this little piggy went to montreal

you know how it is when you've been too caught up with a lot of things during a whole week that you don't know how to start writing about all that stuff? that's my case right now. it's making me procrastinate in my blogging duties. relatives from chicago drove to our place last week and that signalled the week which i like to call "travel-toxic." here's a digest of my travel-toxic week (and i mean "travel-toxic" in a good way):

july 31st: went to washington, DC, the nation's capital on a humid, sunny sunday afternoon and visited the lincoln memorial, washington monument, world war II memorial park, the capitol, and the white house. during this trip, i learned that my cousin robyn takes more pictures than i do--but with a camera that's loaned to her. at last, a fellow photophile from the family! but with greater amount of snapshooting venom. :P i think adolescent hormones have something to do with it.

me with papa abe

in front of the capitol with my frozen lemonade

this is the second time i've been to this city, but it's the first time i saw a lot of homeless people, mostly black, wandering in the sidestreets just off pennsylvania avenue.

august 1-2: my uncle likes to explore never-before visited states and provinces by road in the continental U.S. and canada. he prefers hardcore map-reading to mapquest (he hates computers, anyway)...and he meticulously studies the routes he'll take to his desired destination and even highlights the pinpointed routes with a highlighter. for this trip, he even brought a detailed map of quebec especially for the montreal itinerary.

he promised to take me with him to montreal, and so i tagged along. it was a 6-hour drive with st. joseph's basilica as the first attraction on the list. it sits majestically on a mountain, which defines everything in montreal as i discover it's french for "mount royal." kinda reminded me of the baguio cathedral...but this one is grander. way grander.

me in front of st. joseph's basilica and his statue

cousin robyn with her digicam at the way of the cross garden.

compared to toronto which i visited several years back, montreal was completely french in signs and billboards. plus, the roads were mostly steep and uphill or just within view of the st. lawrence river. after all, montreal is an island. also, the buildings looked like miniature versions of old european castles, especially along old montreal.

old montreal was called such because it's the old part of montreal which they try to preserve the way it is. cobblestone streets make driving a bumpy one, but once you've found that elusive parking lot, you can lose yourself in the place jacques-cartier, a sort of center plaza for watching street performers and sit in little cafes. walk a little further down and you'll find yourself in the long stretch of rue de la commune, where you can get a ride in one of the horse-drawn carriages (caleche). right across is the st. lawrence river divided into different piers, one of which is the vieux-port de montreal, or simply the "old port".

boats at the pier near the jacques-cartier pavilion.

i was every bit the tourist when i hiked up the path towards the mont-royal look-out point with my NJ devils shirt (i know hockey is supposed to be big in canada) and DVD-camcorder hanging around my neck. while my uncle and cousin wore their trusty sneakers, i opted for my 2-inch high flip flops.

notre-dame basilica
was just grand. celine dion got married here. they charge entrance fees just to get inside the church, though, which wasn't so before, as our guide tita bing (a quebec resident) told us. at the side entrance of the basilica is where you can find the "legacy of the popes" (l'heritage des papes) exhibit with relics and valuable pieces straight from the vatican.

the towering notre dame basilica

me at the entrance with DVDcamcorder dangling from my neck

we had a chinese buffet to stock up for our trip back to NJ at the small chinatown nearby. i didn't forget to buy some montreal souvenirs, of course.

august 4th: beach picnic with the family and guests at the sandy hook beach, a little over an hour's drive to the jersey shore points in the highlands, NJ area. it's the closest beach in northern NJ and they only charge a $10 entrance fee per vehicle (half if you're with a senior citizen). it was perfectly sunny to go swimming in the beach, but the waves at sandy hook, at least where we were (area E), were notoriously rough that it can send you tumbling back to the shore when you're not prepared. i myself rolled into the sand after being caught unawares by a big surf. lots of people soaking in the sun and the surf.

beach bums

cousin tiffany taking on the splashing waves

we got to venture into the northernmost tip of the sandy hook strip, where the sandy hook lighthouse is located as well as the U.S. coastguard. we passed by the sign leading to gunnison beach, said to be the "nude beach" at sandy hook. but they say this stopped being one. (hmp!)

sandy hook lighthouse

august 5th: first time to try out one of those drive-in movie theaters, just like the ones in the movies...the closest one being that at warwick, NY. it's an hour's drive from our place, past sussex county. the roads leading there are dark and almost farm-like, ascending up the mountains of upstate new york to where warwick is.

despite the dark, tree-lined winding roads, you could presume that at daytime, a nice mountain view lurks from behind the shadowy veil of the night (haha). we also passed by some horseback-riding trails along the way.

the movies start at 9pm...but we were about 20 minutes late because we just got back from jersey city that afternoon.

tickets were $7 for adults, and it's a double-movie feature on each screen. there are three big screens with open parking lots. we chose "dukes of hazzard" paired with "charlie and the chocolate factory." after paying for the tickets, they tell you which screen to park at and which station to tune your car stereo to for the movie's audio. cool, i thought. my two cousins have already seen "charlie..." so they wanted to see "stealth" over at the other screen. i had wanted to see "charlie" though, but we had to give way to our guests. we couldn't transfer to the other lot unless we paid again, so we stayed where we were and just switched to that screen's radio station. if i had my mp3 player-cum-FM station receiver, i could have just listened to "charlie's" audio. i forced myself to watch "stealth" though. it's basically just about a high-tech war aircraft with artificial intelligence gone haywire. hellooo, "i-robot"??? hehe. oh yeah, throw in the obligatory love story suppressed by war to make things a little more interesting.

we didn't get to start "dukes of hazzard" but i do know jessica simpson got to show off her bikini-clad bod a lot during the whole film. the original wonder woman was part of the cast too. and i guess what's making this movie such a big summer hit is jackass' johnny knoxville. lots of crazy stunt-driving and jessica simpson booty. oh wait, i already said that...

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