Monday, November 14, 2011

Romantic Weekend Getaway

While I was struggling to pull myself out of my slump earlier this fall, Steve suggested that it might be time for us to plan a weekend together, just the two of us.

Since we first became parents, we've tried to do this once a year. Thanks to Steve's family, and some dear friends, we've been able to do so. Now that the kids are older, we have even greater flexibility. We had already taken this year's romantic weekend back in February, so it wasn't really time, but I think Steve sensed my emotional absence and reached out to me. (Yes, I do indeed thank God daily for this incredible blessing.)

So I booked an escape to Montreal. I caught a seat sale on train tickets because I love travel by rail. And I splurged on staying at the Fairmont Le Reine Élizabeth* hotel, which is right next door to the train station in the heart of downtown and walking distance from all sorts of restaurants and entertainment.

Steve was the photographer this time. I had lots of very kind comments on Facebook about what a lovely picture this is and how good I look. But I think the most beautiful thing about it is how happy I am when I'm with Stephen. 
Even waiting at the train station is part of the vacation. Unlike the airport where you practically disrobe and surrender your firstborn to the authorities, train travel is just so ... quaint. Slow. Quiet.
The flag at the station was still at half-staff, and the light filtering through the clouds was a surprise.

The gentle rocking of the train is always enough to lull me. (I think, as with hammocks, it hearkens back to some infant memories of being cradled.)

We pulled in to Montreal just as the sun was dipping towards the horizon and the sky turned that cobalt blue that lasts mere minutes.

Cathédrale Marie-reine-du-monde | Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral
(The tree branches are red because of the tail lights of taxis at the taxi stand.)
We went for an early dinner at the highly recommended Restaurant Julien. I did not bring my camera, because it's not that kind of place.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we did a bus tour on Saturday. For me, the hands-down highlight of the tour was the Notre Dame Basilica in Old Montreal.

The interior is one of the most ornate in North America. I just love those blues.
A phenomenal choir was rehearsing while we toured. Perfect backdrop.
BTW, this was taken without a tripod and with no flash.
Unbelievably (to me) many of the tour participants opted to go for coffee and a pastry instead. I realize that it is rare for me to turn down food, but this was well worth the trade. (And why did they come on the tour if they didn't want to see the sites?)

I can't get enough of the detailed craftsmanship in old architecture.

We got back just in time for a couple of smoked-meat sandwiches - a nosh for which Montreal is famous. We had skipped lunch after a big breakfast, so were famished.
The waiter asked if we wanted our sandwiches "medium." I thought all smoked meat was well done, so I asked what he meant. He said it referred to how much fat was in the meat used. He recommended "medium" as the best compromise, but I secretly wondered if "high" was the tastiest.
Fun tables, eh?
That evening we went to see "God of Carnage," a hysterically funny play, at the Centaur Theatre. Great script, perfect physical pratfalls and timing.

Aside from all that, Stephen took TWO NAPS EACH DAY! And I didn't take a single one. I did sleep late, however.
Steve power-napping on the train on the way home. 
And now we're home, feeling restored and reconnected.

* Yes it is LE Reine Élizabeth because the article refers to le hôtel, not to the actual Queen. But it drove me crazy all weekend.

P.S. I screwed up my packing. Steve made a list. I had a copy. I ignored it. Consequently, I forgot pyjamas and my cellphone charger. I wore Steve's (used) undershirt for PJs and I bought a charger (not quite the romantic lingerie I had intended). The charger will stay in my toiletries go-bag.

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