Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Archive for the tag “El Greco”

Montreal

Canada is such a beautiful country, and throughout the years I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel through many of its provinces and territories. I’ve been as far west as British Columbia, as far north as well, the Northern Territories, and as far east as Nova Scotia. However, my first trip as a young boy would be by car to Quebec.

My maternal grandfather was born in Montreal but left for the US in his twenties. His brother sometimes came to see him, and as a young child my mom recalls seeing the two of them sitting drinking beer and conversing in French.  It was to his family that we visited that very hot summer.

It was 1968, and although we had missed  Expo 67, Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic dome remained and impressed me greatly.

Pano_Biosphere_Montreal(Photographer: Rene Ehrhardt)

Very little else has remained. There was the vinegar on the table to be used with French fries. The ice cream sundae gotten for free because a chunk of glass was found in the first one I’d been served, and my brother and I riding the hotel elevator in order to test the quality of the ice cubes on each respective floor, are not I suppose exactly selling points.

Here are some of the places I would visit (or revisit).

Notre-Dame Basilica:

220px-Montreal_NDame1_tango7174(Photographer: Tango 7174):

800px-Montreal_NDRosaire5_tango7174(Photographer: Tango7174)

The Old Port of Montreal:

Montréal_et_ses_reflets_-_Montreal_and_its_reflections(Photographer: French Picman)

The Old City:

Place_Jacques-Cartier,_Montreal_2005-10-21(Photographer: gene.arboit)

177_7738ret(Photographer: GK tramrunner229)

The Montreal Botanical Gardens:

800px-Jardin_alpin_1_JB(Photographer: Cephas)

The Montreal Musem of Fine Arts:

468px-El_Greco_-_Portrait_of_a_Gentleman_from_the_Casa_de_Leiva_-_WGA10455El Greco – Portrait of a Gentleman from the Casa de Leiva

336px-CrownWilliam-Adolphe Bouguereau – Crown of Flowers

I would think a summer visit coinciding with the Montreal International Jazz Festival would be just about perfect.

Barcelona

Metros are not famous for their civility. Eyes rarely meet. The only unifying factor seems to be distance. While above ground one might be charmed by a flowing Renoir dress or enraptured by a Viennese delicacy, underground things are rather pedestrian. Not so in Barcelona. During our week there I have never been offered more seats by complete strangers, smiled at by workers coming home from a long shift at work or just felt perfectly at home with a people whose tongue I did not share but whose spirit I admired.

Street musicians play superbly, but then again considering that those licensed to do so have to pass exams, it probably makes sense. The mimes on Las Ramblas are delightful. Park Güell and Casa Batlló are enchanting. The interior of Sagrada Familia is breathtaking.

As you pass from one room to another of the Picasso Museum, each dedicated to particular years of the artist’s life, his experimentation and mastery of different styles will be evident. Clearly he was looking for his own unique style.

I’ve never eaten better food than the tapas in the Santa Caterina Market: grilled/breaded calamari, asparagus tempura with Romesco sauce, marinated/salted anchovies, cod canape topped with Samfaina, crusty bread topped with La Pena sardines.

One late evening, on our way back from tapas, we looked up at the sky above the Barcelona Cathedral, and I swear it was something out of El Greco.

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