A day filled with mild culture shock. It began in Ottawa, ON and ended in Montreal, QC. But it might as well have started on Earth and ended on Mars.

Well, that’s putting it a bit strongly, but the day (and I suspect, the rest of the trip) will be one long French immersion course. I do have some high school French, and spent a few weeks with a Rosetta Stone course to refresh my memory, but there are gaps in what I need in the way of everyday vocabulary.

That being said, everyone I’ve met so far has been very pleasant and accommodating, and in fact is probably used to dealing with “maudite anglaises” on a regular basis. It was gratifying when my limited French was able to leap to mind, but I suspect people were thinking in some corner or their minds, “look, a talking dog”.

Anyway, on to the day’s activities. After another fine train ride this morning thanks to VIA, I arrived in the Montreal train station, and emerged from the train area to discover these fine art deco murals:

I contacted my billet, and after a bit of a delay while my room was being prepared, I finally dropped off my extra luggage and was off to make the most of the rest of the day.

I decided to make my way to the top of Parc du Mont Royal, a good thing since it took the better part of the afternoon. I had planned to combine it with some other activities on another day, and it clearly needs a half-day of its own.

A ride on the metro, a short bus ride almost to the top, and then it’s walking all the rest of the way. The fall colours and vistas made it far from drudgery.

At the top, I was rewarded with the sight of the iconic cross.

After Mont Royal, I headed off to dinner with the nephew of one of my dear friends. And where else would one go in Montreal, but to Schwartz’s Deli!

We waited in line outside for about 20 minutes, and when we were finally let in, we sat next to an older local couple and another older couple visiting from Philadelphia. The close quarters necessitated conversation, so we talked about this and that as we partook of what must be Montreal’s finest smoked meat sandwiches:

After bidding farewell to my dinner guests, I was treated to a light show coming from a couple of locations near the Place des Arts. What was the occasion? I don’t know, but it was a beautiful sight. I shot some video of it, I’ll post that sometime after I get back.

Now, very tired, I’m pondering which of my itineraries to take on tomorrow. If the weather’s good, it’ll likely be the old Expo 67 site, now known as Parc Jean-Drapeau. If not, perhaps a museum or two in Old Montreal.

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