Tuesday, June 26, 2007

...the Clampetts hit the Concrete Jungle...Day One...

So I’m wondering if this past weekend was someone’s way of giving me blog fodder ‘cause it was choc' full of stuff. We took the three older kids on a mini vacation to Montreal to soak up the French culture of our Quebec neighbours. It was a road trip - eight hours of driving across the province. I spent the earlier part of the week planning, catching up on laundry (my Favourite pastime - ha!) And perusing the internet for things to do and places to eat that would give us the whole experience. Big T booked a hotel on this site where you choose the number of "Stars" you want to pay for and they suprise you with a hotel that has a cheap room available. We got a 4-Star Sheraton room for just over a hundred dollars a which was a far cry from their $300 regular price - the reviews online were mixed but thie weekend was all about spontanaiety and I could rough it at the Sheraton right?! So what if the tiles are onlyceramic and not tumbled marble...we were ready!

The morning dawned - VERY EARLY. After last minute packing and sandwich making til after midnight we were tired. The crew packed everything in the car, got Little T settled at Pre-school reminding him that Grandpa was going to pick him up at lunch and off we went.
The day was bright and the fields we sped past were green and teeming with cows and horses enjoying an early morning breakfast of grass and sunshine. We broke out the fruit and veggies and sat back for the drive...

The first leg of the trip was to end at one of my favorite places - IKEA!! Yep, I got my fix wandering around the biggest of all big box stores. Heaven - pure bliss! I got great deal on a terracotta planter that I’m going to fill with succulents and a million ideas on how to arrange MDF laden, ready to assemble, strap it to the roof of your car and bring it home furniture. We ended by springing for the obligatory 75 cent frozen yogurt for the kids and off we were.

With five and a half hours left we also made a stop at my other favorite big box store, Chapters, (also known as Borders I think in the USA). We picked up an audio version of Tuck Everlasting to listen to while we drove. It was a good book and made me think a whole lot for a children’s novel... perhaps another blog??

As dinner time closed in we finally saw the sign - Welcome to Quebec - only it was in French! After that every sign was in French and the kids spent the last leg of the trip attempting to pronounce with reeeeally bad accents all the French words.

And then we were there. Driving down the city streets in all their glory. It felt good to be back in the concrete jungle and all its familiar sites. Overpriced parking lots to begin with. The hotel parking was ON TOP of our room rate and after picking up our little ticket we drove deep through the low ceilinged abyss of the underground lot. Four floors below the sidewalk we finally found a spot, pulled our bags out of the trunk and headed for the elevator.

The hotel was really nice... escpecially the lobby. We requested a room with a view and got one on the 28th floor. Other than the CN tower this was probably the highest building they had ever looked out. I have to admit the view was incredible and I spent a lot of time trying to take a picture of the vista only to continually take a picture of the reflection in the mirror!

We got cleaned up and wandered down to the city streets to find our first French restaurant of the weekend. That’s when reality hit me...my children are like the Country Mice. They have no sense of danger, or the meaning of street lights or crowds. They are so un-citified and think they can talk to everyone they meet. They are their dad’s children in that way. I grew up in Toronto and the energy of the city gets my heart pumping. No where else can you find such diversity in so little square feet. The business man walking purposefully, head held high in his four-thousand dollar suit ambles past the man dressed in rags, looking up from a step, coffee cup in his hand, waiting for a dime. The students in their artsy clothes and trendy hair stand around as if this is their backyard and in a way it is. The women, out on the town, dressed up and adorned with jewellery and perfume walk up the street beside old man, walking with a cane down the familiar street he has traversed for almost seventy years. People, everywhere, some with a place to go, some still looking.

I love to watch them sweep their eyes across the unfamiliar view. To see it for the first time. To know how different their little world really is.
By the time we pulled the covers over our shoulders and tried to settle the troops it was after eleven and the weekend had only just begun.

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