Winter

Today is one of those days that make me miss the harsher Montreal winters. It snowed on the weekend, temperatures reached -20 with the windchill, and then suddenly it’s above zero again and raining. So of course all the snow is melting and it’s slush and ice everywhere. Tomorrow it’s supposed to fall below zero again, which will mean that all the puddles will turn into skating rinks. Aff… I miss the steady cold of Montreal winters…

Back from Montreal yet again

Just back from a few days in Montreal. We had a dentist appointment on Monday so we took the opportunity to visit some friends and run some errands like getting new lenses for my glasses – a year reading microfilmed manuscripts at the archives left its mark. We also got some perfect Montreal winter weather while we were there: -20 and the brightest sun on one day and lots of snow the next day. Walking around Pointe-Claire Village under the snow was magical. Too bad I forgot my camera…

2007 in pictures…

It was fun doing this last year, so I thought I’d continue…

January

We watched the arrival of the Three Kings in Barcelona, walked along the beach in Barcelona, went to the calçots festival in Valls and happened upon the wonderful monastery of Poblet along the way, and discovered the little town of Arenys de Mar – more pics here.

Three Kings Barcelona beach ArenysPoblet Calçots

February

In February I met Moussa ag Assarid, enjoyed the Festes de Santa Eulália, a festival dedicated to children, and had lunch on top of a mountain near Vic.

Moussa Castellers de Barcelona Festes de Santa Eulalia Lunch at Vic

March

In March Alan and I went to Girona for a bit of a research trip, where we also had some amazing food and I became tempted to find a project that would allow me to spend a year in that amazing city

Street in Girona Tourists in Girona Old books

April

Last month in Barcelona – we visited friends in Mataró and otherwise simply hanged out in Barcelona

Archives Mataro View from Sara's house in Mataro Capoeira in Raval

May

Back in Canada after 13 months in Spain! We stayed with our friends Pearl and Al for the first two weeks and then left for Brazil to visit my family. While we were at Pearl’s, she took us to Todmorden Mills and Bufflers Park.

Yonge & Bloor Good friends Good friends 2 Todmorden Mills Bufflers Park

June

We moved into our new apartment and enjoyed summer in TO; I invented some cool salads and we had a blast at the Pride Parade.

Welcome basket BCE Place Kensington Salad Friends Pride Parade

July

We celebrated Canada Day at the harbourfront and visited Montreal, where we had to spend a few hours at the market. We also went on the first of many photo shoots with Mel and discovered Ireland Park.

Canada Day Montreal Ireland Park Toronto urban beach

August

A great month in Canada. We cycled quite a bit, watched the opening of the CNE, and I got into black & white photography.

Opening of CNE First b&w Bike ride - harbourfront East Chinatown Little Indi

September

September was back-to-school month. Super busy, no time to go out and take pictures. But it was also the month I got my piercing and Alan got his tattoo.

Piercing Tattoo

October

Halloween month! So of course we checked out the action at Church street and I got some good pictures

CatCat Warrior Geisha

November

Remembrance day and another trip to Montreal

End of fall Montreal Remembrance day

December

It seems all I did between November and December was mark papers and exams. But there was also a snowstorm in TO and our trip to Barcelona and Paris!

Snowstorm Barcelona Riding on bicing Kids playing in Paris Invalides

And 2008 arrived like this:

Snowstorm

Back from Montreal

Things I love about Montreal:

  1. The endless number of independent cafés where I can have a decent espresso-based coffee that doesn’t come in half-litre sizes
  2. The food, ah the food… it is hard to explain. Toronto has countless restaurants, many of which are very good. But in Montreal food just seem to taste better, have a certain je-ne-sais-quois… It’s all in the little details – they add herbs to home fries, breakfast plates often come with copious amounts of fresh fruit, and presentation is rarely neglected…
  3. Speaking French. I first took French lessons when I was 15 years old and fell in love with the language. Even though I lived my life mostly in English when I lived in Montreal, I enjoyed hearing French on a daily basis…
  4. The weather – it was colder but whiter and brighter. I love it.
  5. The shopping – sooo many affordable independent boutiques!

The weekend felt rushed; there was much to see and many people to visit! We took our friend Janine so some of the time was spent taking her to different parts of the city. I also took the opportunity to meet some online friends for the first time (Stella and Pancha, I had an AMAZING time!) and reconnect with another online friend, who took us to sample one of the best poutines in the province (thank you, Fachin!).

I promise I’ll upload some pictures soon enough although I have to warn you that this time I didn’t really take that many pictures…

Here are some of the pictures:

Montreal December

Weekend in Montreal

Yeay! We are going to Montreal this weekend! This will be my last break before marking crunch begins next week… We will be staying with a friend in the Plateau and I simply cannot wait. Although the weather doesn’t seem the best…
weather

Oh well… haven’t seen the white stuff in quite some time so it should be fun still ;)

Thank you to my friend Fachin for leading me to a much better weather forecast:

Montreal2

Since we’ll be in Quebec, I guess I’ll go for the French forecast ;)

Montreal: Marché Jean-Talon

The market par excellence of the immigrant community of Montreal, Jean-Talon is known as one of the largest outdoors public markets of North America. Despite living in the suburbs, Alan and I would shop there every Saturday morning when we lived in Montreal. We just loved the atmosphere. The shopkeepers and merchants enthusiastically offering their ware in rapid French made us feel like we were in Europe. I love markets and try to visit them wherever I go. Markets are places full of energy, tradition, colour, enthusiasm… An experience that can’t be replicated at the local Loblaws or Carrefour. When we lived in Barcelona there were about four large grocery stores within two blocks from where we lived as well as a couple of fruit & vegetable shops. Yet, I preferred to walk 10-15 minutes to the Mercat de l’Abaceria Central in Gràcia to shop. People ask me if it was cheaper. I honestly don’t know. That was never the reason I shop in markets… but that’s another story. I just wanted to share Jean-Talon with you. We went there during our recent visit to Montreal and had a great time. It was berry season and all the stalls were packed with inexpensive Quebec strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. We had great crêpes for lunch at the creperie, watching the dashing French (from France) chef/owner coring and slicing apples. The seasonal fruits and vegetables were nice and tasty – most stands have chopped fruits & veggies for the patrons to try before they buy – and I felt that pang of longing that we, portuguese-speakers, call saudade…. Here are some pictures…

Jean-Talon

Speaking of food and markets, this left me salivating….

Wisdom gone!

The main reason for coming to Montreal this weekend was to see our dentist. I know it sounds crazy but yes, we kept our dentist even after moving to Toronto. Lucie is an amazing dentist and it isn’t a bit chore for us to come to Montreal every six months for a cleaning or a filling. After almost two years without going – because of our time in Spain – we braced ourselves for yesterday’s check up. She had good news and bad news for me. The bad news is that I had hard-to-reach cavities on my wisdom teeth (I still have the two top ones). The good news is that I don’t have to have them filled, she wants me to get them removed alltogether. Or maybe the bad news was that I had to have my wisdom teeth pulled out because they were decaying and sliding down, and the good news is that I have hardly any plaque after two years without a cleaning. Either way, she called the dental surgeon and manage to squeeze me into his schedule on the same day. Woohoo. That is said with a bit of sarcasm. My experience removing wisdom teeth was the worst possible and I wasn’t looking forward to this one. I knew it would be bad, both teeth were fully out and it would be a simple matter of freezing and pulling them out. No cuts, no stiches.

Luckily I had to visit Concordia University, my alma mater, to check out their new digs and have lunch with Shannon, my former undergraduate supervisor and now a good friend. She’s now chair of the department and took me around to visit their new offices since the department has been recently relocated. Lunch with her allowed me to forget the impending visit to the dental surgeon but alas, the time eventually came.

Lucie was right. It took longer to freeze than to pull the teeth. I was in and out in about 5 mins. But it wasn’t a very pleasant experience. Having a needle – two in fact! – stuck into the roof of my mouth was a feeling only surplanted by the traumatic sensation of having one’s tooth snapping out of it socket. Yuck.

The worse was yet to come. A friend of Norbert and Carole’s was coming for dinner and Norbert had some very nice sausages bbq’d for dinner. While everybody ate, I stared at my bowl of chocolate pudding. Theoretically, I was only supposed to eat soft, cold foods that night. But since I wasn’t in any pain, I reasoned I could eat some sausages if I chewed with my front teeth and swallowed quickly… I was a very bad girl. I also ate some cheese. Now, those were definitely on the soft food category. And some mashed straberries with cream. Oh, and copious amounts of white wine count as cold liquid, right?

Our departure to Toronto has been postponed to tomorrow… Other than the strange feeling of the gapping holes in my mouth, I feel fine…

How about you? How was your weekend?

Ah, Montreal…

We arrived on Thursday morning and have spent most of our time with our friends Norbert & Carole, with whom we are staying. Alan and I love staying with them; they are the kind of friends with whom you can spend weeks doing nothing but sitting around a table enjoying the best conversation. We’re never at a loss of things to talk about and often stay up until 2 in the morning just chatting.

We spent the last couple of days just hanging out in the West Island of Montreal (not actually a separate island but rather the west side of Montreal island). Thursday we went for a walk by the lake and a stroll through Pointe-Claire Village, one of our favourite spots on this side of the island. Friday we went for lunch at the village of St-Anne-de-Bellevue after spending all morning (a good 4 hours!) chatting around the breakfast table. At night we went to our good friend Jenn‘s house, where we met many of Alan’s best friends from his old swim team, people he has known for a good ten, twenty years and who embraced me into their circle when I first came to Canada ten years ago. Most of them visited us in Barcelona, and yesterday we celebrated the 10th anniversary of my first visit to Canada with much cava and laughter.

Today we are going downtown to one of our favourite spots in Montreal, the Marche Jean Talon, and later on we’ll meet with Norbert & Carole’s children and significant others to celebrate his birthday at a Lebanese restaurant. Yum, can’t wait!

Actually, that’s one of the things I miss the most about Montreal – the food. Like in France, in Montreal you can be sure to have the most amazing meals at every little hole in the wall. Norbert says it’s because the French have higher expectations and the clientele will define any service industry. I don’t know what it is, but the difference is noticeable. Toronto is an amazing city, very diverse, with cuisines from around the world, but I have never had a truly amazing meal there. The food can be good, often you have to pay more to have really good food, but it lacks that… I don’t know how to explain it… that je ne sais quoi that one finds here in Montreal…. Plus, one can get wine & beer at the grocery store here! Much more civilized…

I’ll post some pictures once we are back to Toronto next tuesday. I hope you are all having a good weekend!!