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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bonjour! Greetings du Montreal!

The wedding went fabulously. The band was perfect, the cake delicious, the company delightful. The country club threw in extra wine and an extra half hour of the room at no charge--even they were having fun. The flowers were juicy and vibrant; all the grandparents present were a pain in the ass, but they are excused on account of age. As G. quipped, "Greatest Generation, my ass!"

But perhaps more interesting is the honeymoon. Here are some highlights from my little Montreal journal. Take my recommendations as gospel, people. Gospel.

Tuesday, July 4.
The drive was long, but we broke it up with a delightful stop at The Basin in Franconia Notch. Once we crossed the Canadian border, we stopped to change money and get touristy maps etc. G. was impressed with how effortlessly the tourist office employees switched between French and English, as if it were no feat! We began to notice road signs all in French except for the word “camping”. “Look, camping is camping in French,” I exclaimed. G. wittily rejoined, “Yes, but it’s pronounced bleeeuuuu.”

Checking in at the wonderful Auberge Bonaparte, we are immediately taken with Denis, concierge extraordinaire. At the front desk, he asked what color our car was, for parking purposes. My new husband said it was green; I insisted, aqua. (I often jibe him about his femininely aqua Corolla.) G. parked while I unpacked. “Messieur Amis,” said Denis, poking his head out the window, “Your car is aqua.”

Wednesday, July 5.
Our first full day! We began the day eating lavishly downstairs at the Bonaparte, shocked at the generousness of the breakfast included with the room. The croissants were the best we’d ever had, flaky, buttery, and perfect. We tried a croissant at a Montreal café later in the week, wondering if we were merely accustomed to mediocre Boston croissants, but non, the Bonaparte’s croissant is better than even the Montreal café croissant.

We wandered past Notre Dame Basilica through Chinatown to the Place-des-Artes and the Jazz Festival. There wasn’t much going on in early afternoon. We quickly learned that although “jazz” was defined rather loosely, to include Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, and blues, no one at the festival knew how we could purchase tickets to the OSM Mozart Plus concert at the basilica. (Ann, sorry, we stuck with the free festival concerts and therefore did not see Mr. Simon.)

We caught up with some friends on their way out of town. They showed us all the best places to sit to hear the jazz.

Denis got us tickets to the Mozart concert and also recommended places in town to get away from the throngs of tourists and see some local life. G. and I commented to each other many times about how friendly and welcoming the locals were, and they did not seem at all to mind speaking English with us.

Ah, the concert! The music and basilica were nothing short of glorious. The “plus” in Mozart Plus proved to be Wagner, bold and daring next to Mozart’s restrained, almost-dainty perfection. The mezzo soprano was wonderful. The church, in my opinion, was even lovelier than the churches of Rome: all rich sky blue and gold leaf arches, an ode to the sky. My criticism of the great Italian churches is that their great art seems to be competing, both with the other pieces and with the architecture. But at Basilique Notre-Dame, here I could be Catholic.

The World Cup was drawing to a close, creating much excitement as Italy and France prepared to square off. To our surprise, many Montreal buildings weren’t air-conditioned, including this venerable church, and so the windows were open—until they had to be closed, because frantically honking cars, their owners crazed with soccer fever, drowned out a quiet movement. The choice was between stiflingly hot or missing the music; I think we would all agree to be hot, anyway, if we had been surveyed.

Classical music, I realized, is very much like the French language to me: I don’t understand it, but it’s so pretty, so please just let me keep listening!

Travel safety note: Mimes are evil and terrifying.

4 Comments:

Blogger Larry Jones said...

I can't tell from this if you're still abroad, but if you are, whatever you do, don't engage the mimes.

12:44 AM  
Blogger Emma Goldman said...

Woo-hoo! sounds like you're having a blast. Maybe our problem is that our "honeymoon" consisted of me starting pastry school. Of course, I can now make a croissant that would rival the ones you've been eating (really! I can!). It sounds like it's been great fun--yay!

8:47 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Larry: What happens if you engage the Frightful Ones?

Emma: Would love to know the secret, but I imagine it's "Go to pastry school."

12:03 PM  
Blogger Emma Goldman said...

Nah, as with most things, it's "Practice, practice, practice." And have a full-size sheeter, if you can.

7:41 PM  

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