[Painted stairs, Montreal; June 4, 2006]
Montreal is a welcoming place. Hotel staff, shop clerks, and waiters were gently charming and accommodating. They toggled deftly between French and English. And in several restaurants where our high-spirited group of as many as 8-11 (depending on who showed up) swarmed for meals, they obligingly brought separate checks for each person, coming back with the correct change for each in turn. This would not happen anywhere I've been in the US!
Montreal seems to be a very tolerant city. As Lorianne points out, the sacred and the profane bump against each other openly, with condom stores next to ice cream parlors next to hookah lounges next to McDonalds. Which was why it was a perfect setting for a group of free-thinking bloggers to come together to enjoy each other's company in the flesh. Reading each other's words online is one thing. Sharing coffee under an awning while rain washes the cobblestones, speculating together in front of a piece of art in a museum, laughing over wine and moussaka in a crowded restaurant or beer and spicy soba noodles in a cafe, or aimlessly wandering damp streets and parks... these things allow blog friendship to bloom into real friendship. It was not just the city that made me feel welcome, but the company I enjoyed the city with.
Update: See new posts from Rachel and Lorianne, as well as qB's photos. And now Dave has added his own poetic take.