Archives for posts with tag: Montreal

We drove into Old Montreal to do some sightseeing. I’d forgotten how pretty it was as well as how old. One remnant of a chapel of an old hospital dates back to 1693 and it was really wonderful getting that “olde world” feeling while walking around down there. We got to see the Cirque tent and an acrobatic flyer that I’m sure was a fighter pilot from the Iraq war with way too much adrenaline. We were all frozen…mezmerized by some of the most death-defying flying I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen some pretty amazing Blue Angels flying in my day!

Remnants of the chapel which was a part of the hospital built here in 1693.

Beautiful old world feel to this area in the architecture and sculptures.

Temporary Olympic housing built over thirty years ago!

YES! THAT WOULD BE FLYING TOWARD THE GROUND! Why is it called “flying?” Because he didn’t crash! He kept cutting his engines while doing his tricks.

Street performers and shops all in this walking avenue.

Loved listening to these South American Native professionals. They were mesmerizing.

We were all invited to go to the mountain house of a good friend of Mirjana’s for the weekend. We couldn’t wait to get back into nature and enjoy the company of good people while swimming, playing with fire and just playing. Montana needed a break from all the bicycles in town, that’s for sure!

Was whisked away to the mountain chalet of a new friend. Montana and I decided to take fresh air while I had a glass of wine. After all, it was three months ago when my daughter decided to leave and I was feeling serious sadness from her. Yep, news flash. It still comes through. It did when she was alive and it still does. Nope. Not nuts. Just still have the umbilicus attached.

Fire GOOD!

By the fire.

The lake. I couldn’t believe how hot it was in the mountains! People leave the city to get cooler! OOOPPPSSS! Not this year!

Montana sure enjoyed being in the mountains! I know it looks like a man in a blue shirt is sprouting from her head but we couldn’t get him outta’ the picture and we took 20! Too funny!

Great views and great new friends.

I almost fell of the balcony when I saw this first thing this morning! How many times will you see a couch being moved down a major street of a major city hooked up to the back of a bicycle? They are a professional mover…eco friendly, that’s for sure!

We finished up the last-minute discussions about the website, to-do lists and sad goodbyes and then Montana and I hit the road again. I was so upset, I almost forgot to pick up my camper before leaving town! Thank goodness Mirjana and I are so very close that she reminded me as we got our last hugs seconds before heading out! Whew! That was a close one!

The drive down Highway 133 toward Vermont was quite a surprise to me because it was so rural. More barns and brightly painted houses and exciting views.

Love me some old barns, what can I say!

Love the character of this!

Love this rural agri-land.

Then there was this really cool looking church but I just couldn’t safely pull over to get a better shot.

And….there it was…the UNITED STATES BORDER! Whoot whoot!

Yesterday, Mirjana and I explored a section of Montreal called “Mile-End.” For Atlantans, it’s Montreal’s Little Five Points. I immediately saw a man my age (or older) with his very gray hair dyed red on top! Yep, I was finally in the right place! My gypsy-belly-dancing-opera-singing-daughter loved living in Little Five Points and she certainly felt at home in Mile-End when she was here visiting Mirjana and Una a few years ago. I loved it too and looked for her face in every passerby, at every turn and in every shop. I just knew she was there with us enjoying authentic Italian coffee at Cafe Olympico where more than forty locals sat on the shaded deck watching soccer on the big flat screen TV out of the mid-day sun.

Mirjana’s craving for a falafel pocket sandwich from what she touted as being a great little vegetarian restaurant called “The Green Panther” wasn’t exactly my idea of lunch. I’m definitely carnivorous and was drooling for a tasty fish or meat salad of some sort, but out of respect for the journey and for Ava (who loved vegetarian food), I jumped in with both feet. The sandwich wasn’t half bad! I’m not sure I’ll ever order it again but I did enjoy the experience and the company as well.

As Montreal is very French, I was quite surprised at the used bookstore and shops which appeared more English influenced than French. There were many “old friends” in the bookstore for sale. It was a welcomed relief to all the French street names and menus sans translations! Try driving in a foreign country with a TomTom faking French! LOL It’s been challenging to say the least!

As I’d wanted to have something of a more French cuisine for dessert, we decided to try a little place called “La Crepiere” at 221 rue St. Viateur Ouest owned and operated by a dedicated crepe lover, Catherine Perrot. She created such a beautiful display of my apple and caramel crepe that I wanted to take a picture of it, remembering only then that I’d left my camera behind. My only choice was to dive in, and that I did. It was light and delicious just as I’d expected. It’s a must-do when in Montreal.

We were confident that the $7.75 we’d paid into the parking meter $7.75 would certainly allow us enough time to explore two hours here, we were confident we wouldn’t get hit with their notorious  $45.00 parking ticket but we were so wrong. When we walked directly across the street to get into the car from the crepe restaurant, there it was…all red and white. What a great welcoming. I was just about over the rude drivers who blow their horns way too much (but not as much as New Yorkers…I doubt if any other city blows it like NYC) and display their aggravation at your confusion on where to turn even or that you’re walking too slowly across the pedestrian cross-walk but this was the ultimate unwelcoming.

We’d put in $2.25 and bought 45 minutes of parking. Two minutes later, we put in more money to five us more time. We went back and deposited yet more money now paying the equivalent (buy their own parking meter standards) of 3 hours 44 minutes of which we only used w hours 31 minutes. How outrageous that their parking meters do NOT give you, the customer, credit for the time already paid for into the meter such that every time you put money in, the meter starts over! WHAT A RIP OFF! In the US, you put money in, go back and add more money to the meter and get credit for funds paid. NOT HERE! Note to self, walk next time and leave truck in free parking area!

Ava singing

On a different note, I came to see Una and Mirjana in Montreal not only to help us heal from this tragic loss but to have Mirjana’s feedback and brainstorming help in the development of AvasCorner.org (see earlier blog). Mirjana (daughter-from-another-mother who was Ava’s mentor and big sister) is an accomplished international director and performer as well as having been a professor. Her artistic background coupled with a similar life experiences lends valuable insight into formulating the right format for the site. Needless to say, Mirjana has been instrumental in thinking through the structure of the website with me. Avascorner.org will help performers like my daughter during their time of crisis. Stephanie (a daughter-by-another-mother who resides in Vegas) has been my site angel who volunteered to take on the learning curve for the greater good. It’s my job to stay focused on the big picture and try to raise money for the non-profit organization to fund all I want to do to help performers. After all, they’re willing to spill their guts onto the stage every night just to entertain us.

We should support ALL variations of artistic expression whether it be poetry, painting, pantomime or pictures…it’s all art. Artists have, by nature, a sensitive side the rest of us can ignore or tune out…example…rude drivers are probably not artistic! However, it’s the sensitive ones like Ava who remind us of our humanity to hug trees and care for this earth through recycling and to spay and neuter to reduce the number of homeless or euthanized pets. They, like our artistic forefathers (Mozart, Van Gogh, Modigliani, Jackson Pollock),  contribute something valuable to our system of living and need to feel cherished and have a special need for an outlet of their passions.

And, for those artists like Ava who have mental malfunctions, they need extra understanding, love and support and that’s what we want to provide with Avascorner.org. Our goal is to provide a creative venue for self-expression, reliable websites to educate on how to combat bullying and other inappropriate work interaction, suggested places for healing through music or art and informative sites on various disorders. We also want to give reliable website addresses which provide examples of characteristics exhibited in early childhood which indicate mental malfunctions but, for obvious reasons, can’t be diagnosed until much later, as in Ava’s case. I created the expression “mental malfunctions” as that’s what Ava had. Mental illness indicates positive results from therapy or a chemical remedy, i.e., Bipolar disorders and schizophrenia can be treated with both. Borderline Personality Disorder doesn’t respond to anything but unconditional love.

I’m initiating the site’s focus in Las Vegas because that’s where my daughter performed, amassed hundreds of friends and industry connections, and where the suicide rate is 50% higher than the national average (see http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/may/21/remembering-dr-clarissa-engstrom-friends-and-famil/) but our long-term goal with funding and help from performance-based colleges will spread this effort worldwide. We hope to have a launching of the website and Listen Lines by the end of this year or early next winter. Our theme for the Vegas launch is: “Without performers, Vegas is just another desert.”

Happy Trails!

Since my daughter’s death, her adopted siblings have been critical in my healing process and I hope I’ve been instrumental in their’s as well. As most of her friends reside in Vegas, I was blessed with extended family the seven weeks I slept in her bed and finalized her affairs. It was always necessary for me to come to Montreal to be with another one of my daughter’s adopted siblings, Mirjana and her precious Una. And, although it’s been a bittersweet reunion, we’ve finally been able to go through a process of healing our hearts which could only be done one-on-one. It’s been remarkable. Not only have they embraced me as “mom/grandma,” they have embraced my core, grief and all by making sacrifices and extending themselves in such a way as few in this world do.

Mirjana, a very busy mother , voice teacher and performer in her own right, canceled her scheduled lessons to meet me in Niagara Falls and camp with me on our way to her home in Montreal. She has not only opened her heart but her small apartment and made me feel exceedingly welcome and comfortable.

Her boyfriend, Serge, surprised us all with a special treat. We all went camping in Charlevoix, Quebec where we camped on the banks of the St. Laurent River where it meets the ocean overlooking its rocky cliffs where whales abound. This is about that trip.

The view along the way to Charlevoix, Quebec via Quebec City

The highway view

Longest bridge I ever saw!

Beach along the way to Charlevoix!

Falls along the highway to Charlevoix!

And I thought WE had a lot of churches in the south! Quebec has us beat! As it was my only picture of a church here, I decided to included it even though it certainly isn’t a great one!

Farms with amazing views of the St. Laurent River (St. Lawrence River for those of you who don’t read French! Okay, so I’m showing off a bit!)

Where the river meets the ocean.

We stayed perched on the banks of the St. Lawrence River overlooking where it meets the ocean at Camping Spa Falaise sur Mer in St. Simeon, Charlevoix in Quebec. This facility is erroneously rated Three Stars instead of Five so it comes highly recommended by us. The owner was gracious and extended all courtesies to us above and beyond the call of duty. She even gave us two sites for the price of one. Check it out at http://www.camping-falaisesurmer.com or call 1-888638-1441. The facilities are orderly, clean and new. We really didn’t want to break camp!

Rock climbing in Charlevoix!

Can you see the rock to the left which I repelled and then had to climb back up to get to the campsite? Serge, Una and Mirjana were all quite proud of me. They didn’t know I grew up climbing. This felt awkward but totally doable especially with them cheering me on and lending a hand when needed. Montana helped too, ya’ know!

Montana on the Beach looking for rabbits, deer, squirrels, bicycles and whales? What’s a whale? LOL !

Wildflowers at the campground

On Friday, we took a road trip to Baie St. Paul, a little mountain village.

Breathtaking turns with a magnificent view perched in the middle of the turn!

Unusual architecture is very common here…no two houses the same makes the drive a welcomed relief. Even the farms vary greatly from the more traditional placing of outbuildings far from the main house to several cramped close to the home. This area of Canada had an interesting variation of architecture but it also had something I’d never seen in such abundance: red galvonized roofs and white houses with bright red trim!

Baie St. Catherine where we caught the whale cruise.

Saturday, we took a shorter trip to Baie St. Catherine to catch the whale watching cruise near Tadoussac through Cruises 2001 in Baie St. Catherine. Serge was told three times that we could take Montana on the cruise with us. When we arrived, however, we were told Montana could not go! I freaked out. There was no place to leave her and Serge had already booked the tour. The lady who was to guide us to the cruise ship graciously volunteered to take care of Montana while we were on the four-hour tour. I wasn’t comfortable leaving Montana with a stranger knowing there were horses and dogs in the back of their neighbors’ yard and, with a loose grip on the lease, Montana could take off for Europe or, with a tighter grip, take the nice lady DOWN. Of course, the nice lady didn’t speak English too well but her eyes convinced me she would love up on my puppy the whole time and I’d find her navy blue pants covered in Montana’s white fur! So, off we went.

Marina sign at boat dock

On the cruise.

There’s our first whale sighting! We even heard and saw him “blow” the water out! We were told he was a Minke whale.

The black line of turbulence is a group of seals swimming together at quite a rapid pace for thousand pound animals! If you look closely, you can see their heads out of the water. The white in the middle of them is water splashing.

We then headed toward the fjord where the Beluga Whales are found.

BELUGAS! They’re quite endangered and Atlanta shouldn’t try to keep them in their aquarium. They really don’t do well in captivity. Maybe somebody should tell them to put something in there that does! Duh!

See the white dot in the water? That’s the Beluga! There were several diving rather rapidly and were quite hard to catch on camera.

Breathtaking views

Much to my relief, as we walked off the ship, the lady who took care of Montana greeted us with how much in love she was with her and how she wanted to keep her. She told us of how Montana stayed right by her side and turned over on her back for tummy love. The nice lady was wrapped around Montana’s paw! Thank you God that Montana didn’t take off after the horse in the back!

After she finished telling us all about her time with Montana, I asked her name. It was “Angel”, of course! Their website is: www.croisieres2001.com. They were amazingly accommodating.

After the cruise, we decided to find a beach so we rambled Saguenay where there was a music festival on the beach. We took the ferry to Hotel Tadoussac and played on the beach.

Free ferry boats to Hotel Tadoussac in Saguenay.

Although I liked the idea of finding a beach, my idea was to find a deserted beach but was out voted. They wanted to go to the beach where there was a music festival in town and I pictured being trampled with hordes of drunk people. I was so wrong. The beach was lovely and not crowded at all. There was a sand art competition and Serge and I picked our favorite to be the one that looked like a forest.

Beach at Hotel Tadoussac in Saguenay

Sand art

Boats anchored right off the beach.

Marina just a few feet from the beach.

Montana playing on the beach with the rich and famous!

We went back to the campsite tired but very happy. Una and I got cracked out on Smores (Marshmellows roasted over an open fire sandwiched between dark chocolate and two graham crackers…drool…as in “I want some more!”) yet another night, showered and turned in early as Sunday was going to be full of more adventures in 600-year-old Old Quebec City (Le Vieux Quebec).

First sight of Quebec City!

Beautiful city but Old Quebec City is what we were going to see.

Old Quebec City has very steep inclines but it is worth the extra effort. This is from the park which sits below the palace and above this view. Beautiful city.

The palace above the park overlooking the structures in the pictures above.

Hotel Chateau Frontenac in Old Quebec City. Beautiful old world architecture designed by an American Architect in the late 1800’s. Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt met there during the early 1940’s to discuss strategies of World War II.

Chateau Frontenac

Chateau Frontenac

And what trip would be complete without a picture of Montana? For those who don’t personally know Montana, she’s a bird dog of the English Pointer variety which means she’s a hunter. Hunting anything that moves is her passion be it squirrel, turtle, rabbit, deer or bicycle. And, as there are so many bicycles in Montreal, she’s been quite challenged keeping up with all of them.

Is that a bicycle I see over there?

We enjoyed a dessert at a cafe overlooking the old city.

We continued onto Montreal back to the apartment and Montana’s obsession with finding all the bicycles in Montreal!

We’ll stay here a few more days before heading toward Prince Edward Island to find Anne of Green Gables.

The healing heart tour continues for a few more weeks. I plan to be back at the cabin around the first weeks of July. Then, I’ll head toward Florida to see other family down there which includes my other granddaughter, Angela, who was born during this fray.

Happy Trails!

The prettiest part of the drive through the Adirondacks on SR 3 was east of Tupper Lake, NY because there were streams, old barns, old houses, lakes, lots of thick, lush natural evergreens looking a great deal like Christmas trees all growing wild along the road with mountains!

A lake village

Lake views

General Store circa 1904

Mountain views

Streams!

Old barns!

Interesting old buildings

We drove into a storm when we reached Montreal after driving over six hours. Of course, the bad weather increased as did the bumper-to-bumper traffic as we proceeded toward Quebec to store my pop-up for a couple of days. I was soaked to the bone after detaching it and jumping in and out of the truck a dozen times and exhausted on all levels! Mirjana and I were running behind schedule for  getting Una’s performance on time. As true, devoted moms, we walked furiously toward Una’s school in the pouring rain. Montana and I turned back toward the apartment to unload “stuff”.

After we got settled down for the night, I noticed Montana curled up. As I took her picture, it was if she said, “Don’t even think about waking me up!”

DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!

Today, Una and I walked around her neighborhood in a burb of Montreal which reminds me a great deal of the area of New York City where I was in December. This area, however, is prettier and more manicured as they’re not apartment buildings…they’re homes with common walls (townhouses) built as long ago the late 1800’s.

Tomorrow we ALL go and site-see in Quebec City on our way to Charlevoix to camp ON the beach of the St. Laurence River where its fresh water meets the ocean; we’re guaranteed to see whales! BOY, am I excited! I’m slowing coming back to life with all the wonderful love and support from all over the US and Canada. I’m so blessed. Ava really hooked me up with wonderful chirrens!

More to come!

Happy Trails!