Today was a day for the books! We began bright and early with a danish and real egg filled breakfast before boarding the bus for our rush hour drive into Montréal to meet our tour guide, Ronny, who took us to the historic and scenic, Mount Royal. Designed in the romantic style by Frederick Law Olmsted (the same man who designed Central Park in NYC), the park sits atop a mountan-ish hill overlooking the downtown of Montréal. We spent time enjoying the view and taking pictures against the beautiful backdrop. On our way down the mountain we passed many a biker trekking up the steep hill….pedaling and pedaling. (I was glad to be on the bus at that moment!) Routinely used by bikers and runners alike, the park is vast and green and is home to countless birds. Birdwatchers of the city flock here!
Ronny then took us through the urban shopping district, with a quick stop in the underground city, otherwise known as Réso to the locals. Spanning many blocks underneath the city, it is home to countless shops, restaurants and cafés, and public art, and is a main attraction during the dense Canadian winter months. We found a cute art wall adorned with oversized plastic donuts and of course had to stop for a picture!
Then we explored Old Town a bit and Ronny showed us where the original walls of the city were. He was full of information and we were very grateful to learn so much from him today! Off to lunch at a Mexican cantina! Table-side guacamole was on point!
Concert time was approaching….our bus took us toward the Basilica de Notre Dame and we pushed our equipment the final block to the church. As we entered, there was a wedding music filled organ concert happening! The space was absolutely beautiful! (I will upload lots of photos when we find high speed internet!) After we walked through the space, taking in its beauty, we changed into our concert black and had a quick rehearsal to freshen up. We “took to the stage” for a fairly large crowd to both tourists and locals. A very religious and sacred space, we were only permitted to sing music in the sacred canon. Applause was not the norm in this environment, although we received some at the very end of our concert……because our singers gave a glorious final concert! They worked so hard and listened so intently to each other, making every piece come alive! We were all so proud of them and of their dedication in sharing their voices with our audiences, not only today, but this entire week. Princeton Girlchoir represent!!
After we shared in the joys of a job well done, we ventured back to old town and the promenade along the river. (The St. Lawrence River btw…the same river as in Québec City….we could have boated here!) The singers were surprised with a ride on La Grand Roue de Montréal…a giant ferris wheel overlooking the bustling streets and fast flowing river. Several trips around in a circle later, we safely put our feet and wheels back on solid ground. Dinner was on our own…with some time to explore the cobblestone streets on Rue Saint-Paul. Crêpes, ice cream, and french food abounded! The weather has been so wonderful and I think we all enjoyed our time exploring.
We get to sleep in a little tomorrow before we travel to a traditional Quebecois maple sugar factory!! Can’t wait! Bonne nuit!