“I Left My Sock in Montreal”

What do you do when you have a conference in Montreal the week following the May long weekend? Why, you travel early so you can spend the long weekend in belle Montreal, that’s what you do!

I feel like us west coasters have been a bit spoiled this spring with the fabulously warm weather, sunny skies, and beautiful blossoms. Imagine my delight when I discovered that we arrived in Montreal to fabulously warm weather, sunny skies, and beautiful blossoms!

It seems spring has sprung in Montreal, and it’s fantastique! We got to enjoy all the great aspects of spring twice this year, that’s going to be hard to top in years to come!

Spring in Montreal
There are churches and cathedrals everywhere. On our first walk from the hotel I figured I should get the “stone buildings and blossoms” shot out of my system.

We should take a minute to back up a week prior to the trip, when my camera developed an annoying dark spot on the sensor, and had to be shipped back to Nikon for service. Not cool. Fortunately a friend came to the rescue and loaned me a basic Fuji camera so that I would not be completely unarmed in Montreal (Thanks Ian!). The shot above was my first test of the Fuji, and it seemed to do a reasonable job with the bright day.

The bonus of the Fuji was it was light. This is important since over 4 days we walked about 60km around the city! In fact, we did so much walking, Thorsten thought he had blown out a sock, hence the theme “I left my sock in Montreal”.

For the first day we followed a suggested walking route around Old Montreal from the City Walks app. The first stop it recommended was the Montreal World Trade Centre.  The Trade Centre brings restored heritage buildings together under a rather striking glass atrium, and is the home to many artifacts, shops, and businesses.

Montreal World Trade Centre
The Amphitrite fountain & black granite reflecting pool are a main attraction when you enter the glass atrium. I loved the clarity of the reflection and the symmetry of the lamps.

As we wandered around the city, one of the things we were always on the lookout for were the fantastic murals that are everywhere, in residential areas, commercial areas, and everywhere in between. Many depict historical scenes, some are whimsical, others are downright weird, this one was sort of funny.

Rooster mural
“I crush your nissan, crush crush!”

On one of the days our walk took us up through the trails on Mont Royale. Despite it being a spectacular sunny day on a long weekend, the trails were remarkably clear of people. The main trail is more like a road, and is a serpentine up the Mont. The serpentines are dissected by a network of smaller trails through the trees, and that was the route we opted for.

Mont Royale1
This deserted stretch of trail was begging for a photo, so I asked Thorsten to do the honours. I think he has some untapped talent with a camera!

All in all, it was a great trip, and a very memorable May long weekend. We saw so many neighbourhoods, ate too much great food, took in the new Cirque show Luzia, and it was all over too fast! We definitely must go again, Montreal is a fantastic city!

 

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What’s Not to Love about Spring?

Today I awoke to a sunny Sunday. After a busy week, and just as busy weekend full of errands, socializing, and even some fantastic theatre last night, I was ready for a more peaceful approach to the day today.

I gathered my camera gear and some snacks and headed down to the George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary. I have mentioned before, it’s best to get there early, when it’s just me, the birds, and a bunch of guys dressed in camouflage with extraordinarily large and expensive lenses. If you dawdle, the quiet paths fill with strollers, screaming kids, and hissing geese demanding free lunch, and some of the magic is lost. Not all, but some. You can still make your way out to the lagoons that are less “stroller friendly” and reclaim the quiet.

This morning was my first time there in about a month, and the difference was remarkable. Aside from the leaves and all the new growth, the geese were nesting, the birds were moulting, and everything was bustling around building nests.

Canada goose
The goose kept a close eye on me as I passed by it’s carefully chosen spot. I liked the lines with the thick reeds in the shot.

There are nesting geese everywhere, they don’t seem to be too choosy about where they set up shop. I can’t wait for all the fuzzy little goslings to emerge!

The swallows were working hard at building nests, some in the provided little nesting boxes that are all around the sanctuary, but also in all the typical places you would expect swallows to nest, under ledges and overhangs.

I really love the tree swallows, with their iridescent blue feathers. On a sunny day they are sort of striking, for such a little common bird.

Swallow
This tree swallow took a break from fussing around a nesting box, to pose in the sun for me!

Not being a birder, I often have no idea what type of bird I’m looking at. That was the case with this fluffy little fellow, who on closer inspection looks like he is moulting. He was certainly all puffed up about something!

fluffy-bird-moulting-spring
Moulting must be serious business, this guy looks a little stern, fluffy, but stern!

All in all, it was nice to get out and be reminded of the renewal that is going on all around us right now. I hope you can get out and have an appreciation moment of your own!