We were off to Montreal for our much anticipated fieldtrip! We caught an Uber to work as we each had a suitcase and backpack and couldn’t face the thought of catching two busses and walking with all our bags as we had to be at work for a 7am start.
I was in Van 3 which we deemed the “cool van”. We started the day with a hiss and a roar only to get 10 mins down the road and stop for about half an hour for coffee at Tim Hortons. This continued to be the theme of the week and very different to any NZDF fieldtrip we’ve ever been on before! The baking was well received and not to be outdone Nick went and got us 50 Timbits from Tim Hortons (mini donuts) to share in the van. It took about two hours to get to Montreal and the guys warned us about the crazy Montreal drivers who are world famous in Canada for being mental cases. They were right!!
Our first stop was the St Lambert locks. We learnt about these in class but I didn’t realise that such large boats could fit into the lock. In these pictures you can hopefully make out a large green ship. We went into the control tower and then outside down the pier.
We checked into our hotel, Square Phillips and the afternoon was ours! Exploring downtown Montreal. We had a group lunch at Les Brasseurs where they spoke mostly French. They had a brewery onsite and make beer-cocktails! The food was excellent. Gem and I’s first stop was to hit the underground mall. Heaps of cool shops all held underground for those winter months.
So many levels!
Liked the name of this shop!
The breakfasts at the hotel were really nice and so much selection. Apparently the prime minister was staying there last year while they were on the same field trip, so you get an idea of how nice the place is!
Throughout the week we had more visits. My favourite was the satellite communication station! The guy was really lovely and has these beautiful offices surrounded by satellites. They were huge! I asked if we could climb up one as I saw some stairs and he said yes! Our course staff were impressed as no one had ever asked that before and they had never been up. The floor was mesh and it was freaky.
We climbed this one and this is the view from the top.
Lunch at Saint-Sauveur which was a cute little French town. Wish we could have spent some more time here but we ordered lunch at the slowest serving place in the world (the food was delicious when it did eventually come though)!! The menu was in French so I just pointed to a picture of what looked nice on the menu. I didn’t tip very much as I had to make my own green tea!
Gorgeous churches and clothes shops next to vape shops haha.
We spent the arvo looking around the ‘Old Montreal’ Port and ‘Old Montreal’ streets. Felt like we were in Europe with the sun shining and the cobblestone pavements. Sunny but super windy. Here they have created a ‘beach’ for all the high rise apartments that they have built nearby. There are BBQs and deckchairs but no swimming allowed.
Lots of good food was had throughout the week and it was surprising that I didn’t have to purchase new pants to fit into. My two favourites were the baked brie with mini toasts, pesto and red pepper jelly I had at a bar and the goats cheese crème brulee and green apple salad I had at Beaver Hall restaurant where we went on our last night.
We visited a Steel Mill and looked around the premises. These were the more intricate pieces in the foyer! We had to wear hard hats and steel caps walking around the floor.
We also went to Mirabel Airport, up the control tower and a zooming tour around the perimeter and facilities within. It’s a bit of a sad story, you can read more about it here http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/montreal-s-abandoned-mirabel-airport-too-costly-to-repurpose-1.1967712 Basically they built this huge passenger airport but it never went ahead, and as we were driving up we saw them demolishing the main passenger terminal. They have now transformed the facility into a cargo airport, the whole place felt a bit spooky.
We got to have a tour of the fire department on site at Mirabel Airport. That was cool and they showed us their brand new truck, costing over a mil, complete with a ‘snozzle’ which is a specially designed piece of apparatus which pierces through the side of the plane and shoots water or foam onto the fire! They gave us a demo and we all oooh and ahhhh’d over it. I even touched the snozzle!
More exploring and takeaways from this gorgeous little Asian restaurant.
We stopped in for a world famous in Montreal ‘Orange Julep’ from the famous orange dome building (I thought it looked more like a Cadbury Jaffa) – I couldn’t stomach one quite that early in the morning but reports in said they were good. Sort of like an orange milkshake/smoothie.
We visited a railyard maintained by the CP Police (special police for rail) – there are only 100 guys to cover all of Canada. The yard was really impressive and this part of the yard was 30 tracks wide! We saw a circular turntable and learnt about some of the equipment. We spent the afternoon at a military base checking out workshops and supply chains and tanks!
Our last night in Montreal, and it was the queens bbirthday so we decided to treat ourselves with a flash dinner. The dinner was superb, and when the boys were outside the waiter came up to Gem and I with a gift of a jar of Creton (meat spread) which we were very thankful for, and he said if we didn’t manage to get through it all we could take it home. We later find out, that he has lumped $10 on the bill for it!!! The cheek!!
Happy birthday John! John is a volunteer firefighter in his spare time. We made him a famous kiwi ‘chocolate story’ board. He was very touched.
The pack up began as we headed back to Ottawa. Check out the 'lost in translation' version of my new name.
The weekend was a chill and lazy one, but I managed to go on my very first outdoor Ottawa run. Headed down the Rideau Eastern Pathway alongside the river where it was so warm with great scenery! In the distance you can see Parliament Hill and the Peace tower. My first 7km run since being here. Need to get back into it! We caught up for dinner with two army friends who are in town on a different course. All you can eat sushi!! This was one of the many plates that we had. Delish!
Spring is definitely here, haven’t seen so many colours of flowers before!
These two displays next to each other are dangerous.
I checked out the Museum of Nature http://nature.ca/en/home which is located in this amazing castle building. The huge glass bit is home to a giant blow up jellyfish thing. Some cool exhibitions and gemstones and stained glass.
I did see some dinosaurs inside.
Spent the evening ironing up my flash gears for ANZAC Day tomorrow down at the War Museum. We are lucky its a 9am ceremony not a dawn parade this year!