Whilst we were in New York we thought we’d pay a quick visit to our friend Hélène in Montréal, so we organised train tickets and braced ourselves for the eleven hour trip.
The scenery is picture perfect and I was pleased to see Bannerman Castle. It’s built on an Island on the Hudson River and was built as a fortress to contain a Scotsman’s arsenal of weapons. It’s obviously a ruin now, and public access is restricted for safety reasons. I did look to see whether we could visit and then heard that the island was overrun with snakes, so decided to be satisfied with a quick photo from the train!
It was hard to take photos from the train as it moves rather fast, but I did capture a bit. I’m always fond of this sort of view.
Eleven hours is a long time to spend on a train so I entertained myself by knitting a beanie with yarn left over from a jumper which I knitted on the trip over to the States. The yarn is from Ripples Crafts and is merino, yak and silk and the colour is “Was that a Kingfisher?”, which perfectly describes the colour. I didn’t have a pattern for the beanie so was winging it a bit, which meant frequent trying on, probably to the entertainment of the people sitting opposite.
There was quite a lot of this marshy ground, and I noticed with interest the water lillies, which were growing in great profusion.
I can imagine this is really something to see when all those lillies are in flower.
There is a bit of respite from the train in Albany, and we ran up and down the platform to get the blood circulating again. It was freezing, and I’m not sure why I’m standing still in this spot. Wearing my Beverley wrap fashioned from an Indian wool shawl, which was perfect on the train.
The stop at Albany is longer than usual as they have to swap locomotives. From New York to Albany they use a thing called the third rail, which is electrified, and from Albany to Montréal they use a diesel locomotive. Diesels are not permitted in New York. It was interesting to watch the new engine being coupled up and I did take photos, but won’t bore you!
It was a pleasure to pass the beautifully maintained farms along the route, and I did manage to photograph this one. How idyllic does this look?
We followed the Hudson River for a long way and this is part of Albany, taken once we got going again.
I have to say that the train trip was fascinating. It follows the Hudson River and then Lake Champlain, which is a very long waterway, which has osprey nests, lots of charming coves and small hamlets containing yachts and other watercraft.
We obviously had to cross the border from the US to Canada which required going through immigration. They were very efficient but it still took 90 minutes, although we were all sitting down, enjoying snacks and in my case, knitting. I would love all immigration experiences to be like this!
We finally arrived in Montréal and spent the morning of the next day re-acquainting ourselves with the city.
I initially thought this fountain was an homage to the First People but it’s something to do with a group of radiologists. If my reading of the French sign was correct. Everything in Montréal is in French with no translation. This gave my sightseeing another dimension, let me tell you!
This is an underground passageway connecting the subway, an hotel and shops and restaurants. I loved the lines and the feelings they give.
We eventually finished up adjacent to the Montréal World Trade Centre and I was so surprised to see a fragment of the Berlin Wall here, but apparently it is where the fortifications of Montréal once stood so it’s a most appropriate place.
It is easy to tell the West side from the East by the graffiti.
This piece of the wall depicts the message that the freedom of people cannot be divided. A salient message still!
Back above ground we spotted this wonderful sign for the subway – look at the Arts and Crafts lettering!
And the gorgeous ruby glass in the lamps. How exquisite is this?
I’m sure we saw the armory the first time we were here, but felt like we hadn’t paid it enough attention. It’s squeezed in between two modern buildings and is just a beautiful piece of architecture.
Many of the glimpses up the side streets of Montréal transport me to places in Europe.
I loved the way this new building has been built to reflect the old within.
I then went to catch up with my dear friend Hélène, who lives in a city in the Province of Quebec called Longueuil. It sits on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River directly across from the island of Montréal. It is quite historic as evidenced by these ruins of an early fortification.
A small slideshow of some of the earliest houses. They are so beautifully maintained.
After an hour or more of walking around, talking and seeing the sights, we needed coffee and a very nice gentleman took our photo.
Hélène wanted to show me a button gravestone. How fabulous is this?
The sculptor, Esther LaPointe, died young in a car accident, but managed to produce eight of these buttons. This one has a beautiful bronze at the bottom.
Then we walked to a park to see another one, which had a copper needle attached, which someone stole. So annoying, but the view down the avenue is so beautiful that I had to show it.
There is so much of interest here. This piano is placed so that anyone can become a public artist and this man played for a little while, which I enjoyed very much.
Hélène then took me to her favourite charity shop, where we had a wonderful browse. She bought me a scarf to refashion and a couple of things for herself, including a sheet which will make several wonderful things.
I had such a lovely afternoon with Hélène and followed her to her house for supper and to play in her wardrobe. She got me to try on her new Wiksten Haori and immediately decided I should have it! I didn’t fight too hard, so now it’s mine and I love it so much. When I first put this photo up, my initial thought was, what park were we in? Then I realised that we were in Hélène’s pretty garden!
Mark joined us and was immediately smitten with Hélène’s little dog, Ashtika, who is beyond adorable. Actually, I think Ashtika was a bit smitten with Mark too!
The following day we were again invited to Hélène’s for supper, this time with her family. We decided to walk from Montréal to her house, which necessitated crossing over the river via a bridge – or is it bridges? Mark had done the walk the previous day and swore that there were two bridges, although Hélène claimed there was only one.
Before we get into the number of bridges, I’d like to put it out there that this crossing is not for the faint hearted or lily livered like me! It is really, really high and really, really windy. Mark wanted a photo and I’m clutching my ears for some reason, although what I really wanted was to be curled in a foetal ball sucking my thumb!
The view from the other side is quite pretty though.
This is me halfway there. I look quite relaxed don’t I? Photos do lie, I was extremely unhappy because I had another bridge to traverse. Yes, I agree with Mark, there are two bridges!
We finally made it to Hélène’s house and I was so relieved. She’s in her Pattern Union pinny, and I’m wearing my linen Pattern Union Pheobe Bib and Tucker with a Lulu tee. We didn’t collude – I don’t think!
Toasting each other with hors d’oeuvres! We spent a fair amount of time in this lovely kitchen and recipes were swapped – although not with me!
We were invited for a special supper which included these beautiful corn cobs. We all went outside to husk them, but we didn’t save the corn silk for weaving, although I swear that Hélène said her mother used to do something with it!
Last time we were in Montréal Hélène and Richard took us to Quebec City and surrounding countryside (previously blogged Quebec city here and Eastern Townships, Quebec here) this time they treated us to another day in the Quebec countryside. It was a little chilly and very windy!
But we had such fun!
We went to Fort Chambly which is rather magnificent and was once quite strategic. It was originally a wooden fort built to protect travellers and was in use until the mid-19th century.
We then drove on to an apple orchard in Rougemont, where we passed a happy hour or more hiking up to the top of a hill. I didn’t have hiking boots with me so Richard got me a stout stick to stop me sliding around.
It was a lovely walk, looking at the local flora
and a bit of fauna. The birds are red headed vultures and there must have been some prey in the vicinity as we saw many of them swooping and riding the thermals.
They made quite a stunning sight.
After a refreshing glass of cider, we had a wonderful drive further into the countryside. This delightful house is at Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu.
and this is Chateau Saint Antoine, which is obviously a wedding venue with a restaurant and possibly accommodation. What an amazing house this would have been!
As with all good things, our trip to Montréal came to an end and Hélène and I had a sorrowful parting, but we’ve managed to catch up four times in four years so I suspect that we will be seeing each other sometime in the near future. Perhaps when she comes to Australia??
The weather was clear and fine when we left and I captured a few last shots of Montréal.
And this one, clearly showing two bridges! They have one name in common though – the Jacques Cartier Bridge.
I had noticed the leaves beginning to turn red on the way to Montréal but managed to capture some evidence of the beauty of early Fall.
Lots of beautiful scenery along the route.
This photograph could be in Australia!
We must have spent two hours in immigration. I did note that, in spite of repeated requests, people did not have their documents ready which resulted in lots of delays. I just kept knitting…
As the sun began to set, some of the buildings positively glowed. This one at Schenectady, NY, really appealed with those vintage advertisements ghosted on the bricks.
The sunset from the train was truly spectacular. At first the sky was violet fading to delicate orange,
By the time the sun sank right past the horizon, the sky was deep violet and the horizon and river were on fire.
I took many more photos but managed to miss nearly everything I was aiming at as I was too slow and the trees got in the way. Take my word for it, this is one train journey which is well worth taking!