Saturday, March 24, 2012

Somewhat bumpy landing

Not in actual fact. Our flights home were smooth and effortless and several days ago. No, what I mean is me landing home with an excess of jetlag. Absolutely no idea why it should be so, but there we go, we take the punches!

Worth it, though. I loved my first experience of Canada.

So, a quick recap. Which will mainly be public art. Without wishing in any way to be insulting, I mostly didn't find Ottawa or Montreal as photogenic as Quebec City. But in our wanderings around, we did see some interesting, or downright stunning art of various kinds.

We had read that the National Gallery in Ottawa was closed on Mondays - still not sure, but we hadn't really got time to do it justice. But we did see these...

But this was what I had really come for.

This may seem a strange piece of sculpture for an arachnophobe to want to see, but I am very glad that I did. Awesome in the proper sense of the word

We walked back to our hotel via a well-known market whose name I have completely forgotten, shame to say. I think Bywater, but I might be getting confused with a Montreal Metro station called Atwater.

Or vice versa - see, jetlag still not completely gone.

A curious thing, but quite fun.

After a nice evening out with god-daughter and my friend, we got the train back to Montreal the next day WITHOUT PROBLEMS.

Now, I've thought about this quite a bit since. But at first appearances, I did not so much like Montreal. On reflection, I think it grew on me after the first couple of days. The only way to be sure, of course, is to go back. I have warned the DSM........

This restaurant sign was appealing. As was this jolly chap on a fountain.

I liked these hearts outside the Musee des Fine Arts.

I also very much enjoyed the Exhibition inside, on the work of an artist that I had never heard of before, Lyonel Feininger. An extremely well set out show, lots of information. Need to do some more investigation.

We had a lot of time on Sunday, with transatlantic flights being evening ones. We saved a little local museum for then. Very interesting and enjoyable, too - devoted to the artisans of the locality, so lots of ironwork, tinsmithing, glass-blowing, joinery and even some textile. Very, very little. And with a small - puzzle? Although, I think not.

Some few things related to weaving, a pair of hand carders as well, all in a glass case. Along with an object maybe two feet long, a fairly slender shafted thing with the shaft split in to four at one end, these four sections curved into a more or less egg-shaped "cage". A few wisps of fleece put within.

Labelled "spindle". For producing yarn.

Ahem. Probably - not. Try "distaff"?

I did go and talk to the nice young man at the desk. I was very pleasant. After all, I could have been wrong (I wonder if I will ever find out? I did leave my email address.)

Before finishing this post and leaving Canada, back one day to the Saturday in Montreal, which was St Patrick's Day. I have never been anywhere other than the UK on this occasion before, at least to the best of my knowledge. Who would have thunk? The streets of Montreal were teeming, positively teeming with people of all genders, sizes, shapes, ages dressed pretty much entirely in green. Often with sparkles. And face paint.

I risked a quick photo of one of the bars. There was to me at least a certain irony in the name of this one! Still, it was nice to see so many people having a good and relatively unrowdy party. The weather was lovely, warm and sunny - maybe that's it. An excuse for a knees up as the spring starts up.. That's an idea I could live with.

Well, let's hope that my head sorts itself out smartish, things to do and places to go. I managed to get to AH yesterday, had a lovely day, and it was nice to be back.

I have several nice yarns I have spun with shawls in mind, and I want to get going on one of those.

Oh - and note to self.....the clocks change tonight!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Let the train take the strain......

A brief picture-less post about travelling. I'm on a slow internet connection at the moment and don't want to try up and down loading photographs. I'll wander around the house at some later point and see if I can find a better position than my present one.

We have left Quebec, visited Ottawa and now arrived back in Montreal. Sounds simple? Maybe not so.

I bravely telephoned to order a taxi to get us to the station in Quebec, seemingly succesfully, slightly to my amazement. Only, the next morning, having got everything down to the street to wait for it - nada. Buggrit. Mobile phone didn't want to work, so I had to go back upstairs with the competer and use Skype. Spoke to taxi company, they said they would dispatch a taxi immediately. Which they did. Hurrah!!

Loads of time at the station - an hour before our train for Montreal left. (We both like to allow lots of time in case anything should go wrong.....) So, we sat and had a leisurely cup of coffee, then moseyed on over to the barrier to have our tickets checked.

"Oh dear" says nice man -, if you see what I mean fortunately an Anglo - "you've missed your train." Er - no. We yessed and noed back and forth a bit until he thinks to ask us if we actually knew that the clocks had changed the night before......

Silence, quickly followed by huge embarrasment Not to mention panic, visions of having to rearrange all our plans. Horrors.

Anyway, our ticket person was brilliant, and told us to get the bus to Montreal, a taxi to the railway station and we might make our connection. It didn't seem as if we would, but the buses run to time as well, and we got in early, if you see what I mean. We gave a taxi driver a bit of fun by explaining the situation and asking him to drive fast, and we made the train by the skin of our teeth.

We caused much amusement to various people - seeing us rushing along, one guy told us we had loads of time, go back and do more shopping. The chap with the refreshment cart, when we asked him if he had wine (we deserved it!) said yes, he had six, was that enough??

But we got there, and Ottawa was brilliant. Perhaps more later. But for now, we are safely in our last lodging, very luxurious, in Montreal. Quite tired, and glad for a bit of peace!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Still in Quebec

We are having such a good time just simply wandering around the neighbourhood and the Old City.

Brightly painted houses just down the street that we are staying on.

And on the main drag a little way up the hill (there's a lot of hills!)

In between the two...

Which has been providing us with regular lovely carillons - if that is the word - several times a day.

And how could I resist this!

Yesterday, we went back in to the Old City, and down the vertiginous funicular to the lower city. I'm just going to include a few photos, you can always click through to Flickr if you want to see more.

It is very picturesque, helped by the trend to seemingly keep Christmas decorations up all through the winter, charming buildings, and interesting murals.

We have just pottered locally today. I am enormously proud of myself, having negotiated attempting to shop for boots (a fail, though, as they didn't fit) and other odds and ends, all in French. What is more - and this was the really difficult bit - I made the phone call to order a taxi to get us to the station tomorrow lunchtime. So much harder when you can't get visual clues, but I think I did it ok!

So tomorrow we are of to Ottawa to visit my god-daughter and her mum who just happens to visiting at the same time. And then on Tuesday to Montreal, where amongst other delights, there are yarn shops.

Speaking of which - the boring scarf is growing, but it is a good job that the weather has not been as cold as it might have been!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Somewhere else

I suppose that because I have travelled in the US quite a bit, I had not quite appreciated just how different Quebec was going to be. Yeah, I knew all about it being the Francophone region, but had not appreciated that there would be quite a few people who didn't speak English at all. But, hey, that's fine - I can still summon up enough French to get by, and it is really good fun having to do so. And people like you to make the effort anyway, and it is only polite to do so.

We were only very briefly in Montreal on our way to Quebec City. Easy to get a shuttle bus in to town that stopped right outside our hotel (sheer coincidence) We were able to have a very leisurely start on Monday morning, getting to the central station in plenty of time to negotiate the ticket situation - which again was ll really easy.

Montreal station is an experience all by itself, so we were glad to have plenty of time to look around and pick up a sandwich and salad lunch. The train journey was effortless and comfortable.

We have found ourselves a really interesting place to stay; old and slightly shabby, but very comfortable and very well placed for pottering about. The apartment is only a couple of streets away from one of the main roads leading in to the Old City - certainly walking distance. A residential area, lots of shops and restaurants, quite funky. Today we found a brilliant wholefood cooperative for su[pplies, but are spoiled for choice with places to eat.

Other than that - it is sunny, cold, snowy and amazingly French in appearance, and indeed in sound - there are churches nearby that ring bells at frequent intervals, and i can easily imagine myself somewhere in the French countryside. Lovely!

Selection of images! Nothing all that exciting so far...

I'm still a bit brain-dead, I am finding - keeping track of photos is proving somewhat tricky! Better stop for a cup of tea, and do more tomorrow.