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(This young singer from Montreal has such talent!)

The grey clouds rolled in from the sea and the gulls whooped overhead. The harbour was abuzz with activity as the city of Vancouver woke to another day. There was the deep throated hoot from a sleek cruise ship. It was dropping off its load of passengers who had made the trip up to Alaska. Then the distinctive clatter of a seaplane propeller added to the orchestra of ‘sea sounds.’ The first load of island hopping tourists was heading out to sea. For a moment I was lost in thought, as I imagined the panoramic view that would be theirs from the air. 

 

 

Seaplanes, boats and mountains....

Seaplanes, boats and mountains….

  A shout went out…..”Hey, get out of my way!” The little man hung out of his truck window. He was perched in the driver’s seat with his cap pulled right over his cheeky eyes. He skillfully maneuvered his freight down the alley to the well frequented restaurant. They were obviously replenishing stocks as the warmer weather had brought in more customers. I dashed over the street as I could see that this driver meant business!
The fine drizzle continued and I slipped into a corner coffee shop and ordered my usual….a latte. I blended in with the locals now. They were all on their way to work supporting their cup of morning sustenance in their hand……the Canadian salute!
I stopped to find an ATM and noticed that there was one inside a shopping centre. The entrance was round the side of the building. The centre was quiet as the shoppers had not ventured out yet. It was easy to admire the well laid out shop frontages with all the bright spring colours. It was time to press on and I used a different exit to get out on the street again. The bustle greeted me as I looked around. I was disorientated.

Where was the sea? I find this ‘direction finding’ in the northern hemisphere so confusing, as I never know where the sun is supposed to be! I had to admit that I was lost! I contemplated my map in my pocket but decided otherwise. I did not want to stick out ‘like a tourist!’ After all I was working hard at blending in.

Where was the sea?

Where was the sea?

This resulted in ‘the blonde’ in me turning the wrong way. I had planned a tentative route before I left the hotel that morning. The ‘wrong way’ brought me to a very different part of downtown. Gone were the sleek ships and the debonair men in grey business suits. These men stood in queues and waited. They waited to receive help…… some for basic needs, others for shelter and many needed assistance with addictions. Those who did not form part of the line stood in doorways or sat in wheelchairs. Their faces weathered with deep lines that showed the hard road that they had walked. Sad eyes greeted me as I walked past them. I hesitated as I took in this sad scene.
What were their stories?

As with any city there are the softer moments too...the Chinese Garden.

As with any city there are the softer moments too…the Chinese Garden.

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The splendour………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The joie de vie……..

We rushed down the passage like Lord Cardigan at the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’…..our mission was not to defeat the Russians but just to get to the park on time for Josh do his morning ablutions. It was early and I quickly slipped on his harness and summoned our lift. Josh had the uncomfortable look on his face and I knew that speed was of the essence. We ran out onto the Rue Jean Levesque and crossed over to the park at the church Marie le Reine. This majestic building towered over the street with its slender columns and intricate marble sculptures. We watch and wait and take in the cacophony of noise. The bleary- eyed commuters scramble out of buses and taxis tear round corners. Dogs are an unusual sight in Montreal and Josh caused many somber faces to crack a wry smile as the words ‘bonjour monami’ tumbled out.

I had a sudden craving for a croissant and a piping hot cappuccino. There were plenty of places in this town where they served this fair but it had to ‘fit the bill’. It had to be an establishment full of character with the French flair. This holiday was about making memories ……French ones! So the search was on….down to the OldTown over the cobbled streets and past the Basillica Notre Dame. The bells chimed out as we ran down the narrow alleyways. There it was, it fitted all the criteria! A charming Parisian café with a patio all decked out with the fragile wrought iron table and chairs. It would serve me well when it needed to be extracted from my memory bank, revisited and savoured. We sheltered under the umbrella as we watched ‘the usuals’ pop in for their preference. A limousine pulled up and well coiffed gentleman jumped out. His trousers were perfectly pressed and his hair slick. He was obviously en route to the airport and was going to indulge in one more cup of ‘his favourite’ before he had to fly off somewhere. Next came a lady all decked out in a sensible but tight fitting grey suit with a swish ‘up style’ hairdo. She carried the telltale pile of legal books and leather portmanteau which gave her profession away. She ‘tickered’ along and just made it up the stairs as a bicycle came swerving around the corner. This was most certainly a young student who was late for lectures!

So the walking, eating and watching continued around the streets of Montreal. There were plenty of opportunities to visit the shops with ‘solde’ emblazoned on the windows. I found some herringbone stockings to add to my collection! We took off our shoes on a hot afternoon and cooled ourselves in a fountain. It started a trend and soon we were joined by many a weary Montrealite. We walked past the magnificent buildings with their Doric columns, curved archways decorated with Fleur de lis and magnificent patterned wrought iron gates. We savoured the splendour of this beautiful city.

On our last morning we chose to walk through a different park. A solid brass statue of a soldier on a horse stood proud and bold. It was elevated on its plinth of rock surrounded by a brilliant display of well manicured red geraniums. The brave soldier was a memorial to the battle of Paardeberg which took place in the Anglo Boer War.  Here I was in the city of Montreal, on the other side of the world and I was reminded yet again…. how small our world really is. We are all connected in some way! You can find the connection if you just look for it!

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