This is an adventure that will take more than one post to write about, plus time for me to mentally process all that we saw and did. It straddled August and into September. So this post is no more than a brief introduction.
It was a long-postponed trip, primarily to visit very close friends whose wedding we should have attended back in 2011. They live in Quebec, and the plan was to spend some time there including being at their wedding, some time for a side trip on borrowed cycles, and then a trip on to New York.
It was all booked and we were ready to go, but sadly a few weeks beforehand Malcolm’s mother suffered a devastating stroke and we felt unable to leave her. So we cancelled, and promised ourselves (and them) that we would make it one day.
And so we did, almost exactly 5 years late, but we got there. And oh what a time we had!
We flew to Montreal and were met at the airport by torrential rain and our friend in his car. We are not by any means seasoned long-distance travellers, so it was all very unfamiliar and exciting. Malcolm had visited them in Canada once before, but that had been in difficult circumstances. This was different – a holiday for us, a glimpse into their very different lives, a chance to spend longer with them than we have been able to do for years, and a chance to see something of their country.
We stayed with them for 9 days, while they were working (but he managed to take a lot of time off to show us around). They are both medical professionals with busy and responsible jobs, and busy and active lives outside work.
We had some fascinating discussions about some of the differences between medical and social supports there and in the UK; and also about politics here and there. (He is from the UK, she is Quebecoise). We met her parents and their friends, and spent an evening conversing in Canadian French, which I found fascinating.
We travelled to a mountain skiing resort to support him as he did (another) Ironman Triathlon. We went to a remote lake where they have just bought a plot of land where one day they will build a wooden cabin. We visited glorious waterfalls and parks. We cycled to the city and back. We had the most wonderful time.
And then we caught a train from Montreal to New York – a story of its own, of truly stunning scenery and lessons in how not to run a railway (and how not to ‘welcome’ people to your country).
And then 10 days in New York, staying in an apartment in Brooklyn. First time for both of us, and what a delight. I am almost lost for words, all that will come is a string of superlatives. We are captivated by the place, and especially by the people, and the vibrancy of everything.
If I had to choose a favourite it would be the city’s parks, but then I couldn’t nominate the great food or the stylish people. Or the stunning sunsets we’ve seen. Or views across from Brooklyn where we’ve stayed to Lower Manhattan. Too too hard to choose then.
It is indeed ‘the city that never sleeps’, and I am newly in love. (Can you fall in love with a place and a people? it seems you can).