Cherry On Top

A Cross with a heart, photo taken near Sherbrooke, Quebec by author
A Cross with a heart, photo taken near Sherbrooke, Quebec by author

Cherry On Top

The phrase “cherry on top” makes me think of an ice cream sundae or something sweet like that. As for me personally, I have never cared for the preserved red cherry on top, but I do enjoy fresh cherries immensely. Besides the obvious Christian theme, maybe that is what this picture is about. Enjoy and here is the official definition for the phrase according to the Oxford dictionary.

“A desirable feature perceived as the finishing touch to something that is already very good.”       Fits this picture very well, don’t you think.

Cherry On Top

Visiting Canada with Will and Kate

Wall painting in Niagara Falls, Ontario
Wall painting in Niagara Falls, Ontario

Canada is a nice place to visit even if you you happen to be traversing the country at  the same time as the royal couple’s visit. By coincidence my leisurely three-week journey from Montreal to Thunder Bay, just to happened to occur at the same time that Will and Kate made their nine-day visit to the former British colony. When they first landed in Ottawa, I was making the rounds in Montreal. This included sampling a smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz’s and then sipping a tasty pale ale at a nearby microbrewery.

Colors of the Plateau, Montreal
Colors of the Plateau, Montreal

But by the time they had left the country, I was anchored down in Thunder Bay, a colorful town located near the western end of Lake Superior. In the mean time Will and Kate, made it to Montreal, Quebec City, Prince Edward Island, Yellowknife and the Calgary Stampede. All in all it was a small cross-section of Canada, but most people up here glad that the famous duo spent so much time in the country.

Canadian Greyhound Bus
My main means of crossing the province of Ontario

What really impressed me about the visit of the royal couple was first of all how much time was spent in the country and secondly what a large cross-section of the country they were able to visit. Of special fascination was the trip to Yellowknife, where they received a chance to paddle a canoe and explore the backcountry.

Bus station graphic, Schreibner, Ontario
Bus station graphic, Schreibner, Ontario

The only missing thing was a chance to visit Niagara Falls, but I’m sure they’ll hit that natural wonder on their next visit.

MY Empty McDonald's Sundae Dish, Toronto
MY Empty McDonald's Sundae Dish, Toronto

Next stop on the royal couple’s North American tour is the good ole USA, where I will be arriving in the near future. Not to be outdone the two visitors from the UK will spend nine days in the former colony. Though the history between the US and Great Britain differs significantly from that of Canada, I’m sure they will have a busy and eventful journey across the states. By the way this is the first British royal visit to the US since 1939.

Quebec Road Signs

 

Waterfront Warning In Gaspe Region Of Quebec
Waterfront Warning In Gaspe Region Of Quebec

This summer I had the privilege of making a solo bicycle journey from Boston, Massachusetts to Ottawa, Canada. However, I should mention that I did not take a direct route, as this picture from the Gaspe region demonstrates. As far as cycling goes, I have not encountered a more scenic route than the coastal highway 132 that runs from Sainte-Anne-des-Monts east towards Madeleine. Not only is the road very scenic, but also the route is flat, a definite plus for cyclists. The only drawback is a rare storm or rogue wave that might wash moving vehicles into the ditch. Here is a close-up of the sign.

Warning Sign In The Gaspe
Warning Sign In The Gaspe

I while I’m at it, here are some other similar signs that I encountered on my trip. The next one was found just south of Quebec city and was intended as a warning against a bump in the road, not low-flying balloons.

 

Ambiguous sign near Quebec City
Ambiguous sign near Quebec City

And finally last but not least, here is a tractor warning sign that was observed in the Petite Nation of Quebec, a small rural region, located just north and east of Ottawa.

 

Tractor Warning Sign In Le Petite Nation of Quebec
Tractor Warning Sign In Le Petite Nation of Quebec

First Snow In Montreal

Winter Mural in East Montreal
Winter Mural in East Montreal

Our first snow fell today in Montreal, leaving two to three inches of the white stuff all over the city. The extra few degrees of cold temperatures is a bit of a shock, to the system, but the snow looks very stately as it fills the city parks and covers the cars.

However,  the wind that whips down the cold canyons in the downtown area takes some getting used to, for it chills your right down to your bones. Actually, a warm-up is on the way, but that means all the snow will melt. Life is finished trade-offs, even among the little things.

My departure date from Montreal back to the states is getting nearer everyday. It is not an event that I wish to undertake, for I would be quite happy remaining here at the border of French-speaking Canada. I like the metropolitan area, especially the abundance of art which can be seen everywhere, such as the mural on the side of the building that is the subject of the photograph. Take a close look at the tree in the foreground of the picture, for it is not part of the painting, but a real tree growing on the street. Still, my departure my Montreal has a good side to it, for I will be in warm and sunny South Carolina for December and January. I’ll still miss the friendly city.

The Baie at Night
The Baie at Night

Montreal’s Underground

An Entranceway To Montreal's Underground

I signed up for a tour of “Urban Montreal” the other day, just for something to do. Actually, there’s plenty to do in Montreal, but the tour, which took place this morning, turned out to be an informative and fun event. We even got to see Leonard Cohen’s childhood home and enjoy a very tasty smoked meat sandwich at one of the city’s more famous eateries, Schwartz’s.

However, the main emphasis of the tour was the vast underground network of stores, plazas, restaurants and coffee shops that can be found underneath Montreal’s downtown skyline. On a cold windy November day, these heated tunnels and walkways were a welcome relief to the downtown streets and canyons that often act like a wind tunnel, even in a mild breeze.

Our walk began at noon and as a result the underground areas were backed with office workers enjoying their noontime repast. The amount of eateries and shops that were available to the general public was astounding.

Empty Walkway In Underground Montreal
Empty Walkway In Underground Montreal

The guided walking  tour took us past the Montreal Hockey Arena to the city train depot, then underneath some of the city’s ritzier hotels, including the Hotel Queen Elizabeth, where John Lennon once wrote the music and lyrics to “Give Peace A Chance”. At McGill University, which may well qualify as Canada’s number one academic institution of higher learning and party school, we came out of the vast tunnel system to the world of sunshine and light. From that point on the pedestrian excursion became an art tour.

After viewing the facade of several old churches we got to hang out in front of Raymond Mason’s, The Illuminated Crowd. This 1988 bronze sculpture has turned into a real crowd-pleaser, especially among tourists and out-of-town visitors, who love to be photographed mingling with the metal figures. It may seem tacky at first glance, but somehow Mr.Mason has managed to create a truly interactive piece of public art.

After leaving the McGill area, we entered a building filled with art galleries and studios and then headed towards the Latin Quarter, where much “grafitti-styled art” could be seen. This wasn’t the free variety that outlaw taggers provide at night, but rather public art commissions awarded by public and private entities. On the surface the colorful expressions might somewhat resemble genuine guerrilla grafitti, but upon closer examination and appreciation, it is easy to see the complex visual nature of the outdoor undertakings that Montreal chooses to display in public. Included below are a couple of pictures of the art.

Official Street Art Executed In Black and White
Official Street Art Executed In Black and White
Outdoor Painting In Color
Outdoor Painting In Color

Montreal At Night

Night Lights on a Rainy Night In Montreal

I love walking around this city at night. So much that I often stay up to the wee hours of the morning, walking for miles on end and then stopping at an all-night internet cafe so I can communicate online. The Christmas season is rapidly approaching so by now all the stores are all decorated and waiting for Christmas shoppers. And for the most part they are not disappointed, for the Christmas shoppers are already out and about.

For you see- up here in the provinces there is no roast turkey and pumpkin pie at the end of November. That’s because Canadian Thanksgiving falls right on October 123. That’s right Columbus Day. I’m not sure I like the implication, but the home country sure doesn’t mind for the October is a long holiday and feast day not at all unlike our own Thanksgiving.

Well, anyway with no November Thanksgiving, there can be no “Black Friday” and so as a result the Christmas spirit doesn’t have to wait for the end of November to get rolling. And overall the transition is more gradual because it begins earlier.

Green Wreath At DesJardin Center

The Green wreath hangs above the entrance to the DesJardin Center. This place contains tons of glass and open space as well as a large Food Court with a free Wifi connection. It is good place to go in the morning where you can buy a cup of coffee or some sort of similar refreshment, take a seat and write meaningless blog material, just like I’m doing now.

Poissonnerie in Montreal
Poissonneriein Montreal on Sherbrooke Street
Night Lights in Montreal

And finally we come to this nocturnal explosion of color. Basically, the digital age has been a boon to nighttime image making. These cameras are not only very sensitive to night time shooting conditions, but the final image can be easily adjusted to create a more realistic color scheme.  I use a cheap Kodak Easy Share CX7430.

The camera has been good to me as it is a good nighttime shooter. However the images are not real sharp and a wicked paralax has developed so I can no longer shoot a daytime picture with a distant horizon line, for a wicked series of blobs develops towards the horizon when I do. As a result I shoot a lot of wall scenes and close-ups. I have my eye on a Panasonic Lumix with a Leica lens, but it may be awhile before I can afford one.

Hope you liked the images.

Montreal In November

Old House on Rue Saint Denis photo by Everett Autumn
Old House on Rue Saint Denis photo by Everett Autumn

I just figured out that I probably going to be stuck here in Montreal for the next week. Actually, stuck is an inappropriate word, for a thoroughly love Montreal and will enjoy my extra week here immensely. This extra time will me a chance to catch up on all those things I mean to do, but never got around to.

The cause of this action is two-fold. First, the bus prices to NYC just got jacked up for the Thanksgiving Holidays, so I’ll be saving money in that regards. My original intention was to arrive in the Big Apple on Thanksgiving Eve and stay in the city for Holiday Madness that follows. However the idea of spending Black Friday in Canada, which celebrates their Thanksgiving Day on October 12 grows more appealing as the holiday approaches.

December will still be a fine time to spend a week in our most popular city until I head south of the Mason-Dixon line for the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

The other factor that comes into play concerns my overall reason for the journey and that is spending time with my family. A week or two wait might actually enhance that visit as well.

Meanwhile here are a few pictures from around Montreal to give readers a chance to partake a glimpse of these vibrant bi-lingual Canadian city.

Color abstraction from two "No Parking Signs, Montreal
Color abstraction from two "No Parking Signs, Montreal photo by Everett Autumn

And finally a humorous look at Canada’s bilingal  program, which is evident everywhere.