My birthday treat this year was a cruise on Oceania Cruises “Insignia”, taking in Canada and US ports of call in the fall. We had booked Oceania because they operate smaller ships, like the Azamara Quest and Journey which we’ve travelled on before. The Insignia is identical to the Quest and Journey so we felt we knew the ship as soon as we boarded.
However, we first went down to Heathrow for an Air Canada 777 flight to Montreal which worked really well. We stopped overnight at Heathrow so that we weren’t rushing the next morning on the M1/M25. Air Canada have a great set of people on board, we’d remembered this from a few years ago when we went to The Rockies. They are so nice that I was the one who felt guilty that they’d run out of the main course I wanted for dinner.
The arrival was smooth at Montreal but the transfer to the downtown hotel was awful. They are transforming the motorway from airport to City and there is a section which goes from 4 or 5 lanes into 1. This is making a usual 20 minute journey into 2 hours. We were waiting in Montreal arrivals for at least 45 minutes before a vehicle became available. I can’t see why this happened because they know what time the plane was due to land. We weren’t best pleased after a longish flight. Needless to say that after a few grumblings, a minibus appeared and we made the tortuous journey downtown. Eventually we made it to the hotel where we were being looked after overnight and we settled down for a late meal and drink. Too tired to go out.
The next morning it was quite windy and we had a couple of hours to briefly look around Montreal before being collected for transfer to our ship. It was cold as well if you were in the shade but up to a reasonable temperature in the sun. We had about an hour just taking in the scenery and the subject got around to Leonard Cohen, who was born in the Montreal suburbs – Sue is a fan. She wondered if there were any statues or a commemoration of some description to see. We were trying to find a decent coffee house at the time and as I turned to look around, lo and behold, a huge painting on the side of a house, the man himself, complete with trademark hat. The coffee tasted great after that. Back at the hotel we got on the coach for a short transfer to where our ship was moored. The mooring was outside of town, away from the central area which was disappointing, as was the lack of champagne reception when we got on board. The cabin however was very nice.
The next morning we were in Quebec. I haven’t been in such a vibrant place for a while. The old town is just lovely with a large range of things ancient and modern. Good shops and restaurants, architecture, great cafes and a square with a statue of Louis X1V which was so picturesque. We went ashore on our own in the morning but took a walking trip with a guide in the afternoon which took us around some of the area we’d walked around in the morning but carried on up the funicular to the Chateau Frontenac Hotel which is spectacular, imposing and expensive, all in the same breath. We said we’d go back to Quebec for a main holiday some time – it’s lovely.