Basilicas, cemeteries and hot noodle soup

I had an early breakfast this morning as Diane had an appointment. However, it was still fairly lengthy as she is a very enthusiastic talker and was keen to tell me, with a lot of hand gestures and conversation punctuated by “wow”, about her latest e-commerce multilevel marketing business venture. She already has a business selling high end infra saunas. Hence the posters in the hallway that I had noticed on the first night.

Plastic tunnel outside a church
Plastic tunnel outside a church

Afterwards, I read for a while before setting off to catch the bus to Cote de Neiges to visit St Joseph’s Oratory, which is perched high on the side of Mont Royal and is the highest point in Montreal. It is also renowned for Father Andre (now a Saint) and the miracles he performed in healing the sick, who ascended the multitude of steps on their knees to be blessed by him.

The bus took me through areas that I haven’t been before, which is a big advantage of travelling by bus. As I neared my destination I was intrigued by the number of houses that had plastic canopies over their front steps and driveways, presumably to protect the cars and people from the icy conditions in the winter. It did look a little strange…

St Joseph's Oratory
St Joseph’s Oratory
The organ in St Joseph's Oratory
The organ in St Joseph’s Oratory

It was about a 10 minute walk up to the Oratory from the bus stop and, as I caught my first view, it was certainly very impressive. Climbing the many steps to reach the basilica was definitely worth the effort. The interior is very elegant and minimal and not at all as I expected and I spent some time sitting and admiring the architecture to the accompanying sound of the cleaner vacuuming!

Afterwards, I walked to the city through the absolutely vast Notre Dame des Neiges cemetery. Indeed, I had not realised how big it was until I started walking, following my sense of direction and just hoping I was heading in the right direction for downtown. There were a number of areas for different nationalities, including Chinese, which I don’t think I have ever encountered before.

I eventually arrived at the Chalet on Mont Royal and, consequently, familiar territory. I was freezing and, for some time, the thought of hot soup had been keeping me going so I made my way to the food court in the Eton Centre and had an enormous bowl of noodle and vegetable soup, which was just what I needed and extremely filling!

Whilst intending to catch buses back, I was so warm by this stage that I couldn’t face going out into the cold again, so got the metro instead, which is conveniently located right in the shops. At this time of day, of course, it was packed but at least I was out of the cold wind.

Tea (without cake) was the order of the day on my return.

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