Last day in Montréal ( days ago now) 

My connection to the internets has been tenuous, so blogging is at a snail’s pace

Last day in Montréal means subway rides and lots of walking. 

We headed to Olympic Park and the biodôme first thing ( still working on it 40 years later 😏)

It’s a bit smaller than we thought and even though you walk through the first 2 climate zones, you only get to view the third ( arctic) one

John was using his listening ears 😂and we found the sloth 🎉

Of course they had raccoons, I can see those in my backyard, so I am not taking a picture of them, otters on the other hand, you can’t tear me away from ❤️ I am semi-transfixed by Sturgeons, so ugly but pre-historic 

A baby was born 


Apparently there were penguins up here before we ate them all

No penguins around so we went to Le Gourmet Burger for lunch ( I couldn’t finish mine #thankgodforteenageboysnofoodgoestowaste ) 

Much walking follows

We headed to MMFA Montreal Museum of Fine Arts where 2 great exhibits are on ( article in Saturday, August 12 issue of the Globe and Mail talks about the Expo67 exhibit we saw earlier and Revolution here) 

Revolution was amazing! It covered the cultural, political and social changes that were taking place ( and why), the sense of optimism is unmistakable in all of the colours and styles of the times. As a complete juxtaposition, we were just learning of Trump finally acknowledging the events in Charlottesville and his ‘condemnation’ of white supremists, neo-nazis, etc’ and the hollow ring to it all. How could the Revolution we were looking at have ended up with these current events? 

The second exhibition was more my thing 

Not that John and Beckett don’t share my belief in Love is Love, but I like the wedding finery more 👰🏻👰🏼👰🏽👰🏾👰🏿🤵🏻🤵🏼🤵🏽🤵🏾🤵🏿

I wanted to touch all the fabrics. I wanted pictures of everything but there were too many people in a smallish space to get good photos without the people in the pics #wrecksthevibe

And just because I fell in love with this one ( part of the MMFA collection) 

Isn’t it gorgeous? 

 The news for the last while out of the US has made me wonder how people in a first world country can be so evil, so unforgiving, so narrow minded, so racist, so brutal. It feels sweeping and bottomless and horrific. Spending time in Montréal, with its build up to Pride, celebrations of love and art and music everywhere we turned put some balance to the craziness erupting too close to home. If people can create all this beauty, there must be hope for us


Dinner was poutine

See John at the end? #neverleavehomewithoutreadingmaterial

It all looks kind of awful but it tasted divine. Completely worth the wait and a fitting end to our Montréal adventure

Next stop: Shawinigan and La Maurice National Park ( I wonder if we’ll see Jean Chrétien?)

More Montréal

There has been a lot of walking.

We bought subway passes but we get walking and looking around and something catches our eye; art, live music, cool shops, gorgeous old/funky modernist architecture and the next thing you know we are almost wherever we were going, so we just walk. We sleep well.

The Musèe d’art contemporain MAC ( museum of contemporary art) had a really great exhibit on Expo67. The ad above shows a woman looking at a scrapbook her parents made on their honeymoon to Expo67. In the exhibit, she sings a song that’s a poem about the Expo and images flash from the scrapbook, it is quite moving. There are many different video presentations showing then and now and different points of view. There are models of the different pavilions then and now. We loved a drone video following the path the monorail took ( it has since been dismantled). The exhibit is part time capsule, part performance art, sometimes interactive and extremely captivating- so I took no photos 🤣

Beckett and I did enjoy some of the other exhibits

That’s me ⬆️

There was a whole interactive exhibit with light and shadow, some parts of it overlapped with others. We were laughing pretty hard at some inappropriateness but mostly just thrilled at the cleverness of it all.

Rainbows are everywhere

And then water and light played a role

Just when you think people must seriously be incorrigible and we are doomed ( listen to any news report right now involving Trump and white supremists), going to an art gallery can restore your belief in why we should all be here. The creativity and cleverness, the ability to produce an awe effect proves there are people out there taking steps against all that garbage we need to dispose of sooner than later. 

Look for the beauty in your day 

Summer 2017: First stop Montréal

It’s just the 3 of us on the road this summer because Gunnar is a second year counsellor at CQE. We wanted to stay in Canada this summer to celebrate the 150th and since Montréal is celebrating her 375th, this seemed the place to start.

John drove and with a stop for gas and lunch, it took 8 hours. Traffic was kind of nuts past Toronto around Bowmanville, not sure where they were all going to on a Thursday afternoon?

We drove straight to the Jean Talon market ( great sign) 

Grabbed dinner and breakfast

Best tortiere in the world. Everyone already knows about the bagels.

Friday’s weather was predicted to be hot and sunny so we headed to Parc Jean-Drapeau where the beautiful Plage Jean-Dorè is located. It’s a man made paradise created by all the rubble from building the Metro and filling in part of the St Lawrence river #smartasf@€£

We were so worried it would be packed 😂

Parks Canada had shovels and pails for families to borrow and cute little slides for kids to use in the water.

But the big kids went around to the other side for Aquazilla

My #lackofabs are killing me from hauling myself out of the water every time I slipped, fell, slid, launched into the water and from laughing so hard. 

Maximum 80 people can be on this Wipe Out like obstacle course for an hour. John and I were exhausted, Beckett just wanted a food break.

We did take a food break but then just hung out on the beach instead of taking on Aquazilla again. 

We went back to our hotel to clean up and walk by our hotel.

Montréal has some amazing outdoor art and music everywhere in the summertime.

We had a quick bite to eat at Olive et Gourmando

Everything was delicious !!!!

We are right on the edge of the gaybourhood and there are rainbows and acceptance everywhere you look

This awesome garden has a pop up bar, live music and a vegetable garden. In the middle of Montréal. Crazy. Fantastic. Goodness.

There is tennis to watch too. No tickets for us, but the tv coverage is fantastic en français.

One Day Adventure

Today we went on a wild Wednesday adventure, just John, Beckett and me.

We went to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington. What a beautiful artistic space this is! Teachers get in free 🎉and students get a discounted rate 🎉

We went this week, instead of when Beckett was at camp, because there is a joint collaboration with LEGO at the RBG until mid September.

It’s sort of a scavenger hunt to find the LEGO sculptures.

It was a pretty hot day today but it’s amazing how much cooling a garden or green space does to the temperature. It’s also fun to find shady nooks for respite from the sun.

These LEGO signs let you know where the sculptures are and some interesting facts.

Some of the LEGO sculptures are big and some are delicate

It was wonderful to wander through the gardens and find them.

I loved that all of the flowers and plants are ones that could grow in my garden and I have a bit of a list and a lot of inspiration now.

Beckett cooling off

John plotting our course 

Telling time 

Which means it’s time for lunch 

Right across from RBG is a great place for lunch that has been around since 1930 😱it serves every kind of foot long hotdog imaginable and ice cream, it’s called Easterbrook’s and I totally recommend it 🌭🍦

Mondays have me like 🙃😣

Monday morning: the alarm goes off, I jump out of bed. 
Seriously, I jump. 

I always get up as soon as the alarm goes off. Nobody else in my house does. By 7:30 I have showered, checked emails, put the kettle on ( for tea to take to school)  made coffee, organized breakfast and put on table for boys and started eating mine, put all lunches together and am heading back upstairs to finish getting ready.

 Because no one but me is moving above snail speed, John drives the boys to school.

I am planning on just working the morning. Then putting gas ⛽️ in my car. Visiting my mom. Watching the boys play soccer. Going to the grocery store. Getting in a walk before dinner. 

First I have to get to school. It’s construction season, so every Monday morning I second guess my route

At some point during my drive I have to remind myself to keep breathing. Every traffic jam has me scrambling to remember if Mr Koreen said this was where the construction started, a drawback to occasionally working is not working at the same place, time, class. I’m starting to think my flexibility muscle has broken 🤔

I am frazzled to start. The first part of the day is off the rails. The kids are ding dongs and I’m getting wound up.

Morning recess = 

Multiple phone calls on my phone from high school because one teenager was still late for school. 🤦🏻‍♀️#howisthatpossible

And I am now working for the full day. Which is awesome 💰

But the first quarter was brutal. 

So much talking. Them. 

So much yelling. Me.

The day has to change or I will lose my shit. 

I go tell Mr Koreen ( it’s recess) that I am now working all day so maybe he can pick boys up from the soccer game at Western. This is good because he has double planning time at the end of the day and seldom gets to see them play. And he suggests we go out for lunch together. He’ll save his lunch for tomorrow. So now I have a date 🎉

Second quarter of the day goes WAY better. We have been working on telling time ⏰ and now make a flip book. Everyone is on task and quiet-ish. Then I read an awesome story The Perfect Pet by Margie Palatini

The Perfect Pet ( link to hear story) 
It is an awesome story and the class was rapt while I read  #thepowerofbooks #readmore

Then literacy centres

FINALLY lunch.

And it was just like a date. Or like we were on a holiday. 

We went to Starbucks because I had a reward to redeem and getting lunch that way is AWESOME.

And John bought 

So more points earned 😜

We ate on the patio in the sunshine. There was no one else there and it was a total break from the chaos of my morning.  Mr Koreen, who never goes out for lunch and never wants to spend money on lunch said we should go out for lunch every time I work a full day 😘 It would probably take away from the specialness but it was a nice sentiment

I took a #mcctrish in the sunshine ☀️ 

And the rest of the day went great.

Until I discovered some one was passing nasty notes. And then I was feeling all ugh again. But the office handled it 🙏🏻

I made it to the car wash. 

And 2 grocery stores (because credit/debit was out at all Loblaws stores in my hood and I had to use cash so my list got 👎🏻scaled way down) . 

And my walk. And on my walk I stressed about all the crap. And remembered all the good stuff.

A whole day of work.

The kids turned it around.

We got almost all the work left by the teacher done WELL.

A lunch date.

A clean car.

Groceries = necessities and dinner became one of my infamous cook ups:

Asian beef and greens noodle bowl

Why is it so hard to let go of the setbacks? The good far outweighed the bad but I had to shake myself out of it. 

#positiveattitude 👍🏻 

So I lied about our last day #stillinMadrid

Well the day started promising enough. I heard the alarm go at 5:30 and got right up and in the shower. The boys didn’t require 15 wake up prompts! There was a little bit of food left for breakfast to tide us over until we got to the airport. The taxi app we used to get a taxi to pick us up at our apartment worked like a charm ( if you could see the crazy, convoluted, tiny warren of streets we navigated you’d share my amazement!) 

There is little to no traffic on Madrid streets at 7 am so we made it to the airport in record time 👍🏻 it was a bit disconcerting that at 7:20 am there were next to no security staff on but they all hustled out to man their X-ray machines quick enough.

 I wasn’t chosen for extra screening! 🎉

Some time for candy choosing! 

Settled in nicely! 

Reading and making notes so not paying attention to the time. And then I kept seeing some people pacing and I was thinking ” what hell is going on? Sit the freak down already!” 

And I looked at the time. And the announcements started. Followed by the dreaded “gather all your belongings” 

That’s the kiss of death. 

Bus delivery.

Air Canada is hosting flight 837 here with all meals included. 

It was almost 4 before we got here. 

Football in the bar keeps the boys occupied.

Then we went out to explore around the hotel. There’s a lovely park next door.

It’s almost time for dinner 🎉🍷

Then early to bed to start it all again tomorrow. 

So far they are sticking to ⬆️ the above insanity 

Friday: Last day in Madrid 

We’ve had a lovely Spanish holiday! The weather has been beautiful for sightseeing and eating on patios. Our Spanish has improved because it only had one way to go 🤣 We have eaten amazing food and seen awesome things and thoroughly enjoyed pretending to live in Madrid. 

Last walk through the hood

Everyday surrealism 

One more trip to mecca ( football headquarters)

A last lunch in tourist central; Plaza Mayor

My lunch 

My view 

In all the main squares there are gypsies begging and crazies dressed up vying for photo ops ( and cash) most of them are CREEPY! 

Like these weirdo goats with clacking heads

But Spider-Man made us laugh out loud

If you are ever in the mood for a holiday in Madrid we would be happy to share all of our favourites with you. 

Sleep in Thursday aka travelling with teenagers

After 2 days of setting an alarm to get up and out in time to catch trains, today was a nice respite of sleeping until we woke up and then having a leisurely breakfast. The teenagers still required multiple prompts to Get. Out. Of. Bed. but I wasn’t losing my mind. So much. 

When we were all ( finally) upright, we walked over to the Reina Sofia ( have I mentioned how awesomely located our apartment is? We can walk everywhere but Metro is super handy too! ) 

The Reina Sofia, Madrid’s modern art museum, is in Madrid’s first public hospital. The focus is 20 th century Spanish artists but there are others to see. What John loved  is that they have curated film to match the art periods! It’s a very cool presentation that presents the art and the time in which it was created.

Picasso ⬆️

Sonia de Klamery ⬆️

Dali ⬆️

Picasso’s Guernica is here ❤️ I have been intrigued and enamoured by this work of art since I encountered it on my history text book in high school. That a painting could demonstrate and express the horrors of war on a basic and intricate level at the same time, unbelievable. It is huge IRL. You can not photograph it ☹️ #bucketlist #nailedit

You’d never guess how engaged they were looking at this photo 

Lunch is Galatian inspired, so Turkey?

With sangria because I drink at lunch time now. And dinner. I guess when I start at breakfast we can worry. 

 Calamari stew ❤️

Lots of seafood!!!

Walking and shopping followed.

A hole in the wall soccer store with a HUGE selection of jerseys. Both boys bought one. Gunnar got new boots for outdoor season. Still not sure how we even saw it, oh wait, we are travelling with teenagers 😂

Beckett likes to mock me because I am so easily distracted while we walk down the street. The buildings are breathtaking, the people wear such awesome shoes, everyone has such cool scarves on, stores have cute stuff, bakeries………

I mean look at this ⬆️

Somehow it got dark while we were walking 🤣

I may have done some shopping ( and found my new favourite store, only in Spain 😝) 

Holy Toledo!  ( or where we went on Wednesday) 

Another high speed adventure for us, this time to Toledo. A very holy city where people of the big three faiths live in harmony; Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Sephardic Jews coined the term Holy Toledo once upon a time

The train station ⬆️ is gorgeous and a heritage site. 

The view is all up upon arrival! 

There are a few ways into the walled city, we walked and thankfully that included about 6 escalators 🤣

And coffee ☕️

Our main focus in Toledo was the cathedral. Otherwise we just wanted to wander the streets some no wider than a coffee table and older than our brains could grasp. 

Once upon a time there was a mosque here. The king, when beginning plans on his cathedral, promised he would find a site that did not impact on the mosque. Then he left town and the queen and chief advisor said ” build on the mosque” ( no wonder we have trouble getting along) Anyways, the cathedral is built in such a way that the mosque is incorporated inside with soaring inner halls that makes it wider and airier than all previous cathedrals. Amazing and gorgeous! And freezing! 

The cloisters are my favourite! 

The art work was astounding! Between the art work commissioned by artists like El Greco and the frescos covering wall after wall, this cathedral is truly unlike any I have seen. It is light filled and feels celestial. It is a tribute to God but a testimony to the amazing skills and talent of so many people. 

After a traditional lunch, we sat outside in the sunshine and listened to this wonderfully talented man play Spanish guitar 🎵🎶 


 Another history filled day that we rounded out with a walk through a Templar exhibit in a monastery and a final stroll through the crazy little streets that don’t seem capable of fitting cars and yet ….

Tuesday is sightseeing in Segovia day 


Canada needs high speed trains! People would ride them. Segovia is about 100 km from Madrid. We took the high speed train 

and it took less than 30 minutes 👍🏻🎉😂

No wifi like in the Netherlands ☹️ but we survived.

It was a bit confusing tho’ but that’s because…… Spanish. We walked to the Metro station that is by the big department store ( El Corte Inglés) to catch one of the commuter subways to one of the train stations which we thought ( John had asked for it to be) was  included in our train tickets but, no. So we had to buy Metro  tickets from a kiosk with limited English prompts and 2 ‘assistants’ and a LOT of people in need #increasedstresslevels. Then mine was defective going through  the turnstiles ( I know what defecto means 🤓, John not so much when I tried to explain 😝 ) but a very nice lady told her husband to hold the gate for me 😘😘 needless to say we missed the subway 👎🏻 We made it to train station but no signage in any language and lots of trains and platforms and hurrying people. Thank god for security people. The above pictures prove we got on and fast it was!

 It was just slightly longer from Madrid to Segovia than from Segovia train station to the aquaduct 😂

The weather is just gorgeous as these pictures will testify to, blue skies and mid teens in temps.

We walked and strolled and ambled our way through the town.

A strong Moorish influence is seen everywhere you look. All of these homes had towers that the king made the owners ‘crop’ in order to retain their property as Catholicism exerted its influence. 

We explored a castle, Alcázar ( that Disney used as inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s which means I might need some new charms 🤔 as souvenirs ) 

We walked through the cathedral. 

The highlight for the boys was lunch José Maria.

I don’t know who those people were, they wouldn’t leave 😂

Here’s our pig ⬇️ they bring it by your table to show you, then the pig guy uses a plate to cut it up ( there is a lot of whacking and crunching) 

Best. Lunch. Ever. 

Overall a wonderful day spent immersed in history.