Thursday, May 22, 2008

Montreal cest Magnifique!

We are back from Montreal for 2 days and I can hardly believe we were there. This always happens when we travel... we have such a great time that before we know it we are leaving. I learned that I love the quiet modernism that Montreal boasts through all of those amazing buildings.

To start from the beginning, Derek and I thought it would be a good idea to go away for May long weekend to spend some quality time together after my first full week at the new job. I think it was harder than we had expected, we have made it through and we are still smiling! We thought of Waterton but I want to go there in the summer to see how beautiful it is with leaves on the trees and not snowing... can't quite guarantee this at this time of the year! We thought of Vancouver but we are going there in August to visit his family after the west coast trail. Canmore we did on Easter long weekend. Derek just said Montreal at random I think and after looking into it, we found some cheap tickets and booked them. What a great idea!!! I have always wanted to go there. Next stop.... Ottawa or Quebec City! :o)

So we got to Montreal at around 7 am Montreal time (5am our time) and booked into our hotel, had a nap for 2 hours, and then went and scooped out the sights! The weather was hot and sunny and ideal for roaming around St. Catherine's street. The shopping was amazing... everything you could want right there at your finger tips. It was so fun cruising the shopping strip and stopping into a great restaurant for some poutine. You know what they say, when in Rome do as the Romans! We then went down to Old Montreal for some sight seeing. It was so beautiful, the buildings, the architecture, the cute cafe's on the side of the street. It reminded me so much of France that it was eery! We then went out for supper at this cute little pizzeria and out to a night club. We hung out and met some really amazing people, dancing the night away (so it was me that was dancing!).

After getting back to the hotel late (and stopping for some poutine and pizza before getting there) we slept in the next morning. Much to Derek's dismay, we were up and out the door by 11 and off to explore. We had breakfast on this wonderful balcony in a place called Thursdays. After that we went and scoped out some of the ritzy stores and I feel in love with a Prada bag... sigh, one day! :o) It was just so pretty!!! Once our breakfast and tour of fancy places was done, we made our way to Notre Dame via Metro! I was amazed at the fact that there are hidden cities under the streets, it was like nothing that I have ever seen! It was really interesting on the Metro, and it really reminded me of Paris with how it is set up. Once at the "Place de Arms" we walked up to Notre Dame.
What a beautiful building... I thought it was supposed to be a replica of the one in Paris, but it was a gentler design, not as Gothic and really quite striking. It was so interesting that all of these amazing buildings are nestled into random locations, cubbies and back streets. We went into this amazing cathedral and I was instantly blown away by the intricate altar, the colours were amazing and the detail and design were stunning. It was shocking to me when I realized that Mass had just begun and so Derek and I sat and had Mass in Notre Dame... what LUCK! It was totally in French, but I could manage to understand quite a bit... it is amazing how much comes back! It was a beautiful mass, and after we went and walked around some more looking at the old cobble stone streets and store fronts. We roamed the old streets, enjoying the peacefulness of the buildings, and enjoying the Quebec culture that oozed out of the most random places. I also enjoyed greatly a famous 'beaver tail' with sugar and cinnamon! SO yummy!

That night we went to a Jazz club and ate supper to the beat of a Caribbean/Jazz band. It was great, the food was great, the wine was great, and the company was amazing. Derek and I hit the town again, checking to see if we could find a place that was interesting enough to stay. After about 4 clubs, pubs and bars, we gave up (a little grumpy) and decided to go and have a Montreal smoked meat sandwich. I didn't have one (and neither did Derek) but the pasta I had was delish! It was then back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.

The next day saw us a little tired and drained from the past 2 days of excitement. I think the rainy weather had much to do with the melancholy of that day. We tried to get on to a couple tours, and after roaming around in the rain a couple of times only to find out the tours have ended for the day, we gave up and conceded to wander the underground area. Well, had I known there were MALLS, ENTIRE malls, underground I think we could have conceded earlier on that day. After a coffee and a "re-group", Derek and I spent the day happily wandering the malls looking for nothing in particular. It was a delightfully relaxing day. Once we were tuckered out from wandering we retired to our hotel room for some not so great room service and an early night... we had to fly out at 5 the next morning so we had to be up around 4... yikes!

The next morning, 2 tired but happy travellers boarded their separate planes, Derek went Home to Calgary and I went straight to work in Edmonton. I realized that I love Montreal, the old feel, the culture, the lackadaisical attitude that is their quiet way. I look forward to going back, there is so much left to see, so much left to do. Next time we are in Montreal... there will be a wind tunnel to play in... I can hardly wait!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Not sure what to say...

(Draft was completed on May 16, 2008)
Exciting news... about 3 weeks ago, I got a call from a colleague of mine asking me if I wanted a different job. I explored this option for about 2 minutes, until she told me I would be making more money, have a WAY more challenging and exciting job, and that I would be working in essence for myself. I said yes!

My last day at my old job was a week ago today... and my what a week this has been. To tell you a bit about the job... I am a Quality Assurance Coordinator, which is someone who cross references everything for this project that we are working on. I make sure that when they say A and B are linked, that they are in fact linked. I am working as a consultant, which means I am "self employed" which I am finding really rewarding thus far.

This past week has seen me settle into my 2 new offices, one in Calgary that is mostly just a desk in a room shared with 6 to 8 other people, and the other an actual office with a view. (it is small, but has walls so I am NOT going to complain!). I was up in Edmonton Tuesday through Thursday and although it was very tiring due to the longer hours, it was so rewarding and challenging and fun. I am just so looking forward to feeling like I have my feet securely under me and can start getting all the work I have done. Edmonton, although not my favorite city in the world (in fact could be in the running for the LEAST favorite city!), was fine and very accommodating with regards to a hotel and office facilities. It will be interesting to finally get to know downtown Edmonton as I am totally lost there it feels! I can remember how that felt with Calgary's downtown and now I know all the great lunch places. Just don't get me to drive! ;o)

On Tuesday night, my boss Jacquie and I got to the hotel room after a full day of work, checked in with the intention of changing quickly and heading out to the soccer match (Beckham was playing in Edmonton). When I got to my hotel room, there was this AMAZING bouquet of 12 roses waiting for me... Derek had sent them to my room as a "congrats on your new job" thing........ what a great guy! These are now sitting on my desk in my Edmonton office awaiting my return on Tuesday... they are just so amazingly beautiful! (Thanks Orr... you scored some serious brownie points!!!) - side note, not only did Derek send me flowers, but he also made a slide show on my laptop of pictures of us from the past 2 years. He is such a sweetheart!

Now that this week is almost over, first week of work is always hard... I am looking forward to heading out to Montreal for a celebratory, Heather/Derek time kinda weekend. It was Derek's idea to head there so that we could regroup after the craziness of the past 3 weeks... and man am I looking forward to it! :o) I am so excited to see what Montreal brings, I have heard NOTHING but GREAT things about it so here's hoping! :o) Vie la Montreal!

On a final note, Mario was spotted a couple times last week... he must have missed us and came home for a visit. Every once and awhile, I hope he pops his furry ears in just so we know he is OK... he is the closest thing we have to a pet... I have grown fond of him!!!

OK folks, hope this finds you well... and the next time I write you I will have been to Montreal and back! :o) Vive la Vie... live the life!