I visited three cities during this past week's travels to Canada. First, we flew into Burlington, VT, which I think is a nice little town. We had two lunches there (on Saturdays arriving and leaving) and the weather, the small-town appeal, and the lake were all quite charming. The weather was great and the breezes cool. The shot above of the airport gives you a sense of what summer in Vermont is like... to be surrounded by gentle hills and mountains. Lake Champlain borders against Burlington and how I would have loved to taken a boat out into those waters. Perhaps we'll get to return sometime soon. We drove from Vermont into Canada. There was a long wait to cross the border. The striking thing is, when you get into Canada, you're in a rural setting for at least 40 miles, before you approach a "real" highway. We stopped at the Richilieu shopping center to get Coke and Canadian currency. Our first and best dinner in Montréal was at Joe Beef. Outstanding French faire, from the best oysters I have ever eaten to the atmosphere and desserts. One of the items on the menu was horse steak. Now that's French. This dish was centered around a freshly-made aioli, which is basically a garlicky mayonnaise. Outstanding. While in Montréal, my first visit, we saw the Totem show by Cirque du Soleil. It was very well done, as the previous shows I have seen have been. It was a very hot day by the water, but thankfully the tent is well air conditioned. My overall impressions with Montréal, however, were not great. We heard some great music on Sunday morning performed at the Place Jacques Cartier, including Bach, Vivaldi, and Telemann. It made my day. Old Montréal had charm, but ultimately felt touristy. The Hôtel Gault in town was a nice place to stay; it's modern but the staff was most helpful and the location is ideally situated between old Montréal and the financial district. We also dined at Ferreira, which is a Portuguese restaurant featuring seafood. During our visit we got to partake in the conclusion of the Montréal Jazz Festival, and took in a great evening with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. This was not a group I had followed, but I was glad I attended. There was some real talent on stage from all four musicians. The mixture of culture in Montréal and in Québec in general was interesting. It felt "odd" being in a clearly North American city with all the French around. Most everyone spoke English we encountered, and made the intimidation factor disappear with our lackluster skill at Français. Here's a picture of me taking a photo of our friends who traveled with us, at a small lake in the city's largest park, Mont Royal Park. The Olympic Park area, which features the old Expo's playing location and the Biodôme, was disappointing. I read it was an embarrassment to Montréal. It cost too much and there isn't much to show there now. This tower, which gives a view over the city, costs $15 to go up and see. We elected not to. It was not finished in time for the 1976 Olympics. Montréal is also a city covered in grafitti. It's everywhere, even on the nicest buildings, and little seems to be done to remove it. Most interesting, across from Victoria Square, was this Parisian-style entrance to the Métro. Another special meal in town was had at Toqué, where we had lunch. This is their "Orange Party" dessert. The second leg of the trip was more relaxing, spent at the Mont-Tremblant resort in Québec. We even managed to make it to the summit (it was easy by gondola), and stood on top of this observation tower. The views looking down were great. One of the meals we had in Tremblant was at sEb, named after the chef, Sébastien. In Tremblant, it was the start of the International Blues Festival, which attracted a large crowd. In all, we had a good trip away from the heat of July in Richmond.