Good evening my Blogger Friends! It’s Sunday evening and I am in no mood for coffee. Red wine for me!
First things first, however. Thank you Emily from Nerd in the Brain for hosting our Coffee Talk! For anyone wanting to join in on the fun, just click on the coffee cup above and you’ll be directed to her site where you can add your link or click on the link and read other stories.
Now, without further ado… My week. Oy! What a fantabulous week! No, I shall not talk about my water woes other than to say that one issue has been fixed and one has been diagnosed – not in the manner in which I would prefer… Next subject!
If we were having coffee, or frankly, it is Sunday night, so, if you want that hot beverage spiked, just say so, I’ve got a lovely collection of liqueurs that could be added. I might even be able to whip up some cream as a topping, should you wish! I, on the other hand, shall go and get myself a nice glass of wine. I also have white or rosé, should you prefer!
If we were sharing a nice beverage, I would tell you that I had a most wonderful week with Alison. Who is Alison, you ask? Would you imagine? Last September, I went to Tuscany for almost three weeks. The first week was a cooking week with Cook in Tuscany and where I met Alison. I wrote part of my story here. (I’ve got a few posts still to go to bring it all up to speed – yeah, yeah, I know. Way late! Anyway.) Well, as happens when you spend a full week with a group (we were 14 in all), friendships form. We exchanged emails and quite a few of us are now Facebook friends. Alison asked me if I was serious when I said, should you come to visit Montreal, let me know. I responded absolutely!
She said cool… She’d be in Montreal from Tuesday, April 18th, till Saturday, April 22nd. I offered my home for her to stay in but she is very allergic to cats and I’ve two of them. She was very content to stay in an AirBnB in downtown Montreal and I was happy to go pick her up daily so we could do the tourist thing.
Alison really wanted to see our Montreal Symphony Orchestra and had asked me to look into buying tickets. Then Punta Cana happened and I got all involved in the passport thing and the trip itself and…. When she texted me saying, “So? Where are we sitting?” I had to sheepishly admit I had failed at purchasing them. I did manage to get us tickets for the first night but we’d not be sitting together. She said what did it matter? It’s not like we are going to talk while the music is playing… she had a point. I had never been to our new Symphony House so I didn’t know what the seating was like. There were some seats behind the musicians but I didn’t dare take them. I should have. It’s not like I could see the faces of anyone way up in the balcony!
Picked up Alison at the airport at 5pm, drove through the traffic to bring her to her apartment. She changed and we made our way down to the “Quartier des Spectacles” in Montreal, parked and attempted to find something decent to eat. Problem was it was also a hockey night so all restaurants were filled to the rim. Ended up eating two steamies and greasy fries at Lafleur! Sheesh. Quite the beginning!
We made our way to the new (well, new to me, but open since 2011) MSO Symphony Hall to enjoy the concert Brel Symphonique. Fans of Jacques Brel were treated to interpretation by mostly Québécois singers. We were not disappointed. Alison’s goal was to hear the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and she found the 81 members for this concert amazing. I was not disappointed because I love Jacques Brel’s music and I found that the 10 artists did a wonderful job interpreting his songs along with the wonderful orchestration by the MSO.
Alison and me
The musicians are arriving
The final bows
As Alison had been up since very early, she was ready to hit the hay for the next day of adventures!
Wednesday morning, I picked her up and we made our way to St. Joseph’s Oratory. We explored every floor, nook and cranny that we could. Of course, once we were ready to go, it started to rain, so we didn’t take a picture of the oratory from the street! Alison didn’t believe me when I told her that you could always find at least one person climbing the steps on their knees…
The Votive Chappel
Virgin Mary, originally outside, now next to the mountain rock
View from Observation deck
Altar of main Chapel
We worked up our hunger (it was near 2:00 pm!) so we made our way to Côte-des-Neiges Street and into McCarold’s Irish Pub for a delicious burger and fries.
My son’s friend was coming to do some of the plumbing – no, we’re not talking about my water woes! – and I wanted to be there when he did so we made our way to my house. A tour of the mess and then we just sat and chitchatted. And eventually got hungry so I made a vegetable & tortellini “Stoup” and heated up a frozen baguette. Voilà! Supper is served. Alison was my expert stirrer…
On Thursday, we drove around the different boroughs of Montreal so I could show Alison the “Stairs of Montreal” and we wound up in Little Italy and the Jean-Talon Market. It is such a fabulous place in summer but does remain open year-round (maybe 1/5 to 1/4 of it?) We then made our way to Outremont, which has a totally different vibe, drove up Mount Royal, walked around Beaver Lake then made our way to the Camilien Houde Promontory to see a view of Montreal. Though not raining, it was sort of clear… Oh! And as I drove around to the front of the entrance of Mount Royal where there are statues and, in the summer, the Tam-Tam players, I kept wondering why there were so many cops! I sent Alison out to take some pics while I stayed in the car, illegally parked, and she came back stating there was quite the scent around the place. D’oh! It was 420 – Weed Day!
Waiting for Summer
Posing for treats
Montreal – view enhanced
420 – Weed Day!
All that walking around made us hungry, so we made our way to Old Montreal. We had a show at the Notre Dame Basilica (Aura) at 6 pm so we figured we’d have time to walk around and admire the old buildings and whatnot after lunch. We ate outside in a heated terrasse (yes, I spell it the French way because we say it the French way!) I wanted to bring Alison to the Jardin Nelson but it was closed for the day. Grrr. So we went to Le Fripon. No regrets! After a delicious pizza, we made our way to the Basilica and enjoyed the Aura light show. Truly beautiful. A tad pricey for the amount of time we spent there, I have to admit but there was still no regret at having watched the light show.
Lunch at Le Fripon
Notre Dame de Bonsecours
Jardin Nelson – where I wanted to eat!
Alison and the Basilica
Altar Notre Dame Basilica
One of many Images
Ceiling of Basilica
I had never seen these two statues and the plaque explaining them…. They are so representative of the English-French thing that we have going on in our province!
Story of 2 statues
Not yet hungry, we decided to go have a drink. I decided we should go to Crescent Street where there are so many happening places. I was telling her about Winnie’s and Margo and how she was THE bartender for years, knowing many Montreal writers and such but that she had taken her retirement and… bloody hell! Who is at Winnie’s? Margo! Unknowingly, it was the 50th anniversary of the club and it was Bartenders Alumni Night! Score! What a perfect ending to a perfect day. We decided to stay and have a late supper. Introduced Alison to poutine, to boot…
So now it is Friday. Our last full day to do stuff. And I’m expecting a plumber to come and check out the mess – but we’re not talking about that, right? As well, I have an 80th birthday cake to make for a friend of mine so my time is kinda wack. I pick up Alison at 10:30 and off we go to the Biodome or Biosphere. This was originally the American pavilion during Expo 67. It was a spectacular sight then and in 1976, the outside walls (or membrane) caught fire but the original structure remained intact. The Biodome became a natural museum and is most interesting. I figured it was close enough to my house so we would be able to get to my house quickly should said plumber call. There are a few halls closed for preparation of Montreal’s 375 birthday celebration so price is cut in half. I’m jiggy wid it… We enter one of the rooms for a 360º presentation but 2/3 of the screens are blank. Not good. I go out and advise the people in charge and they come and fix it. In the meantime, we go to see other interesting things on the planet, global warming and such and make our way back to the original hall for the next presentation in English. Very interesting and as we leave, my phone rings and it’s my son telling me the plumber is there. Sigh. So much for him calling first…
Biodome (or Biosphere)
We decided to lunch on my leftover stoup and, once the plumbing done, made our way back to Montreal. It was a bleary day. (Seriously, Alison was so not lucky weather-wise!) We decide to take in the Chagall exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Park the car, make our way there and I find it weird there is no one at the reception. Wait in line at the VIP line only to be told that the museum closes at 5 pm. It was 4:50. Ugh. Only on Wednesdays is the museum open until 9 PM. Dammit. A lovely woman tells us, hey, if you want to, across the street at the Bourgie Hall, you can have a concert and a private tour of the exhibition. Well. We immediately crossed over and paid the fee. Oh my goodness! What a score! We had the most wonderful guide Elena (Elaina? Elayna?) who knew her stuff. It was a speedy tour, to be sure, and just whetted my appetite to return before it is gone.
Violinist with Green Face
Tapestry with Chagall Images
Alison, Elena, Me
After that, we settled into our seats in the converted church and enjoyed – well, I cannot lie, I am not a fan of Stravinsky but still. The first half was a Stravinsky piano piece for four hands and the second was a piano duet for two pianos by Francis Poulenc. The pianists were James Anagnoson and Leslie Kinton, celebrating 40 years of playing together!
Stravinsky for 4 hands
They did a bang-up job! By the end of the concert, it was almost 8 PM so we were hungry and I brought Alison to the Gay Village and my most favourite restaurant, Mozza Pâtes et Passions. There is no place like it. I told Alison she must go to the bathroom. And to bring her phone with her… 😉
Bathroom at Mozza
The next morning I had to go to a work meeting from 9:30 till 11:00, rush home to meet the foundation guy – no, we’re still not talking water woes – then finish the cake for my friend Martin B. I picked up Alison around 1:30 and drove her to the airport. Our five-day-extravaganza had come to an end already.
I cannot believe how many things we did in such a short time! It was a blast and I was told I was a good tour guide. Phew!
I hope I’ve not rambled on way too long. It took me almost three days to write this thing as the weather has finally turned (doesn’t that figure, Alison?) so I did come in and out of the house between raking and stuff to write this!
Oh. My bad. I almost forgot all the goodies Alison brought me as a thank you. Sheesh. She spoiled me with Louisiana hot sauces, an apron and a bottle of wine! All products from her home State of Louisiana. Spoiled rotten, I tell ya!
Thanks to any of you who stuck it out and read the whole shebang!
See you next week! I can promise you it will be way less exciting!