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Check out images, stories and observations as I navigate through everyday life. Think of this blog as a way to experience my experiences.

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Posts tagged montreal
Where There Is Music. There Is Happy People.

What started as a rather mundane day turned into a most excellent one. I made my weekly trek from the cottage to the city to do some cleaning, mowing and fix a bathroom fan in a rental unit. You know, run-of-the-mill stuff. Throughout the day I kept thinking I should run down to the Jazz Festival when I'm done, but the heat was crazy. I think it was something like one bazillion degrees. 

After sitting in the air conditioned house for about a half hour I couldn't take it and had to go. I grabbed an old camera and headed to the bus stop. As I sat there in heat that matched the surface of the sun, I kept thinking this is a bad idea. It's too hot and those three "In transit" busses that just drove by are a sign I should go back home and enjoy the cool air. Some clarification, "In Transit" is code for driver doesn't want to stop because it's too damn hot and if the bus stops there is no air flow. Or something like that. Anyway. 

I stuck it out and a bus finally arrived extremely late. I climbed in and was off to the festival. In a bus, with no air, and a bunch of other sweaty people. It was magic. Not really, but everybody's skin did glisten nicely and the trip did become a little more pleasant once I hit the subway. 

I got off the subway a few stops before the festival site. I wanted to walk a bit to see if anything else was happening. There wasn't, so I headed to the festival. Once in the festival site, I wondered from stage to stage parking myself every once in awhile on my way to the next stage to people watch and check out one of the many performance acts. Montreal has the best street performers. Being the home to the National Circus School and the headquarters for Cirque du Soleil Montreal has a tendency to attract unique acts that can be seen performing all over the city. 

Don't let the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal name foul you. If Blues or World Music are more your taste, chances are there will be a band performing that will please your taste buds. Although all the bands I had the privilege of watching were spectacular, two really stuck with me, Altın Gün and Jupiter & Okwess

Altın Gün bills themselves as a band offering an exciting mix of Turkish folk, psychedelia, funk and rock. These guys did not disappoint. This was my favorite band of the day. Their unique sound and funk beats made it impossible to stand still. Judging by the audience reaction I'm sure I'm not alone when I say this performance was fantastic. I'd recommend you check out their KEXP performance

Jupiter & Okwess melted my face off. Described on the festival site as modernity and tradition colliding in one explosive musical cocktail!. I couldn't agree more. Their style of Afro Jazz will suck you in and not let go. There was so much energy coming from the stage it felt like the whole audience had become one entity. I'd recommend you wonder over to their site.

The world can seem like it's blowing up all around you, but when you add in some music we become one and everything is alright. The one thing that stuck out for me during this outing was the since of togetherness. We listened. We participated. We laughed. We were one. We were happy.

Links to the bands I saw this night:

Altın Gün
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_J5-57lRxAM (KEXP Perfromance)

Jupiter & Okwess

Annie G. Roy

Dwane Dixon

Steve Hill

Hannah Williams & The Affirmations

A Leisurely Stroll Around Mural Festival

There is never a shortage of festivals in Montreal. This weekend is the start an eleven day event celebrating the international urban art movement known as of Mural Festival. And yes, I did pull part of that last sentence from their website. The festival takes place on and around Saint-Laurent Boulevard, one of Montreal's main arteries which you could say is the dividing line between the east and west parts of the city.

Walking around the festival you definitely feel the vibe as the smell of spray paint fills the air. As you weave your way though the mass of people you can explore what the local shops and restaurants have to offer by visiting their stations assembled on the street. 

The sound of music is everywhere as vendors, street musicians and local bands performing on stage compete for your attention.  

It's fantastic. 

Disclaimer: Most of the mural images shown above are from past festivals. Murals being created this year are not complete. 

The Variety Show of Life

Admittedly I struggled to come up with a title for this post. I'm new to this blog thing so I'm playing the rookie card. Besides, this is an informal place for me to post about what I've seen while out exploring my surroundings. So no pressure. 

What an interesting walk around the city today turned out to be. I've been wanting to to check out The Promenade Fleuve-Montagne for some time and today was the day for that to happen. The Promenade Fleuve-Montagne is a 3.8 km pedestrian walkway that connects Mount Royal to Montreal's Old Port. I had no intention of climbing the 100,000 steps to get to the top of Mount Royal, but I was there and I had not been to the cross in a long time. I started climbing. 

I sat under the cross sweaty from the climb. I just sat there. Calm. In silence as tourists passed. For reasons I'll never know, I felt I needed to be there. 

I headed down the 100,000 steps to begin my stroll down The Promenade Fleuve-Montagne after spending a couple hours at the top. I stopped off at Victoria Square to people watch by the fountains. In case you're wondering, sitting by fountains is the best place to people watch aside from airports. Cheaper too. 

This is when things got a bit weird.

I was sitting there watching the bike police hand out jaywalking tickets when I heard a loud bang behind me. I slowly turned to take a look. A lady jumps out of her car and begins screaming at the guy who just rear-ended her. A passer-by waves over the bike police to assess the situation. As the police ask the drivers to move their cars to prevent a traffic jam, a taxi driver opens his door, a lady on a bike slams into the door, the bike stops while the lady goes airborne over her handle bars onto the pavement. She stood up, brushed herself off and rode away. I sat there with my mouth hanging open asking myself what the hell just happened.

For an enhanced experience read that last paragraph in slow motion. 

I decided it was time to move on.

When I reached the old port I found a vacant bench. I sat down and began another people watching session. As I was sitting there making up the life stories of everyone who passed by, I started hearing yelling behind me. At first I didn't think anything of it, but the yelling continued. I turned to see what was going on as an older gentleman was tossing his lunch next to the cafe table by which he sat. Poor guy just kept puking. All I could think was "Man, if that was my restaurant I sure wouldn't want a guy puking at the table. It's bad for business." I hated myself for thinking that, but I guarantee you everyone walking past was thinking the same thing. And now you are. 

The man recovered and needless to say I called it a day and headed home. 

hell yeah. dim sum.

Dim Sum is one of those eating experiences my wife and I always enjoy. If you've never tried Dim Sum, you must. It's well orchestrated chaos. It's like Old Country Buffet, but they bring the food to you. On second thought, maybe it's not like OCB at all. 

When you show up at the door you are quickly seated. Servers start circling the table like a shark stalking it's prey. Then it begins. The servers screaming out what they're serving. You yelling back "SHOW ME" because you have no idea what they're saying and you are not particularly excited about getting a bowl full of chicken feet by mistake. This dance continues until you pull off the best Mr Creozote impersonation.

Dim Sum is a must do adventure. Highly reccomend Kim Fung if you're in Montreal and want to give it a go. 

After we ate we headed over to Dragon's Beard Candy for some... you guessed it, dragon's beard candy to munch on as we made our way over to Notre-Dame Basilica to check out Aura.

Above are a few shots taken as we strolled through Chinatown.