April 16, 2014

BIXI season in Montréal

photo by Justine Cotton - BIXI photo contest

It snowed yesterday but that will not stop Mr. Montréal from heading out bright and early on Saturday morning for his first BIXI bike ride of the season. BIXI is a bike share service where any adult with a credit card can borrow a bike in 30-minute increments over 24 hours, 72 hours ... or, if you're an addict like my husband, the whole April 15 - November 15 season.

The bikes are mostly available downtown, near the Plateau, in Rosemont Petite-Patrie and NDG. In this region you will be able to find a station every couple of blocks. This covers all of the tourist areas and most of the student zones for the major universities. If you are west of the Decarie (A15), north of the Métropolitaine (A40) or east of Viau, stations are few and far between. Check the map at montreal.bixi.com for details.

Sample itineraries:

(1) Bike "the Main" (St-Laurent) in Little Italy from Beaubien moving north. Stop for coffee or have breakfast at Le Vieux Vélo (59, Beaubien est), visit the Jean-Talon Market to pick up a picnic lunch, then head north to Parc Jarry to enjoy your picnic.

(2) From Parc or St-Denis, head east on Rachel. Explore Parc Lafontaine before continuing east to Parc Maisonneuve and the museums clustered around the Olympic Park (Biodome, Insectarium, Jardin Botanique, etc.)

(3) Explore the wide, treed streets of Mile End and Outremont. There is a BIXI station right outside St-Viateur Bagel (263, St-Viateur ouest). Hint, hint, nudge, nudge.

BYO helmet and be sure to check the tire pressure before choosing your bike (thanks, Stu, for the tip). You don't need a lock because you will be parking your bike at the BIXI station closest to your destination. And if you are planning a bike expedition that will take you out of the BIXI zone, here's a handy list of bike rental companies in Montréal (courtesy of BIXI).



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March 26, 2014

Baseball returns (for two games)


Hey there, Expos fans! Baseball returns to Montréal this weekend when the Toronto Blue Jays host the New York Mets for two spring training games.

Professional baseball had been a part of Montréal life since the Montreal Royals were founded in 1897. Don Drysdale, Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente all played here when the Royals were the farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1969, the Montreal Expos became the first non-U.S. team in Major League Baseball. All of Canada was furious when the players' strike in 1994 brought an end to the Expos' best season ever. I was at their last home game in 2004 -- a sad day.

The group Montreal Baseball Project, led by former Expo Warren "Cro" Cromartie, is seeking to bring a MLB team back to Montreal, so head on over to their website if you're passionate about baseball.

Ticket prices for the Jays versus the Mets range from $22 to $80 (yikes!) including TicketMaster service charges. The games will be played on Friday, March 28th at 7:05 p.m. and Saturday, March 29th at 1:05 p.m. at Olympic Stadium (métro Pie-IX - ligne verte). I'm going to try to convince Mr. Montréal that we should go. Maybe if I agree to go to a soccer game with him this summer.


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March 6, 2014

Québec election 2014

http://datingamontrealer.blogspot.ca

A provincial election has been called in Québec for April 2014. Although I'm sure she wouldn't like the comparison, premier Pauline Marois is taking a page from the Harper handbook by promising fixed election dates but not just yet, instead waiting for the moment when the polls point toward the possibility of a majority government for her party.

This will be my first election in Québec -- I was here for the municipal elections last fall but I hadn't yet been a resident for the minimum six months. I already find myself between a rock and a hard place:  I want to vote based on the issues, which for a provincial election in Canada should be education and healthcare. In fact, the main issue in the previous Québec provincial election was education, in particular the conflict around postsecondary education highlighted in the carré rouge student protests.

However, the two top issues so far in this election are separation and the controversial Québec charter of values (officially, the Charter affirming the values of State secularism and religious neutrality and of equality between women and men, and providing a framework for accommodation requests). For my take on the charter (plus some good snarky videos), click here.

A person who believes that Québec should remain a province of Canada rather than an independent nation is a federalist (the opposite is a sovereignist). In my move to Québec, I have acquired a new label to my identity, one which will become the primary axis which determines how I will vote. And, let me tell you, there are not very many federalist candidates from which to choose. I am feeling frustrated already by this limitation and it is only my first election. To be clear, this election is not so much about "should Québec separate" as "should there be a referendum." My answer to both is non.

If federalism versus sovereignty is the rock, the hard place is a party or candidate's position on the charter of values. The major federalist party, the Liberals, are pro-charter (with the obligatory waffling of "with some changes"). The only Muslim member of the National Assembly, Fatima Houda-Pépin, left the Liberal caucus over this issue and will run in the election as an independent candidate. I suppose we could always move to her riding, except that we already live in the federal riding represented by Maria Mourani, who was kicked out of the Bloc Québecois for her opposition to the charter of values.

The charter of values engenders strong feelings and opinions among  institutions and individual Québeckers. I am strongly opposed. But I am also strongly opposed to separation. How do I choose which of these two issues is more important?

I will be keeping my ears wide open and my fingers crossed to find a candidate or party which represents my points of view. It will be a bonus if he or she also shares my views on education and healthcare.

Your comments are very welcome.


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February 28, 2014

Nuit blanche 2014

Penguins free - Nuit Blanche 2013

The 15th annual Montréal en lumière festival wraps up this weekend with Nuit blanche, an all-night party showcasing culture and the arts. The evening is divided geographically into five areas. I have chosen a few of my coups-de-coeur as a starting point for planning your evening. All events are free unless otherwise indicated.

Quartier des spectacles et centre-ville

The Clock begins at 6 p.m. at the Musée d'Art Contemporain and runs for 24 hours. It is a film composed of fragments of other movies, TV shows, and artworks which display clocks. Each clip is arranged to play at the actual time in your timezone. Worth a view.

Montréal en lumière's outdoor site, including shows, food trucks, the ferris wheel, and laser light experience, is running all night at the Quartier des spectacles.

Fantasia, the fantasy film festival, is screening three programmes of short films at Théâtre Maisonneuve at midnight, 1:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m.

Art Souterrain takes place in the underground city, beginning tonight and lasting until March 16, 2014.

Quartier Vieux-Montréal

• Studio Tango Montréal offers free Argentine tango lessons at 8:30 p.m., 10:15 p.m. and midnight. Social dancing from 1 a.m. Bring indoor shoes.

• Live Beatles tunes and free admission to the Beatles exhibit are offered by the Musée Pointe-à-Callière from 8 p.m. - 2 a.m.

Quartier Plateau-Mont-Royal et Mile End

Ice sculptures on St-Denis between Mont-Royal et Marie-Anne will be created beginning at 7 p.m.

Pôle Ligne Bleue (new site)

Cinéma Beaubien will be screening short films (they usually have NFB films) and serving free popcorn from midnight to 2 a.m.

Théâtre Outremont is open for a cabaret performance (pay-what-you-can plus cash bar) from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Pôle Parc Olympique

• The Biodome hosts two outdoor shows: Birds of Prey and Escape of the Penguins (see photo, above, from last year's Nuit blanche). They also have a murder mystery night inside ($12 admission) which includes admission to the exhibits. The bats at bedtime are particularly active and interesting.

For all the details, see the Nuit blanche website. The métro runs all night and there are free shuttle buses between the Nuit blanche sites, so grab your winter coat and your Carte OPUS and head on out.


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February 21, 2014

Port Symphony

Image: Musée Pointe-à-Callière

Want to check out an hilarious way to spend a Sunday afternoon? Join me & Mr. Montréal for Pointe-à-Callière's Port Symphonies on February 23 or March 9, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. at the Vieux Port (métro Place d'Armes - ligne orange). Trains, tugboats and ships in port will sound their horns in a joyous melée that is scripted by a Québec composer.

While you're in the area, you might as well visit my favourite Montréal museum, Pointe-à-Callière, and/or go skating at the Patinoire du Vieux Port.



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February 18, 2014

Montréal en lumière

From montrealinpictures.com

Food and music...what more could one want? What's that? You say you want a ferris wheel? Okay, food, music and a ferris wheel. All this from February 20 - March 2, 2014 at Montréal en lumière, the winter gastronomy and music festival.

There are plenty of fancy schmancy meals at fancy schmancy restaurants, including the Planète Montréal series with special guests from all walks of Montréal life: musicians, authors, hockey players. There are plenty of highbrow (and lowbrow) concerts you can pay to see, including Joshua Bell (February 25 at la Maison symphonique), Basia Bulat (February 27 at Club Soda) and Blue Rodeo (March 2 at Place-des-Arts). However, on this blog I prefer to feature the more affordable side of festival life.

Affordable food:

• La fête des fromages d'ici, a free event featuring more than sixty cheeses of Québec, at the complexe Desjardins, February 20-23 (métro Place-des-Arts, ligne verte).

• Food trucks at Place des Festivals include Kiosque à Smoked Meat, les Gaufres Belges (that's waffles for you unilingual anglophone types) and the Flavours of Haïti kiosk (try the soupe giromon). Access the Place des Festivals from métro Place-des-Arts (ligne verte).

Free entertainment:

• Outdoor concerts at Place des Festivals each night at 8 p.m. Some nights feature DJs or VJs and other nights feature live music from Louis-Jean Cormier (February 20), Jimmy Hunt (February 21), Cafeïne (February 22), Bet.E and Stef (February 26), Dead Obies (February 27), and Jason Bajada (February 28).

Nucléus, a crazy lazer box, sound and light show. At Place des Festivals (métro Place-des-Arts, ligne verte).

Ferris wheel, Thursdays and Fridays from 5 p.m. and weekends from noon during the festival, in the esplanade of the Place-des-Arts (métro Place-des-Arts, ligne verte).

For all the details, see www.montrealenlumiere.com.

Stay tuned for more about the grand finale of Montréal en lumière, Nuit blanche, which takes place on Saturday, March 2, 2014.


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A note on comments:  You will find the comment box more easily if you click on the title of the post. I'm working on making it more visible from the blog homepage but so far I'm not having much luck. My apologies for the inconvenience.