What a warm welcome awaited us from Cydia, our friend in Montreal, as we arrived in Quebec, the very French province of Canada.
It wasn’t all about food and wine, but they do produce over 400 types of cheeses here in Quebec. Plus it was harvest time and the markets were brimming with the rich array of colourful sun-ripened fruit and vegetables. Coming from ‘The Rock’ with its sparse earth and root vegetable / cellar storage produce, it was a gastronomical delight of fresh food.
Without a car we took to the metro rail and bus services which, as in New York, put Australian systems to shame. Woe the day we ever sold out our public transport to private enterprise… How easy it was to traverse this island city set in the heart of the St Lawrence River. Fall /Autumn officially began while we were here, still declared on the actual sun’s Equinox rather than forced to fit a calendar date as at home. It is a delight just walking and traveling around listening to the French spoken sound-scape of a population drawn from most French speaking counties in the world. Montreal is definitely a vibrant multi cultural city most evident on our first day as Cydia took us to a massive car-boot flea market and then a Peruvian dinner in the old city.
Day two we walked the old Port District, once the biggest port hub on the St Lawrence River. Now rows of towering stone and concrete buildings stand near empty shading dark streets mostly frequented by visitors such as ourselves. Previously Canada’s banking centre, the once thriving financial district is silent after the banks moved to Toronto, threatened by the possibility of a succession by Quebec some thirty years ago, that never happened and probably never will. Montreal seems to be still coming to terms with the impact. What could we do but finish the day with a fondue and crepes. Yum!
The Marc Talon Market was a truly mouthwatering feast of colour and aromas. Interesting to find a meat shop with so many choices including pheasant, horse and bison.
The ‘piece de resistance’ : a nocturnal walk through the Botanical Gardens and the annual Lantern Festival. ‘Jardin de Lumminare.’ (Garden of Lights)
This year, Gardens of Light presented both the Chinese Magic of Lanterns and Aki, autumn at the Japanese Garden, two illuminated experiences “guaranteed to please the senses”. What a display! We have included photos but it is hard to capture the grandeur of the displays. We visited the Japanese Gardens first and could have stayed there all night. Truly an experience of peace and Zen stillness. We were all deeply enchanted by a forest of fir trees simply lit from below in an ever-changing pattern of light with hidden speakers providing an echoing rendition of Shakuhachi flutes and drums. Stunning, beautiful and hypnotic…
The Chinese Magic of Lanterns this year, the 20th anniversary, was based on a theme of the legend of the one every 3,000 year ripening of the ‘peach of longevity’. The Goddesses of Immortality and Compassion were well represented along with the cast of characters. Incredibly the wire and silk lanterns are made in Shanghai then shipped to Montreal and it takes a month to put it all together. Absolutely magical and wish the grand kids were with us…
Thank you Montreal and thank you Cydia for everything… and what a surprise to share this time with fellow Forrest dwellers Maureen and John catching up with old friends … have a wonderful trip and a safe journey home…
We will be off-line for the next week as we cool our heels in the pacific… here is the link to our solar retreat on Beqa Island – http://www.kulubay.com/
… our love to all xxx