Montreal Part 2

Parts of Montreal felt very much like Toronto to me, with tall shiny skyscrapers and signs of new construction everywhere. But sprinkled throughout are buildings of weathered stone with carved or cast embellishments. 

We walked through downtown on our way to Mont Royal, which is known for its sweeping views of the city. The hill was visible as we approached, and turns out to be a sizable park with wide switch-backing trails that meander to the top, as well as a set of intense stairs for those who want to go straight up. On our way down we heard the huffing and puffing of the surprising number of people who chose this option, and I'd say the paths were the way to go unless you're in it for a workout.

The streets downtown are wide, like in cities out west, and largely the landscape seems very flat. It wasn't until we crested the hill that I noticed the mountains in the distance.

Multiple carved squirrels perched high in the ceiling of the chateau that sits behind the lookout.

A man stopped to tell us that this church was recently restored, reinforcing the friendly Canadian stereotype yet again.

Montreal's Chinatown is sizable and colorful, and just a few blocks away from Old Montreal.

We managed to see a fantastic Chagall exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts on Easter Sunday before the plague that afflicted me on the second day of our trip really set in. But by then I could no longer spare the energy needed to lift my camera.  

Montreal Part 1: Griffintown and Old Montreal

Those Canadians did it again. They made me want to move to their country immediately. I feel we should start importing Canadian ways and take back some of the ones we've sent their way.

I flew to Montreal a few weeks ago on Porter Airlines. Normally I find talk of routes and transportation methods to be the epitome of mundane conversation, but I'm mentioning it here because Porter took customer service to a new level. (Admittedly, my trip took place shortly after airline employees dragged a doctor off a plane here in the U.S., sending expectations to an all-time low.)

Nonetheless. Let's start with the fact that the female flight attendants wear jaunty round hats, a throw-back I found quite charming. But they also served my sparkling water in a cute little glass. On the plane. When I got to Toronto and was told to throw away my water bottle as I went through security, I was assured that I would find beverages in the "lounge." Right.

But the lounge turned out to be a large area with plenty of comfortable seats, adjacent to a little cafe where you could help yourself to free sodas, water, coffee (served in a cute little cup with a saucer!), and snacks. Free snacks. This all made me feel quite fancy and not the least bit hangry. And then you know what happened next? They served complimentary wine and beer on the next flight.

To this I say: Step it up American airlines. You can do better. 

I woke up early the first morning and found an old canal just a few blocks from where we stayed in Griffintown. It turns out to be a relatively short walk to the Old Port, though I didn't realize that until later. The light was beautiful and I played around with my new lens until my hands were too cold to keep at it.

While I didn't realize it that morning, the huge building above and below turns out to be Grain Silo No. 5, which was mentioned in one of the guides I consulted before I left.

Griffintown is gentrifying at the moment, so there was an interesting mix of construction cranes, graffiti, and chain stores like West Elm and Starbucks. 

In the afternoon we walked to Old Montreal, which has the infamous European feel I'd read about. 

I was on the lookout for this architectural wonder, known as Habitat 67. Now a housing complex, it was used as a pavilion during the 1967 World's Fair. 

The walkway near the Old Port had a bit of a boardwalk feel, and lots of people were out and about. I liked that this ropes course was there amid all the old historical buildings.

Just a few blocks from the water are the narrow European-like streets, where we had a delicious French lunch. Unlike the French in France, when you speak French to the Canadians, they assume you can actually speak the language and keep on speaking French to you. It's a very polite assumption that I had to counter several times with, ok, ok, that's all I've got. 

We found some interesting galleries here featuring contemporary art that contrasted nicely with the old world surroundings. This part of the city was about as close as I could get to the Montreal I conjured in my head as a girl reading Calico Captive. (A riveting story where a family in New England gets taken by Native Americans and sold as servants in Montreal. I cannot wait until my child stops finding violence scary so I can read this with him.)

Since I may or may not have taken 178 pictures in one day, I decided to break this into two posts. More next time.

Portrait of a Small Town: Clarksburg, WV

I remember having a ball with my camera in a tiny little rundown town in Preston County when I first moved back to West Virginia. I've gotten a little better with the camera since then, so it seems like time to make the small town rounds again. First stop: Clarksburg.

Above is a fountain I remember from chlidhood, right next to the bank where I opened my first savings account. (This is a big deal when you're raised by a fiscally conservative New Englander.)

Downtown has some beautiful buildings, but I've also been intrigued for a while by the little subsection of town known as Glen Elk. The homeless shelter known as the Mission is there, but otherwise there's a quiet, abandoned air to the place.

I was surprised to see a large bag of good-looking salad greens in the front seat of this car.

And I think this may be a Slim Jim wrapper. At least, I really want this to be a Slim Jim wrapper. 

Apparently a former buggy for a soccer team?

Love the unexpected spot of color from these cute yellow chairs . . . and I hope they mean that people actually sit on this little balcony.

Just around the corner from what appears to be a residence is an old doorway that looks to be a former entrance to Julio's. I haven't been in years, but it's one of those semi-secret places that everyone raves about. Despite being next to the railroad tracks with nothing else around, Julio's has always had the reputation of a fine dining establishment, known for the lack of prices on the menu (much to the chagrin of my aforementioned fiscally-conservative father). Apparently prices have since been added.

I can imagine a really great outdoor beer garden in the grassy space above. If you could somehow convince a bunch of creatives to re-locate en masse, they'd find some really cool (and cheap!) places to inhabit here.