We got to Montreal late in the day. Linda told us about the two airports: Duval and Mirabel. I saw signs for same. But I thought Duval was Trudeau now (it is!) and that they'd closed down Mirabel (they have!)???
She recommended us going to Ste. Catherine St. to find a good restaurant. Most of the group seemed to have eaten at the hotel, the touristy Holiday Inn Midtown. I went out. Ste. Cat's was NOT the advertised 2 blocks away, but rather five. Downhill. In pouring rain. For a while I thought I'd fall on my butt and take the easy way down in a slide. HOW do people handle this in winter conditions?
After wandering about in search of French food I was ready to get ANYTHING except McDonald's when I spotted Le Grand Comptoir, just off Ste. Cat's in front of the Hudson Bay ("The Bay") building.
At first because of the pouring rain I was the only person there, but eventually two couples showed up. So I guess the service was lousy since the waiter never came back except to give me the bill. But when I was the only one there, the owner (?) was very friendly and funny and spoke English like an American. A Floridian, maybe, with an easy Jersey twang. I told him how to make iced tea and he said he'd try it sometime.
Recommended: the marinated (ginger) chicken with wonderful salad, yummy leek soup and great french roll. With every bite I actually said, "Mm!" It came with shoestring fries, which could be ignored. $21.00 including tip. Yum!!!!
I had had to use 2 quilts to get warm — good thing there was a second bed in my room! The others on the tour had the same problem. We had a quick but dull breakfast at the hotel along with about a million other tour groups. Kudoes to the waitresses, who were running their butts off!
The hotel's ATM had an "out of order" sign on it. I wasn't worried; there'd be another machine somewhere soon.
Ordinarily I'd just insert ominous music and let the subject hang, but might as well get through it. Every ATM I went to (until the Miracle, see the Quebec section) was either out of order or didn't accept Bank of America. This afternoon I finally found a guy who told me why. Used to be, ATMs were run by banks. Now most are privatized, with narrow acceptance as to which banks they'll accept. One needs to find an ATM within an actual bank (even then your chances are not too good) or a large store (like that travel plaza) that will give you extra cash with a purchase.
In the meantime because our tour did not include tours of modern banks, I was fast running out of cash with which to make small purchases and to leave tips.
We had a nice morning tour of the city with a few new spots to see. I saw a lovely church that I tried to note as to location for later. Trudeau's son or someone had been married there. We saw the World Trade Center (which on hindsight had a bank in it, but I didn't know about the ATM plot against Americans at that point), which was a long, glass-ceilinged alley. The local guide said he could remember buses making deliveries there before it was glassed in and made into the WTC.
Apparently regular fountains were too feminine for the masculine lions of industry, so they put in a long, low pool with more a low waterfall than a fountain, and a naked Amphitrite looking over the whole thing.
We took a quick tour of the Underground City at Cathedrale Christ Church (I am using far too few accents, but HTML is cruel to proper French), which was hiked up on jacks and KEPT IN CONTINUOUS SERVICE as the massive complex went in below it (see diagram stolen from the Net) (the outdoor shot is stolen from montrealcam.com). The tour guide told us all about it as he stood in front of a display window with mannequins wearing extremely skimpy black lace underwear that was missing a few pieces here and there.
The guide repeated that everyone should stay with the group and not shop, as we didn't have time. So what happened? Every time he paused, off went half the group! Really, I'd have left them there, but that's just me: Rules are Rules. They shopped and we'd look and look for the lost ones. One man saw a sweater he liked and held up the tour forever as he purchased it. Sheesh! After the local tour ended, the bus dropped us off at the foot of good ol' Place Jacques Cartier and gave us a couple hours to mosey about Vieux Montreal.
I made the mistake of having lunch at a deli where I thought I'd use the ATM afterward. I mean, I felt obligated to eat there, though I knew two restaurants in the area that serve wonderful food, since the machine was practically at the deli counter and everyone would SEE me walk to it. Their chef's salad was awful - a very big pile of nothing. And the ATM didn't work.
But I did get great pics of Place Jacques Cartier. PLUS I had seen my moose sign in a shop window on the ride in and doubled back to buy it. Success! I had my moose crossing sign again! He's currently warning people who come in through my gate at home, since I learned that if I put the moose sign on my mailbox post that people liked to go out of their way to mow it down until it was a crumpled mass of metal. (sob) Love my new moosie. Too bad I can't use it for directions anymore. ("Turn left at the moose.")