Fantasy Friday

Alas, my quick weekend get-away to Montreal has been foiled this weekend. Foiled by my dog. The dog boarders cannot take him since his rabies shot has just expired. Oh no!

So instead, I will fantasize about Montreal.

Here is a list of top FREE things to do in this amazing city from

1. Jardin des Floralies – Île Notre-Dame

Filled with 5,000 or so rose bushes, over 100,000 annuals as well as perennials and my personal favorite, that weeping willow tree equipped with picnic table beside the canal, the Jardin des Floralies is 25 acres of horticultural history and one of two major Montreal gardens. Originally created by some of the world’s best landscape artists who participated in the 1980 International Floralies fair, the gardens became a permanent city fixture and are now maintained by Parc Jean-Drapeau. While especially breathtaking in August, there’s plenty to behold across seasons, from the Jardin des Floralies’ first buds in spring to the vibrant colors of surrounding trees come fall.

2. Outdoor Ballroom Dancing – Île Sainte-Hélène

Only in Montreal. Only in Montreal will you spot a crowd — from ravers to seniors — doing the cha cha in square formation on a man made island (actually, it was a man-expanded island, circa 1963-1967). Light drizzle or shine, from June through August, anyone can learn the basics of ballroom dancing in the outdoor comfort of our very own Parc Jean-Drapeau. Always free and offered three evenings a week, just follow the beat, dance prof and group of line dancers to your left as you exit Parc Jean-Drapeau Metro. You really can’t miss it and you really must try it. At least once.

3. For the Window Shopper in Some of Us – Montreal Underground City

I’ve been here my most of my life yet I only found out in my early twenties that the world’s largest underground city is — cough — in Montreal. My excuse is 15 years in Laval. What’s yours? Explore all 33 km of Montreal’s Underground City and the 1,600 to 2,000 boutiques along the way, from the edge of downtown at Westmount Square to the Bibliothèque National, near the Latin Quarter and the Gay Village. Do look out for one of my favorite stretches, that mysteriously huge yet rush hour barren hallway with skylight near Place Bonaventure. Tell me, is there some monumental purpose for it other than serving as a fantastic photo backdrop? Please email me if you know. Seriously.

4. Explore Summit Park – Westmount

The highest point of Westmount and one of Mount Royal‘s three peaks, Summit Park and its 57 acres of protected wildlife is an all-time favorite urban getaway of mine. Gorgeous year round and particularly revered in the spring — birdwatchers gather early mornings to spot woodpeckers, owls, and many other bird species attracted to the summit — you forget you’re even in a city. The designer houses encircling the urban forest — try to guess which one I dubbed “the Claw” — offer a sharp and surreal contrast to the designated bird and wild flower sanctuary, disappearing from view within seconds of entering the park. Remember to keep the noise level down and bring a plastic bag for litter as public garbage bins are scarce in the area.

5. A Free Dose of Natural History at Redpath Museum – Downtown

From dinosaur bones to fossils to Egyptian mummies in the flesh, the Redpath doesn’t charge a dime to the public and is one of the oldest free museums in Canada. Located at McGill University’s downtown campus and doubling as an academic unit for McGill graduate students in biology, anthropology, and earth sciences, The Redpath Museum showcases permanent exhibits in geology, zoology and paleontology. The Redpath also houses a collection of over 17,000 anthropological and archaeological artifacts covering Ancient Egypt, South America, Sri Lanka and more.

OH….and one more thing from my own Montreal experience….the PHO!!!!

Chicago water tower

Photo of the day – Welcome to the Chicago water tower! The only structure in the area that withstood the Chicago fire in 1871.



Why is this Canadian tv show called “Mantracker” so awesome?

I think that being a “woman”, a “woman” close  with nature and doing the hiking that I do, that perhaps..perhaps…just thinking…. that for this show…perhaps it might be called “humantracker”?

Has this NOT been proposed to the producers?? If not, as a Canadian, foremost, I am “shocked” and “appalled”.

Could this hiking, and evading a  “man” trail might be quite the same challenging/awesome adventure for a “female” as well??

The intro to the site actually has pictures of “females”, so why the name???

May I invite any “male” and “females” on my 2 month camping “adventure” for a challenge? We did something “similar” to a “man” tracking experience. Whether “male” or  “female”, my boyfriend and I experienced some “heavy” nature hiking experiences.

Can I “please” do any more “quotes”????

For a Canadian television series, I am quite disappointed. Although I do not consider myself a feminist, I agree that ” f’ that”, any human being can do whatever they put their minds to. Male, female…. don’t assume that anything is impossible for either gender.


So guess what, “Mantracker”. Your series is sh*t. Such an awful name, for a potentially entertaining show.

Mont Royal

Its been almost 2 months since I have been wearing my travelling shoes and I think something needs to be done about that. So why not see if those shoes still fit me and head off to Montreal for a nice weekend get-away with my boyfriend.

It’s only a 6 hour drive and I really miss wandering the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal.

It’s happening this coming weekend.

It’s going to be fun!

It’s countdown time!!!!

Spectacular skylines I have seen

Seen a few cities in my day, I have.

Toronto, Ontario

San Francisco, California

New York, New York

Honolulu, Hawaii

Montreal, Quebec

Chicago, Illinois

Vancouver, BC

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Rome, Italy

Victoria, BC

Venice, Italy

Calgary, Alberta

Matera, Italy

Florence, Italy

Quebec City, Quebec

Detroit, Michigan what!

Marrakesh, Morocco

Vieste, Italy


Las Vegas, Nevada

Cancun, Mexico


An Italian Day

Certainly, in Italy, nobody takes light for granted.

Barbara Steele

I directed a piece of theater in Italy. We took nine fables from the town and we created a play.

Vincent Schiavelli

I haven’t had that good a time in ages. Since September 11, really. I just felt so happy, it was like the sun came out of the clouds for me. I love Italy.

Bruce Sterling

I was offered a free villa in Hollywood, but I said no thank you, I prefer to live in Italy.

Ennio Morricone

Fantasy friday!


My family is off soon on a wonderful trip to London, England (quick trip to Bath), then Paris and finally Belgium to visit some of our relatives.

When I was growing up, my mother used to talk about this one statue in Brussels, Belgium that she really would love to see. I think she told me when I was about 12 years old, and now it’s one of my quests in life to see this statue; Manneken Pis (As I used to think – Monica Piss….sorry!):

This statue of a little boy in a somewhat compromising position has since several centuries been a major tourist attraction in the city. When most people see our ‘manneken’, the first reaction is always one of amazement: “Look, how small he is ! Why does everybody want to see him ?” The people of Brussels, however, accept him the way he is. After all, it doesn’t always have to be big to be beautiful. Imagine he would be the size of the Statue of Liberty : Brussels would be continuously flooded !

Nobody actually knows why the manneken is there. He is believed to be nothing more than a decoration on top of a fountain, where people in the Middle-Ages came to get fresh water. Already in the 15th century a fountain called ‘manneken-pis’ existed in the Stoofstraat/Rue de l’étuve. The official origin can be traced back to the 13th of August 1619 when the city ordered the sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy to make a new bronze statue of manneken-pis to replace an old and withered one. During the course of the centuries our little manneken has often been hidden to protect him against bombs of invading armies. He has also been stolen several times by plundering soldiers and even by the citizens of Geraardsbergen, a city in Flanders that claims to possess the oldest statue of a peeing boy in Belgium.

There are many legends about the Manneken. According to one of them a little boy had watered against the door of a witch who lived where the fountain now stands. The witch was so angry that she turned the little boy into a statue.

This website goes on to let us all know that, once you come upon this statue, if it inspires you….please contact authorities. What???!!?

Picture of the day – Along the Arno

This picture was taken in July, 2010 as I walked along one of the bridges across the Arno River, in Florence. For some reason, I just emitted a gigantic sigh. Oh, when shall I return to this beautiful setting?!

Global Bazaar

Travel and Leisure magazine, American Express, and Delta bring you ‘Global Bazaar’, in New York City.

This is what you get:

“Through sensory installations, authentic culinary experiences, unique merchandise from around the globe, live performances, and much more–T+L will celebrate the world and the joy of exploring it.”

Check out what you can buy too! I’ll go for the Moroccan furnishings, since I was unable to bring much home when I went a few years ago.

You also get a free subscription to T + L Magazine (tickets are between $50-75).

Representing Canada (maybe I could help out??!!):

Wait…ok, I have a secret too. I really would love to go to this just so I had an excuse to head to NYC for a few days. But I am sure I could think of many other excuses another day….

Deal of the Day

The Italy travel guide from Lonely Planet basically got me through an entire 3 week journey of random touring around the country. I absolutely love that book, and it sits from and centre on my book shelf as a reminder of all the fun I had when I was there last summer.

If you are out to buy a guide book for any of your upcoming travels, sign up for the Lonely Planet newsletter and receive 20% off any book.

Great deal!