Coming in to land at Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport over Lac des Deux-Montagnes (Lake of 2 Mountains). Montreal is the main island in an archipelago of islands at the confluence of the Otawa and St. Lawrence rivers.
There is so much to see and do in Montreal that I can't pretend I did any more than just scratch the surface of possibilities, but I covered a fair amount for one long weekend.
We arrived on Thursday just in time to see Chris Botti and band and orchestra play in the Salle Wilfred Pelletier at Place Des Arts. The Montreal Jazz Festival was the reason we went, but for me it was a return to where I grew up, my first time back. I went with a friend who grew up in Quebec City and now lives in Calgary. I left Montreal reluctantly years ago because I couldn't find a job.
Chris Botti is an excellent musician and has surrounded himself with some remarkable talent. It was a great show.
Botti signed autographs after. I shot this from outside as I wasn't interested in lining up.
rue Sainte Catherine, Montreal's main shopping street
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the organization is now 140 years old.
The former Erskine and American United Church (1894) on Sherbrooke which is now being incorporated into the adjacent MMFA
The Ritz Carlelton Hotel, one of the poshest hotels anywhere. Presently closed for a total reno with condos being added on the side.
I worked one summer in the basement in the Air France in-flight catering kitchen, but I have never been in any of the public areas of the hotel.
Moose art on Sherbrooke at Drummond across from the Ritz
horses in windows on rue de la Montagne
rue Sherbrooke ouest is one of the grandest streets in Canada with art galleries, museums, hotels, expensive apartments, Holt Renfrew, offices, restaurants, McGill University, chic Montreal girls, and lots more.
Friday we took the #165 out to The Town - The Town of Mount Royal/Ville Mont Royal where I grew up. Originally called the Model City, it was Canada's first planned suburban community. It was laid out in the shape of the Union Jack with 2 main boulevards diagonally intersecting in the centre of town.
The bus driver was so nice to us, as was everyone we met all weekend. We asked how much the bus fare was and he quickly figured out we were out-of-towners so he told us there was no charge, we were his guests!
We had lunch at the train station in the centre of town which has been converted into a charming pizza place with a wood burning oven. The commuter trains still run through the mountain to downtown, but they don't need a station anymore.
My old elementary school - Carlyle
I was surprised to see Stop signs in Mount Royal as they usually say "Arrete" in the rest of Quebec. All the municipalities on the island of Montreal were forced into a merger by the Quebec government a few years ago, I don't know all that went on, but some areas like the Town of Mount Royal and Hampstead have managed to de-merge.
We walked by 2 houses that I used to live in. At the second house, my friend rang the bell which I told her not to do, and a girl about 12 years old answered. Andrea explained that I had lived in the house a long time ago and had come back to see the old neighbourhood. The girl told us her name and invited us to come in! Andrea said she should go ask her mother first if it was ok. The mother appeared and it was not ok, which was fine with me. I certainly didn't expect to be given a tour, but she did allow us to go around to the back garden. They were very nice to indulge my trip down memory lane. The facade of the house has been totally changed and there is a new addition across the back.
back downtown I discovered this statue of Canadian and Chinese hero Norman Bethune near the Concordia University campus.
Jacque Villeneuve's bar NEWTOWN on trendy Crescent Street. Newtown is the English translation of his last name.
Crescent street with Bixi bike rentals
a handsome new building at Concordia University
Friday night we went to the Upstairs Bar & Grillades on rue Mackay to hear this old jazz singer Sheila Jordan. Upstairs is in the basement! We really enjoyed her show and the dinner, and I was thrilled to see Bob Gainey at the next booth!
I wanted a picture but I didn't want to intrude.
After the show, a really nice couple invited us over for drinks to their home in Westmount and then drove us back to our hotel.
wow, a 202 year old curling club!
local strawberries at the Atwater Market
We went to a big SAQ (liquor) store by the market and this guy said hey how did you like Sheila's show last night? I just looked at him blankly wondering how he knew I was there and then just as he started to explain who he was, I realized he was Joel the owner of the Upstairs Bar where Sheila had played!
I thought it was so nice of him to say hi!
looking up the hill from the market
I saw a few cranes
a back garden
Beaver Lake/Lac aux Castors, the centrepiece of Parc Mont Royal/Mount Royal Park which takes up about a third of the mountain (one third is rich people in Westmount and the other third is dead people in some huge cemeteries). The park was designed by Frederick Olmstead who is famous for designing Central Park in New York City.
approaching the Lookout in Mount Royal Park
Jacques Cartier bridge
the round building is part of McGill University
we had dinner at Gibbys in the Youville Stables in Old Montreal -no one leaves hungry from Gibbys, I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did everyone else
there must be a story wth the stone faces
the new Maison du Festival RioTintoAlcan, hq for the Jazz Fest.
Montreal is a RioTintoAlcan town. It used to be just Alcan, another Canadian corporate icon swallowed up by foreigners.
one of the free shows, Lily somebody
Theatre Maisonneuve at Place des Arts
rue Ste Catherine
Chris getting didgeridooed on Ste Catherine! I was next, it felt wonderful!
Chris was my room mate in Africa a couple of times and he drove down from the Ottawa area to see us, plus he brought us his own maple syrup to take home which survived the trip in the suitcase.
from the hotel looking towards the mountain with the Montreal General Hospital on top
deMaisonneuve one way westbound with dedicated bike lanes
some back alley ambience near the Montreal Children's Hospital. I felt quite safe wandering around late at night by myself. Not once did a bum ask me for change. Maybe they have all moved to Calgary and Vancouver?
Bonsecours Market (offices I think) in Old Montreal
Old Montreal skyline
We went to see OVO, the Cirque de Soleil show at the waterfront. The seating was really cramped for $143 a ticket. The $5 hotdogs were lousy. The show was about bugs and the ending was spectacular. Sorry no pics, they were very strict about no photography before, during or after the show. Cirque de Soleil began in Montreal, but you probably already knew that.
the inside of the snack/drinks/merchandising tent
I met a very nice American couple who live in Hampstead and they had us over for beers on our way to the airport.
I had the same seat on the plane on my return to Calgary, 13A. I'll be back to Montreal and I'll stay longer next time.
Coming up next: Vancouver, Amsterdam, Cairo, Nairobi, Hong Kong, Chennai, Cochi, & Mumbai!