Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Montreal - Marche aux Puces et Pate

Sunday morning dawned cold and foggy. Ahhhhhhh, summer in the great North East. There has been a lot of grousing on various blogs about the weather. It's not just me!

We took the subway into the St. Michel neighborhood. I had seen an article in a high zoot shelter magazine about this particular Marche aux Puces (Flea Market). So, we went down to see what they had. They had a lot!

This is where old TV's go to die. Look to the left of the TV tower, there is an ancient washing machine with a mangle there.

They had an amazing amount of clock radios, old tape decks, and like that.

This is the 60's corner. Check out the painted glasses and the tray.

Love the chairs.

More stuff.

There were a lot of film cameras. We also saw quite a selection of enlargers.

This is something I've never seen before. This is an old Raleigh. Look at the hub, the round thing that looks like a disc brake is part of an early bike computer. There's a sensor that hovers over the ring and sends data to the computer on the handle bars.

After the flea market there was the obligatory trip to the grocery store, since we always forget something. This is the IGA. They have about 10 feet dedicated to pate. One can buy it in bulk at Costco.

Today Jim is going for a haircut. With any luck it will quit raining for awhile.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Montreal - More bicycling and walking

Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal. The basilica's dome is 97 meters high, and is second in height only to St. Peter's basilica in Rome. The shrine is dedicated to St. Joseph. Inside, it's large enough to accomodate 10,000 people.

These are the steps leading to the doors. Many people pray the rosary and go up kneeling.

The votive chapel. The church has a history of healing, and there are many canes and crutches in the chapel, from people who used to need them.

After leaving the church we were going to walk up to the park and Mont Royal. A careful re-examination of the map revealed that it was waaaay too far, so we went back and got the truck. Good thing. On our walk we noticed some more of the very dense living quarters one sees in Montreal. These reminded us of something from a Soviet bloc country.

We had a couple of nice days, so we were able to ride. This is the draw bridge to the bike route in its up position. There were many people out, it was a Quebec holiday. The Fete Nationale. I think it used to be a religious holiday, but now it competes with Canada day. We saw an interesting news clip covering a smaller music festival that had required extra security to be provided. Two of the bands were Anglophone and there had been threats against them. One gentleman being interviewed was just livid that there would be English sung at a Quebec holiday. As an aside, although there is an insistence that Quebec is a Francophone society, we have had zero issues with talking to people. After hearing our American tinged "bonjour", about 98 percent of the people we've spoken to switch to English. So, while we can't read anything, we can talk to people.

This is the bridge that goes from the causeway over to the Ile des Soeurs. It's pretty dang cool.

There are two man made islands that can also be reached from the bike way. They were the site of the summer Olympics and have now been turned into a large park. This is the Biosphere Museum, designed by Buckminster Fuller. It's a science and education center.

This is a former Formula One race track. There was racing for 31 years at the Circuit Giles Villeneuve until they were dropped in favor of Abu Dhabi in the 2009 season. It's on one of the two islands and is part of the parks there. It's used now for NASCAR Nationwide series and other classes of racing. The rest of the time it's open to roller bladers and bikes. Many people go there to ride laps on their bikes for exercise because of its nice road surface.

We saw this when we returned to the truck. What, you may ask, is that? It's a marmot. They're all over the place here.

This is a better picture off the web. Doesn't it remind you of Caddy Shack?

Thursday saw another walking tour of Montreal. We got off at Peel and walked Ste. Catherine and Sherbrooke streets. Ooooh la la! Very nice shopping. We saw this at a Olgivy, which is a lovely department store. It's nicely done, it gives one a way to dry the decanter after use and washing.

Olgivy was having a sale on Lacoste alligator clothing. There was a huge line for it. The rest of the store was barely populated, they were all queueing for Lacoste.

Back on the street, we continued walking. This is a statue of Emily Carr and her friends. She was an artist and writer, born in BC.

More Montreal.

More public art.

This building is ancient. They appear to be rehabbing it. All of the interiors are gone. All that's left is the shell.

These are apartments. Is this a cool building or what?

Details on the building.

Detail from the entrance of the Ritz-Carlton on Sherbrooke. It's closed, and is now a condo project.

More Montreal.

Maison des Cyclists. This is at the intersection of the two major bike routes in Montreal. They have a cafe and they have bike guides for the area. We bought one book of Montreal rides and one for the province of Quebec. One wonders if we will use either one due to the climate.

This is the area around the Mont Royal park. It's a younger population than the area around Sherbrooke.

Market at the Metro station.

Friday we drove into Vermont to see what it looks like. It looked wet! The weather here continues rainy with massive thunderstorms. I think it's karmic payback for the beautiful winter we had in Tucson. Anyway, we drove down the spit of land that runs between New York and Vermont. It's signed as the Lake Champlain Bikeway. It would be a great ride. Anyway, the area we saw is quite lovely; lots of lake views, lush and really green.

Is it not a lovely view?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Montreal - Little Italy and The Village

No riding Sunday, the low pressure system off the east coast continues to spin, sending undesirable weather our way. Instead we metro'ed in to two of the recommended walking tours in the Monteal guide book. First up was Little Italy.
There used to be a heavy concentration of Italian people living in the area. Over time, the Italian population has been diluted with other ethnicities.

This is a walking neighborhood. There are lots of stores surrounded by residential areas. People use the rolling carts for groceries and whatever.

This woman was doing a pretty good business.

There's a tradition every July 1st in Montreal: People move. Lots of them.

The city of 1.3 million people, as well as the whole province of Quebec, has a designated moving day. Based on a decades-old tradition, large numbers of leases begin and end on July 1, creating a kind of moving madness of jammed freight elevators, clogged driveways and overbooked movers. The official relocation day occurs after the area's harsh winters and during the summer break from school. It also falls on Canada Day, a national holiday, so most offices and stores are closed.

The way renting works here, one provides their own washing machine and refrigerator. These go with you when you move. The are many many many apartments with these outside stairs, many of them are spiral staircases. Can you imagine getting your washing machine down those stairs?

Big church in Little Italy.

There is a shopping area.

There was a fabulous grocery store there. They had the most amazing selections of pasta, olive oil, canned tomatoes from Italy, cheeses, and other interesting stuff. This is the kitchen gadget section.

Then it was off to the area known as The Village. Montreal prides itself on being a diverse and welcoming city. Unless you're an Anglophone. This is the area heavily populated by gay, lesbian and trans-gendered people. Notice the exterior of the metro station.

Every weekend during the summer they close St. Catherine street and turn it into a pedestrian walk way.

The Oscar Wilde Pub.

Not sure what this is. It's big.

I took this down one of the residential back streets. I love that they embedded a plate in the stucco.

So, that was Sunday. The low continues to fight off the high pressure system and the weather continues to be undesirable for riding. Today I believe we shall go to Mount Royal and do more walking.

On another note. When the virtues of digital over the air broadcast TV were being extolled, does anyone remember any mention of de-pixilating when the wind blows? Or that when it's raining hard, stations would just go off the air? Did anyone mention to the users of over the air broadcast that TV would only work when the weather is good? We're dependent on the antenna for most of the summer and I have to tell you, when the picture is good, it's stunning, but for the most part this is sub-par. Analog might not have been as crystal clear, but at least it stayed on. So, that's my report from TV land.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Montreal - Route Verte Discovery

One of these days, I am going to deeply and thoroughly comprehend the fact that nothing is as it is portrayed on the web. One of the Quebec province's crown jewels of cycling is the Route Verte. Hundreds of kilometers of bucolic, safe bicycling. Sort of like this picture from one of their websites. Isn't that lovely? So, we hauled out the map and went looking for a leg of it that's south of Montreal and not too far from the RV park. Silly Americans!

This was our first clue that we would not find a similarly idyllic bike path. It's a shared use trail, with snow mobiles.

It's not paved. Skinny bike tires need not apply here due to fairly deep gravel. While it is nice that tractors, cars, ATVs, motorcycles, dogs and horses are banned, it would also be nice if the mapping could differentiate between paved and not paved sections. So, we were fairly disappointed. On the other hand, now we know and we will not factor in the presence, or lack thereof, of the trail in travel planning.

We went to a Canadian Walmart today to get garbage bags and stuff like that. It's very different than than US stores, particularly the newer ones, which are actually not awful. There's no fresh produce, food there is limited to frozen and packaged items, aisles are narrow. There is more of an emphasis on home dec items, towels, curtains and clothing. It was interesting to observe the differences.
So, tomorrow the weather is promised to improve so hopefully we'll be riding the local bike route up the St. Lawrence Seaway.