|Bras D'Or at Baddeck|
|Chapel of Basilique Notre Dame in Montreal|
|Botanical Gardens in Montreal|
|Chinese Gardens in Montreal|
Eastern Canada is a place of several languages. Along some of the roads in Cape Breton there were signs in Gaelic and on a bus, I was speaking with an older man who asked me where I came from. I said he did not sound North American either and he said he was born in Cape Breton but only spoke Gaelic until he went to school. Of course while there we passed through French speaking villages and since coming to Montreal I have been surprised at the lack of English. I think it is harder here than in Paris. I suppose I was unprepared. Before going to France I always do some French revision but not this time.
I had to make some changes in order to do the tour of the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton. I had booked 2 nights in the village of Baddeck and planned the day tour on my one full day there. However they would not run a tour with just one person so I ended up staying 3 nights and travelling on my 2nd day with a couple from Maine, USA and a couple from Ottawa. It meant I only spent one night in Halifax so only had a brief look at that city. To get to Baddeck required a 6 hour bus trip each way so it seemed pointless to go all that way and not do the tour. I think Canada, like USA, Australia and even NZ are difficult to see properly by public transport at least if you leave the main cities.
I spent 4 hours in the terminal at Halifax airport waiting for the bus and discovered that, as it was a holiday Monday, the bus was packed for the first 3 hours with university students returning to college. Luckily I also emailed the owner of the guest house (The Worn Doorstep) where I was staying to tell her I would be arriving late and asked where the bus stop was. She replied it was out of town about half a mile on the highway. The town has no taxi service so she offered to come and meet me The bus was half an hour late but I was very grateful as it was raining when I arrived. Gina also drove me out the morning I left and rang around trying to arrange my tour. I was glad to be able to stay an extra night.
The Cabot trip was well worthwhile with great coastal scenery and autumn colours (photos 1 & 2).
On my other day in Baddeck, I wandered around the pretty little town and the shores of the lake Bras D’Or (Photo 3) and visited the museum of Alexander Graham Bell. While I knew he invented the telephone, I did not know of his many other inventions including in Flight and his work with the deaf including Helen Keller.
After a brief look at Halifax, I boarded the train “The Ocean” for the 21 hour journey to Montreal.
I was disappointed with Montreal but did visit a museum of it’s history, the very impressive Basilica of Notre Dame (Photo 4, the chapel) and walked around the deserted waterfront. Everything was closed down for the season. There are vast covered shopping areas in which I got easily lost. Sunday was better when, after attending Choral Eucharist in the cathedral, the sun came out and I spent the afternoon in the vast Botanical gardens. The fall colours were excellent there (Photo 5) and there was a very impressive Chinese garden (photo 6). A lantern festival held at this time every year was a bit overdone.
I like Quebec City much better. It is a very historic old town and, perhaps because of the large number of tourists, my poor French was not such a hindrance. There were great views of the St Lawrence river and a lot of steps to climb up to the old city (Photo 7) and along its walls. Canada is spending a lot of money on roads as a stimulus program and I think they were also rebuilding the Quebec city walls which was not good for photography. I had two lovely sunny days although it was icy in the early morning and evening. I mainly stayed outside but did visit a number of churches and chapels and spent time in the Museum of French America.
Today I have travelled back to Montreal by train and am waiting for the connection to the capital Ottawa.