Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Scenes from Montreal Including Bicycles

I am back from a wonderful conference at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where the weather was delightful until we were ready to board the puddle jumper airplane (where each passenger gets her own aisle and window seat). A red alert was issued because the sky had turned black and the grounds crew can't be out on the tarmac if there are lightning strikes within 5 miles.

Although we had boarded the Air Canada plane, our pilot let us take a vote (how civilized) as to whether we wanted to wait on the plane before the alert was lifted or to go back to the waiting area. Luckily, the pilot's vote had more clout (the vote was split and one passenger was neutral) so we marched back in, caught some dinner, and two hours after the scheduled departure time we were off and had a bumpless flight.

I had spoken to my husband earlier and there had been a hailstorm in Amherst with our yard almost white.

Montreal is an amazing city and I managed to get a good deal of walking in -- caught a parade on Saturday of "twins," with one duo dressed up as a bride in white and a bride in black, and with bagpipers and even bands of twins -- very festive and fun.

What impressed me, as well, was the number of bicyclists, even around 6:30AM, with nice bicycle lanes and bicycles to rent (a bit like Paris).

However, this past Sunday, a tunnel collapsed around 9:15 AM (the Ville-Marie) tunnel and 15 tons ended up on the ground with, amazingly, no injuries. There has been a lot of pres recently about the bad state of infrastructure in Montreal due to salting of the roads and bridges in the winter resulting in deterioration of the infrastructure and insufficient funds invested for maintenance and repair. I heard that this is rather "local" to Montreal, however, and having been to Toronto and Waterloo last April was impressed by the quality of the roads there.

The last photo above is of the red alert light at the Montreal airport outside of our gate.