Friday, April 8, 2011
*The 2011 Garden to Table Challenge will begin on Saturday, April 30th! There will be fun, food, and prizes involved - get ready!
So I went to Montreal because my sister participates in a biennial conference that often happens to be in locations I want to visit - Puerto Rico, New Orleans, etc. I look so forward to these trips not only for some sisterly bonding time, and so my kids can have some bonding time with their dad, but also because I really enjoy my own company sometimes. One day last week with my sister gone bright and early, I had some coffee, bundled up in my down coat, and with camera on shoulder, map in back pocket, headed out for the Metro to the Montreal Botanical Garden.
I'm not an architect and I'm sure this building is incredible in many ways, but it's really just kinda...kooky too, right? As I came off the Metro, I saw an elevator on the other side of this 45 degree tower and vowed to take the ride up. From the top, I could see the expanse of this incredible city that I'm sooooo in love with. Montreal Part 3 will list all reasons why. Below, the large buildings in the foreground make up the Montreal Botanical Garden.
Indoors, there was not a lot out of the ordinary to see since it was off-season, but in the greenhouse, a few beauties caught my eye. This might be a durian tree - someone correct me if I'm wrong...
One of the highlights of my day was my long conversation with a bored gift shop worker - we'll call him Joe. Through Joe, I got a real insider's view on Canadian politics - makes me feel like I really need to pay better attention to world news. We discussed taxation - provincial taxes and otherwise, the difference between a small jar of maple syrup being a "luxury" item (and thus taxed) versus a 3-pack being a "family size" (thus not taxed), the possible discovery of oil near the poor fishing provinces of Canada and to whom the oil and riches might belong to, the concept of sharing the wealth and the feelings of the wealthy folks from Alberta about it, and about the possibility of building an underground power line to the east and the feelings of the people who supply the power (uh... nnnoo.), the tendency for Canadians to stay in their own province even if they are near the border (I explained that where I'm from, people often work in Maryland, live in Virginia, and hang out in DC). Joe shared that from what he has heard, people from the U.S. do not particularly identify with a specific state - with the exception of Texans. I thought this was so funny.
Here's one reason of many reasons why I LOVE Montreal - we've all heard that Canadians are soooo friendly, and I believe that's true - to an extent. I didn't notice that people were all smiles or stopped to hold doors open, or said hello to you randomly. On the contrary, I found that Montreal was a modern and bustling city and people just generally go about their business. HOWEVER, if you stop to ask a question, or show that you need help (story to follow), or struggle with the language, or need a minute to count out the Loonies and Twonies in your coin purse, the Canadians are so genuine, patient, tolerant, and so willing to help. It's a palpable difference in attitude and made me truly melancholic about going back to the US. More on this later...