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Montréal: A Potpurri Posting As VanRamblings Settles In

Jardin Botanique de Montréal, Japanese Garden

Wending our way into a second full day in Montréal, having had two good night's rest, we are once again feeling energized and ready to explore the Québécois city where we will reside for the next six days.

Today's posting will seek to provide cursory impressions gleaned during our first 48 hours in Montréal, glancing observations under the Montréal sun, perhaps not particularly insightful, but not devoid of value, rather a wholly subjective take. Make of what follows what you will. Of course, there may be a bit of the travelogue, words about the Métro and the Jardin Botanique de Montréal, about Dunn's Famous and Royal Victoria College residence.

So, without further ado, let's get today's VanRamblings posting underway, as we tackle Montréal in point form, covering a whole gamut of topics ...

  • Royal Victoria College Residence: Call us parsimonious if you will, but when travelling and on vacation, VanRamblings has long made arrangements to reside on a university campus in the city of our destination. Royal Victoria College Residence is but one example. Last year, we spent about a week in total at Dalhousie University's Howe Hall. And, why not? Daily rates are only $45, a comfy bed in a spacious dorm room, wifi at the ready, centrally located, friendly students to serve your every need, professors participating in symposia, and young, energetic and friendly travelling students residing in groups. And, did I mention that there are family rates for family groupings? What's not to like? Inexpensive, fun, if you're not Harrison Ford or Brian Mulroney, residing at a university while on vacation is the way to go!

VanRamblings spent Friday afternoon at the Jardin Botanique de Montréal, one of the many must-see attractions we had on our list while we prepared for our mid-August Québec vacation. A peaceful oasis in the middle of a bustling metropolis, the Jardin Botanique de Montréal offers a spiritual experience, from the tranquility of the Japanese Garden to the vibrancy of the Senses Garden (primarily meant for kids), where visitors are invited to touch and take in the scent of various of the plants, constituting but two aspects of a wondrous sprawling urban botanical garden with over 20,000 plants. The video above offers a more expansive insight into le jardin.

  • The weather: Prior to our arrival in Montréal we had been warned that mid-August was notorious for hot, humid weather. Instead, we have experienced warm, sunny days, with only an occasional bit of cloud, the humidity hardly as bothersome as one would find to be the case in Vancouver. Perhaps it's the cooling breeze, but VanRamblings has felt no discomfort due to the weather since our arrival.

  • The homeless: A pervasive 'problem' on the North American continent arising from a court decision in the 1980s mandating that it constituted a human rights violation to hold the mentally ill in custody in larger psychiatric hospitals, de-institutionalization has meant that the most vulnerable among us may be found sleeping on the streets. Since VanRamblings' arrival in Montréal, we have become aware that from the Métro to the parks, on the downtown streets and the streets across the city, on buses and on benches, this Québec city is experiencing a severe problem with homelessness. There's not one Métro station entrance where there aren't three or four homeless men wrapped in sleeping bags. On downtown streets, those with untreated schizo-effective disorders carry on loud conversations with themselves, and on every street in the downtown core there are three or four beggars. The time has long passed when government should have acted to offer resolution to what has become the greatest social ill of our time. At present, the 'luckier' of our mentally ill population are 'warehoused', often a demeaning and degrading response to 'street homelessness'. Not a good enough response, by far. What is needed is humane, caring 'treatment' and rehabilitation, and as far as is possible reintegration into the society, all the while providing for the physical health needs of this 'put upon' population; starting with good dental care, and identification and effective treatment of physical maladies.

  • Jaywalking: Seems that it's just as big a problem in Montréal as it is in Vancouver, except those who reside in this city are significantly bolder than west coasters, as the Québécois not only cross mid-street but, in many cases, outright ignore stop lights / "Don't walk" signs.

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Well, VanRamblings is just about ready to wrap this post up. With lots on our agenda today, it's time to make our way across the City. Before we go ...

The Perseid meteor shower took place last night, a celestial event that occurs every VanRamblings birthday period, a sort of celestial celebration. Each summer for many years, Megan and Jude and I would travel over to Tofino, find ourselves along the shore over by Chesterman Beach, and gaze upon the heavens and the Milky Way at the phantasmagoria of falling stars skittering across the dark and beauteous and purple night sky.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at August 13, 2011 9:50 AM in Montréal 2011


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