Published: August 15th 2010July 14th 2010 So where are you spending your next 9 days break? My brother asked over the phone expecting as usual I would go for yet another exotic remote place, well not this time! Canada??!! What!!?? Aren’t you going to get bored? Well, I am glad to say it was everything but boring: fantastic time with my dear friend Ivette, open air concerts, adrenaline rush in the wilds, beautiful city & landscapes & the food…simply mouth watering! Asking for more!
Chill out time on top of the ski slopes
How to resist the Canadian summer heat - part 2
Chill out time
Well not so chilled actually as the very reason I decided to go to Montreal was to catch up with Ivette, a very close friend from Shanghai
who spend every summer in Canada and that I hadn’t seen for 6 months! So the moment I got to her house, it was champagne, laugh, dancing, midnight swimming and ended up early morning still chatting on her boat
while watching the sunrise over the river… Couldn’t have been better!
The next two days were much more chilled out, catching up on the past months, sunbathing & getting to know her parents who are Cubans based in Mexico. More music and laugh and discovering a little bit
of the Cuban lifestyle (guess the last thing I was expecting was to speak Spanish in Canada!). Ivette, we got to do this trip to Cuba next year!
A great vacation would not really be one without the excitement of discovering beautiful landscape & finding an alternative way to enjoy it
. So back on the road we were with an easy three hours drive up to the Rouge river nested among hills & massive Canadian style forest
about two hours & half from Montreal, south of Mont Tremblant.
A first time experience for Ivette & glad it is something we shared together, guess she is now addicted to it too!
The river in itself can either be raft in one day or half a day and offers class III and IV rapids.
We decided to go for the half day afternoon option which covers some of the river’s best rapids & allows skipping the morning session which is mostly made of easy class III, perfect for beginners but not exactly what we were looking for.
Somehow glad we made this choice as we got to enjoy the best part of the river,
The "short cut"
Driving from the Riviere Rouge to Tremblant
rated one of the top 10 rivers in North America for white water rafting without having to suffer too much from the “school trip” organizational style of the rafting centre
(Nouveau Monde) or the fact that there must have been at least 80 teenagers going for the full day rafting on that day…
Guess I had been lucky so far as except in Australia I never had more than two to three rafting boat at the time, mostly adults participants & no school trip!
Anyway, back to the river! Started slowly on a really wide part of the river, surrounded by the forest, a few exercises and our group was fully ready to enjoy some adrenaline rush. Nice & easy rapids at the beginning, and then the river started to become more narrow and well…as Ivette said while pointing at a spot that was maybe 100 meters from our boat “where is the river? I cannot see the water anymore”… First class IV of the day
& we were not disappointed, nice washing machine followed by a nice slide down and up and yes lots of water (thanks to the rain they had before the previous week).
Group minus one…
feeling much better!!
how to resist the summer canadian heat - part 1
someone decided to go for a swim! Ok, got her back as the water was quickly calm again but did set the tone for the remaining part of the descent!
More class III and the boat literally full of water (first and last time I accept to go on what they call the bucket raft) so we had to voluntary flip it to empty it from the water, ok by then we were all in the water (which surprisingly enough was not as cold as I had expected)
At the next class IV we lost again one of the youngest girl who was on the boat, and for the first time I really got scared as she was swiped from the boat while we were going down and she ended up trapped under the raft
pushed against it by the current, thankfully like all the class IV on this river, they are quite short and just when we were about to jump in the water to get her she reappeared on the other side…pfff...The remaining part of the descent was punctuated by more class IV and III , all quite short but still interesting
Fantastic concert, what a voice!
VIP moment...with Zachari Richard
group only lost a few paddles so somehow guess we were getting better at it!
Overall, a nice descent & a few really good rapids, maybe not my favorite rafting experience but mostly due to the school trip style & quite junior French guide who was not very friendly so guess it is just a question of picking up a different rafting centre. What made this rafting experience really special in my heart was more the fact that it is something we got to experience together and the first time for Ivette!
Autumn would definitely be a great time to go for this rafting excursion, the forest turning to red, bronze and gold colors!
Vibrant! International Blues Festival…
Back on the road after having great fun on the riviere rouge and across a “short cut” indicated by a local grandpa…ok, literally a ‘short’ ‘cut’
as it took us an hour to reach Tremblant and we indeed cut across the forest on a mud/ rocky road along the river, even our GPS at the beginning was not quite sure where we were heading to!
(thanksfully he came back after a little while just
early afternoon in Tremblant
International Blues Festival
when we were starting to wonder whether we were on the right “short cut”…pff… Tremblant
is the perfect illustration of what a Canadian ski resort would look like in summer
: surrounded by beautiful mountains covered with dense forest and grass lands, a lake where pleasance sailing boats are lined up and a colorful pedestrian village built on one of the slope of the mountain.
But what makes this little town suddenly all animated during the summer time is THE International Blues Festival, a huge outdoor festival with stages occupying every single tiny square and nearly 60 different blues band coming from all around the world
to perform during this one week festival (2nd week of July)
The artist we were both the most excited about was Zachary Richard from Louisiana
with his New Orleans style and beautiful text both in English and French and indeed we were not disappointed!
Got to see him and his band during his first concert on the main stage on that evening
, then by nearly pure coincidence ended up in his next day afternoon concert
and actually met him too
after the concert!
Tremblant, the other side
The after concert
Having fun in Mt Tremblant
evening was a really long night, dancing & more martinis and the next day reminded me the comedy movie “the hangover”
, laughing hysterically at some of the pictures, sunglasses on and a bottle of water on hand!
Walking around the town, day time, I was charmed, to say the least, by its unique vibe, colorful houses lined up, lots of terrace and cute tiny Canadian style shops
(ok my favorite one got to be the Christmas decoration one…felt just like walking into Santa house)
Somehow we still managed to go on the top of the slopes (ok…not walking but using the ski cable car) & the view was the best reward we could get, simply stunning!
Lazy chill out time on a long chair enjoying the view and trying to recover some energy and back to the town to enjoy a bit more of blues before driving back to Montreal and Ivette’s place.
Old Montreal by day and night… more party time ?!!!!
Last night in town and we decided to spend it downtown to fully enjoy the night until the early morning at which stage I will be taking my plane back
to North Korea.
We stayed at one of the cutest arty hotel ever
(Lhotel on Rue Saint-Jacques in the old Montreal part) filled with contemporary art pieces mixed with XIX century style furniture
which gave the place a very energic feel and as the hotel staff was showing us the way to our room, he couldn’t help notice our shopping bags Marciano and point out that Mr Marciano actually owns this hotel and most of the art pieces where from his collection…mmm…nice coincidence and no wonder we both fell in love with this hotel!
The walk around the old Montreal
, the French speaking part of Montreal was architecture wise somehow like being halfway between my home town Bordeaux and a city like New York
(for its mid XX century buildings). Plenty of pedestrian roads, massive buildings made of stones, plenty of terrace, lots of street artists & starting with a glass of wine and some “tapas” at around 6PM…Terrace are always a fantastic way to discover a place with the daily life of locals unfolding around you while enjoying some great friendship time, chatting and laughing and yes already looking at next year trip to Cuba!
Caricature in the old Montreal
yes...we got our Pearl Tower in the background!
one of the souvenirs that will remain of that late afternoon is the caricature we decided to have done of both of us by an Egyptian artist with the Shanghai’s pearl tower behind us (yes Ivette always has some picture taken from the Bar Rouge readily available with her even while in Montreal and anywhere else I guess!!! Hahaha, well, glad she did as I am not too sure how this Shanghai landmark would have looked like without having a picture to show to the artist first…)
The night out was lots of fun too (hard not to be when with Ivette) and discovered quite a few good trendy places
to enjoy Montreal at night…”Med Bar + Grill”
is one of them for dinner, up beat & with one of the best tartar ever without mentioning the design which is halfway between a lounge and a restaurant.
To party, we did try / walk by a few places which were not really worth remembering it until we found the "Buonanotte", nice and trendy, music that push you to dance and a crowd in its 30’s. Stayed there until they closed the doors and turned on the light…time to
go back to the airport and leave behind my dear friend, never been really good at saying bye bye, always heart breaking even if I know we will meet again later this year… As I write this blog, all the laughing and great time we had together in Quebec come back to my mind like if it was yesterday…live every moment & yes friendship is one of the most precious thing to have! Happy birthday BB, wish I was in Quebec to celebrate with you!
There are more photos below