Montreal, day 3

We checked the weather when we got up this morning, and it looked like it wasn’t supposed to rain. It turns out that Canadian weather people aren’t any more accurate than American ones.

After breakfast, we did a little more window shopping in one of the underground shopping plazas. This kept us out of the rain, and was a fun way to make our way down toward the food fair we had seen setting up yesterday called, “Les Cultures Gourmandes” – it was set up in a square with food and drink tastings, activities, and entertainment. We really liked an ice wine and a maple cream liqueur, both made in Quebec. We both ended up buying a bottle of each, which means we will have to check our luggage. (Which Delta charges $23/bag, even for the first bag!)

When we went back to the hotel to drop off our purchases, we also had to cool off and change into lighter clothes. It’s not too hot this weekend, but it’s extremely humid.

By the time we struck back out, the weather had finally cleared and we finally got to see some of that good weather that was promised. We decided it was perfect weather to go antiquing. The Rue Notre-Dame is the main antique store neighborhood in town. We had a nice walk there, but we didn’t end up finding anything be liked and would have been able to easily transport home.

We found a nice little cafe for a late lunch, and enjoyed a little people watching in a less touristy part of town.

Our concert tickets for tonight were for 6:00, so we found a little bar to enjoy some local beer before the show.

Tonight was the last night of the Chamber Music Festival. The last concert was a 4 hour “marathon” of Russian chamber music. We opted to go see the first half, including two pieces for string octet by Shostakovich, a string quintet piece by Alexandre Glazounov, and a piano trio by Anton Arensky. The last one was a particular treat since it featured Rachel Barton Pine on violin. The whole show was fantastic. We both really enjoyed it.

We have checked in for our flight, packed our suitcases, and are planning a laid back half day tomorrow before we go home.

Montreal, day 2

We started our second day in Montreal by sleeping in. After all, we are aiming for a relaxing vacation this time!

We started with a nice breakfast in the hotel restaurant, and started off for a day of museums and shopping.

We began at the Contemporary Art Museum, which was interesting, but we ran across a lot of stuff neither of us liked or “got”. We opted to avoid the installation piece that drops confetti on the viewers. All of the gallery descriptions were so hyperbolic about the pieces, they were hard to take seriously.

Montreal has a lot of shopping in these underground plazas underneath the downtown area. From the museum, we wandered down into one of these plazas, and got to see what underground Montreal is like. While down there, we bought some postcards, but we haven’t written them yet. As an added bonus, we covered a lot of distance inside away from the wind and rain. The weather today was grim.

Once we surfaced, we headed south toward Old Montreal and the river. On the way there, we walked through Chinatown. While we were there, we saw a pretty little kite shop (see the picture attached below) While in Chinatown, we passed a nice looking bakery with what looked like chocolate or cinnamon croissants in the window. Unfortunately, when we got inside, we realized they were filled with bean paste, so no croissants for us.

The old part of Montreal is full of art galleries and boutiques, and we wandered around window shopping, looking around, and taking pictures of statues in squares. We won’t have nearly as many pictures from this vacation as we have in the past, but we still had to get some.

We walked down to the quays and walked along the waterfront. From there we saw the Bonsecour Market, and went in to look at the shops specializing in local art, jewelry and clothing.

On our way back in the direction of our hotel, we came across the set-up for a big food fair in one of the city squares coming up this weekend. There were booths being decorated in all kinds of international themes. We are going to walk back down and investigate tomorrow.

We returned to the hotel in the mid afternoon, and decided to be virtuous and visit the hotel gym for an hour. When we walked into our hotel room, we found a little creature made out of a washcloth (a snake, maybe?) sitting on the mantle with some chocolate. (See picture below.)

We had concert tickets for tonight so we went looking for a restaurant near the concert venue. We ended up in a restaurant called ” Baton Rouge”, a mildly Louisiana-themed local chain restaurant. Thankfully the food was good and our waiter was cute.

Tonight’s concert was part of the Montreal Chamber music festival that has been going on all month. It was tango music performed by a very talented bandoneon player and varying combinations of guitar, violin, viola, stand up bass, and cello players. The concert was held in a very pretty church with wonderful acoustics and uncomfortable pews. The performance was outstanding. I have to admit a real love for all variations on the concertina, and he was a really fantastic player. The performers got a very well-earned standing ovation.

Overall, even though the weather isn’t the best (though no worse than it is in Lexington or St Louis this weekend) we are having a great time, seeing a lot of music and enjoying the city. Montreal is great fun.

Montreal, Day 1

After a little bit of excitement this morning concerning flights, we successfully met up in Detroit this morning and flew on to Montreal without incident. We got to our hotel too early to check in, so we figured it was time to get sone lunch.

Our first lunch in Montreal was at a local brew-pub, and we had a taste of their March specialty beer, a very flavorful wheat beer (see the picture attached below).

Since we didn’t have any real plans for this trip, we discussed our options over lunch. It is festival season in Montreal, and we have lots of options.

We scoped out the locations of several concert venues, and found the box office to buy tickets for concerts we want to go to tomorrow and Saturday.

We checked into our hotel this afternoon, and it is really lovely. the room is comfortable and beautiful. and the hotel has free wifi if we ever figure out how to connect to it. We are very centrally located in downtown Montreal not far from McGill University and we can almost step out the front door and go shopping.

The Concours Musical International de Montreal piano competition is going on right now, and tonight was the last night of the quarter finals. We went to see the last four contestants. The performances were excellent, though the last pianist was really spectacular. The competition was set up so everyone played the piece that had been commissioned for the competition, then the remainder were selections from lists of approved pieces. it was really interesting to hear different people’s interpretations of some of the same pieces.

Tomorrow’s plan is museums and tango music.