, sheets and towels to wash so it was high time we stopped having so much fun and got on with some chores. 

Left the city and drove the 2 hours to Montreal. When we crossed the border into Quebec the English signs disappeared making way for French. We pondered why in Ottawa and other provences they have English and French on their road signs but in Quebec it’s only French yet 21% of the population are native English speakers and 51% are bilingual. 

Visited some services for lunch and went to an information centre inside. The lady there was very helpful and gave us tips on Montreal and Quebec City and told us about a region we were going to completely miss but have now decided to shorten our time in Quebec City to explore. Pays to ask. 

Upon reaching to city we decide to drive up to Mount Royal, a large park sitting on a volcanic mound overlooking the city of Montreal. We visited the Mount Royal Chalet where we enjoyed a fantastic view over a city I had no idea it was so big. Wandered through the forest to the Mount Royal Cross where we sat and watched Squirrels play. Drove back through the suburbs of  Montreal to our Couchsurfing host’s home. We passed huge, beautiful, European looking houses on leafy streets, cute high streets and large parks before arriving at Rue Sherbrooke West. Valerie was not home when we arrived so we unpacked, changed and headed out into the city. Got a bit lost looking for the Metro initially but found astation only a couple of blocks away from the flat and purchased a day pass for $10 each. The network isn’t big so we will find our way around quite easily…I hope. Left the train at Place-D’Armes and wandered up to the Basilique Notre Dame de Montreal. Unfortunately it was closed so we headed down Rue Saint-Paul where we came across a busy European street scene of cafes, restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and tourists wondering what continent they were on. It’s so European and reminded us of Paris and the streets of Prague or Brussels.Wandered around the Place Jacques Cartier for a bit, considered getting a caricature done but decided it would probably get ruined and headed off to find a cheap place to eat.Funnily enough instead of going for French, Italian or Spanish Tapas, which there were plenty of in the area we opted to head to Chinatown and get Vietnamese food. Went to Pho Bang New York and had Tonkiniose Grilled Chicken soup and spring rolls. It was only $10 and I got a huge bowl. Fergus had Beef with Vermicilli noodles.Made out way back to Valerie’s and when we arrived she was having dinner with a friend. Had an interesting chat about travel,  couchsurfing, babies and all sorts of things. 

Valerie moved from France to Canada 25 years ago, is a translator for an accounting firm, has 2 daughters and enjoys, swing dancing and swimming. She is a lovely, very chilled out and beautiful woman. Her flat is very French. Mostly white with lots of clutter, but it’s cool clutter. Picture frames and easels, sarongs, glass jars and chess sets, lots of books, artwork and plants. She also has 2 very friendly cats. 

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