GOING FRENCH IN MONTREAL

Thursday & Friday September 18 & 19

Awe-inspiring Rockies

Awe-inspiring Rockies

It seems a lot has happened in the last 48 hours, but most of it was not exciting enough to write home about. Yesterday was a mixed-up, getting-from-A-to-B sort of day, with our big Kiwi group splitting into two and (briefly) going separate ways. Following breakfast in the Banff Caribou Lodge, half of us transferred by coach to the cowboy-town of Calgary for our longish flight across Canada to Montreal. The drive from Banff through the Rockies gave us another feast of magnificent 10,000-foot peaks … followed all too quickly by a total change of landscape as we came downhill and crossed into the Alberta – a province of endless flat pastures famous for its beef-steak.

Because we’d been unable to book seats for everyone on the same Air Canada flight, the other half of our group left an hour later and took a very pleasant tiki-tour past beautiful Lake Louise … arriving in Montreal’s Pierre Trudeau Airport around midnight.

Montreal

Montreal

Today, after a much-appreciated sleep-in and late breakfast, we headed out into warm sunlight for a city tour. Montreal is (i) the largest city in French-speaking Quebec … (ii) the second largest in Canada, with a metropolitan population of nearly 3.5 million … and (iii) built on a large island in the middle of the St Lawrence River. (Try and remember these facts, please, because you will be examined on them when we get back to NZ.)
Our sightseeing included the Notre Dame Cathedral with its remarkable wood-carved altar and balconies, the port, the Olympic Grounds, the Formula One racetracks, and Mont Royal with St Joseph Oratory and a beautiful view over the city.

This afternoon, our mad midlifers escaped in every direction – exploring more of the Old Town, visiting more of the 1000 churches whose spires pierce the skyline, visiting the vast underground shopping centre (a haven from Montreal’s harsh winters), and even renting cycles for an adventure of the two-wheel kind.

Dinner tonight was at Restaurant Essence – just a hop-step-&-jump away from our hotel. And, apart from a few minor sniffles, our combined group (which now numbers 71) will all go to bed well. Good eh?!

PEOPLE NEWS: More Midlife Madness Awards have been won by the following hapless victims:

* The ‘I Left My Heart In San Francisco Award‘ to Jean & Greg – well, what really happened was they left their passports and credit cards and money in Vancouver. Ahh, the panic! Fortunately, the helpful hotel staff not only found the missing valuables but soon had the whole lot sent urgently to Banff where they were reunited with their owners. Ahh, the relief!

* The ‘Lost & Found Kodak Award to Neil – who left his camera at the xray machine in Calgary Airport and has spent the last two days grieving over lost photos. (The camera, thankfully, has been located and will be waiting for lucky Neil in our Boston hotel.)

* The ‘Screaming Heebee Award‘ to Sharon – who got so caught up in the movie she was watching (during the flight from Calgary to Montreal) that, during an especially tense scene, she let out a blood-curdling yell … scaring the living daylights out of her fellow passengers, and causing the crew to enquire if she was okay.

TOMORROW: We board the lovely Maasdam … unpack in our roomy cabins … and begin our second luxury cruise – this time down the eastern seaboard of Canada and New England to the US city of Boston, Massachusetts. So stick with us, ‘coz it’s just gonna get excitinger and excitinger …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on ‘COMMENTS’ (or ‘NO COMMENTS’) under the title for the day’s blog, and type away! Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and don’t worry: we’ll make sure they get these messages. Also, if you want a better look at our route map and some of the photos here, just click on them and they’ll enlarge – magic!

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About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!

6 thoughts on “GOING FRENCH IN MONTREAL

  1. Hi mum (Sheryl Robinson)
    Hope you are still enjoying your trip and that Marge hasn’t gotten you into too much mischief (or is it the other way around? ;p)
    Katey, is back to her usual boistrous, bossy self. Amazing what antibiotics can do when she is feeling under the weather! Just loves being able to run around the front of the house now that it is all closed in and she can’t escape. Pete has gone back to work for a rest ;p. Didn’t get too much family time with his week off. The fence took a bit longer than anticipated to complete, but that is ok. Got to have Sat and Sun off.
    Erin, Kristen, Bruce and the kids came down for the weekend to celebrate Pete’s birthday. Was very nice seeing them, but it was even nicer to get our house back to ourselves and into some sort of order after they left on Sunday afternoon. Kristen and Bruce have gone out and bought a people mover vehicle, so Erin was able to come down in style with heaps of room. Pete was teasing them about the arrival of triplets, that they havent told us about 🙂
    Had everyone over for dinner on Saturday night for Petes birthday. Talk about a mission. Luckily I had Kristen to help me. The boys seem to be coping well. Working hard.
    We have finally got new neighbours. He is a builder and is now busy renovating next door. They are to move in in about three weeks time. They seem very nice and friendly. Have at least 1 baby (6 mnth girl).
    Went for a walk to check on your house. Could only look thru some windows. Doesn’t look too bad. Katey thinks it a great place to play!
    Noah received your mail. Katey still waiting for hers ;).

  2. Hi Oliver & Callum – Thanks for the message, lovely to hear from you. Glad you liked the humpback whale picture – hope they liked it at school. No, I didn’t really get buried in coins it was just a joke but lots of coins came out for Grandma to spend. Hope Mummy & Daddy are well. Keep watching the blog we’re having a fantastic time. See you when I get home. Love & kisses Grandma

    Hi Robertsons/Robinsons & Lawsons – Thanks for the messages on the blog. Here we are sunning ourselves on deck in very warm conditions. We’ve a glorious cabin and the band is blasting away as we depart Montreal. Food, food and more food is available. You were right John – Lake Louise is beautiful. Really appreciate our tour leaders and all the hard work they’ve put into this trip. Will catch up on sleep when we get back! Hope all is going well at home. Love Mum/Sheryl

    From Margaret Birtles
    Thanks for all the messages – it’s been wonderful to hear from you. I am having a great holiday and looking forward to the second cruise. See you soon.

    To Helms Family & Stewart – Bonjour & Kiaora from the Maasdam. Thanks for all your messages. My pre-paid phone is a no go here for the promised texts to you all. Great trip thanks to John and Roger’s organisation. Arohanui to all.

  3. I loved reading this article — it’s amazing how you’ve managed to keep up with the names of the places after such a long trip 🙂

    Some of my web design clients can’t even remember the name of the province, let along its major cities, lol.

    Have a safe trip tomorrow, John!

  4. Hi Pete and Edna,

    Sent a message to you last week but couldn’t see it in the comments page so am unsure if you received it but will try again. Gary said to tell you that George put the trailer in the rubbish, he said you would understand.
    You sound to be having an awesome time and we are a little envious. Will submit this now and see if it reaches you. Keep well and keep smiling and we look forward to reading about you guys winning more awards. LOL.

  5. Hi Sha … nearly wet myself laughing at you screaming in the middle of a movie on the plane … having done it my self many times .. mostly laughing hysterically and then remembering where I am when I notice the weird looks from fellow travellers … go girl .. love to hear you letting go.:)
    All is good here in NZ .. weather divine .. all good. Missing you 😦 LOL us xx

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