Either / Or – An Aestival Dilemma Each Year!

Bowl of Cherries D

Proverb: Everything is going my way!

As they say, “Life is just a bowl of cherries.” And that lot above – atop my Saturday breakfast table  on the morning of Independence Day – is some of the best that Washington State has to offer at this time of year.

And so, as we enter the month of July, my thoughts turn not only to cherries so full of juice now and crisply edible to boot, but also to what summer has to offer my wife and me by way of relaxation. Either we remain close to home, so that both of us may enjoy the pleasure of dwelling in a familiar and comfortable leafy environment that is Englewood – with perhaps a twist here or a fling there to add some zest to the business of normal day-to-day living! Or we decide to take a dare with a bit of flair and derring-do and risk the unknown in an unfamiliar place or country that promises to offer us an unparalleled adventure of a lifetime – or two!

Needless to say – so why say it, you may well ask? – we normally tend to rely on past experiences, which turn out to be either ho-hum or wildly and unexpectedly exciting, albeit colored by hindsight and the passage of time that imbue our collective memory as if seen through rose-tinted spectacles.

To cut a long story short, one hot summer 12 years ago – almost to the day – we decided on the flip of a coin to head north to a cooler clime,  and thus began our own version of “A Tale of Two Cities.”

We traveled to our first stop Montreal, which is Canada’s  second largest mainly French-speaking city in the world after Paris.

We felt a thrill of excitement as we arrived in Montreal:
Montreal June 1993 001 So much to see there before our self-imposed deadline for sightseeing obliged us to head on to Quebec City without too much delay. For the record, the original “City of Mary” (Ville-Marie) was named Montreal after Mount Royal (the triple-peaked hill at its very heart.)
In 2006 it was named a UNESCO City of Design – only one of three such design capitals, the others being Berlin, Germany and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

[As an aside, Lolita and I had visited Berlin together on two occasions and can vouch from personal experience that Montreal and Berlin have a lot to boast about design-wise, but that does not account for the fact that the former is French to the core and Berlin, while quintessentially German, is much more cosmopolitan from a foreign visitor’s point of view.
On my own I’ve been to Buenos Aires for a fortnight, and I dare say it is the most European of cities in South America – something which is quite palpable as soon as one steps off the plane at its international airport. Without doubt, it well deserves to be part of the design-capital trio.]

Another unique feature, one that we explored quite a bit, is Montreal’s Underground City (or La Ville Souterraine) – a set of interconnected complexes, both above and below ground in and around Downtown. No visitor should miss the experience before leaving for  sightseeing other cities. I do have some photos of our underground foray, but the picture quality is poor due to inadequate lighting and insufficiently good to place in this blog.

Onward to Quebec City then:

Quebec July 1993 001

Soon after our arrival there the two of us could be found  strolling the cobblestone streets of Old Quebec – a journey back into time. The walled city has a unique European flavor about it and has been beautifully preserved after nigh on four centuries: to my mind, it’s the most romantic city in North America; and its Château Frontenac is a fairytale castle that amazes one and all in offering spellbinding views of the river and surrounding spectacular scenery. In sharp contrast, Rue du Trésor (seen above with Lolita) doubles as an outdoor art gallery;  it attracts a host of artists who display their work on the walls lining the narrow street.

As all good things must come to an end, so do my fond recollections of a brief – but  unforgettable – summer holiday spent with Lolita in two of Canada’s most distinctive and historical cities.

A Bowl of Cherries is immortalized by more than the proverb quoted at the outset. For instance, “Life is carefree”  and “Everything is going well.” It also serves as a resource for anyone who is celebrating lifes milestones, whether it be an engagement, birthday, graduation, new home or first foreign travel …

Copyright © 2015 Azim Lewis Mayadas


One thought on “Either / Or – An Aestival Dilemma Each Year!

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