Friday, 13 December 2013

Miami to Montreal -- Then Home!

Leaving the Keys, we had just a half day in Miami before starting the long journey north. We headed downtown for the afternoon and wandered the waterfront area, had coffee and then supper at Il Gabbiano, a very nice Italian restaurant with an ocean view.

These two photos are of some funky decoration along a waterfront wall.

We stopped in Charleston for a couple nights to break up the trip and went to the South Carolina Aquarium. We'd stopped here in March and once again we were very impressed with the staff and volunteers who are very engaging and randomly come out into the lobby area with various animals to show people. Andrew got some great photos of Pippin the barn owl and of a snake (can't remember its name). 

We did a tour of their sea turtle hospital facilities which was also very good. There were only the two of us and, because of our interest, the volunteer guide spent way longer with us than most tours last. Very, very educational and much less tourist driven than the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida. 
An aquarium resident giving me "the look."
A foggy morning on the bridge and a dolphin in the foreground,
On the second morning we went on a carriage tour. Lots of history education and an entertaining guide.

Very large beautiful homes on the Charleston waterfront. 
 We also did the self-guided Gateway Walking Tour through church and graveyards.

The Circular Church
Tis the fall season in Charleston.
Sankofa is a West African symbol depicting a bird looking over its back.
It means "learning from the past in order to move forward."
No more fog. The start of a colourful sunset. 
For our second "break" in the long train ride we stopped in Schenectady, New York, and got our first taste of winter. Brrrrr . . .

The historic Stockade Inn in Schenectady. Had a very good supper in the restaurant here.
Arriving back in Montreal, the forecast was for -16 and winds of 40 km/hr. NOT the warm Bahamas or Florida we've been used to the past few weeks. I quickly messaged my friend Pat, who used to live in Montreal, for suggestions on what to do on a cold winter day in Montreal. He suggested the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum of Archaeology and History. (Yes, I know there's supposed to be accents in there somewhere but I haven't the motivation to figure out how to do that!)

We're not normally too excited by museums but the online reviews were quite good so, between that and Pat's recommendation, we decided to give it a try. And ended up spending over four hours there! The multi-media show that covered several thousand years of Montreal history in 30 minutes was excellent! The displays were interesting; the basement is an archeological dig; there was a pirate exhibit for kids; and a display on the history of the Beatles in Montreal, which included "John Lennon's famous Rolls-Royce, with its flowery paint job" on temporary loan from the Royal British Columbia Museum. My favourite quote was from John Lennon's Aunt Mimi: "The guitar is a fine hobby John, but you'll never make a living at it."

The museum also has a lovely restaurant overlooking the St. Lawrence River.

And humourously . . . the clerk at the ticket counter suggested the best route through the museum in order to avoid the multitude of school groups that were there!  :-)
View from the Belvedere of the Museum
Tomorrow we start the westward part of our train journey home . . . Montreal to Saskatoon.

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