Monday, September 5, 2016


Last week the day had was time to fly with Mika to Montreal. 
I'm not sure if I felt excited, anxious, scared or nervous...probably a mix of all of the above. 
The main purpose of this trip was to get Mika settled, to get the last remaining questions answered and to eventually say good-bye. 
But aside of this, we also wanted to explore the city.
And that we did!!
The following blog is by no means a complete Montreal city tour, it is more a collection of the highlights we explored.

On our first day in Montreal the weather was rather uncooperative, rainy, windy and warm. Humid east coast weather Mika will have to get used to. Nevertheless we had a blast.
First on our list, since it was just around the corner from our hotel, was the Basilique Notre-Dame.

There is so much history in Montreal. Before we even approached the basilique we had a close look at the fountain,

and then stood in line to see the famous inside.
Absolutely stunning.
The blue background and the many stars made from real gold give an almost unreal feeling of depth.

Saturated from so much splendor we wandered around the small, old alleys until we stumbled upon a sculpture...
Called "The illuminated Crowd" this sculpture is one of Montreal's most photographed landmark. The special weather resistant material looks a bit like butter, so Mika nicknamed it right away "The Butter Sculpture". It is a bit of a disturbing sculpture, as the pictured people in the front are "illuminated" and the farther one goes towards the end,

people seem to be less illuminated, some seem to wriggle in pain, some seem famished, and at the very end they even appear dead...

While wandering through Montreal we saw lots of hybrid and electric cars and a quite extensive infrastructure with "electric gas stations", but also a more affordable clean energy solution for quick transportation. Rental bikes! You can rent them for an hour, half a day or a whole day. You rent it at one place and return it at any rental venue of your choice. Super idea and the bikes looked really well maintained.

Chateau Ramezay was built in the 18th century as a prestigious residence for Claude de Ramezay, governor of Quebec. It was the first building in Qu├ębec to be classified a historic monument and was selected by a team of experts, in collaboration with UNESCO, as one of the 1001 historic sites you must see before you die!

We postponed visiting this museum and decided to keep strolling and window a shop window I just could not pass...

Some magnificent street art

and more art at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Though we just looked through the foyer and headed towards the underground mall.

Art everywhere in Montreal,

even in the mall!

Totally exhausted we made it back to our hotel, and caught the right moment to see one of the fire displays at the La Joute fountain, the Palais des Congress with it's colored glass front in the background.

Knowing now about the spectacle I photographed the scene as seen from our hotel room the following night.

The next day was mostly McGill oriented. Mika moved into his residence and we took care of all the logistic and formal tasks. Done with this we still had part of the afternoon to explore. We started with a late lunch at the observatory of the skyscraper at the Place Ville Marie. This newly renovated observatory and restaurant offers an amazing 360 view over the city and some delicious food!.

Restored we took a short metro ride to Quartier Latin and Le Village.
Le Village is a whole urban district dedicated to all gay people. The 'boules roses' that cover the main street, Rue Ste. Catherine, go hand in hand with the cheerful vibe one finds there.

Even the signs are pink ;-)

Passing the Chapelle Notre Dame-de-Lourdes in beautiful late afternoon light we headed up

Rue Denise. This summer decorated with blue umbrellas. I have not quite figured out the meaning of the umbrellas but saw images of yellow and red umbrellas spanned over the Rue Denis on the mystery I need to uncover....

One of the reasons we wanted to stroll Rue Denise was to see this major mural, picturing parts of the 'Le Refus Global' a manifest from the late 1960's that the CBC calls: "one of the most important and controversial artistic and social documents in modern Quebec society". The authors and artists of the manifest are eternalized by the red birds in the mural.

Further up Rue Denis we reached the Carre St. Louise.

Unfortunately the sun was about to sink and I had not too much light left. But this is one of my favorite spots so far in Montreal. The Carre is surrounded by lovely and well maintained Victorian houses

and in the middle stands an old stone gazebo which is transformed into an ice cream and coffee place.

The picture above is so Montreal....people reading in the last light of the day, kids playing peek-a-boo and an older lady sitting there with her pink bike, how awesome is this?

Hard to top this, but the following day did just that. While waiting in line for a taxi the evening we arrived, I had seen an ad for a 18th century market on the coming weekend. I researched this and found out the the market was just around the corner. So, after our obligatory croissant breakfast we went to check it out.

Along the Place Royal many different wooden stalls had been built and vendors dressed up in 18th century clothing offered goods in line with the times.

Together with maps from Montreal and vicinity at the times

and street musicians

the whole market had a wonderful authentic flair. When you closed your eyes and just listened to the voices mingled with the music one could really imagine to be back in the 18th century.

Adjacent to the Place Royale is the Museum Pointe-a-Calliere, and this bill board of an ongoing exhibition caught my eyes...

This tower is part of the museum and we wondered if we would be able to get to the top.

Yes, we could and from up there we had a great view over the market and

the old port.

Before we even got to the horse exhibition we got drawn into the underground of the museum which was built on original parts of the old city.

Lots of archeological history here. Right now they are restoring wide parts of the former under-ground channels and in short time, museum visitors will be able to wander along these old tunnels.

Being a harbour city Montreal was on the front line of epidemics.... this "news" illustration from 1875 shows the grim former day scare.

After this quick side trip to Montreal's history we finally enjoyed the horse exhibition. Amazing objects of art, all around the horse, collected by Emile Hermes.
The absolute highlight - Pegasus!

The exhibition was a worthy closure to this amazing short trip.

Montreal, I will be back!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Keep Jumbo wild....

....because it is sooo beautiful as it is and we really do not need another ski-resort!!
Soon after we moved to the East Kootenays we heard about the long ongoing debate over the Jumbo valley. Developers would like to see a year round ski resort, everybody else would like to keep it wild. Curious about the valley I always wanted to hike it. But from where we live it's an almost 3 hour drive to the trail head, and two of these 3 hours are on a gravel road....
Then we saw Jumbo Wild last winter, a documentary about the fight over the valley, and I knew I had to go see Jumbo valley come summer!

Two weeks ago that day had come, four girls went up the mountain! It was Leica's first big hike and Lexie, as a seasoned hiking dog, took advantage of every water we passed to drink and cool off her paws.

It was one of these spectacular summer days, not too hot, and a few clouds overhead produced this really nice Kodak-chrome light.

Reflection without dog...

After the first part of the ascent we were greeted with this amazing view. 
This is Jumbo imagine the bottom lined with streets and hotels and the surrounding mountains furrowed by ski lifts....

The further we went up the more stunning the views became

Soon we had reached the jumbo hut. Originally we had planned to stop here, have lunch and then return. But there was one more "knoll" (as seen to the right in the image below) and we were wondering how the views would be from up there....

That last part was rather steep, especially on an empty stomach, but so worth it!

Floral mountain views...above Pasqueflower seeds heads, below Indian Paintbrush and Subalpine Buttercups

As always, please feel free to click on the images to enlarge's worth it.

 Once we reached the top, the view literally took our breath away. Below an almost 360 view from the summit. Two other hiking parties were up there, a mother-son team from Squamish, BC and a experienced  hiking couple. We briefly exchanged a few words before the couple headed off. Baffled I found out later, in a conversation with the Squamish lady, that I finally had met and talked to nobody else then Janice Strong! The author of my trusty hiking guide " Mountain Footsteps".
Janice, I hope one day we can hike together!

The panorama is best viewed enlarged!

While I was busy taking photos, Monika had started her well earned lunch. My growling stomach made sure that I joined her rather quickly.

It always surprises me how plants survive these harsh mountain conditions. These little gems flourished in the wind shadow of a big rock.

Slowly we started our way back....the dogs were rested and seemed not to be tired at all.

The flower girls....

Beautiful Pasqueflower aka Anemone, above in bloom, 
below the seed head.

Mountain Heather

Glacier Lily, bears love these...;-)

Merten's Moss Heather

While I was crawling around to photograph the wildflowers, Monika and Leica chilled on the rocks.

...and Lexie in the water...

The final steps back down to the trail head follow a little waterfall...fairy tale surroundings...

If time and location allows, go hike this extremely beautiful area.

The permit of the original planned resort expired last year and the government did not renew it. This is a major step towards the protection of Jumbo Valley but not yet a final victory. The developers have not given up and are working now on a down scaled version of the resort. For more info click here.
I urge you to watch the movie, Jumbo Wild, and/or sign the petition for the protection of this valley!

Link to movie trailer:

Link to sign the petition: