Autumn in Montreal. The sound was music to my soul. I knew that hook or crook, I would move heaven and earth to return in September.
And I did. This trip would be different from the last visit. The cool temps and sweater weather made me start packing a week early.
The fact that Hurricane Florence was bearing down on the East coast was not lost on me. I watched the weather reports anxiously checking and rechecking the weather in Montreal that week.
Finally, departure day and Florence had moved on…barely touching the Virginia coast. My thoughts are already in Montreal as I head to Amtrak for the first leg of my journey.
The best part turns out to be the Acela fast speed train that I have not ridden before. It is a beautifully shaped train, sleek and modern, arriving from DC to the big Apple in record time.
Montreal is a cool 65 degrees when I disembark. I immediately notice the Rock n Roll Marathon signs as I approach the hotel. Although I had a list of things to do leading up to my born day, I added this event to the top of the list pleased that I had arrived at the start of this fun filled Marathon weekend.
My hotel as it turned out, was located a few blocks from the Marathon site. And I was able to enjoy the free concerts, free health screening, free massages, free healthy treats….that came along with the Marathon.
The trip will forever be known as the “Walking Week”. I was somewhat familiar with the area as it also was the site for the jazz festival. What I didn’t know was I was very close to Chinatown, Old Montreal and The Port.
Even though at times I felt I was walking in a big circle, the pleasant weather, inviting shops, exquisite food smells plus the music from the Rock n roll bands made my days in Montreal enjoyable.
Reader, As the saying goes, I’ve saved the Best for last. My visit to Underground Montreal took place on my last full day in the Beautiful city.
I had read the promo pamphlets during my first days in the Beautiful city, but avoided going into any of the numerous doors throughout downtown Montreal marked Underground.
I wanted to devote an entire day to this experience. Having visited the likes of U.S underground cities in ATL, Albany, NY and Crystal City, VA the prospect of seeing the world’s largest known subterranean complex was something I wanted to savor.
Montreal’s Underground was built to accommodate residents and visitors during the harsh winter months with its significant snowfalls and cold temperatures.
Multiple shopping strips and office blocks are connected by walkways and rail. Numerous entry points can be found at ground level and via Metro stations.
The temperature on my last full day in Beautiful city was nearing the Hades point. For some reason, mother nature (or the global warming gods) had decided to backdrop the second week of the Jazz festival with a once in 60 years heat wave.
By noon, the temperature was an earth scorching 95 degrees. I put on my coolest travel garments and headed for the Underground.
When I descended the curved staircase near the Marriott on Rue Peele, I literally heard birds singing and harps playing. Actually, it was the thrilling sounds of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from a pair of Street musicians that greeted me as I descended the clean, shiny, polished stairs.
I was speechless. In front of me stretched miles of shops, businesses, Eateries, did I say Eateries, all within a well lit, air conditioned, cheery, clean, dang near sparkling version of Oz.
Words failed to capture the feeling I had as I glided down the corridors of Undergound Montreal.
So Reader, I will put away my Thesaurus and let your eyes feast on a few of the wonderful sights of Underground Montreal…Voila…
Are you booking your airfare? Amtrak? Greyhound? yet…See you there in September!
Love and Light. Comments always welcomed and don’t forget to Share!
Reader, or soon to be Traveler to Montreal, of all the things I loved about our Neighbor to the North, the people literally ran away with my Heart. Warm, Smiling, Vivacious, Joyous, Happy, Delighted, Merry…they were all that anda bag of chips…(slang for Fantastic).
Standing on a street corner…la rue.. looking at the signs..le metro, la bouche de metro, l’arret de bus… trying to decide if I’m going left/right/ Sideways…oh no, that’s a movie…Pardon, Miss do you need directions?
Checking into the Residence Inn, tired, sweaty, in need of food/shower/a bed… after an unexpected 12 hour bumpy what-happened-to-the-Express Amtrak train ride...
Oh Miss Linda do not worry, Everything is ready for you…your requested lower floor room, one key or two, do you have bags, Ah you are traveling light. Would you like a bottle of cool water. And Welcome to.. .L’hotel de Marriott!
H&M, Simon, Aveeda, Ecco, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Everything for 9.99 and More…High end and low retail grace the streets of Downtown Montreal…like a virtual shopper’s Paradise. Let the Retail Therapy Begin!
Saleswomen/ men greet you first with a smile and cheerful Bonjour. And if they see the dreaded stranger-in-strange land look, the greeting instantly turns into Hello! How can I help you? Language crisis averted.
Pretty, thin, polymer yellowish green CAD$ in Hand... Wait, You mean if I give you $100 US dollars, you will give me $125 Canadian dollars back.Where do I sign? And don’t worry plastic users Visa/ Mastercard/AMEX wherever you see the Plus sign are accepted in Canada too.
Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?… petite dejeuner, No problem….Interwoven into Downtown Montreal are numerous restaurants many with beautiful flower decked outdoor cafes, offering a veritable smorsgabord of food from around the world and their own hometown specialties…
All Foodies know, the best food is where the locals go. In search of lunch on my second day, I heard the roar of the crowd literally coming from a small nondescript building. When I peered inside I saw the quaint tiny restaurant was packed to the gills with Citizens/Visitors all gazing at the overhead screen cheering on their favorite World Cup team.
Bingo! I was seated at a small table next to a larger one that seemed to be occupied by an entire family. Their bowls of soupe and chicken salade sat untouched as they gazed reverently, intently at the players on the screen.
One night after a heady jazz filled, dancing-at-the front-of the-stage kinda night, I took the 5 minute Metro ride back to my hotel. It was close to midnight, and the cool night air beckoned me to linger outside and enjoy more of Montreal. I passed by an outdoor café near the hotel.
The menu was intriguing but I was in search of a glass of wine to top off my evening. When I sat at one of the very French curbside tables, a neatly dressed server immediately appeared and greeted me with a tall glass of perfectly chilled clear water. When I asked about the wine list, she said there was none but what wine did I want. Rose, I replied. Glass or bottle? she smiled. I smiled back…. A glass or two. She returned with a goblet filled with a generous pour of the most heavenly rose.
By day 3, I was convinced Le Gouvernement had issued an edict to all Montreal Citizens to be extra friendly, kind, helpful, courteous, cordial to any guest who was visiting their beautiful province. But NO such edict had been issued. It is just their natural, humanity conscious way… our neighbors to the North. People matter. All People.
Immigrants: Haitians, Africans, Asians, Latinos, Middle Easterners, and more… all co exist peacefully and happily. Eyad, a smiling taxi driver from Pakistan who took me on my final ride through the streets of Montreal said he and his family absolutely loved living there. And, of course, they missed their original home, but Montreal is were they want to be.
The LGBT community proudly displays its rainbow flag at the entrance to their community. Confused by this at first (me and a handful of liberal passengers looked questioningly…What?Are They on display.. When the double decker tour bus driver quickly announced Le Village Gai was a renowned place. And that Montreal is one of the few cities in the world to thoroughly embrace their LGBT communities. Smiles. Sighs. Nodding heads…Click click of cameras followed. Rebellion Against the MAn averted.
I will leave you with a few more pictures of the People of Montreal. Please enjoy them as I have. And don’t forget the most picturesque Fall leaves can be seen on the roads leading to Montreal. Who knows I may see you there…September borne.
Love and Light. Merci Beaucoup. And as Always, Please feel free to Comment/Share and Follow… My Blog
Over the years, I have read about our Canadian neighbor’s concern about global warming..It is a thang…Mr. Twitter... overuse of natural resources, free health care, food markets not food deserts, people first…Vive la difference!
The pictures that follow depict a society where All Lives truly Do Matter. It is evident in the laser focused Street Cleaners who keep Downtown Montreal spotless, the recycling receptacles on every corner (including one for your old electronic devices), the familiar BELL telephone sign above the strategically placed Clean telephone booths…No, Virginia everyone does not have a iPhone… The 10 cents charge for a bag in a store, the no straws policy, the no smoking in front of a building , the Clean, Clean air and Happy, Friendly People (more on them in the Next Post).
The Free cell phone charger machines are a godsend for those who have cell phones…. like my trusty iPhone that suffered a relapse and needed a constant battery charge upon crossing the Border, and even had the audacity to die en route to the Dr. Lonnie Liston Smith set ( I had drank the kool aid and not printed out my $50 ticket, trusting my phone would do what it was supposed to do). This resulted in a good old fashioned American begging session with a young clerk in a nearby Bookstore who graciously offered his personal charger to solve my problem…Mais oui, Madame..(spell check keeps changing my French words!)
These free chargers (various space age designs) can be found at many public places, colleges, and of course the Jazz Festival tent- manned by a smiling, vivacious newly arrived Brussels native and her equally charming co-worker from Eritrea who upon finding that the “charger”machine was full, offered her Own personal charger (another Personne sympathique) to give my iPhone a boost. Thus ensuring that I could communicate with Someone, Anyone that night while at the Venue.
I could go on and on…but I will let the photos do the talking. Bon Soir!
PS…have you booked your ticket yet? I understand the foliage in the Fall is breathtakingly awesome!
As Always, thanks for Reading! Comments/Shares/Follows Welcomed.
The ten day Festival International De Jazz De Montreal held the last week of June and first week of July is one of the oldest and certainly finest of all International Jazz concerts. This year’s 39th Jazz festival featured over 150 indoor concerts and 100 free outdoor concerts including Jazz greats and promising next generation artists.
Yes, you read it right…FREE. The indoor concerts were ticketed but prices were reasonable allowing the jazz lover to attend a number of free and ticketed events.
Dr. Lonnie Liston Smith (with sax great Chris Potter), Seal, Herbie Hancock, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Chris Botti, Al Di Meola, Renee Lee Octet, Dominique Fils-Aime, Jethro Tull, Bela Fleck, Boz Scaggs, Terence Blanchard, Leslie Odom, were just some of the 150 jazz illuminaries jamming in venues that ranged from concert halls to intimate clubs.
The outdoor venue was a centralized location a few blocks from downtown Montreal which could be reached easily by walking, Metro, cab, bike or bus. Many of the outdoor concerts boasted large stages with seating either in the adjacent area or nearby cafés that had been built for the event.
Food was available from established Montreal eateries, vendors, and Bistros. Every palate could be satiated by the sights, smells and taste of food choices from around the globe… from Fettucini with pesto to bison burgers to homemade frites with fresh guacamole and salsa.
Wine/beer/liquor vendors were plentiful and served generous pours and refills. Additionally, the main Outdoor venue was staffed with friendly folk ready to answer any question a non French speaker might have.. where is the charging station for my dead cell phone …. I have a map but where did you say Club Jazz Casino was?
Most impressive was the accommodations for families with play areas including water spouts…many adults took advantage of that as well… game tents, animation zones, and areas of grass/seats that kept even the youngest concert goer happy.
The concerts were scheduled from 11:00 a.m. to the wee hours of the morning. Warm balmy weather with clear blue skies made the event picture perfect. On a scale of 1-10, the Montreal Jazz festival is easily a 100! Check out some of the sights and I guarantee you will be making plans to attend next year…I know I am!
Comments Welcome. A Special Thanks to the Always Friendly Helpful Canadians pictured here!
Bonjour Mes Ami! (French spell check app not working)
As some of you astute, eagle eyed Readers discovered, my July adventure found me in none other than the Exquisite Jewel of a Neighbor north of us Montreal, Canada!
My raison d’etre or reason for traveling in the heat wave of 2018 to this glorious, heaven on earth, 6 hours from NY, respite from twitterization of the US government ( did I say that…please don’t detain me at the Border …. City can be summed up in one word :JAZZ!
However, Little did this starry eyed music seeking, Foodie searching, Adventurer know that she would discover some of the world’s finest jazz and so, so much more!
Five days was hardly enough time to capture the richness and beautifulness (not a word) of this gentle, world class, forward thinking/acting home to champions of all men/women!
Lest, I start sounding like a commercial, I will let the pictures and a few words tell this Tale.
Set your pilot on automatic ( btw Flyboy, Welcome Home And Thank You for Your Service!) and Readers enjoy the ride.
As always, feel free to comment/share/ click follow/ send cash…hell iola, I’m broke now!
(Note: This post will continue over a few weeks of the summer until I have posted all the 💯 reasons. My use of The French language is gratuitous and in no way reflects on the years of study at Jacox Jr High; Maury High, Los Angeles City College and Big Blue ODU.
Dang, all that and she still can’t hold a conversation beyond bonjour, merci, Bien, Bon! Mais oui, Voulez vous…What Patti LaBelle sang…