Monday, May 20, 2013

Exploring Montreal, Canada

Yesterday I spent most of the day exploring parts of Montreal. My original intention was to attend Montreal Friends Meeting. However, since I do not have a car and did not want to pay the fee of taking a taxi that left me taking public transportation. I was a little anxious about doing this because I saw a news story about an English speaking person who was suing the public transit for their treatment of him (denial of service) as an English speaker. There is clearly tension here in Montreal between French and English speaking residents.

So I began my travels by asking the hotel concierge for the 36 bus stop. Google maps said it was at Rue Saint-Jacques and University, but I did not see it. He confirmed that there was no bus stop there and pointed to a bus stop further down the Rue Saint-Jacques street. I walked to the stop and found that it was not for the 36 bus, so I began searching for it. First I found it, but it was for the Eastbound bus and I was looking for the Westbound one. I decided to continue walking west on Rue Saint-Jacques street and finally found it!

A few minutes later the bus arrived. It was fairly empty, it was Sunday morning. I read the signs for the cross streets once the bus turned onto Rue Notre-Dame looking for my stop, Rue Rose-de-Lima. Of course the street I was looking for did not have a sign. I knew when we turned back onto Rue Saint-Jacques that I missed my stop. I asked the bus driver who confirmed I had. He told me to get off at the next stop which was the Metro and walk to the corner where I could catch another bus that would take me there. Fortunately that bus came in about 5 minutes and this time I asked the driver to notify me when we reached Rue Rose-de-Lima. Then I had a 12 minute walk to the Community Center where Montreal Friends Meeting is held. I knew I was going to arrive late, but in this situation late was better than not going at all. 

When I arrived at the community center I knew I was in the right place because I saw this sign. I entered as quietly as possible because I was now a few minutes late. There was a small group of chairs in a circle in the middle of the room. I sat down and immediately began centering. The first thing I needed to do was quiet my breathing which was heavy because of the hill I had to climb to reach the community center. Eventually I was able to center. I was surprised when the first message was given in English, so was the second and third. At the end of worship it was announced that there would be a period to share any thoughts that did not rise as a message during our time of worship. Several Friends shared including one Friend asking us to hold in the Light several Friends who were ill including the family of a member of the meeting who passed Saturday morning. At the rise of meeting I introduced myself to the group. There were only 11 of us present, two of us were visitors. The other person visiting was a Buddhist who as a result of reading a Parker Palmer book decided to attend worship. In my conversations with Friends it was suggested that I visit the Atwater Market which was not too far away. It sounded interesting so I decided I would go on my way back to the hotel. As I left the Community Center I saw that the second side of the meeting sign was in French but was not readable from the street. I wondered if that was related to why the majority of the Friends in that meeting seemed to be English speakers.
I was excited to see the lilac bush was blooming outside of the Community Center. I took a few moments not only to take this photo, but also to enjoy it's fragrance. I love the smell of lilacs. It is one of my favorite flowers.

I decided to walk from the Community Center to the Atwater Market because it sounded like it was close and easier than trying to figure out the bus routes that would get me there without access to the internet. I did not realize that it was almost one mile away. It was a nice, sunny afternoon so I enjoyed my walk. The walk also gave me an opportunity to enjoy the Montreal landscape. I saw These houses on Rue Saint-Jacques and thought that their mail delivery person must be incredibly fit from walking up and down these stairs six days a week.

Tulips blooming near the Metro station on Atwater.

Eventually I arrived at the Market. It reminded me of the garden center at Home Depot in Philly. There was stall after stall of plants and flowers. It is arranged so that there are several layers of stalls. The outside layer are garden stalls. The second layer is a mixture of garden, fruit and vegetable stalls. The third layer are food, butcher, fish, cheese, bakery, snack and beverage stalls with seating. The fourth layer is indoors. It has all the stalls except for the garden ones.

View of Market as I approached it from Atwater Street.

The rest of the Atwater Market reminded me of Reading Terminal and Pike Street Markets. There were food and grocery stalls that were selling vegetables, fruits, spices, fresh meats, sandwiches, pastries, bulk and packaged foods.

There was even a woman standing outside of the interior of the Market playing her violin with folks dropping coins into her case.

I purchased some fruit from the stand on the right. This is one of the times that I was thankful for having a gluten, corn and dairy allergy. There were so many wonderful looking sandwiches and pastry products that I may have purchased and eaten. People were leaving the market with bags and bags of products. I must confess that I did purchase a package of gluten, corn and dairy free carrot cake muffins which I have been enjoying.

Delicious looking mini pies. Good thing that they were not gluten & dairy free!

I walked around for a few hours taking in the sights then decided to head back to the hotel. I decided to walk to take in more of the scenes. I walked to Rue Notre-Dame and came across Marché Bleuet one of the natural food, cosmetic and supplement stores I researched on the internet prior to our arrival. I spent some time looking through the store. I purchased a raw food slice of mock cheesecake. During that process I put my newly purchased travel mug of tea on the counter which I failed to pick up. I did not realize this until I was four blocks away. I was glad to see it still sitting there when I returned. About five blocks away I came across a gluten free restaurant. Sadly it was not open on Sunday afternoon. They did not have their hours posted. When I returned to the hotel I went to le Kitchen Cuisine Sante's Facebook page which said they are open 11:00 am - 5:00 pm. I may try to get back there before we leave on Thursday.

I have been surprised at the length of the grass as well as the number of dandelions that are growing, blooming and seeding in the parks here. The city is clearly doing some maintenance as demonstrated by these limbs that have been cut and laid out from the trees in the same park.

I was very happy to finally reach our hotel. My shoulders were getting sore under the weight of the food in my backpack and my feet were tired. It was not until I returned to the hotel and looked it up on Google Maps that I realized that I had walked a little over three miles yesterday. I am glad that it was a dry and warm day. According to the weather forecast it will be one of the few days that it does not rain during our time here.

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