Montreal memories of my Olympic mum
We caught a train from Toronto to Montreal as it was only four-and-a-half hours away.
Montreal was one of the cities I was most looking forward to in Canada. I had heard such great things about it, and as many of you know, my Mum competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and I couldn't wait to see the stadium.
On the small downside, we were back in the hostels! Since we have been in America and Canada, Sarah and I have always dreaded our next hostel as we have had so many nice hotels and houses to stay in, but we happened to pick a good place in Montreal, with a perfect location on St Denis street, right in the heart of the city.
Although we were in a 10-bed dorm room, when we first arrived there was only one other person in that room besides me and Sarah and he was never there, so for the first couple of days we felt like we had the place to ourselves.
Our hostel served a free breakfast between 8.30 and 10.30am so we took full advantage of that. Admittedly, it wasn't very good, the bread was a bit stale, but as it was free, we ate it!
We then decided to have a wander around the city. For the first time since we were in Asia, we were in a place that wasn't English speaking, so Sarah and I found ourselves trying to feebly attempt to remember our GCSE French! It didn't go down too well with the locals, but at least we tried!
We walked to Catherine Street, which is where most of the high street stores are, and Sarah did a bit of shopping. I restrained, telling myself it would all be worth it when I got to New York! We then went to Old Montreal and into the Bascilia Notre Dame church, which under normal circumstances, you would not tend to find me in, but it had really cool architecture, and was pretty spectacular to see, as far as churches go!
We then moved on to Jacques Cartier Square in Old Montreal, which is really stunning. There is a lot of art, and is filled with lovely traditional restaurants and cafe's. There were also some street acts playing in the square, along with artists drawing caricatures of people......
We then walked back to the Latin Quarter, close to where our hostel was, via Prince Arthur Street, which is quite an up market place, with lots of nice restaurants and bars.
By the time we got back to the Latin Quarter it had started to rain, so we took cover in a bar and had a couple of drinks, before heading to an Italian restaurant for dinner. The comedy festival was on while we were in Montreal, so there was quite a lot happening near St Denis Street where we were staying. Unfortunately for us, we had picked a time when all the French acts were performing, so we didn't book to see any. We were pretty gutted actually, as the week after Jimmy Carr was performing there!
Finally we had some sunshine, and we thought what better way to spend the day than at the Olympic Park. Rather than jumping on the Metro, we chose the cheapest option and walked it, so it took about an hour and a half to get there. When we finally arrived I was completely taken aback. The Olympics was obviously one of my Mum's greatest achievements (other than having me of course!) and it was so amazing to see it right in front of my eyes. It has changed a lot since 1976. The sloping tower wasn't built back then, and they have now built a retractable roof on to the stadium, unlike in '76 when it was all open.
We had a look around the gallery, which had lots of pictures of the 1976 Olympic Games, before heading outside where we could see all the flags of the countries who had won medals that year.
There were also a number of plaques which listed all the events in the different sports, and came across my Mum's event: the 4x100m relay.
We then went back inside just in time for the guided tour of the stadium. I was so glad we decided to do this tour as we wouldn't of been able to see inside the actual stadium without it, and that's the part I was most interested in seeing.
It has changed a great deal since the games, there is no running track for a start as the stadium is mainly used for football games and concerts now. I thought it was such a shame they got rid of it, but it was still incredible to see. I could still picture my mum on the track! I had always wanted to see it for myself ever since I was little, and as emotional as it was, I was so happy I finally got to see it. I felt a great sense of pride standing in the stadium, and it is a moment I'll never forget.
We also took a tour of the swimming and diving pools, which they have pretty much kept the same since 1976, and is now open to the public for swimming lessons and recreational swimming.
At the end of the tour, our guide pointed out where the Olympic Village used to be so we took a walk up there. It is now a residential home, so we couldn't go inside, but outside on the grounds it still has the Olympic Village sign so we were able to take some pictures from there.
Only later when visiting my family on Prince Edward Island, did I discover that my mum used to sneak food out for them from the Olympic Village cafeteria, and Derek Ibbotson, who was also there at the time, lent my auntie and uncle and cousins his motel room for the night as they had nowhere to sleep!
We had spent almost the whole day at the Olympic Park by the time we had exhausted the place. There have been a lot of amazing days since I have been away (pretty much everyday has been incredible!) but that day will be particularly memorable for me.
We then decided to walk to Little Italy and have dinner there, only we didn't realise how far it actually was. Two hours later we arrived. Feeling absolutely famished and dying of thirst we picked the nearest restaurant, and it turned out to be really good. It was still really hot so we sat outside and both had a lasagne. I think I must've had about six glasses of water with it!
When we arrived back at the hostel, more people had arrived in our room, so it was almost full. A German girl decided to sleep in the bed above me. Little did I know then she would drive me insane. I got no sleep as she was constantly moving and blowing her nose all night! Everytime she moved, it felt like an earthquake, she was driving me mad...the joys of hostels!
The weather wasn't too good again, and as we had exhausted all the sight-seeing, we decided to go to the cinema to see 'The Hangover.' We were out of the cinema by mid afternoon, and as we didn't want to be stuck in the hostel all evening, we quickly got ready and went out for dinner and a few drinks. We started off at a bar opposite our hostel for a glass of sangria, before heading to a lovely Greek restaurant on Prince Arthur street. To make it even better, the restaurant allowed you to bring your own alcohol, making it a much cheaper meal for us! We then walked to St Laurent street to have a few drinks there. We ended up at a bar called GoGo, which was good, but as you are expected to tip every time you ordered a drink, it soon cut into our funds, so we decided to be sensible and not have too late a night!
I was feeling pretty hungover, so I stayed in bed till midday. It was good though because by the time I had got up most people had moved out so it was back to being an almost empty room again!
After finally mustering the energy to have a shower we walked to the port at Old Montreal and had lunch in the square. There was a huge pirate ship at the marina, along with a stunning yacht, so we took a few pictures of that and had a walk around the waterfront.
That evening, we stayed by our hostel on St Denis Street, had a curry for dinner and watched a bit of the festival, which was pretty impressive. We were leaving for Prince Edward Island early the next morning, and as I was pretty hungover from the night before, I opted for an early night, looking forward to the next 11 nights in a house!
After I left Vancouver, I had this feeling that the other cities in Canada we were visiting wouldn't quite compare to Vancouver. I was wrong. Montreal is beautiful. There is so much to see and do, and if you like good food and wine it is the perfect place! If I could speak French, I could definitely live there!
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