Finally after a long day of travel from Londonderry we arrive in Galway and get dropped off at our Hostel for the evening… a perfect fit for a day of almost zero exertions… you like stairs right? The reward was one of the nicer hostels on this trip, and as we were staying two nights a chance to do laundry!
So after we got our luggage up to our rooms some of us took to the town to look for food and take in the sunset golden hour.
Shamrocker Adventures (and Busabout) offer several tours in Ireland, and there is a combination that is very specifically setup so that the main four Rocker tours (North, South, Western, and All Irish) all meet up in Galway and here we join into one large group for Galway and the Aran Isles portion of the trip. Now while the logistics of this feat is notable, it is also why all the tours have funky travel days. So if you were ever wondering why 7/3/3/3 day trips were offered, its because of that 10 day rotation (with downtime for staff before the next rotation).
However, and I hate to be critical of what was already quite an enjoyable trip, but the “ice breaker” event that Shamrocker has set-up for everyone is an optional pub crawl through Galway with a contest to steal potatoes from eachother… what sounded like a fun game quickly got ugly competitive as soon as alcohol was thrown into the mix, with each bus group vying to win it for their “team”. After having my potatoe stolen, and stealing back another and a pinpong ball (?) the thrid bar we went to had a band playing in the other section and I left the pub crawl and enjoyed the rest of my evening…
We stayed overnight at the Chateau Montebello, had some breakfast there and then walked along the wooded path over to the village of Montebello, Quebec. The path that we took, passed through the Manoir Papineau National Historic Site so I was able to take a few more photos to add to the blog entry relating specifically to the Manoir Papineau. Once we arrived at the village, we stopped for a few moments in the tourist centre which is housed in the old train station. Then we headed off on our self-guided walking tour down the main street of the village. The street used to be heavy with traffic but the recent completion of the the #50 route from Montreal to Gatineau/Ottawa, had diverted most of the truck traffic, in particular, away from the village. Still plenty to see but without as much danger of being run over by a truck.
The Quebec government has erected small placards/signs in front of many of the buildings and businesses. The placards are unilingual French and, although I can read them just fine, I don’t have the time at the moment to translate the information for this blog entry, I have included a thumbnail image of the placard beside each image. (Sorry, didn’t photograph all of them). Clicking on the placard will open a larger version of the placard in another window for those who are comfortable reading the information in French.
With a central location on Montebello’s main street, the Catholic Church, Our Lady of Good Hope, is an impressive structure. The attached presbytery is currently up for sale as is another adjacent building but Saturdays the building is used for a very successful magic show. Not sure what this might all mean for the the future of the building itself but at present it is certainly a prominent feature of the architectural landscape of the village of Montebello.
One of the fascinating features that we found on our self-guided walking tour of Montebello was a stainless steel sun dial. This sundial is much different than the traditional sun dial and in addition to a different shape, it is also able to display both standard time and daylight savings time.
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
As we walked along the main route and read the information about the history of the various buildings and the people who had lived in them, I couldn’t help but think that it was a shame that the signage wasn’t multilingual so that the information would be more readily available to the very important international tourist population that is drawn to Montebello by the Fairmont Chateau Montebello and internationally known events such as the Canadian Ski Marathon. There was a lot of local history captured in those little placards along the street. Fun to walk, read and get a glimpse of what Montebello’s past might have been like.
Each winter, cross-country skis are fashionable on the wooded trails throughout Eastern Ontario and Quebec, and the village of Montebello is the center of a great deal of attention as the planning and organizing of the longest annual ski marathon/tour in North America gets underway and everyone starts to pray for the right amount of snow to fall at the right time of the year.
For those who want to ski the entire 160 km distance from LaChute to Gatineau, the Canadian Ski Marathon is a two day event with a stop-ever night in Montebello. For others, it might just be a more leisurely ski of one or a two of the 5 sections. Whatever the case, those who participate, get to ski through Laurentian country on trails that may only be groomed once a year specifically for the Canadian Ski Marathon. Visit their website directly for more information on the 2013 edition of this great event: Canadian Ski Marathon.
The Village of Montebello has a wide array of dining options ranging from quick take-out or pub food to more relaxed dining in elegance so we were happy to drive back into town after dark for an enjoyable meal at Le Napoléon.
In addition to hiking in the hills and boating on the Ottawa River, the area around Montebello is still an important area for fishing, trapping and hunting, and for a small store, Jo’s Cabane is chock full of interesting things for the hunter or fisherman to consider adding to their collection of gear.
According to the clock in front of one of the pubs, it was just about 4PM if you were heading north and only shortly after lunch time if you were heading south. In any case, we had a tee-off time at the Chateau Montebello Golf Course to think about so it was time to walk back to the Chateau Montebello.
For those who follow my blogs and might be a bit worried that I didn’t photograph a Montebello fire hydrant, here is what you have been waiting for :-).