Eleven years was far too long.
I had forgotten how much I love Montreal. It is a city with which I have a thirty five year history, going back to some of my earliest childhood memories. At worst, I’d find myself in Montreal every few years until this recent prolonged absence since the summer of 2005. Since then, I’ve been traveling a lot, but focused on seeing new places. I inadvertently left Montreal behind for more than a decade.
On my long overdue visit, I got a rare opportunity to see Montreal through fresh eyes. Eyes that have seen some of the world’s great cities – Rome, Milan, Zurich, San Fransisco, Stockholm, Paris, Vienna, Prague. Landing in Montreal a more seasoned traveler it immediately hit me – Montreal is a truly great, world class city.
It is said absence makes the heart grow fonder, and of that, I am certain. Absence also makes you reminisce. Over my four days in Montreal, I kept coming back to my memories in the city. Like in the early eighties, me as a child on my first trips with my Dad, and chasing pigeons in Square Dorchester. Standing here on a quiet morning thirty plus years later, I could almost hear my youthful laughter and the sound of pigeons taking flight en masse.
Or over on Parc Jean-Drapeau, coming upon the Alexander Calder sculpture “L’Homme”. As a child, I couldn’t fathom the notion of public art, but immediately loved this piece with its pointy bits and its size. Looking back now, Dad taking me here is what probably seeded my love of oversized, outlandish expressions of public art that I’m drawn to in every city I visit today.
And, of course, the Big O – Olympic Stadium. Sadly, no Expos game on this visit but I hold out hope that I’ll be back to the city on a yearly basis for games someday. Whether catching sight of the stadium from Mont Royal or a quick view of it looking down a city street, I smiled widely each and every time. Olympic Stadium, the entirety of this city, and memories locked away in my head and heart are woven tightly together. After all the years and everywhere I’ve been, I now know deeply that Montreal is my favourite city in the world. It was wonderful to be back.