I was asked to give places I would take my cousin to if he were to ever visit Montreal. And I had to stay away from the obvious. I chose to stay away from the extremely obvious, but still had to put some musts in just in case.
Little Burgundy and Griffintown
I just start this off with a coffee and brunch at or near the Atwater Market. This is in a rejuvenated part of town that has managed to rebuild with the rich and poor neighbourhoods existing side by side. This area was dominated by Jamaican immigrants and by Irish ones before that. Now it is one of the hottest and trendiest places to live at and visit. Its ugly condominiums take a back seat to the old and new cultures.
This is a mural of famous Montreal jazz icon Oliver Jones.
And this is a typical house in the more affluent area.
Just west of this is the Atwater Market, with the backdrop of people kayaking in the Lachine Canal. There are numerous bike paths, green space, and people just hanging around and relaxing, with food trucks and some music playing on the weekends in summer.
Point St Charles
A place that God seems to have forgotten, Point St Charles is just south of Little Burgundy. It is one of the poorest areas in Canada, but the architecture and street art are amazing and seemingly untouched. I would keep off the smaller seedier streets at night, but it is a place to walk an hour or 2 around in.
The Urban Beach
Then it’s time to get hot and beachy at the Old Port at Montreal’s Urban Beach by the St. Lawrence River.
Yes, awesome sand and an awesome view, with beautiful people and plenty of room and umbrellas to unwind, tan, and have a drink. But, alas, you cannot go into the water, lest you wish to turn green.
But it’s a try on a not-so-hot day. Showers are available if you get hot.
This is the bike path along the Lachine Canal that goes all the way to the western tip of the island, just next to the road that does the same. This is my favourite drive on the island of Montreal. Nature, with lots of parks, green space, shore, nice homes, quaint neighbourhoods, and nice places to take a break at.
Borrowed from Global TV , this is an example of the incorporated beauty of the area.
These are the pier and lighthouse in Lachine. You can park and fish on the pier. You can go ice fishing in the winter. You can always go in the lighthouse and get a nice view of the water. Certainly worth a stop on your way west.
There are many municipalities you pass on your way to the other side of the Lakeshore.
Certainly one of the prettiest places to visit and reside in is Pointe Claire Village, an area that is becoming a bit more trendy but that still has its villagy feel. You feel that you’re far removed from the city and the suburbs here, although you’re a 5-minute drive away from the heart of the West Island area of Montreal. And real estate is being bought quickly because of its eventual increase in value in the near future.
This is one of the 2 main streets of the village. This will only be considered off the beaten path for a little while.
These strange looking homes were built in 1967 for the Montreal World Exposition. People still live in these luxurious homes. Here’s a million – dollar home. Book an appointment or just visit what you can.
Ile de la Visitation
Moving to the north end of town is a humongous park that offers biking and hiking trails, picnic tables, and just beautiful scenery.
I also like to have a nice healthy meal while listening to the small falls.
Almost no one knows Westmount Park, which is hidden just west of downtown Montreal and in its most affluent neighbourhood of Westmount. Beautiful greenery, spacious, great place to take a break from whatever you’re doing.
Place Jacques Cartier and Old Montreal
Place Jacques Cartier is the downtown of Old Montreal. Great restaurants are not in the square itself, but just a bit over any of the intersecting streets. And you can find anything you want. There are street artists selling their works and also many other activities that you never know existed.
#wrestler #movie #Mickey-Rourke #Marisa-Tomei
Those who think that wrestling is fake can stop reading now. So can the ones who think professional wrestlers aren’t real athletes, but that race car drivers are. The Wrestler is a film about an aging wrestling icon and his battle to make the right choices concerning, love, family, romance, and happiness.
Randy the Ram, played perfectly by Mickey Rourke, was big before wrestling was a multimillion-dollar industry like it is nowadays. He seems to have been one of those admired cult icons on many a teenage boy’s walls. One of those on some popular independent circuit who probably didn’t care about million dollar contracts. Not that there were that many to choose from in the 1980s, when Randy’s stock must have been at its highest.
The film has a documentary feel when it portrays the promotion, the training, and the interaction between the wrestlers. It’s a glimpse into what we seem to know about them. But it shows how much respect there is in the locker room, even amongst the biggest villains and heroes. Yes, it’s rigged. Yes, it’s acting. But mostly, The Wrestler proves that these are tough and talented athletes that make proessional wrestling into the sport it is. By revealing all this, the film lets us focus on the character of the protagonist.
Randy is someone down on his luck. There are 2 people he cares for — his girlfriend (Marisa Tomei giving a brilliant performance as an aging stripper, yet very grounded ) and his semi-estranged daughter, played stiffly by Evan Rachel Wood. The girlfriend is the only positive influence in Randy’s life, giving him the courage to approach his daughter and her girlfriend.
Coney Island in the winter looks surreal, still, almost gothic. And the director uses it as the chilly and heart-warming backdrop of Randy shows his most vulnerable human side to his daughter.
Randy is a potentially tragic anti-hero who has always been too scared to face his fear. But when you see the end being much nearer than the beginning, there comes a time to face your demons, even if chances are they’ll kill you at the end. Although we don’t know if he becomes a true tragic hero, we are happy for Randy because he has done it his way.
There is also some black comedy in the movie. Randy, forced to retire due to a heart problem, works at a deli counter in a supermarket. An old lady is never satisfied with the size of her cuts. Randy eventually gets mad and winds up cutting his fingers in the cold cut machine. Lots of blood, but no real damage done. This is a pivotal scene that allows the hero to come to an epiphany.
Battered, bruised, and beaten by life, our modern-day matinee idol doesn’t fail to please us. It turns out better than a WWE storyline.
A must see film. On my top 10 list.
This explain by his sister seems apologist for everyone except him, especially her. Don’t tell us how he was not good to you and was resisting help. Tell us he died and say some nice things about this troubled soul.
I liked seeing him look and comment on my posts. I made sure I paid attention to him because he seemed to need it. Rest in peace, Paul.
#taygetos #mistras #road-trip
We set off early from Methoni. We actually had to sleep early Friday night for our 6 AM departure. It was me, Steve, Donna, Xena, and Pete. It was going to be about a 2-hour drive to get there before the touring would even begin. We had 2 destinations in general, but no agenda per se.
Donna always slept at the same time as her parents, early. Maybe 11 PM or so. So she looked perky, spunky, energetic, in her unmatching khaki shorts and striped black and white blouse. She had hair a bit longer than the average man. It was much shorter than mine. I was in my Eddie Van Halen phase at the time.
Pete sat in the passenger’s seat next to Steve. To my left was Xena. A tall, slim, cute girl;always smiling and never a bad word to say. She and Donna were summer friends. They had already climbed the Taygetos peak 2 winters earlier. Xena talked about it excitedly. Donna nodded and looked out the window. Xena was always informing me to her capacity. She’d have made a great tourist guide. Donna had very clear skin. Like a zitless teen boy. Or like the smooth butt of a toddler. She had a curl over her right eye. She avoided eye contact. I had to make sure I answered Xena when she asked me a question.
“A bit quicker and less intrusively, ” Donna whispered in my ear. She kept a straight face on. It took 30 minutes but Donna was finally satisfied. Xena was asleep with her head on my left shoulder. Pete shared his army stories. Steve played some “amazing ” songs. All was well in the car.
It was beautiful driving through roads like the ones above. More army stories. Music now down to an acid jazz lull. The clouds were really coming in. Pitch black. There would be no avoiding the rain. Donna woke up and sucked my ear. Xena was awoken by a sharp turn. We were almost at the most popular town of the twin peaks, the ancient fortified city and heritage site of Mystras. It was a beautiful place. We stopped at the kiosk in town and also picked up some tiropites because we were hungry.
Xena took me to this view. The others were going through mazes nearby. The rain and height had cooled the temperature considerably. There were black clouds overhead.
“Gothic, ” Xena said.
“Yes,” I agreed, “a veritable Scotland.
“You’re very interesting. It’s the way you don’t say things. ”
“Do you? Do you see? What exactly do you see?”
“That I don’t say unnecessary things. I’m mysterious. ”
“Yes. Do you see that. ”
“No. You told me. ”
“I’ve always wanted to do it on that big rock there. We’ve got 15 minutes. ”
Xena had that love-afflicted schoolgirl look on her face. Donna noticed this as we traveled through some wilder areas.
“Did you fuck her?” Donna asked.
“I guess I win the bet. Look at her face. ”
“How did you know this would happen? ”
“Part of her neediness. I let her move in on my guys. But she doesn’t swing the other way. Then she has this desperation about her the rest of the day. Maybe she’ll even cry. But she asked me last night. She begged even. It’s like a drug. And I haven’t been able to find any underlying issues. No trauma. Great family. Just her lack of self-confidence, I guess.”
“Don’t fuck with me. You guys can go ahead alone.” Xena proceeded to join the guys.
All seemed well again on our back. It was like a script in Xena’s life had been played out again, I thought, looking at the beautiful mountains and valleys. We would all go home. Take a nap. Wake up. But it would just be the guys meeting that night. I’d find out later that Donna had been there that night for Xena. She comforted her. Yet she let her act out. I didn’t know whether that was the right thing to do or not.
My grandmother had sat me down about 20 years earlier and said, “things don’t need to be as they seem. They need to be. That is existence. But it is not our business how they really are. Sometimes you’ll see that not knowing is the best thing. ” She was speaking of my grandfather’s shortcomings, but it is something universal. In this rare case, ignorance would have been bliss.
Irene Varga had a nice house — one can say a small mansion. Her antichambre was almost as big as some Manhattan apartments. She had a Great Dane that roamed around the house freely. Irene had been a widow for almost 2 years and her life of unwavering redundancy had turned into one of semi-retirement. She still had her charities, but her husband, Horacio Pimentel, had made things easier when he was alive. She sold most of the estate and kept mostly to herself, but always making sure she had extravagant soirées, usually by the pool.
“I’ll need 10 cup holders.”
“From where? What’s wrong with the ones you have?”
Irene smiled. “You don’t know what a cup holder is, do you? It’s the latest craze among us older pool party gals. You see, we try and get the cutest cup holders. The cutest little girls, and sometimes boys, to hold our cups and glasses for us. ”
She had her personal cup holder. Her name was Anna. Irene told me she was 20. My mind went to child slavery laws. Irene summoned Anna to come and introduced her to me. Anna had been swimming and tanning in the deep part of the pool directly across from us. She was a somewhat meek girl, looking pleased for no reason and easy to satisfy. She stood facing us with her palms out. “That’s from her being a ball girl at the tennis tournament last year. It’s how they signal when they’re waiting for a request from the tennis player.” Irene gave her the glass she was drinking from and they walked to the kitchen. I was left to do my planning but noticed that Anna was only handing the glass to Irene when she wanted to sip from it. Irene would then hand it back. The one time Irene used the washroom, Anna stood still at the spot Irene had handed the glass to her. It was creepy. But the girl seemed untouched as much as she seemed unamused, like someone who did what she had to.
“Certainly this is a luxury,” Irene admitted.
“Apparently, there’s a cup holder registry. ”
“Well, I guess Donna was actually being entrepreneurial for once,” she responded, smiling.
“Why 10? Who gets them?”
“I thought I’d introduce them and then auction them for the night with the proceeds going to prostate cancer research. Horacio would like that. He would..” Irene’s chin started trembling, but she managed to compose herself. She sent Anna away and the latter was back at the deep side of the pool.
Irene got the courage to show me her new coffee table, a replica of the picture above. “The idea is the beauty of it, “she explained, “we don’t care about gender. Just about the beauty of it. The beauty of the art of being able to own yet not owning.I’d feel bad owning Anna. But I feel great paying her for it. And all I want in return is nothing. ”
“What do I ask of you Anna?”
“To hold your cup, Miss Irene,” she responded calmly, disappointing me with a Wisconsin accent. I’d been aiming for St. Petersburg.
#flowers #summer #june
I don’t know much about flowers. I know the names of some and just like looking at others. They’re revigorating the neighbourhood and here are some results.
This is a project called Green Lanes. These are for small streets that make up the back of homes that neighbour each other. These are often used by children as places to play sports without cars passing through. Here’s a typical lane, although I’m not sure if it’s what the project aspires to. If so, these lanes have been there for about a century already.
One of the everlasting memories I have of Pylos is the kiosk in the middle of town, amidst the hustle and bustle of the crowd coming in from the villages every morning to buy groceries, go to the bank, visit the doctor, the contractor, the lawyer. Some come to meet friends and family from what seems like an eternal 10 km. or so from their respective villages. The crowd usually gets big with the 8.30 bus and subsides about 4 hours later. It’s like a small daily field trip for most of the retired folks. It is business for the younger ones. And it’s a time to relax for the ex-pats and their families from abroad. Almost everyone sits at the square. Most have coffee, either Greek or cold coffee. A “show off” would get a cappuccino or even a long espresso. The locals often get raki or ouzo. They talk about the great feeling of anise in the morning. “Licorice” doesn’t describe it as well as anise. It’s the perfect word for a seemingly light and harmless drink.
My uncle comes and sits down and orders me one as well. I balk at it and the locals ask me why I am disrespecting my uncle. I drink it. Eventually. When I get up, my feet don’t seem to be touching the ground. My uncle smiles and makes sure I’m okay. “The car’s around the corner. Stay here and I’ll pick you up.
My aunt had cooked up a storm, as usual. There were stuffed peppers, pasta with minced veal, plenty of salty feta-like cheese, and homemade baguette-like bread. The more I ate, the more grounded my feet became. The more clear my mind became from the somewhat delictable haze. Raki was some heavy shit.
“The boy’s 16. What were you thinking?” I heard my aunt say, scolding my uncle. I slept so well.
I dozed off on a beach chair on the veranda overlooking Navarino Bay. Pylos was a great town. The higher up one goes the greater the view gets.
Sofia and Lydia had also fallen asleep on their bed. It had been a challenging morning. Sofia had become the only lawyer in Methoni and Lydia the only veterinarian. They preferred to work where they weren’t very known. Where they weren’t seen together. And they lived in Pylos the rest of the time. They had both come from Athens, wheere it was admittedly hard to start a practice but very accepted to be a lesbian. But money has to sometimes take precedent. Sofia had fixed stuffed peppers for lunch, and with a couple of glasses of wine we all dozed off. But the change was nice. There would be no beachcombing.
It feels strange waking up from a siesta, no matter how positively touted it may be from most northern European populations. Sure, you feel rested. But you also feel a bit wasted, so to say. On this August day, I was sweating profusely, my t-shirt serving as a wet cloth more than anything else. I didn’t want to move. I enjoyed this unique state of half-awakedness. You get the weirdest and most illuminating half-dreams. I felt the wine on my breath. Then came that dream again. I was with an uncle of mine on a fishing boat and he’d caught and octopus yet again. He said something I paid no attention to and banged the octopus on a cement block till he was persuaded of its death. We grilled it and put lemon on it and ate it. It was such a beautiful dream.
It was sad to find out Lydia had died. Full blown stage 3 leukemia. Sofia hardly ever came out outside of her job. It was later found out she had become a hedonist who was living out her life as she saw fit. It had been 8 years, but she needed a clue to recognize me. We spoke merely in niceties. Sad, I thought. We’d spent a lot of quality time together. But sometimes, oftentimes, maybe almost all the time, people drift apart. But these circumstances were different. And somewhat tragic. I was hoping she was keeping her demons in check. She seemed somber. Satiated. She seemed somewhat satisfied by the neo-mundane. She paid for my drink and I watched her drive away in her car.
#Dileika #Methoni #olives
As close to nature as you can be near civilization , Dileika is just 3 kilometers fromMethoni. The road is sand and difficult to drive to, especially when you meet someone coming the other way.
Itis a place little-known to most except for the people near Methoni, especially with the Diles surname. It is where they all came from about a century ago. It’s one of those easy family trees. No one lives there now. But the area is breathtaking.
This is a picture from the “parking area”
This is me in the church courtyard. Behind my head is Methoni and its beach to the left.
This is the cemetery. Many Diles still prefer to be buried up here.
With the growth of Methoni, it may only be a matter of time before developers hit the village. Or at least some Diles families who have farms there and wish to build a house. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, or is at least limited to a percentage of the total property owned.
There is prime Kalamata olive oil here. And the word is getting out.
Andreas Diles is now selling his olive oil online. It’s extra virgin and smooth.
I was sitting at the bar when a bunch of English tourists came barging in. The owner spoke of the Pullman(Greek for “fancy bus”) that was parked outside, near the sand by the beach. They were the tourists that the bar counted on for a large amount of their business. The bar was suggested to them in the travel brochure. And they had coupons for lots of free beer. There were about 50 of them. They all had beers. They were as young as 18 and as old as 50. They danced to whatever music Gianni, played.
Gianni’s son, Pavlo, about 15 or so, worked the bar. The English are a very jovial bunch. They must be the ideal, low-maintenance tourists entrepreneurs in the tourism business look for. Nothing fancy. Not too demanding. “Just give them their beer,” someone next to me said. “They’ll just leave till they find beer.” And Gianni had about 5 types of British beer.
A young lady named Mona put her 2 beers on the speaker and climbed on it herself to dance to a Bob Marley song. She was smoking her cigarette and gyrating slightly. Guys were buying me and the Greek guy beers. Total little-bar bedlam. At about 2 or so, the older Brits went to get their bags from the bus and check into their rooms. They needed their rest.
Gwen asked me if I was into Watersports. “You know, at the beach,” she said, making sure I knew what she meant. Even though I was too bad a swimmer to say yes, she still invited me to the yacht for lunch the next day. Or later that day rather. It was almost 4 when I went to sleep. I heard the church clock at 5 and fell asleep right after.
The yacht belonged to some old Greek guy from out of town. He just stood there and watched as everyone had fun. He flirted with the girls and had dozens of beers for the dozen or so of us on board. Gwen was a nurse in Manchester. She liked the Gothic feel of her city but needed a break once a year and loved this little-known part of southern Greece. Earlier, she had gone water-skiing and scuba diving.
“I’m too old for this, Gwen. ”
“I know. That’s why I let you sleep. You’re so straight. I like that. Like a professor reading some big useless book. But a cool and mysterious professor. ” She smiled and opened another beer. “Interview me like you did last night.” I took out my phone and she started a monologue about how great a day it was in beautiful Greece. She was wearing a string bikini and a hat with the English soccer team logo on it.
The yacht went nude. Even the old guy. There were yells from everyone as though they were partying and drinking. Oh yeah, they were.
We got off and I had a great afternoon with Gwen. It was great because we were in a position of freedom and lack of fear to discuss anything, even the most taboo of subjects. It was tiring and refreshing. I felt that good sort of tired you feel after a good swim. Gwen let me nap afterwards and woke me up, drinking her beer and smoking a cigarette.
It was partying at Gianni’s place again. Every day was more fun and tantalizing than the previous one.
“Professor, it’s been so fucking cool. But the 4 days here are up. And I’m sure you’re missing some rest and sanity. Call me whenever you want.” Her kiss, as usual, smelled of cigarettes and beer.
Off she went to her next destination. I wish I were 15 years younger.