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Montreal == Barrayar

So, I'm probably not going to get around to doing a really complete trip report post. But there's one thing that eventually got to sticking in my mind, and is probably going to really affect my image of Vorbarr Sultana in the future.


The thing is, it gradually became clear that Montreal, at least the part of it that we spent a week in, is a city designed pretty much entirely without regard for the existence of disabled people. There are stairs freaking everywhere. Can't go into most restaurants or shops without going either up or down stairs. Can't, as far as I could tell, use the metro without using a whole ton of stairs. You walk down hallways and there are just little flights of stairs, almost randomly.


On the last day there we saw a couple of people in wheelchairs, and I don't know how they manage. It seemed to me that there were all sorts of times when we would be going someplace, and we'd go and go and go on the flat, and then suddenly there would be stairs. And you'd have to turn around and go all the way back where you came from and find a different way, or maybe something entirely different to do.


This would drive me completely nuts, were I in a wheelchair. Thankfully I can walk these days, and apart from occasionally feeling like I was in a Bujold novel (not necessarily a bad thing) I had a wonderful time there, and felt something of a connection with the city. It's just a weird piece of setting that struck me rather hard. And a strange thing knowing that as much as I enjoyed being there, it's likely to be somewhat of a fair-weather friend. (Much like San Francisco was, come to think of it.)

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More Montreal, in retrospect

So, it turns out they have food in Montreal. I knew this, but -- golly. Food. Wow. And there were several places I wanted to try and didn't have the chance at, even within less than a mile of the hotel. It was astonishing.


I had both sweet (banana chocolate) and savory (pesto tomato goat cheese) crepes. I had the Hungarian food I described and the Peruvian food userinfo.gifrysmiel described elsewhere. There was baklava cheesecake, people, and when they say they've freshly squeezed apple juice, they mean, like, in the last fifteen minutes or so. I marveled at the "pizza rolls" in the all-you-can-eat sushi place and dragged people back for a second night of crispy spinach (crispy! spinach!) at the Asian fusion restaurant. I had chocolate, and gelato, and a little chocolate raspberry cake, all at Suite 88, which is extremely fine and which will be the source of future pilgrimages. I had...confidence, is what: I had confidence that when we walked into a pasta place where you ordered things in line, holding a tray, it would still be tasty, and it was.


Other things I liked about Montreal: it was kind of fun to use my extremely rusty French a bit, and most people were able to switch to English when necessary, and if they weren't, they were cheerful and friendly about not doing so, particularly if I apologized and said that we were tourists. Many of the preferential Francophones who switched to English for me were extremely concerned about how others were treating us, wanting to make sure everyone had been pleasant and friendly. The hotel staff in particular seemed eager to know whether anyone had been unpleasant so they could refrain from sending other Anglophone guests there, but I didn't have any such bad experiences to report and could make them all a bit smug with my enthusiasm.


Some of the Francophones had the northern-North American o instead of a more standard French one when they said "sorry," and I loved that. Also people met my eyes when I looked at them walking down the street. The population figures I've been able to find suggest that the greater Montreal area and the greater Twin Cities area are about the same size. I would have guessed that Montreal was larger, and I wonder what kind of population distribution we're talking about for each, but the point remains that Montreal is of a size that's fairly comfortable for me.


The Musee des Beaux Arts is worth the time (and free-will donation) for the modern Inuit sculptures alone. There are other lovely things I was glad to see, but nothing so categorically different from other art museums I've visited before. Generally if you're old enough to be traveling by yourself, you already know whether you want to see postmodernist paintings or Chinese pottery or Italian Renaissance paintings. But the modern Inuit sculptures were all their own thing, and fierce and wonderful.


The Jardin Botanique was too big to see everything of interest, but the things I did see were very fine, the Alpine Garden and the "Test Gardens" (which haven't been tests for quite some time, so the time capsule nature of them was interesting), Chinese and Japanese Gardens but also some First Nations Gardens, again stuff that wouldn't have been done the same way the world over. Definitely worth the time and money, and worth a return visit. A series of return visits.


Main complaint: not enough time available to see all the interesting things, eat all the interesting foods, talk to all the interesting people (or see/eat/talk to them enough). Other than that, I'd have to concentrate fairly hard to come up with a complaint about my week in Montreal, and I don't see the point to that.

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In Front of the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montreal.

To be honest - I never thought about Montreal. And when it came out that I would spend a few days there now, I did not start to think a lot about it.

Normally, when you visit a place, you have some sort of prejudice, expectations or ideas about it. For Montreal, that’s absolutely not the case. For me. I had no clue about this city. I did not chose to go here and that makes the experience even more pleasing. Montreal is cool.

It’s definitely not like the US only in French, it’s much much more and very different.

Not that we’ve seen a lot. We saw a mall, the metro, the inevitable museum of contemporary art, the metro, the bus. Much more than the Hotel, though ;-)

What strikes me is the diversity. I don’t even remember how many piercings the girl selling the bus tickets had, I can’t quite tell you how many representatives of all “streams” of society we saw during our trip, but it were (in both cases) a lot. And it works.

Might be it’s the continental root, might be it’s the mix, but whatever it is, it feels good. Surprisingly good :-)

Now I’m much better in taking photos than in talking or being taken on photos, so let me share some views.



Christmas shopping all the year:



We will have to come back to visit this church as it was packed with weddings today. At least some nice cars. The obnoxious couples’ male part (”we are back in New York tomorrow”) took zillions of pictures of it.


In the old harbour a small track was set up.


The average seaside city, it is. Shortly afterwards heavy rains set in.


Car Parking in the old hangar.

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The Montreal Groan


Posted by dups under Quebec , Montreal


I’ve been asked a number of times since I trekked across the country about how I’m finding Montreal. Well, let me allay any fears: Montreal is a fantastic city. One of these days I’ll have to write about all the things that make the city such a fantastic place. However, this post is not going to be that post.

On Saturday I seem to have finally figured out exactly how to let out the “Montreal Groan”.

This is when you witness something so stupid that you realize that this could only happen in Montreal and you let out a heartfelt, almost pathetic-sounding groan. For those not in the know when you enter Montreal off the Champlain Bridge you are directed onto the infamous Turcot Interchange. It is more commonly referred to as “Spaghetti Junction”. It is where I was perfecting the “Montreal Groan” this weekend.

Montreal’s (and most of Quebec’s) roadways are in dire need of fixing. I have serious concerns about the cement mixing that happened prior to construction. So far one overpass has collapsed and several more are shutdown. The Turcot Interchange seems to feature the same cement composition that is similar to a crumbly apple pie. The Interchange was set up architecturally to evoke a sense of future weightlessness as each autoroute merged with another. The lanes weave in and out through the air suspended on massive apple pie crumbly pillars. If you don’t believe me, witness the beauty of Spaghetti Junction as seen from Google Maps:


However, the madness of the Turcot Interchange itself (reminiscent of a knotwork puzzle given to occupy small children) wasn’t really what let out the “Montreal Groan”.

We entered town across the Champlain bridge on a Saturday evening that should have been pain free. Well, the operative word is “should”. Just as we approached the bridge, traffic thickened and within minutes we became molasses being poured through a very tiny hose. Minutes ticked by. First was the horrific thought that perhaps some tragic accident lay ahead. Twenty minutes and a kilometre later, we figured a hundred people must be working on another collapsing portion of Quebec’s autoroutes. Thirty minutes later we reach the Turcot Interchange, and there, shoved to the side as if it were an afterthought, stood a flashing sign exhorting motorists to “Avoid the Turcot Interchange, works in progress”.

And I let out the Montreal Groan.

Only in Montreal would you find a sign to avoid a junction, after you had entered the junction.

Oh and we didn’t see any sign of workers, there was no accident, but instead two main arteries closed and a gigantic diversion. As my friend Mike exclaimed, “Even Satan would have more class than to cause this much aggravation, this is a special kind of malevolence!”

Montreal Road Works: Hell bent on reconstructing Montreal, even if it means recreating Hell itself.

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Oui! Montreal is an island and a fabulous city, too


Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto. Sue Frause photo.


Yesterday I said that I was flying off to an island.


So here I am, in Montreal.


It's an all day affair getting here. My husband and I left Seattle at 8:15 AM and arrived in Montreal seven hours later. That included a change of planes in Toronto.


The city of Montreal rests on the island of Montreal (ile de Montreal), where the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers meet.

It's the largest of the 24 islands in the Hochelaga Archipelago (Montreal Islands). Not nearly as big as Whidbey, Ile de Montreal is about 50 km long and 16 km wide.


The city of Montreal is all about old and new, festivals and nightlife, cuisine and culture, fashion and fun. Although it's the third largest francophone city in the world after Paris and Kinshasa in the Republic of Congo, my lack of Parlez vous Francais? has not kept me away.


Most Montrealers are bilingual.


I think this is my fifth visit to this Euro-feeling city -- this time I'm attending a conference with my husband.

So while he's stuck inside all day, I'm off to renew my friendship with this wonderful place. Today's weather forecast is for sunshine and 75 degrees.




See? My French is getting better already.


Posted by Sue Frause at September 21, 2007 5:46 a.m.

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September 26th, 2007 — evaarm


My entry this week is a little later than intended because of my incredibly fun trip to my second Canadian province, Quebec. This weekend we journeyed into the unknown and visited Montreal.

The first thing I noticed about Montréal is that they speak French as obvious and slightly idiotic as it sounds it’s true. Now Canada is a bilingual country and living in Ottawa has only reconfirmed that with most things in both French and English from train announcements to street sights to food packaging is all in French and English. In Québec I expected it to be a bit more French but it surprised me, Québec is not a bilingual province- it has one language and it is French.

However this change in language allowing me to struggle through with my VERY limited French only added to the fantastic change in atmosphere and pace this weekend provided.

On Saturday we spent the morning wandering through the historical streets of Old Town with it beautiful cathedrals, small parks and winding alleyways before strolling back along the river front. We stopped in an inexpensive café with a spectacular view and listened to the Native American buskers on the street corner.

In the afternoon we headed downtown into the heart of the city and shopped until we could shop no more and just immersed ourselves in the crowds and the excitement of a big city. Once the sun began to set and the shops began to close we found ourselves a nice bar to waste away the hours before the clubs would be open and the party would begin. The club played an interesting mix of American dance music and French rap which probably required some getting used to. After we had danced ourselves out we headed back to our hostel uptown for some much needed rest before another day of sight seeing.

On Sunday we visited the famous Biodome, built inside Montréal’s Olympic stadium it holds four completely unique and separate eco-systems. It starts with rainforest which had colossal trees, waterfalls, parrots, monkeys and even the odd Cayman. Then we moved through into temperate forests turning all shades of yellow and orange as fall arrives and some amazing marshlands with a beautiful array of wading birds and river mammals such as otters and beavers. After this we entered the deep sea zone with some of the biggest fish, crabs and starfish I have ever seen. Finally we entered the Artic region with snow, snow and more snow and allot of entertaining penguins. After a quick lunch and a brief look around the insectariums it was time to catch the bus home.

I was sad to leave Montréal it was an exciting city with lots to see and do but I was glad when the two hour bus journey was over and I could stumble home to my room and catch up on some much needed rest before classes on Monday!

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Thursday, October 18, 2007




Montreal, So Far [Jonah Goldberg]



We're having quite a nice visit so far. This is definitely a town for people who care about food. The French speakers, which is just about everybody so far, don't seem a bit miffed about switching to English for us when we need to get beyond bonjour and the like. One major complaint from pedestrian tourists like ourselves: the maps. All of the tourist maps we've seen here, including the ones posted in Mount Royal park, for example, are not oriented with North at the top. In the maps handed out by our hotel, they point menacingly off in a easterly direction. This can be very confusing.


We haven't had poutine yet, but we will. Oh, yes: We will.



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c'est tous des blogs indéxés par google. copier coller une phrase dans google et tu trouverais ces textes la...


J'ai été trop paresseux à le faire avant.

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“I give Montreal 4 and 1/2 stars. It is a must go!”

Gidget Bones's Recommendations


Embassy Suites


"Embassy Suites on St. Antoine"


History in every direction


I am home after 7 wonderful days and 6 fantastic nights in Montreal! The city was much more than I expected. Everyone was very friendly, even when I spoke broken French to them.


I was running the entire time between work and functions. I did get to walk around the city one day. I started at 9am on Saturday and finished at 10pm that night.


I went shopping, and sight seeing. I stopped at every cathedral and took pictures. I went to Ste. Marie, China Town, Old Town, Latin Quarter, on the metro, there was so much history to see. I went to Holt Renfrew, (could not afford to buy anything), the museums. It was quite cold compared to Florida, but I loved the brisk weather.


The hotel was amazing. It was a brand new Embassy Suites on St. Antoine. The suite was huge! Every room had a jacuzzi, some had a jacuzzi for 4. Some had fireplaces. At least 2 flat panel TV's, a brand new mattress. It was quite lovely!



Lots of flowers and gardens in the city


Negative points...... well the Canadian dollar is worth more the US dollar. Tip: Use your ATM card and pull money from a real bank machine. The rates are much better! Also, I can not forget about the taxes, a whopping 14%. That really hurts. No since in trying to smoke there unless you're rich. Cigarettes are $10.00 a pack. And of course, there is no Diet Mountain Dew.


I suggest going to Notre Dame Cathedral in Old Montreal for the light show. It is $10.00 for a ticket, you are treated to a history lesson on Montreal, and as the curtains begin to drop, you won't believe your eyes. It is magnificent.


The positives out weigh the negatives by far. I give Montreal 4 and 1/2 stars. It is a must go!



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