After a bit of rest from the travels in Ontario, our next destination was Old Montreal.  I often thought that Montreal was a microcosm of France in North America (after all Quebec was known as the “Colony of New France” a long time ago), but it seems that it’s evolved its own culture.  There are elements of Montreal that are very modern (skyscrapers and the like) and the historical part of town (there are even horse carriage rides for tourists that ride along cobblestone roads).

The outside patio seating on cobblestone roads has a nice “European feel” and the architecture of the buildings surrounding it definitely add to the atmosphere.  Store and restaurant labels being in French also makes the atmosphere feel a lot more foreign (but luckily most people in Montreal speak English).

As I have learned throughout my travels, there is always a nice church in the historical part of town, at least in this case, a basilica.  This one is called the Notre-Dame Basilica or in French, Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal.

The inside is also quite different.  I remember a lot of churches like to use ambient light to keep the interior illuminated but the main congregation hall seems to be closed to natural light except for the two windows in the ceiling.  There is a lot of “blueness” in this basilica, which I don’t think is very common.  As usual, the altar is filled with statues of religious figures.

After that, the next destination was Mount Royal, which is one of Montreal’s largest greenspaces.  There is a large artificial lake where people like to go for runs or just casual strolling.  There is also an observation area that looks down the mountain toward downtown Montreal.

A raccoon even tried to join us at the observation area.  Poor raccoon…was probably hungry too.

That night we had a nice dinner that was a partial family reunion.  I think about 15 people from my father’s side of the family came.  That was probably the first time we’ve ever all got together for a meal in a long time.  The meal was also made better by the presence of my cousin’s 15-month old daughter (first cousin once removed?).  I think the last time where everyone got together (at least partially – I wasn’t present for that one) was in the summer of 2009 when one of my cousins got married.  We all asked about one another and how everyone was doing since we hadn’t caught up in a while.  We ate for about an hour and talked probably for another 2 or 3 hours.  It was a nice get-together that doesn’t happen very often.