On March 3, I will turn 50! I remember when that was old! I am celebrating this milestone with a two-week visit to Canada. Five dear friends organized to meet me in Montreal for what we are billing as the Queen’s Tour! Our motto, as we race all over the city, eating, giggling, shopping and indulging in the odd cocktail is “It’s good to be Queen!” (Apologies to Mel Brooks!)
I spent a ton of time in Montreal when I was in university and have always loved a visit to this, Canada’s second largest city and the second largest French-speaking city in the western world (next to Paris, surprising!).
We have been staying in Old Montreal, which is absolutely charming. It feels so European. Our hotel is across the street from the high gothic revival style Notre Dame Basilica. It was built largely between 1824 and 1841, and is dramatically lit up every night. Beautiful! I have loved walking along the cobble stoned streets, admiring the lovely old buildings and poking my nose into wonderful little boutiques. I have avoided the incongruous souvenir shops that are rather hideous but did buy a great pair of impractical shoes!
Statistics show that Montreal is booming and full of industry. However, talking to people one gets quite a different sense. My cab driver told me the only jobs are in tourism or working for the government. Others say the draconian French language laws are hurting the city making it difficult to attract businesses and top caliber people. I have also heard the province is broke and investing very little in infrastructure. I definitely saw some sad pockets.
I remember, back in the day, being much more concerned with Montreal’s restaurants and nightlife than its architecture. I am delighted to report, 30 years later, it does not disappoint! We have had some wonderful meals, Chez L’Epicier being my favorite. We have also stuck on our dancing shoes and found a couple interesting spots to try and burn off all the food! Reminding me you truly are as young as you feel. I have felt positively adolescent!
I have also found myself feeling quite sentimental. Due to my horrible jet lag (one thing that really has gotten worse with age) I have not been sleeping much and, as a result, have had a lot of time to reflect on these first 50 years!
My big conclusion is how overwhelming privileged I have been. I always dreamed of going places and have had incredible chances to visit so many countries (more than 75 at last count). I am blessed with the most amazing friends who have always indulged me: championing my crazy ideas, tolerating my ups and downs and supporting my causes. I had special parents who I wish I had had more time with, but am fortunate that the time we shared was lovely. They gave me the courage to live life to the fullest, to risk pain and disappointment and to truly carpe diem. And, of course, there are my boys…John, Hunter, Jack and Chowder, who drive me crazy on occasion but could not live without. The unconditional love we give and get from each other makes every day magical.
I really feel like the luckiest person on the planet. I cannot wait to see what the next chapter in this incredible adventure brings! Off to Toronto today for more celebrating. Yippee!!