Tag Archives: basilica

Oh, Canada.

17 Jun

Well I’ve been to the Great White North and have survived! Of course, that survival wasn’t always granted what with torrential downpours and scores of French Canadians all around me. Also, they have giant, mutated beers and fries doused in gravy and cheese curds that can stop a man’s heart in just three beats I’m told. But I’ll get to that. First off, we were up there to see the Canadian Grand Prix, which is the annual Formula One race held at the Circuit Gilles Villenueve. If you are into car pictures or want to read about that, here is a link to my other blog, autopinionsbyvolk.wordpress.com. For this entry, I’ll stick mostly to the other part of the weekend and pictures of my trip outside the car world.

Staying in Montreal during a race weekend can be a harrowing experience. If you don’t get a room pretty quickly, you won’t be able to go, or you can go and just bring a sleeping bag and camp out in the park like so many of the homeless do! Now THAT would be an experience! However, we were not reduced to living like human filth, and so wound up in a bed and breakfast where we had stayed the last time we were at the race. It’s a very nice place with a great owner. This is the extent of my room. It was about 7X7 and the bathroom was up some very steep stairs and down the hall. But I had a TV, a fan and all the city noise I could stand right outside my window every night. The B&B features great breakfasts and a nice porch area for sitting around and chilling though, so it’s not as bad as it first might seem. Actually, it’s pretty cozy and most of the time we weren’t in the room anyway.

My room in Montreal

My room in Montreal

The other side of my room in Montreal

The other side of my room in Montreal

B&B porch

B&B porch

Downtown Montreal is a nice place as well, but it gets really crowded during race weekends. They have some cool stuff like this permanent music venue right next to the museum of contemporary art. Here you can see a dude playing an acoustic guitar. He was horrible and so was his music, but they all seemed to love what he was playing. Suffice it to say, I moved on pretty quickly.

Music venue downtown Montreal

Music venue downtown Montreal

Some musician who was really lame but everyone loved

Some musician who was really lame but everyone loved

This giant church here is St. Joseph’s Oratory. It is the third largest domed basilica in the world and the largest church in Canada. It takes a ton of effort to walk up all of those stairs, but the real test is that middle part that is differently colored. Those are for people who want to go up to the summit on their knees while praying. That is true dedication and we even saw someone doing just that.

St. Joseph's Oratory

St. Joseph's Oratory

St. Joseph's Oratory

St. Joseph's Oratory

View from St. Joseph's Oratory

View from St. Joseph's Oratory

Praying on knees up every single step

Praying on knees up every single step

Near the basilica is a huge cemetery. In the past I have blogged about the huge Lakewood cemetery that is near me, but this place is insane. It houses over 1 million graves and there is a lot of room to expand. It is so large that it would have taken me probably two whole days just to explore it, so needless to say I didn’t get to spend the time in here checking out cool old gravesites like I would have liked. But I snapped a few pictures of some of the more famous (and close-at-hand) tombstones there. In fact, the guy who composed the national anthem, “O Canada,” is buried somewhere in this place, though I didn’t venture far enough in to find his final resting place.

Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery

Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery

This is the gravesite for the guy who designed the cemetery. Thought he would have better digs.

Rocket

Grave of Maurice "Rocket" Richard, famous Montreal Canadiens hockey player.

Some other cool things about Montreal include the fact that the city itself has a nice old part and a new downtown, so you can stroll down a narrow, cobblestone street and then get dressed up in the evening and go to where the action is downtown. Montreal also has giant beers for about $6 (giant in that they are 32 oz, or 2 ¾ beers) and they also have this great Jack and Cola in a can. No more need to mix, just grab your six pack and go! Neat, and also my new favorite!

Jack and Cola

Jack and Cola in a can

Giant Molson

Giant Molson

If you are ever planning on taking a trip somewhere in Canada (or want to experience a false France for pretty cheap), I’d recommend Montreal. It’s a great city with a very French flair and feels thoroughly European throughout. It’s like flying to France without the hassle of an eight hour flight, although you still get the hassle of snobby, pushy and somewhat rude French Canadians.

View of Montreal

View of Montreal

View of Montreal

View of Montreal

Downtown streets on race weekend

Downtown streets on race weekend

Downtown streets on race weekend

Downtown streets on race weekend

Entrance to Chinatown

Entrance to Chinatown

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Old Montreal at night

Old Montreal at night

Advertisements

Basilica Block Party 2010

14 Jul

Last weekend I hit up the Basilica Block Party with some peeps from work. Weezer was the main act and based on the ringing in my ears into the next day, they were worth the ticket. I’ve seen Weezer before in concert, but never an outdoor one like this, and never as a headlining act. They really put on a good show and Rivers was even scaling the scaffolding around the stage, tossing toilet paper to the dudes in the porta potties and kicking beach balls back into the crowd.

St. Mary Basilica

St. Mary Basilica

Basilica Block Party

Basilica Block Party - Minneapolis Skyline

The night started at Joe’s Garage with some really bad service (they most likely didn’t want to serve us happy hour prices and were trying to smoke us out so we couldn’t order) but eventually we ordered us up some cheap beers and apps and got cracking. More beer followed, as did some shots, and, incase you didn’t know, all music sounds infinitely better when you have an enhanced blood alcohol content. Once inside the gates, I was expecting the beers to be overly priced and underly sized. To my surprise the beers were only $5 and were 16oz. Of course, they were only Buds and Golden Draft Lights, but a beer is a beer – well not really, but at this point in the day, who was I to question what sort of beer went into my belly? Although there are many acts scheduled to play, we sort of got a late jump on things, but I did happen to catch the end of the Grace Potter & The Nocturnals set. They play sort of a country/rock combo and they are fairly high energy. The band sounded good and she looked good and all was right with the world. Plus, the day itself was really great and that just makes everything better.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Weezer was then scheduled to start at 9:00 and so we all headed back to the main stage, which has the city of Minneapolis for a backdrop. Seeing as I had never been to one of these things before, it was actually really cool to have the city in the background of the concert like that. The crowd was great too. It was so crowded and packed that simply trying to venture to the porta potties would be like trying to venture off in search of Colonel Percy Fawcett (look this up if you don’t know what I mean). Frankly, it would be better, easier and a whole lot more “in the moment” to simply pop a squat or let it all hand out and just whiz where you stood. Really, who’s going to notice? I didn’t do that, but some of our party did venture off in search of the Biffies and were never heard from again… ok, so they were, but they just had to watch the entire concert from farther away and by themselves.

St. Mary Basilica

St. Mary Basilica

Basilica Block Party

Basilica Block Party - Main Stage

Basilica Block Party Weezer

Basilica Block Party Weezer

Basilica Block Party Weezer

Basilica Block Party Weezer

Basilica Block Party Weezer

Basilica Block Party Weezer

Seeing as we were all super packed together, you would think it impossible for me to find a sweet pair of aviators on the ground, but you would be the most wrong you could ever think of. So, yes, I looked down at one point and found some sweet shades. It was cool. Weezer then proceeded to play all the songs you would expect them to and the lights and the beer and the crowd and the cooking demonstration in front of me all made it a very awesome concert experience. Plus, my money went toward a fairly decent cause, which was the restoration of the Basilica of Saint Mary. All in all, a good time.

Aviator Shades

Aviator Shades

And as a final note, I checked out some of the past acts at this thing and it seems like they get better every year. I’m pretty sure that Weezer was the biggest name act they have had and I’m anticipating another big name for next year’s show.

Basilica Block Party Weezer

Basilica Block Party Weezer

Basilica Block Party Weezer

Basilica Block Party Weezer

Basilica Block Party Weezer

Basilica Block Party Weezer