Montreal – 23rd to 27th May
The bus arrived in time at the Central station in Montreal. It was a 40 minutes walk to the hostel “Auberge de jeunesse Alexandrie”. By the way the hostel is not one of the YHI-hostels. At the first glance it looked horrible inside, because you come into a hall with uncovered cement pillars. Maybe the building has inherited a garage before. Even the bedrooms looked second-hand. The room I have got a bed in, must have had a double bed before. The panels were still there. The room came with an own corridor with single and double rooms (the last one with bunk beds) as well. In my room were two bunk beds (sleeping four people) – I chose it by my own because the mattress of the single room was old and the room for two tiny. Later I saw, that there was a washroom in my room, but the assistant told me, that the room has not on suite bathroom and I have to go downstairs for the toilet as well as the shower. That was only the half truth, for the shower was actually in the basement, which looked like in one of activists occupied building. However the whole building was clean and the stuff friendly, service minded, helpful and knowledgeable. Anyway even here music was played most of the time and belonging to the assistant in service. The price was low even wi-fi, a simple breakfast and the washing machine / dryer were free to use. Only the washing powder one had to pay for.
When I asked at the service desk for a supermarket, the assistant told me, I will find one in the street with the pink balls. I remembered, that I crossed it. The balls helped me very much in my orientation. By the way in our street rainbow flags were hanged on the pillars for the lights. I felt a little like being in St. George in Hamburg.
In this street I also found the sign for the Canadian post, but I did not have the items with me, I wanted to send to Sweden. After being back from the supermarket and having a meal I was updating my blog somewhat and even on the Internet looking for cars. I hoped to find a cheap camper van or almost a caravan I can travel with throughout Canada, staying at free camping sites. I did not find one that evening.
The following day I bought an “Occasional Card” for three days for public transport. They actually are valid for 72 hours after activating them by the first ride. I was going to the four more backpacker hostels I found in this town. I asked, if they maybe have a notice on the billboard about someone trying to sell a camper van or caravan. The first newly opened the hostel. They did not have a billboard yet. The third one did not understand English good enough for answering my question and the fourth hostel none opened the door. Maybe one has to book ahead and get a code to come in. All hostels had locked doors and door bells. In addition to that the Alexandrie and the Globetrotter have code locks. The staff at the second hostel I was asking about the billboard were willing to help me, but had never heard about that possibility. They told me, it was easier to find at Holiday Parks and sent me to the turist information, because the Holiday Parks where not to reach without a car, but the tourist assistant maybe could call. I did not find the tourist information (Centre Infotouriste de Montreal) easily. I had to ask people more than once. Finally there I only got a book with the addresses and descriptions of the facilities.
Carrying that book I strolled through the city and became interested in an exhibition for Barbie dolls. The entrance was free, though I entered the mall and found the exhibition after a while. There were hundreds of Barbie dolls, som with faces of well-known people. Every doll had a different outfit. There was also a doll with a Swedish costume – one I have not seen before, but every parish has its own costume. I do not know all of them.
It was around 7pm when I was back in the area of the hostel. I tried to buy some food, but all shops were already closed, even the supermarket, which had been open until 9pm the night before. I looked for a sign about the opening hours and found it. The shop closed at 7pm Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Surprised I was going to the hostel. Even this evening I googled for cars and I did it until really late that night.
Unfortunately I slept over the free breakfast, though I had to fix my own. Afterwards I was going by bus to a Ford dealer. They offered two caravans for 1995 CAD each. I hade to pay for the trip, because the destination was not included in my 72-hours card. The amount for the trip (one direction) was 3.25 CAD. I had to take the bus from a big bus station and had to ask more than once to find the right place. Here people queued for the bus. I asked the bus driver, if the route is for my destination and he also told me, how long it will take to go there. After a long ride I could see the Ford-company and left at the next stop. At Ford a seller showed me one of the cars, but told me, that this as well as the other need repairs before they can be registered and driven. The other one had problems with the transmission. Such cars I was not looking for. I thought car dealers offer only cars you can drive straight away with. I had seen a Honda dealer on the way to Ford, not far away. I walked there, but have been told, that their cheapest car is for 6,000 CAD. The seller explained, that they do not deal with the really cheap cars. They sell them to garages / non-chain dealers, because brands have to think about their image. I took the bus back to the bus station and met the same driver again, who had driven in the other direction. He asked me, if I found what I was looking for. I did not have change, but in the buses here you need exact change or a special card. The driver told me, it was OK. I was allowed to go with him without paying. The buses here has a special cash, where they cannot take out any money. It may be good against robbery.
Later on I also found a Volvo dealer. They had a Swedish flag on their desk, though I asked the seller “Talar du svenska?” (Do you speak Swedish?) and he answered: “Yes” and was talking English with me 😅. Volvo did not have a used, cheap car either. The cheapest one was for 10,000 CAD.
Disappointed I was going back, bought some food in the supermarket close to the hostel. Well there I made a meal. After my dinner the owner / manager asked me, if I had found a car and told me than, that one of his customers has told him, that his friend offers two cheap cars. The owner gave me a business card. On the back were two cars (make, model, age) named. Though I googled them and saw, that they were sedans. After a while, Alfred (the customer) came to me and started talking about the cars. I told him, that I am looking for a camper van or caravan, because I will sleep in the car. He told me, how he uses to do, and where I could buy a cheap cooler (box). Though I agreed to look at the cars anyway, following him next morning to the garage.
This evening I also started to make folders on Google pictures for the different cities and areas I have visited in Australia, because I run out of space on my blog and could not add more photographs. I decided to put links to these folders on my blog instead. I looked for more cars on the Internet and booked a bed at the YHI-Quebec for four nights as well as a car sharing trip (Mitfahrgelegenheit / lift) to Quebec. – The Internet address for the car sharing I have got of the hostel. It is http://www.amigoexpress.com. The site is in French, when you choose English, you automatically get directed to http://www.kangaride.com.
The 26th I was awake early, because of my alarm clock. I had to be ready at 9am to follow with Alfred to the garage. Actually I was ready and surprised, when we came out of the hostel, for Alfred had a car, but he had told me before, that he is looking for one. He explained, that he is looking for a camper van. At the garage I asked the owner, if he speaks English. He told me, he does, but was all the time speaking French. Alfred explained to me in English. It was only one car at the garage – it was a sedan. The other one was from a customer to the garage and still in use. Alfred told me, that the other one would have scratches on one side. Anyway it was also a sedan and I explained, that I will not buy a sedan. Now Alfred told me about how he was doing or has done, e.g. sleep a couple of nights in the car and then a night at a hostel. He was very pushy. I became angry at him and told him, that it may be his way, but not mine. I was going to town by bus. By the way he did not talk with me again, even we met at the hostel.
When we were going by car, we passed the Parc Fontaine, which has its name from the fountain in the park. I saw the park from inside the bus and left the bus, but did not find the fountain again. I was a little disappointed, but not willing to walk lots of km to find it. I continued instead walking downtown on Rue Sherbrooke, reached the Quartier des Spectacles, took a rest on the square in front of a theatre or museum and found out, that Montreal has free wi-fi on public places. I became hungry and ate in a mall, at a food court. The company, similar to MacDonald’s, advertised a “Combo mama” for 5 CAD. I ordered one and was asked if I want it with cheese and what I want to have to drink. I asked for juice and could choose between apple and orange juice. When I had to pay, it was for 7 CAD and the difference was not only the taxes. I thought, she should have told me, that I have to pay more for my choices and asked, if I really would have it. I will never again buy a meal of them.
After the meal I was walking in the direction of the harbor, but took to the left at the Central station and came to the Square Victoria, which I liked, because the old Metro station. I also took a photo of the statue of Queen Victoria, because usually she is sitting down, but this statue showed here standing upright.
I was sitting in the sun for a while before I decided to go back to the hostel and continue with my blog. There is still lots to do before it is up-to-date again.
The 27th it was time to go further, even there was more to see in Montreal. My next destination was Quebec City. My ride was at 1:30pm, though I did not check out before 11am, was going to the post office nearby, or better, I tried: I found the sign, but had to ask for it anyway. It was in the darkest corner of a pharmacy. I was first at the wrong counter, because I first only have been told, that the post office is back in the shop. I paid around 10 CAD for sending a big letter to Sweden! That was even cheaper as every big letter from “down under”. The time left I was in the nearby park “Jardins Gamelin”, enjoyed the sun and was on twitter.
My driver was some minutes late. Her name was Camille and she looked really young so did the other two passengers: Cindy and Marc. Camille told us, that we were her first passengers. She had problems to park the car, though a kind gentleman did it for her 😉 and I was not sure at that moment, if I could trust her driving, but all went well. During the 3-hours ride she spoke some words in English with me, but most of the time she had conversations with the other two and in French.
For more photographs from Montreal follow the link.
Quebec City – 27th May to 2nd June
We arrived in Quebec City in the early afternoon. Even Camille knew, that it was my first time to Quebec City, she did not explain anything about how to go to the city center. She might not have known it either, because she has the car. She dropped us off at a gasoline station and, like it seemed, a usual pick up and drop off point. I used the washroom of the gasoline station, before I was going further. I saw a bus stop close to where I was and walked there. Entering the bus, I tried to pay with a 10 dollar-note and learned, that the bus drivers in Quebec City does not have change either. Though I had to leave the bus at the next stop. There were a mall, even it looked like a car park at the first glance, because the car park was in front of it. Asking people I found a drugstore, where I could buy tickets. I tried to buy senior tickets, but that was only possible if I bought a chip card for 15 CAD, though I bought a two ticket card, which was for 5.80 CAD with no extra charge for the card. By the way my “Here” map app told me exactly which route I should take and where to leave. It is really great, even if I have to change buses etc.
I found the YHI-hostel easily, but it is close to the top of a very steep street. I managed to walk all the way up with my luggage and checked in. I have got told the activities for the upcoming two days and the general as well. I asked for the supermarket as well as an ATM and have got the directions. Here in Canada the YHI-hostels have their own style, but you can always trust, that they are clean and cared about. This one is more like a hotel, than a hostel, even it is in an older building. The stories are high and one has to climb a lot of stairs. The receptionist offered me, nearly insisted, to bring my bag up by elevator. Only the staff is allowed to use it. When I came to the room with my bed, my backpack was already outside the door. I had booked a bed in a dorm with eight beds, but it did not feel like such a big dorm, because in the middle of the room was an extra wall, just leaving an opening like a door. I enjoyed it. In addition to that, all beds had numbers. By booking a bed you get not only your room number, but also the number for the bed. That made it easy for me to get a lower bed, what I had asked for, when I booked. My bed was booked for 218-4, that means room 218, bed no 4. All beds with even numbers are lower beds. I like that system! As I wrote before – for New Zealand and Australia – there are other kinds of travelers in YHI-hostels as in backpacker hostels. Unfortunately school classes and other big groups are also staying in YHI, that means a lot of noise. Where ever I have been so far, the young people do not really behave well. One and another does, but as a crowd they have always been noisy and thoughtless. I try to remember how we behaved, when we were in Munich or London with our school. I think we have not been so noisy, but I cannot guarantee. 😉