Montreal Day 1

This post is written by Katie, about her time in Canada before the 15th Annual North American Bird Strike Conference. 

I awoke without an alarm this morning at 7:30am. I quickly got ready and headed down to the included breakfast in the basement. The breakfast was simple, but plentiful. It included bagels, dried fruit, apples, bananas, cereal, juice, and coffee.

After breakfast, I looked up public transit options to go to Mount Royal. I found a bus option, and headed out. However, when I got to the bus stop I saw a sign in French that seemed to say the stop was closed indefinitely. I decided to walk to the next stop, but once I finally found it, I was almost to my destination (the entrance from Avenue des Pins)! I walked through McGill University on my way though, which was a pleasant experience. It is always fun to see other universities!

Once I reached the Mount Royal entrance, I was greeted by many sets of stairs. Many people were out on the stairs and trails working out – it seemed like a great place to work out! It took me about 20 minutes from the entrance to reach the top of the mountain. At the end of the climb I reached the Chalet and a great overlook. The rain was picking up, but I enjoyed the overlook and spent some time viewing the paintings inside the Chalet (as well as the water fountains and bathrooms).

Panorama in front of the Chalet

View from the chalet

As I was sitting inside the Chalet watching people, I decided that I should try and make the HI-Montreal walking tour at 11am (which was scheduled to begin about an hour after this decision). I looked up a public transit route and followed this route.

Inside the chalet

The chalet

Google Maps told me to walk along a trail in the park. There were main trails – some on Google and some not – so it took a bit of energy to figure out which trail to initially take. However, once I found the correct trail, it was relatively smooth sailing. A bus arrived right as I reached the bus stop. The bus turned an unexpected direction near my stop, so I exited and walked the remaining distance to HI-Montreal.

I arrived back at HI-Montreal at 10:45am, signed up for the free walking tour, and went to drop a few belongings in my room.

The walking tour left shortly after 11am with 22 participants and one guide. My track shows where we walked, but in general we walked from the hostel to the financial district to the old town. The tour lasted almost exactly two hours. The guide was a woman who grew up in Montreal and had worked at the hostel for about 4 years. We walked through Montreal’s expansive network of underground passageways during about half of the tour today due to the rain, but normally the tour remains above ground. For a free tour, it was very informative and I would have been willing to pay about CAD20 for it. It was a great introduction and overview of Montreal, and our guide was able to insert some local flavor since she grew up in Montreal. It was a great way to spend two hours!

Cathedral near the hostel (and the Hotel the Queen Elizabeth, where the conference would be held)

Montreal has a huge set of underground walkways for their terrible winters

Montreal has a piece of the Berlin Wall, since Germany gave many cities that were once walled pieces of the wall

 Walking in the Old Town

After the tour completed in what our guide called ‘the most touristy part of Montreal’, I walked along the water in the old port for a while. By far the most interesting part of my walk was a high-ropes play-ground. There were both children and adults on various levels of the course – but the coolest part of the course was the fact that your harness was connected to a rope above you the entire time. There was no need to clip and unclip, which allowed people to move through the course at their own pace and without the need of many assistants to clip and unclip. I stood in the rain and watched people move through the course for a good 15-20 minutes!

Walking towards the Montreal Clock Tower in the Old Port

A fake beach near the Montreal Clock Tower

The neat high-ropes course in the Old Port

I walked to the metro around 2:30pm with the intention of heading straight back to HI-Montreal. However, when I failed to find any grocery stores near the hostel on Google Maps, I decided to go to an IGA a few metro stops away first.

The IGA gave the normal ‘foreign’ grocery store experience, but with the size of a normal American grocery store. I wandered around the store for a while before selecting anything. I eventually picked up CAD30 worth of groceries to cook over a couple of meals.

I returned to HI-Montreal around 3:30pm and stored my groceries in bins with my name in both the refrigerator and the pantry. Then I grabbed my laptop and started working on writing up a paper review, finalizing my slides for the Bird Strike Conference, and blogging.

I cooked a dinner of eggs and grilled cheese around 8:30pm and then called it a night. I’m struggling with some of the videos in my slides, but that’s a battle for tomorrow. There has been a lot of turn over in my dorm – the other three girls in my room are the same, but the other six girls moved out and two new women moved in.

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