"an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Feeling French

We are in Montreal, in fact, it's our last evening here. I didn't blog from Ottawa, never got enough air-time. We loved Ottawa - not just because of certain friends who live there, but because it is a lovely, relaxed city with many things to see and do. It has beautiful old government buildings, and we were regular visitors to the Byward market, a place to unwind in pubs, cafes, and market stalls selling beautiful summer berries, flowers and vegetables. My favourite place to visit was the RCMP campus, where we got a tour of the RCMP museum, the stables, the training areas, and saw the wonderful horses! They're a cross between Hanoverians and thoroughbreds, between 15-17 hands high and have shining, dark chocolate colored coats. And I got to see the Van Gogh exhibition - wondering if it will come to Australia? The works were not very well known to me, many were still life paintings. It was interesting to see how his paintings changed with his mental status. Once he was out of the asylum, the paintings took on so much more complexity. As usual, I liked two of the paintings which did not 'rate' a postcard, but that's ok. Art is different for everybody. I also loved the Innuit art collection at the National Art Gallery, especially the carvings, they are so powerful! I love the Innuit sculptures, especially the 'dancing bear' and some of the owls, of course.
Montreal has been, shall we say, different! The French influence is, of course, unmistakable, and I had to dig deep for my vocabulary, although people happily switch to English when they see you're struggling. The city certainly has a different 'flavour' to other Canadian cities I've seen. The Vieux Port (old port) is beautiful, the Notre Dame cathedral an amazing work of art, the quartier Latin very quirky, vibrant and colourful. The students from the nearby Universite de Canada a Montreal look a lot less conventional than our lot at La Trobe! They're not afraid to be 'out there' in appearance! The students were protesting peacefully against increased student fees, and on the Grand Prix weekend, so the police was front and centre, the place was just crawling with them! I think they were probably spoiling for an excuse for a melee! Interesting how they all hung out near Dunkin' Donuts! The food is pretty good here too, one can actually find things other than hamburgers and fries! Can't fault the crepes, sweet or savoury. It's even fun watching TV here, all the US sitcoms are translated into French... I was watching a childrens' TV show - I could actually follow that! The French here is very different from the 'French' French I learned so many years ago.
Tomorrow we board the HAL "Maasdam" and head to Quebec.

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