Saturday, August 27, 2011

Playing Tourist in My Hometown

I feel fortunate as today it is a gloriously sunny day with a gentle breeze here, while the Eastern seaboard is bracing itself for a monster hurricane. I'm praying that everyone and their pets will be safe and that Irene will somewhat calm herself down before landing on shore.

Two week-ends ago, my family and I took off for Montreal to go to my niece's wedding. The wedding, which took place in the Notre-Dame Basilica in the old part of Montreal, was as lovely as can be, every detail perfect, the bride absolutely gorgeous in a mermaid dress, the bridesmaids in sexy purple and the groom and groomsmen in tuxes and Converse shoes. Yes, Converse shoes. Totally funky! I loved it. The priest even made mention of it in his talk to the bride and groom, saying that married life was an obstacle course and you needed to be prepared.

This is the same church where we said our vows 24 years ago, so it was particularly meaningful to us. My niece had been our flowergirl. We felt a bit old...

Notre Dame Basilica

We made an extra long week-end of it and decided to play tourists in Old Montreal on the Friday before the wedding day. 
The details on the older buildings are spectacular.

A mix of old and modern, typical of Montreal.

Don't you just love this garland?

And this Art Deco brass detail, patinaed to perfection?

Un charmant petit bistro...

Even the street signs have an old vibe.

Oozing with charm!

A lot of beautiful boutiques. We almost bought these cute fascinators for the wedding!

A whimsical bronze

Streets of cobblestones that have been standing the test of time!

Street performers add to the local colour.

Eye catching door colour!

If you ever think of visiting Montreal, here are a few ways you can get around:

A beautiful Vespa. Why not? Very European.

This is a bike renting system called Bixi. You can rent a bicycle very cheaply for 24 hours and return it to any of these handy stations that are set up throughout the city. Very popular.

Here is another mode of transportation in Old Montreal.  Although I'm not a proponent of caleches because you never know how well they take care of the horses (I'm always so concerned about animal welfare), I still thought it made for a beautiful picture.

You can take the "metro"(subway).
This very Art Nouveau metro entrance is an exact replica of the ones in Paris, donated by, who else, Paris!

Closeup detail of the metro entrance. Gorgeous!

And, of course, like us, you can simply walk and take it all in:

Hope you enjoyed this little tour of my beloved Old Montreal. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Words to Live By

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world."

What a beautiful quote full of sincerity from Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), the Opposition party of the Canadian Government. Jack Layton passed away yesterday at the age of 61, after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Even though Canadians tend to be somewhat liberal to conservative and the NDP is more on the left, Jack Layton managed to carve a good slice of the votes at the last federal elections. He was well loved and well respected by all.

He wrote a beautiful letter to Canadians before passing away. The above quote is how he concluded his letter. I can't help but think that a dying man must be graced with a certain wisdom and clarity of mind that the rest of us just don't possess, in order to write such beautiful words. 

So today, as flags all over the country are flying at half-mast in his honour, let's take a moment to remember the words of a bright, passionate and determined man and try to live by them. Wouldn't they make a good mantra?