Saturday, June 28, 2008

Burlington, VT, to Montreal, Quebec

Monday, June 23 - It rained last night in Burlington. That's an understatement. The weather service issued a notice: "A record rainfall of 1.27 inches was set at Burlington Vermont
yesterday. This breaks the old record of 1.25 set in 1887." And this morning? More of the same. Well, not so much at once, but it was definitely rainy. We'd planned to leave around 8:30, but waited until 10 for the weather to break.



It was a good decision, though, because the trip to Rouses Point, NY, was rain free. We docked at the Lighthouse Marina and were fueling up when the skies opened up again. It's Bella Luna, Prime Time and Segue here this evening. Tomorrow we hit the Richelieu Canal and enter Canada!

We talked with Dave, Heather and Alex this evening on Pal Talk. It was good to see them...and hear Alex counting to 8!!

Tuesday, June 24 - Bonjour, bonjour!!

Segue, Bella Luna, and Prime Time left the Lighthouse Marina at around 8 AM. We all took turns checking in at the Canadian customs station and then headed up towards St. Jean and the beginning of the Chambly Canal. We were on the Richelieu River at this point and passing by lake cottages and lots of small fishing boats.

When we got to the first canal (actually Canal 9) at St. Jean Prime Time was in the lead. Prime Time hailed the canal attendant and told her we had 3 boats wishing to lock through. She took down our boat names and sizes, then called back to say that only one could go through at this time and the other two should wait at the tie up near the canal for the next opening. So Segue and Bella Luna tied up and took in the hustle and bustle going on around the canal. Diane took this picture of Wayne and I on our first day in Canada...




There were people everywhere! On one side of the canal was a biking and walking trail and on the other side a road. People were gathered at the canal to watch boats lock through. When we asked about a nearby bank so we could get some Canadian money we were told banks were closed that because it was a holiday in Quebec (not in all of Canada, just in Quebec) known as Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. The holiday started out as a religious holiday of the Catholic Church to honor the patron saint of French Canadians, St. John the Baptist, but now it has become more a political celebration. Blue and white Quebec flags were everywhere. That explained the number of people we were seeing out!


We waited only about 20-30 minutes before it was our turn to lock through to the canal. In these locks the attendants hand you a (clean!) line at the stern and at the bow. Except for the occasional wind, these locks were easily managed. And the trip in between...well, we felt like we were in a parade! People everywhere, festive attitudes, waving hellos...it was wonderful.

The locks are hand operated...

And they almost caught our flag on one of the openings!



Bella Luna and Segue spent the night on the wall at Chambly between Lock 3 and Lock 4 while Prime Time went through Locks 3-1 and stayed at the Chambly marina. That evening we gathered at 5:00 on Kaos, along with Bella Luna, Distant Shores, and Prime Time. A good time was had by all.

Chambly is a friendly, comfortable place to stay. Diane and I were glad to see a grocery nearby...'cause you're always "nearly out" of something. If Montreal weren't beckoning, we'd stay a day or so longer.



Wednesday, June 25 - The lock we were getting ready to go through is a flight lock so once you enter a lock you must complete the remaining two locks. We were going down a total of 35 ft. in this flight lock. The view from the top lock (No. 3) was great.



Once out of the lock we were headed up another 40 miles or so to Sorel. From Sorel we'll go to Montreal. The scenery along this stretch of the Richeleu was so nice...beautiful homes lining both shores. I took a few pictures. And...the steeples along the way looked so good against the blue sky and clouds.



We stayed at Parc Nautique Sorel (marina) in Sorel. Thank goodness Gary and Pat from Prime Time was there to help us navigate in...and help Wayne and I tuck the boat into a very tightly fitting slip. Oh, and did I mention, the wind was wailing??? Anyway, tomorrow could be a challenge getting out, depending on the weather.

Thursday, June 26 - The wind was calm this morning, but it was still a tight squeeze getting out of our slip. Fortunately the tip of our bow went over the boat docked next to us and gave us some more room in which to maneuver.

On leaving Sorel we entered the St. Lawrence River and began making our way, upstream, to Montreal. The current running against us cut our normal 10 mph speed to something more like 7.5 mph. And we saw some rather large, sea-going vessels on the way....


We left Sorel at around 8:45 AM and got into Montreal at around 4:00PM...~44 miles. As we made our way to the Montreal Yacht Club , the current increased and we were slowed to 4.5 mph for 2 miles or so. Looking at this channel marker you can see what we were working against!



The Montreal Yacht Club has some of the nicest docks we've seen. They have a rubberized layer on top which makes walking around on wet surfaces much easier. They also have cleats running in a channel alongside the slip so the cleats can be moved to accomodate different boats. The location is great...right at the Old Port area. Many people seem to use their boat as a summer cottage. The weekend we were in Montreal the marina was hopping with people who were entertaining on their boats. (This was actually a holiday weekend, too. Monday and Tuesday are both holidays ...Tuesday is Canada Day.)

We walked Lucy,then took off for a look-see in the area. We ended up at an outdoor restaurant on the local pedestrian mall, Place Jacques-Cartier, and enjoyed a beverage while watching a flame-throwing entertainer "wow" a crowd. We'd had a day, by then, and headed back to the boat for a light supper and planning for tomorrow's exploration of the city.

Friday, June 27 - We left the boat at 8:30 and walked up to the tourist information site and location of bus tours for Montreal. We signed up for a 3-hour tour beginning at 10...and had time for a second cup of coffee and a cheese sandwich at a local deli. The tour covered the main parts of Montreal...the Mont-Royal Park (normally the best view of the city, but it was really cloudy that day) , McGill University, University of Montreal (53,000 students and totally French-speaking university), the Olympic village site...and numerous cathedrals, government buildings, etc.

Montreal has a large "indoor city" underground linked to the Metro system. AND...their Metro, according to a native, has rubber wheels instead of metal (like NYC has) so the Metro is much quieter.

When we finished the tour we visited the tourist information center again and got advice and directions for several restaurants we'd read about. Our friend, Bob Sicignano, had recommended Schwartz's Deli for smoked meat sandwiches and we struck out on the Metro to find it. It was around 2 PM by the time we got to the deli and we thought maybe the lunch crunch would be over. Not so!



We waited outside for probably 20-30 minutes before being escorted into the small restaurant and seated at a table for 6. There were already two other couples at the table...and this is how it is. It was really a cozy place and we talked with a series of couples as the meals were served and finished. We both had a smoked meat sandwich with fries...and a side order of pickles. It really was good! The bread was even good...nice and firm to be able to hold the 4 inches of meat they piled on. We couldn't finish the sandwich,but that didn't keep us from stopping in for gelato at a nearby ice cream shop. We made it home around 4:30 and snacked on veggies for supper, we were so full.

Saturday, June 28 - We decided to indulge our individual interests. Wayne found a marine chart store and shopped (though unsucessfully) for some Canadian charts we're lacking.) He wanted pasta for lunch, but ended up settling for a sandwich on the boat because it was too early in the day to find pasta. The impeller on one engine needed looking at because he'd spotted a water leak from it...and he ended up working all the rest of the day on boat projects.

I headed for the Montreal Museum of Fine Art to see the exhibit of Yves Saint Laurent couture. I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit. It was much larger than I had expected...and very well done. I especially liked the pieces that had been made for individuals...and his pieces made in honor of Proust and Picasso. I had lunch at the museum bistro (where they were playing Johnny Cash albums on the "Ipod" and the waiter had tickets that evening to see Al Green at the Jazz Festival.)

Did I mention the Jazz Festival? It started the night we arrived and would be going on the whole time we were there.

We had a couple of restaurants picked out for supper...but the rains came in that evening and we decided to eat in and watch a movie. Around 9:30 we went outside for the fireworks display. Pretty impressive! According to a local boater, the firework display companies compete for "best" over the summer and then can charge "even more" for their services.

Sunday, June 29 - We hung around that morning working on the blog and catching up on emails...then headed out for a Portugese restaurant that had been recommended to us. We both had tourist passes for the Metro which meant we had 3 days of unlimited travel on the buses or subway, so we took a Subway up to the restaurant. It was closed! Granted, it was only 11:30...but we were hungry! We left out for the second choice, a French bistro on Rue St. Denis. On the way we passed a couple of good looking eateries...but decided to press on. When we got to L'Express and looked at the menu we decided to head back to one of the appealing places we'd passed. It was a good decision.

Wayne had seafood pasta and I had veal scallopini...and, much to the waiter's surprise, we ordered a side of poutine. We'd read about poutine being a true Montreal "comfort food" and didn't want to leave without tasting it. According to montrealpoutine.com, poutine is "a heap of crispy french fries topped by a handful of cheddar curds, and a chicken (or, sometimes, veal) based sauce. While great fries are important, it is the combination of sauce and curds which makes a poutine a trascendent [sic] culinary experience." Well...it was a "transcendent culinary experience!" Darn yummy. We asked the waiter later whether it's usually served as a side or an entre. He said he usually eats it at around 2 AM when he's been out drinking for a while. Poutine = chili cheese fries!

We were enamored with the neighborhood, too. We'd walked through it on Friday...then today. A Montreal resident from one of the neighboring tables in the restaurant, the Universel Restaurant Cafe, came over to ask how we liked the poutine and we asked about the area. It's part of the Latin Quarter...and we really liked the feeling there.



We finished up, reluctantly, ...well, we'd had all we could hold...and walked out to see the Jazz Festival venue. We caught a couple of bands...one New Orleans jazz style and one our favorite, Latin jazz. Topping the event off with a soft serve cone at Dairy Queen, we parted ways. Wayne headed back to the boat and I went on to find a grocery store and some fresh fruits and veggies. I also picked up a couple of croissants for Wayne and some St. Viateur bagels for me. (Montreal bagels are different from NYC bagels, for instance. They are sweeter and have more a preztel "finish" but with seeds.)

We've had a wonderful time in Montreal and would definitely come back. It rained our last night there and I took a picture of the Clock Tower right by the marina.

And a scene of Montreal from our marina..

This ends the blog for now. I'm not really checking for errors because I'm on a timed internet connection. Send me emails with complaints! :-)

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Josh said...

Sounds like a dream. I cant wait to do it myself. (yes, this post is delayed ;)- hope all is well)