We spent our first day in Montreal just exploring old Montreal and the port. The whole area is made up of small streets, paved with cobbles and surrounded by old stone buildings. It is by far the closest resemblance to Europe we have encountered during our time in North America.
The area is a mecca for tourists and you can only take a few steps at a time before coming across horse drawn carriages. In an attempt to dodge the tourist traps (and horse poop) we side stepped off the main boulevards and wandered the cobbled streets. Here, we were overwhelmed by the ornate stone work that decorates the facades of the huge, imposing buildings that make up the financial district. The 19th century headquarters of all major Canadian banks are situated here and the buildings are still used by the banks, which means no one bats an eyelid when you wander in off the street*.
We spent a while marveling over the intricate details, found on and in Notre Dame Cathedral. We initially went in thinking that, like the ancient cathedrals of Europe it would be cold inside and we would be able to cool off. We were out of luck though, however they built the cathedral, it was with warmth in mind, probably a good thing given that in Montreal temperatures can dip to -20˚C! It is quite a sight to behold, definitely worth the couple of bob entry fee, not a single centimetre of the interior is not covered in beautifully ornate paintwork, it’s so colourful, gold, red, green and blue cover all the walls and ceiling, punctuated only by equally colourful stained glass windows depicting the history of Montreal.
I have to admit though that it’s the smaller details that I fell in love with, the fantastic windows, and fire escape stairs not to mention the ivy that has taken over so many of the buildings.
* I did feel conspicuous taking pictures though, I probably would have felt more in keeping with the decor had I been depositing bags of gold!