Today was our very last day in Canada. Some of the group decided to do some last minute exploring while others slept in and enjoyed breakfast in the hotel. We all met in the lobby & hopped on a taxi to take us to the airport. Here we had to do customs & security and I received my very first stamp in my passport! From here it was on to Washington D.C where we had a brief layover to Greenville Spartanburg airport. Now that we are safely back home, I really am going to miss Montreal and as I reminisce about my experience I am already thinking about my next trip to study abroad. I really enjoyed my time here and I want to thank the International Studies program at USC Upstate for providing us with this once in a life time opportunity!
Day 3 in Montreal was quite the adventure if I do say so myself. I am starting to get use to people approaching me in French, then switching to English with no problem. It seems as if everyone here is bilingual. My team started out at Chateau Ramezay which is a Historic site and museum of Montreal. This was a very interactive museum which actually explained the history of how Montreal became the lively place that it is today. Over the years this current museum served as the house of the mayor, a university, a military base, and much more. It is over 400 years old and named “One of the 1001 Historic Sites you must see before you die”. The next place we visited was Notre-Dame Basilica which is a majestic cathedral located at the heart of downtown. The designs inside this building were so beautiful, detailed, and unique. I have never seen anything so graceful everything from the ceiling, chairs, windows looked handcrafted. The creator of this cathedral really did a stunning job. We got to tour this cathedral and afterwards, we decided to take a boat tour. The boat tour took my group to islands near Montreal that were too far to walk to.The female tour guide was strikingly charming and very knowledgeable of the islands we toured. She explained tons of history while answering any questions passengers had. Some of the places we saw included: A bridge that was once part of the “wonders of the world” because it was the longest bridge built at the time that could sustain the Canadian winters. A Canadian theme park that has a roller coaster that reaches 101 kilometers. We also viewed condos that sold for 6 million dollars that were originally huge refrigerators when they were first established. One of the last attractions I remember was a hotel with a glass roof that makes you feel as if its summer year round. After this exciting tour we grabbed lunch at an American French styled restaurant called Eggspectation. This particular restaurant was present upon many streets in Montreal and is very popular. They were very busy at lunch time, and they had a huge variety of choices from breakfast to dinner. The next thing we did was set off on foot and walked through china town located in Montreal. We did some sight seeing, and walked about 2 and a half hours around the city. We decided to grab a quick early dinner at a small bistro just before grabbing tickets to Cirque du Soleil. This is an international world famous circus that was absolutely amazing! The tickets were a bit pricey ranging from about $60 to $300 but I must say that it is well worth the money. I did not even take pictures of the performances because I was to busy watching. I did not want to take my eyes off these amazing people. I will not give any details about the show, but I do encourage everyone to go see it. Although Cirque du Soleil was in complete French I enjoyed every minute of this circus. It was the complete oppostie of the typical American circus that I am use to. After the circus we took a casual walk back to the hotel to relax and pack our bags. It looks like our time in Canada is coming to an abrupt end. I cannot believe how much I have learned, experienced, and enjoyed this Global Discovery trip.
I am starting to feel like a real tourist now!!! Today my global discovery team visited numerous locations all over Montreal. We all started out with complementary breakfast in our glorious hotel, then we hopped upon a double decker bus for a tour around the enormous city. The tour guide and the bus driver were both very friendly men who were extremely eager to explain the sights and history of their French culture. The tour included several different “must see” places which included:
Old Montreal: A historic part of the city with so much to do including boat tours, museums, and many other significant attractions.
Montreal museum of Fine Arts: This is a 4 story museum with many famous pieces of art including Pablo Picasso and a whole exhibit dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte.
Saint Catherine Street: This is the main downtown area of Montreal. It was so much fun and there were so many stores and restaurants in this area. There were people playing instruments and there is usually a lot of free entertainment in this area.
St. Josephs Oratory: This was such an amazing learning opportunity that my group got to explore. This was a huge cathedral that included the biggest organ in the world. The actual cathedral is actually the second biggest in the world. Outside the Cathedral was a nice walk way that showed the story of Jesus Christ. I enjoyed learning about Catholicism. There were cathedrals located all over Montreal, but this was a magnificent one that showed the whole city once you climbed to the top.
Mount Royal Park: Was a beautiful area where we could take pictures and it is also a place where people can go and take runs.The tour guide describe it as “the mountains” and you can see the whole city from the top.
Some other things that I saw on the bus tour included universities, book stores, rich boutiques, hospitals, cemeteries and so much more. We stopped for lunch in a underground place that reminded me of a food court with very affordable dishes in different restaurants. After lunch, we headed over to the Museum of Fine Arts which was very nice and relaxing. This museum had a huge variety of art and history. We finished exploring the sites of the tour, and got ready for dinner. Our instructor insisted we try a famous restaurant by the name of Schwartzs!
So after our lovely bus tour we hiked over to the world famous restaurant, Schwartzs. The walk was rather long and it was chilly outside so I bought my very own bright red Canadian hoodie. Along the streets we saw a great deal of Canadian hockey jerseys because they played NY hockey team, the Rangers today. Once we arrived, there was a line of people waiting outside, so we knew the food had to be good. This hideaway is known for “smoked meat” that is prepared daily. Schwartzs was a very good experience and very filling. I left there stuffed! You will definitely get your monies worth at this place. After Schwartsz we checked out a coffee shop called Tim Hortons which reminds me of Starbucks. Here I enjoyed the best caramel latte. After this long day we headed back to the hotel to relax just for a little while before our next adventure. Soon we were headed to a nice quite cafe to enjoy hot tea (also my first time trying herbal tea, delicious). Here my global discoveries group really got to bond and talk about our experiences in Canada thus far. We all have learned a lot about each other in just 2 days!
Today was wonderful! Only one more day left so we must make it count.
Today was GREAT! The 2014 Global Discovery team set off on a brand new adventure! Our first destination from Spartanburg was Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, we had a brief layover so we enjoyed lunch (I, of course purchased my very first authentic Philly cheese steak) and we also exchanged our currency. Our crumpled old American dollars were obtained in return for beautiful, colorful, unique Canadian money! NOW WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO SHOP!!!! . Once we boarded the aircraft again it was on to Montreal for some real excitement; but first we must go through numerous security checks & customs. So FINALLY we arrive in the beautiful city of Montreal. One of the first things I see near the air port is Americas favorite drive thru, McDonalds. I think to myself “okay maybe this place isn’t so different from home?” I mean after all, there is a McDonalds. As the day progressed, and throughout this trip I decided to compare and contrast some of the things that I see in Canada and the United States. Something that is NOT like home is the language. Most of the signs were either in English and French, or only French. Suddenly, I felt like an outsider in this place because I ONLY know English and some Spanish. So after we arrive, we need to find our hotel so we grab a taxi. We asked the taxi driver “about how far away our hotel is from the airport” and he replies “oh about 20 kilometers”. Okay so I am definitely not in the US anymore..kilometers? There was a lot of traffic, and the city was VERY busy but we made it safe to our lovely, historic hotel which was located just a short walking distance from downtown Montreal. Once the Global Discoveries group got settled in, we set on an adventure to explore this new/old place. One of the first places we visted was Old Montreal and Le Vieux Port. These places were very beautiful! There were many old churches, buildings, and statues. There was a castle that had over 400 years worth of history inside. A lot of places were closed because it was Monday, so we did a lot of sight seeing. The port contained a lot of boats that we could do tours of the city on. After that, we visted Notre-Dame Basilica de Montréal which was a huge majestic building. I could definitely see the difference in this city and some of the other cities that I have visited back home. A specific thing that I noticed was the very old architecture right beside brand new buildings. For instance a old church right beside a foot locker. The Canadians tend to preserve all their old buildings instead of knocking them down to change them into something brand new. Shortly into our journey, it started to rain, and not rain a little, but REALLY RAIN. Although the weather very well could have cancelled our small excursion, we did not allow that. We continued to view the beautiful city in the mist of the rain. It was truly exhausting but so worth the experience. We had dinner at a small little restaurant that sold a variety of homemade crepes & gelato and we tried both. They were affordable and delicious! Soon we headed back to the hotel just for a small rest before we ventured out once more. This time we headed into a different direction which was downtown Montreal! This was definitely a beautiful site to see! So many lights and attractions. I saw so many stores that are huge in the United States, as well as some stores that I have never heard of. Most of the stores were closed because it was pretty late at night. In conclusion, today has been fun and I cant wait to get up and see what tomorrow has in store for us.