October 13, 2004

Trip Highlights

Mount Royal
Walking up Mount Royal through the park. We were hoping to see the Cross, but it started to get too dark to see anything. The park paths didn't offer to much in the way of lighting. We started our ascent at one of the entrances where Tom Toms were being played madly by wanna' be hippies. The square was full of rich college students pretending to be dirty gypsies, selling cruddy home made jewelry and seemingly tripping on ectasy. We were heard those tom toms all the way up to Beaver Lake. We were pleasantly surprised by the randomness of the sculpture garden near by.

St. Joseph's Oratory
On the side of the mountain opposite the park, we explored St. Joseph's Oratory. we chose to walk up the steps like tourists, rather than like the penitents we saw ascending on their knees (that's 90 steps,ouch). Exceptional. The history of the Oratory is interesting. Founded by Brother Andre 100 years ago, this was the most beautiful structure in Montreal. This is another site that surprised me with it's amazing museum. On the level before the basillica is a museum with over 200 nativity scenes from 107 countries. Nativity scenes, if you're not aware, are a lot more pleasant than depictions of the crucifixion. Way in the back of the museum is a series of life size diaramas representing the life of Joseph as it relates to Jesus. This is a little creepy but very special and a must see.

Marie Queen of the World Cathedral
Our hotel was across the street from Marie Queen of the World Cathedral. One of the reasons I love visiting cathedrals when I travel is my fascination with stained glass. In most cathedrals, the windows tell little stories either from the old or the new testament. In this cathedral, the windows explained the religious history of Montreal. I won't bore you with the details but the heroes chosen are interesting characters, many of them women. Canadians credit both special men and women with founding the city of Montreal. I also really liked the stations of the cross here, done in relief. The stations have more meaning for me since seeing the beating rather The Passion of the Christ. The structure itself is a 1/4 scale model of St. Peter's Basillica.

Notre Dame Basillica of Montreal
This was breathtaking. Gothic, romantic, religious. My observations for this cathedral are too personal for this venue. (I am still and always will be Jewish. I just happen to love Cathedrals. They are always more interesting than temples. Some of the best art I've ever seen has been in Cathedrals, because for years, the biggest sponsor of the arts was the Catholic church. They have commissioned more great works than any institution, mostly during but not exclusive to the Renaissance. Artists give up so much of themselves to express their love for Christ and for the church. You would have to be heartless not to find it moving. That's why I find it hard to express in words, what I felt when I saw this Basillica, not because I am having a crisis of faith.)

Ass Jumping
Staying at the hotel was great fun. We stayed at the Centre Sheraton and our room had two beds, two big fluffy beds. Part of the joy was playing a game I invented called Ass Jumping. Jon and I competed to see who could bounce higher on the beds using our behinds. The hotel had a pool and a jacuzzi and a sauna. All put to good use by two happy tourists.

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