In 2012 I made my first trip to Old Montreal, the Old Port. I immediately fell in love with the city. I thought I had been transported to another world when I arrived that first day. I could have sworn I was in Europe, and for me, the country I’d been transported to was, Italy of course! At that point in my life I was beginning to think that I would never make it to Italy, that it would remain at the top of my 2 item Bucket List forever. So for me, this charming city, full of cobblestone streets, outside cafes, artists painting on the street, crumbling old buildings and horse drawn carriages was magical. I ended up returning 3 years in a row, to the same hotel because it too, was, and is, the nicest hotel that I’ve ever stayed in and I also love the staff.
The room could not have been more beautiful and talk about old world charm – I was in heaven.
Travelling alone, oftentimes I spend time chatting with the staff in the hotels, in this case it was the Concierge and Bellboys (do they call them bellboys anymore?). Michael, the Concierge was SO much fun. Once I broke the ice with him and he stopped being so formal. In fact, we have a standing ‘date’ for he and I to go shopping and to teach me how to use their subway when I return. Then there are the bellboys, the ‘3 Freds’. Yes, each one is named Fred! I referred to them as Short Fred, Medium Fred and Tall Fred, how original huh? My second year visiting, Short Fred was gone, but Medium and Tall Fred were still there. It has been so much fun returning each year, kind of like a mini reunion. They always remember me by name, and welcomed me with huge smiles and always hugs when I left. In fact when I pulled up in the cab on my last trip, Tall Fred came out the door and called Medium Fred over saying, ‘Look who’s here! Welcome back DeeAnn So good to see you!’ I finally got them to call me Rae half way through this trip.
I have learned that Tall Fred is a fellow motorcyclist as well as a TV/Movie enthusiast. He was so psyched to see the shots I got of Joseph Gordon-Levitt while filming the movie The Walk and asked for copies of all the photos that I took. We spent as much time as we could each day chatting, learning about each other and each others country and customs, they would teach me some French words, and we just plain have fun. For me, this is part of what makes a place special and why I return to places over and over again. Much like Pacific Beach, CA – when you get to know the people, it just makes it that much more fun to go back. I also feel a sense of security because they get to know my habits from day to day and I always feel like if something were to happen, they would know something was wrong. So meet the gang!
Tall Fred, Michael, and Medium Fred
Me and the my boys 🙂
Short Fred and Tall Fred
New friends – Veronique’ she is a little spitfire! When the subject of celebrity chef, Chuck Hughes came up, she reinforced what everyone says about him. That he is just a regular guy, really down to earth and a total sweetheart. . She had been spoon fed by him once. Mon Dieu! She urged me to return to his restaurant and try to meet him. I have yet to on 3 separate trips.
Oliver is full of hell – we had so much fun the 2 days that they were working. Oliver was a Pastry Chef in ‘a former life’ and has been in the hotel biz for over 25 years. He has traveled the world, climbed mountains, and written about it in journals so there was much for us to discuss. It is from him that I first heard about renting apartments. Oscar checked me in on my arrival and I saw Michael helping another guest. As soon as Michael was done, he ran around the desk and gave me a great big hug welcoming me back to the Auberge. I mean, how special right?
And now let’s step outside to the wonderful Old Port. I hope you enjoy your stroll around Old Montreal.
Horse drawn carriages waiting to be hired near Place Jacques Cartier. I loved the sound of the clomping hooves on the cobblestone street outside my hotel at night. I do however, feel sorry for these horses as they plod along throughout the Old Port until past midnight every day. Some of the streets are quite steep and they need to run in order to get up and will not stop until they reach the top of the street. I found this out the hard way one day while crossing a short, but steep, street. 2 carriages came around the corner just as I reached the point of ‘no return’ while crossing. I simply stood still and allowed them to go around me. One on each side. Whew!
Cafe’s along Rue Saint Paul. This street is known for its restaurants which are plentiful. You can find some amazing food along this street. Much of it is fresh and local. Traffic is not allowed on this section of the street much like some cities in Italy.
Traffic is allowed on this end of Rue Saint Paul, despite the park benches and huge planters in the street. Be careful when crossing or walking in this section.
Early morning in the Old Port
Notre Dame and the Place d’ Armes –
Place d’Armes is the second oldest public site in Montreal, it was called Place de la Fabrique when it was first developed in 1693, at the request of the Sulpicians, then later renamed Place d’Armes in 1721 when it became the stage of various military events. From 1781 to 1813, it was used as a hay and wood market, then developed as a Victorian garden after it was acquired by the city in 1836.
The Maisonneuve Monument commemorating Chomedey’s defense of the young French settlement against the Iroquois, against whom de Maisonneuve’s allies the Hurons were fighting
The Bank of Montreal
Rainy Day along Rue de La Commune
A rainy day view from my room down Rue de La Commune
Looking up Place Jacques-Cartier. The Place is lined with restaurants and ice cream shops. I discovered that ice cream is very popular in Old Montreal. There seemed to be ice cream shops everywhere! I love that you will find the owner, host or hostess or sometimes the Chef standing outside the restaurant trying to get you to eat there. Always with a smile of course, and letting you know what the specials are. I found this same thing in the Piazza’s and Campos of Florence and Venice.
La Sauvagine Restaraunt – one of my favorite restaurants in Old Montreal
The building on the right on this quay is the Museum of Science and a parking garage. These quays are huge! Way in the background is the Biosphere from the Olympic City from 1976
The size of this ship, gives you an idea of how huge these quays are. That is a grain elevator to the right. This ship is 38,289 tons (dead weight) and 728 feet long.
I thought that the cigarette in his mouth, gave him that classic ‘French Painter’ look don’t you? I am just now noticing, some 5 years later, his ‘No Photo’ drawing! But I do notice now that it is not in the next photo, taken the following year.
A very narrow and steep street ….. hmmm.. this could be in Italy too couldn’t it?
The Clock Tower. It is a lovely walk all along the St. Lawrence River. This end and in the direction of the Quays is the most scenic. Beyond the quays there are old abandoned warehouses. It looks like they may be cleaning that area up however, and there were several food trucks located in that area.
The “beach” – I guess it is better than nothing right?
A lovely walk along the path that follows Rue de Le Commune and the St. Lawrence
Each year I have tried to meet Chuck Hughes, celebrity chef. I have been watching his show and cooking along with him via my DVR. I love his style of cooking, very fresh, and he doesn’t use a lot of fancy cooking gadgets to do what he does. He is all about the seafood as is evident by some of his many tattoos. Each year I miss seeing him. This year he is not back from filming in Vancouver, but..his partner gave me his cookbook! He said he was sorry that I’d come all this way and missed him again and that if Chuck were here, he’d be doing the same thing and be talking to me…that he is just like he is on TV. Chuck is Chuck. How cool is that?!?
Soo…. this is Chuck and I, such as it is for now. Maybe next year?