Friday, August 7, 2009

2nd Year: St. Anne de Bellevue & Montreal

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pulling out early in hopes we can get to Sainte Anne de Bellevue before the weekend crowds, we locked through the 65 foot Carillon Lock.
Coming up to the huge lock

Impressive & a bit intimidating!

Wow!  Huge, with the gate lifted up over the boat as we exit…it it is over our head, just like Lock 17 we went through on the Erie Canal, but this one is so much bigger.  They will stuff every boat around into the Lock at one time, with rafting side by side mandatory!  We made it through with no mishaps.
One huge lock & deep!

Note how the lock closes from the top down!

Cruising out of the giant lock
 Much confusion at the much smaller Sainte Anne lock with boats milling about back and forth and no one tied to the blue wall.  We could not figure it out and could hear French shouting all around….Finally, we came to understand a boat had broken down in the lock and there was a problem pulling it out.  I kept yelling “Do you speak English” and finally, a lock hand answered in English, telling us to take the wall inside (and NOT the dock as one was supposed to do).  We handily grabbed the cables and secured ourselves.  Exiting the lock, we were thrilled to see spaces along the mooring wall in the heart of Sainte Anne and grabbed one to settle in for about 5 days.
Sainte Anne de Bellevue - along the wall

Ah, to be seen is the game here!

Walking the town revealed not much here by the restaurants along the wall.  Chase and I hiked to the train station across town only to find no one there and we could not figure out the French schedule or how to operate anything.  Ah, there is tomorrow and we will be fresher and perhaps more able to sort it all out.  We have to get ourselves to Montreal via train or bus in order to sight see everyday

This little canal where boats are tied to the city wall reminds me of Ego Alley in Annapolis, only this is a little wider.  A busy, busy place, with people walking up and down peering into the boats; the restaurants with outside seating providing more space by which to gawk at the boats.  Added to that, boats cruise back/forth in the canal, showing off – see and be seen….just like Annapolis!   Sitting on our boat taking it all in was fun and people would stop to chat --- viewing our port of call on the back of the boat ..“How long did it take you to come from Florida?” and “Nice Boat” and in general, lots of questions which we patiently answered.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

We all slept til 9:30 AM, a record!  Chase was actually the first one out of bed today!  We wandered through the Sainte Anne farmer’s market before finding out where the bus stop was.  Another 30 minute hike across the other side of town to catch a bus to Montreal.

At the top of my “Things I’d Wished I’d Known” is the fact that while Sainte Anne’s is the recommended stop for those wanting to see Montreal.  One is to take the bus to Montreal from here as it is much cheaper than docking in Montreal. However, no one mentioned that it is a 2 HOUR ride ONE way to Montreal.  Four hours a day in transportation just to/from certainly eats into our sight seeing.  We’ve decided that as soon as our mail arrives here in Sainte Anne hopefully by Tuesday, we’ll pull out for Montreal and bite the bullet and stay in a marina in order to better experience the city.
Did I mention?!  Red leaves already and it is just early August in Canada!!!
We finally got on a bus and then once in Montreal, got on the correct subway to the Tourist Information Booth.  We walked around a little bit and headed back to Sainte Anne as the day was already over before we really got started.  A early start tomorrow we’ve promised ourselves, with a city bus tour and a visit to a local art/music festival on the agenda for Sunday.
City of Montreal

Sunday, August 9, 2009 – Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lots of sightseeing in Montreal – a very large city of mostly French speaking Canadians.
Old and new architecture all over the place and amazingly, an ‘underground city’ of shopping malls, entertainment, restaurants, etc., stretching for 33 kilometres  (20 ½ miles) of connecting passageways along with the metro (subway).  Remember, there is a ton of snow here every year!

Novartis Canada
I feel as though I ‘cheated death by cold’.  The city tour bus driver informed us that Montreal has only 120 days a year of non-freezing weather!  There was a time a few years ago when I was in discussion with my employer, Novartis, about a career opportunity here in Montreal for me.  The opportunity did not come to pass, as the individual in the actual job did not take a position in Basel, therefore, the job did not open up.  I would have been most unhappy here.  I knew it was cold here, but did not realize the long long extent of it. Now, I understand why the streets are packed everywhere day and night in the summer with Canadians…..there is such a short period of time to get outside and enjoy!  This year, however, the Canadians are complaining as they have had very cool weather and lots of rain…so much again for global warming.

Statutes to the hockey heros are everywhere

 A great city bus tour, seeing all Montreal has to offer!  Beautiful Victorian homes mixed in with medieval, Greek, Roman, Gothic and everything in between are everywhere, as are beautiful green parks, loaded with statutes, flowers and people.

Canada's embarrassment built for the Olympics & not in use due to poor building construction

Canadian beer bottling plant in Montreal

 I could walk and sit and people watch 24/7 here, but the boys always want to turn in.  We visited the BioDome, the “House of Life” which is a zoo, aquarium, rain forest, polar world and botanical garden all rolled into one building.  This was a great educational opportunity for Chase, as Oklahoma certainly does not have these plants and animals!  The penguins were a favorite of us all, as were the beavers and sea otters.

Otters are my favorite!

Parrots in the BioSphere

Our mail finally arrived at the Sainte Anne post office Tuesday afternoon after much confusion and hassle.  Now we face a mountain of paperwork as this is mail since the beginning of June.  UPS lost our 48 pieces of mail that was to have met us in NYC on July 1.  Fortunately, they found it 5 weeks later so we just received all that mail, plus everything else since the end of June…Andy could hardly carry the box to the boat AND I did not have magazines and other such mail forwarded at this time.

We struck up a conversation with Will and Monique aboard Katchina III,  docked behind us on the wall at Sainte Anne’s.  They are a delightful Canadian couple who winter in South FL for 6 months a year (all their medical insurance will allow before dropping them) and who (MOSTLY HIM) dream of shipping their boat to So. FL and cruising back along the ICW to Canada.  We were full of encouragement and give them lists of books to purchase and websites to visit to aid in their preparation and to lessen her anxiety.  We shall see if they do embark on what would be a great adventure…take that from one who is living the dream and enjoying every moment of it!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pulling out about 8:15 AM, we headed for Old Montreal and the Old Port for the remaining few days of our stay here.  Andy spent a lot of time studying the charts as it is VERY confusing through here and on to Old Port.  Seems buoys and channels are everywhere.  He yellow highlighted our ‘path’ and the three of us kept careful watch as we cruised along, taking note of the buoy numbers to be certain we were in the correct channel.   I focused on getting ready to traverse the St. Lawrence Seaway locks and being prepared for what was to come.  A bit intimidating – these two locks are huge and designed for commercial shipping….translate that to extremely large barges and container ships! 
St. Lawrence Seaway lock - waiting our turn

Finally Fun trying to figure it all out @ the Seaway Lock
The locks tolerate recreational boats like ours, but make us wait til there is no commercial traffic.  Waits can be up to 5 hours or more, but we were lucky with our longest wait only about 30 minutes!  One must tie up to a floating dock and as we came in, looking through the binoculars, it appeared the floating dock was much too small for our boat, creating some anxiety as to where to dock.  None of the locks will respond via VHF, so no way to communicate.  After successfully docking, one must get off the boat and phone the lock master from the telephone located on the dock with your intention to lock through.  They collect $25 per lock on the St. Lawrence Seaway, cash needed as the credit card machines never work……
Don't tangle with these ships!

Waiting to be called into the lock

Somewhat confusing for us!

These ships get big, big & bigger!

Passing a big freighter out of the lock as we turn to go in

We barely made it into Old Montreal port with the extremely strong current against us, making only about 4 mph with full engine power, trying to make headway…pretty slow, very bouncy, causing Andy to struggle with the wheel constantly!!!

Ah, Old Montreal is beautiful with its 1770’s buildings, narrow streets, cobblestone streets and full of life.  The street entertainers are in full force with music everywhere and dancers, jugglers, folks making animal balloons for the kids and adults sipping beverages in all the street cafes.  My kind of place. I finally ditched the guys, leaving them to their computers back on the boat.  I walked the city for a couple of hours, scouting out the place and making a plan for what to see and do in the morning.  That will teach the guys…..I’ve got a To Do To See list a mile long already!

La Loupiote show

Back on the boat in the evening, we had ring side seats on our aft deck of a bright yellow sailboat, La Loupiote”, moored 15’ off our beam.  Two of the most graceful individuals I have ever observed performed the equivalent of a high wire act aboard their boat. 

Note the crowds peering down at the show

So graceful

 A great ending to the day – sipping our evening glass of wine, feet propped up on the deck rail watching the dancing and aerobatics.  However, a bit like an animal in a cage, as all the tourists were high above us, hanging over rails watching La Loupiote and also watching us!

Finally Fun in Old Port Montreal where people peer down at us

It was a bit weird eating dinner on the aft deck with everyone above watching us eat.  I kept insisting on great table manners from the two guys, so the Canadians would not talk about the American pigs…….

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Festival with entertainment
A great day in Old Montreal, starting with grazing our way through a Food Festival…umm, snacks of Canadian cheeses, wines, sausages, and on and on.  So very delicious.

All the cheeses and sausages are so very French, reminding me of my days sightseeing over there ever time I had to go to Basel on business…maybe it wasn’t all work and no play after all now that I recall those trips!  Later, a walking tour of the old section with so much to see and learn.  Then, Chase & I unloaded the bikes from the boat and took off with the couple from Side by Side to the old farmer’s market in Atwater.  A great bike ride along the Lacerne Canal and through parts of town, all along a bike path.  I so enjoyed buzzing through, panting only somewhat on the hills and then selecting the most beautiful fruits and vegs ever to backpack back to the boat.  During a break in the day, sipping Canadian beer and ice cream for Chase and that famous dish, Poutine.  Maybe I mentioned this before, I don’t remember, but Poutine is French fries with brown gravy and this one was served with melted matzellera cheese and not the cheese curd we had in Ottawa.   As we ate in the street café, we were entertained by the small band from Peru the entire time playing their unusual horns, flutes and drums.  So vibrant a city!

The Basilica

We attended at 8:30 PM The Light and Sound Show in the Notre Dame Basilica…an extraordinary performance in a magnificent Church...  with lights and music playing all around the Church as the headsets in English told the history  from the 1500’s and how settlement in this “New France”  began.

Interior alter

Amazing show that makes one humble and grateful to whatever created all of this and for those that settled this country as well as ours!

Chase watching the Canadian landscape pass by
Before turning in, we played “What did you like the best about this trip?” with Chase as he departs tomorrow for Oklahoma and school.   Eighth grade beckons!  Chase responded with (a) just being on this big boat because no one else has been on such a boat and (b) all of it!

He has had a great trip, as have we all.  He will be missed but we are all looking forward to next summer already with plans to head back this way, but turn LEFT after leaving the Erie Canal and go through the Trent-Severn Canal System and Georgian Bay, Canada, on our way to Chicago, completing next year the GREAT LOOP.
Friday, August 14, 2009

An early departure to the airport for Andy & Chase was to no avail, with the usual and routine delays by the airline.  Much scrambling here at the Marina as we were to pull out, freeing up their space for this busy weekend.  Stuck….”No Sir, I am NOT able to move this boat until my husband returns!”  Dedicated, friendly, understanding staff and we were okay temporarily, before ultimately moving to another slip at the marina in the afternoon.
Pride of Baltimore entering Old Port Montreal

The delay was fortutitious!  I came racing up from my cleaning chores inside the boat at the sound of cannons – yes, there WAS cannon firing!

Firing at Old Port Montreal

Proud to be an American!!

  An awe inspiring sight to behold as the tall ship, Pride of Baltimore pulled into the Marina with our American flag waving from on high! 
Welcoming the Pride of Baltimore to Montreal

 Suddenly, one of those replica 1700’s military marching bands appeared, welcoming the ship with full regalia and music.

More cannon fire from the Americans and a return salute from the militia and the tall ship lowered all its many sails and slid into the long dock, right beside me.

It was so interesting to watch the crew throw the heavy thick lines to dock just as they did 200 years ago….Ah ha!  I learned something…..there is a thin, manageable line attached to the heavy line with a weight at the end.  The crew throws the thin weighted line ashore and whoever is catching that simply pulls until the heavy docking line follows.   Then the normal docking tie up proceeds.

Actually a replica of the original which burned

Look at the lines

Fire power!

THEN, even more excitement as the two entertainers from the sailboat, La Loupiote, performed yet again, this time a show more oriented toward children.  It was slapstick comedy at its finest as the man and woman struggled to raise sails and clean the deck.

Much laughter as he would pull on a line that, of course, had her foot in it, and he’s pull her to the top of the mast and then look around, wondering where she’d gone!  These two are so very graceful in all they do and their performances several times a day are not to be missed!

I never did finish the cleaning inside!

After Andy returned much later in the afternoon from the airport – to late to pull out for Sorel.  Begging forgiveness from the marina,  we moved the boat into the new slip and took off to just walk about Old Montreal one last time.

Another memorable meal – fantastic!  Cabaret du Roy, located in Marche’ Bonsecours, is a theme restaurant that claims ‘the living experience of New France in Old Montreal’ in a restaurant sidewalk café dating back to the 1700’s with staff dressed in the period clothing and speaking the old English…..’My Lord and Lady, …..”
Sharon & Andy @ Cabaret du Roy

Duck pate and the best bread, including a fruit type bread that the First Natives would have made followed by a salad of duck over greens with fresh raspberry dressing and a selection of fresh, locally made cheeses made a great meal, including a glass of French chardonnay.  Dessert was raspberry risotto!  I wandered about the inside of the restaurant, all three levels, and it looked as though I had stepped back in time into old England or France.  This is a must DO on anyone’s list that is coming to Old Montreal!  This place ranks as a top highlight of our overall trip through this Triangle Loop.  It’s also not at all expensive with a wide range of regional foods, including game and native specialties.  Saturday night is always entertainment night with the Corsairs singing seafaring songs,
serving rum and also a ‘clandestine gambling den’, (whatever that means) in a performance that is the ‘worst’ of New France.  Sounds like a lot of fun and I wish we could stay, but we need to move along in order to meet Dale and AnneMarie this coming weekend at Dale’s summer house on Lake Champlain.

After that meal and walk, we were asleep at 9:30….boater’s midnight struck again.

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