Wednesday, August 7, 2013

2013 Blogger to Blogger Tour - Montreal leg, part two

What more might possibly be left over to show Bob during his too brief stopover?

Well, there is the city you can tour on two wheels, and the portion that can only be toured on two feet.

After sleeping in and simultaneously treating Susan to a surprise visit by our eldest son, his girlfriend Vicky, and our daughter Lauren, we devoted the day to man-tasks in the garage and driveway.

Cars and Vespa were washed, and Bob prepped his BMW R1200R for the ride west to Vancouver.   I offered to wash Bob's bike, but I think he liked the look of the road grime.  It fit in well with the ADV stickers on the side cases.  When he wasn't looking I wiped the side cases clean.
Copyright 2013 Bob Leong
Copyright 2013 Bob Leong
Evening plans and dinner plans were discussed. Vicky and Susan (Lauren had a party to attend) wanted to see a movie. Bob demurred. Jonathan had little choice and had to throw his lot in with the girls. Bob's choice meant I was released from movie duty (I had already seen what was running in the theaters and there appeared to be no overlap between the very small list that interested me, and the girls' list).

We unanimously decided that dinner could wait until after the show, and after whatever Bob and I would be doing.

The five of us piled into the car and headed downtown, where Bob and I dropped the movie-goers off. We parked the car in the underground parking lot at Place Montreal Trust and set off on foot.

No visit to Montreal is complete without a visit to the underground city. Since it was Saturday evening, some portions of the underground were closed off, but there there was enough that remained open to give Bob a good understanding of the scope and scale of the underground that has been growing and growing since the underground city began in the early sixties centered around Place Ville Marie and Central Station.

We walked indoors from Place Montreal Trust to Place Ville Marie as I tried to explain to Bob just how vast the network of malls and passageways had become. After emerging at Place Ville Marie, we backtracked north on the surface to Ste-Catherine Street, the age-old shopping district. Bob was very impressed with the flagship Birks' store and took a photograph of the massive forbidding doors.
Copyright 2013 Bob Leong
We continued east along Ste-Catherine Street to the relatively new Quartier des Spectacles (the entertainment district). The nucleus remains Montreal's symphony hall, Place des Arts, but it has grown to become much more, in large measure spurred on by the huge outdoor venues for the Montreal Jazz Festival.
The Quartier des Spectacles is now a vast pedestrian mall, with outdoor theatrical lighting, acres of outdoor space, the opera house, the museum of contemporary art, smaller theaters, restaurants, and fountains.

Bob determined parts of the entertainment district to be photo worthy.
Some of the fountains are of the leap-out-of-the-ground-uplit-programmable variety and we just couldn't resist getting our feet wet.
Copyright 2013 Bob Leong
Copyright 2013 Bob Leong
When we got to St-Urbain Street we headed south to Chinatown, and on the way, Bob photographed the most recent Montreal phenomenon, the BiXi public bike system, with yours truly as the bicycle model.
Copyright 2013 Bob Leong
Montreal's Chinatown is no rival to those in San Francisco or Vancouver. It is however a significant presence on the Main, spanning two large blocks in the north-south axis and five blocks east to west. The topic of exotic fruits had come up during lunch and Bob had mentioned cherimoya. He popped into a fruit and vegetable store hoping to find some. The cashier knew what he was after but said he she didn't have any, and couldn't say where they could be found.
Copyright 2013 Bob Leong
Before leaving, Bob snapped a great photo of the southern gate.
Copyright 2013 Bob Leong
We re-entered the underground city at the convention centre, its south-eastern limit, and headed west back in the direction of the Ste-Catherine street shopping district. I wanted to show Bob the atrium in the World Trade Center. In addition to a very large black granite fountain, the atrium is home to a rather unusual display.
Copyright 2013 Bob Leong
A section of der Mauer (the Berlin wall), a gift from the city of Berlin to the city of Montreal in 1992.

A long walk later, having gone from the Palais des Congr├Ęs, to the World Trade Centre, to the International Civil Aviation Organization, to Place Bonaventure, to Central Station and back to Place Ville Marie, we ended up basically back where we started from, having done a rather large loop.  By rather large, I mean miles, and miles.

To be honest, I was a little concerned that I had committed Bob's feet, and his pink crocs, to a much longer walking tour than he had bargained for.  I don't think any harm was done.  Besides, how else to prepare for a late, late, late, dinner?

Now that we were once more above ground, it became somewhat clearer what was happening on McGill College Avenue that had pre-empted my parking and strolling plans on Friday.  It was some kind of weekend-long fashion event.  The pulsating techno beat reminded me more of Berlin's hyper-cool night scene than anything I'd ever seen in Montreal.

Bob took a little video that captures the mood reasonably well. A light rain was falling but it didn't seem to dampen the festivities, whatever they were.
By then the movie had ended, we fetched the car and picked up the movie-goers.  Everyone was starving.  We ended up at Il Focolaio, my favorite pizza joint on Phillips Square, right across from Birks where Bob had snapped pictures earlier.

We chatted, ate the pizza, and headed home.

Another fantastic (and final) day on the 2013 Blogger to Blogger Tour in the bag.

9 comments:

  1. Nice tour! I had never heard of the Montreal Underground, I think it is a popular concept and a way to get away from pedestrian traffic on the congested streets.

    And thanks for the bike sharing link. Bob was fortunate to have such a great tour guide.

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  2. Richard, the underground is our hedge against winter. If you make careful choices, you can live, shop, dine, exercise, entertain, and be entertained all winter without ever going outdoors (unless you take a swim in the rooftop outdoor heated pool at the Hilton Bonaventure).

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    1. One of the popular swimming places up here is Chena Hot Springs about 60 miles from town. One of the best time to go swimming in the outdoor pool is in the middle of winter. Way below zero and being able to watch the aurora. Just magical...

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    2. Richard, that sounds like an amazing experience that all by itself would be worth a trip to Alaska in the dead of winter.

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  3. What a fantastic last day tour ... Bob couldn't stop talking about Montreal (and something about short shorts and cowboy boots ...) Sad when it comes to an end.

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    1. Karen... hmmmm... shorts and cowboy boots, I'm guessing worn by some young lady. And this from a guy with a penchant for pink crocs. Kinky is what comes to mind.

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  4. That does sound like a great day. Now I know why Bob said we wouldn't believe how far he walked in Montreal.

    We saw a bit of the underground city when we were there, but not much.Or should I say - not enough.

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    1. Brandy, should you and Brad make it to Montreal, it will be an honor to show you around.

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  5. You guys keep having fun. Every time I check in there's a lot going on. And I always learn something from you -- a theme that will appear in a blog post if I ever find time to write it. I guess your visit is aging now...

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

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The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.