Montreal: Notre Dame, St Joseph’s Oratory and a lot of walking and sugar

Day two in Montreal and I had an amazing sleep.  Breakfast was 7-9am, I slept til 10.  Totally worth missing breakfast.  I walked towards Old Montreal, looked around an indoor market, past lots of lovely looking cafes with amazing looking cakes and eventually got to Notre Dame.  The outside was nothing spectactular, but the inside was incredible.  The decoration was so detailed and beautiful.  There were candles that you could light and say a prayer, stained glass windows and ornate carvings in the wood.  Celine Dion got married there and her husbands funeral was held there.  It is still open for services, though they said it is never full on Sunday’s with around 100 people on a good day.  

Notre Dame done and I went for a walk around some little shops, finding a Christmas shop.  I love an all year round Christmas shop, especially one that has Christmas music on – I remember at Niagara Falls they didn’t have christmas music playing.  Unfortunately, there were no decorations that I wanted.  Well, maybe fortunately, as I have far too many Christmas decorations in my life, but can’t stop buying them.  I passed a Starbucks just as a sudden storm came, so sat and had a drink until it passed.

My next stop was another religious one – Saint Joseph’s Oratory.  This one was much more to look at from the outside with lots of steps leading up to a grand looking building.  As I was walking up, I saw a groundhog in the bushes!    Again, lots of candles inside that people could light and the kneel and pray.  There was a tomb holding the body of Brother Andre and a display where his heart was behind glass – again you could kneel and pray by the heart.  He was credited with healing people and had a huge following, hence most of the building being a shrine to him, though denied having any special powers himself.  He said that people should not try and get rid of burdens, but ask God for the grace to burden them.  The walls in the first room are covered with crutches and walking sticks where apparently people came asking for help and were healed.

After a religious, historical and pretty day so far, things took a different direction and I decided to go bagel tasting.  I was to.d by one of my beach buddies that I needed to try a Fairmount Bagel.  When I googled them, I discovered a debate over the best bagel in Montreal – Fairmount or St Viateur.  The Fairmount bagel store was the first bagel shop in Montreal opening in 1919.  They provided me with a warm, soft, sweet bagel with cream cheese on it.  Bagel number 2.  A very different experience.  It was bigger and a lot cheaper, but the cons outweighed these pros.  It was hard and I had to take it away and attempt to cut it and put my own cream cheese on with a flimsy plastic knife.  I asked if they could cut it in half with a sharp knife and told no.  I was also told I could rest on the counter to cut it, despite being the only person in there.  What a disappointment.  Flavour wise, it was more bland and not as sweet – personal taste I guess, but the customer service and hard bagel made Fairmount a clear winner.

I sat in a park for a bit and then strolled along Mont Royal enjoying the shops and atmosphere.  I would definitely recommend just meandering along this street to anyone pottering in and out of the shops and soaking it all up.  So many quirky little places.  By around 7pm I was ready to drop, so I headed back to the hotel for a quick pit stop and then ventured out for food.  I found the most incredible little cafe/ bakery/ chocolate shop – Juliette & Chocolat.  The menu was incredible – I wanted everything.  The sights in the display cabinet left me giddy with excitement.  I had an ice cream sundae with chocolate brownie, ice cream, chocolate, cream and a bowl of warm melted chocolate on the side.  I bought some extra desserts to take away because the fat girl inside told me to.  What a night.  I slept in a sugar induced coma.  Spoiler alert for day three… I had cheesecake for breakfast.


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