Sunday, June 17, 2012

In our ongoing pursuit of a venue to workshop “Gefilte Fish Chronicles, the Musical,” we ventured north to Montreal. Why so far, you might ask? Well, it’s just none of your business. (That was just a totally unnecessary snarky remark because I had a lapse in genuine niceness). There are a few reasons. The President and Artistic Director of CETM, an intimate theater with access to a great deal of talent, has a vision for the show that is absolutely compatible with ours. He understands that it is not about one family, but the “universal family”, celebrating not only family traditions, but the people who came before and who will, hopefully, carry on for many years to come. There are large ethnic communities in Montreal, so the subject of family is familiar. And for my part, there is wonderful food, and excellent places to stay. My blob, as usual will be about my comfort and experiences because, as you know too well, it is all about me. The trip was a bit last minute, so the hotel that I adore, “Le Place d'Armes Hotel & Suites” had two rooms but for only one night –we were staying two nights. “Not to worry,” I assured my colleague, “they will have a cancellation.” In we checked, saying our hello’s to the manager, Monsieur LaRochelle and a few of the staff. They couldn’t have been more accommodating. It is a warm and friendly place to be, as well as lovely and comfortable. It’s just a great place. The location, old city, is perfect and the fact that it is located merely steps from China Town, (oye the pastries!) where there is also excellent Vietnamese fare, (the Pho Buc 97) is perfect. Despite the rain, we had a thoroughly enjoyable if not thinning evening. When we returned to the hotel, we were told that there hadn’t yet been any cancellations, but we remained positive, and extremely full. As it turned out, everyone who had planned to be in Montreal with a room at LePlace, decided to claim their rooms. But never mind, Jennifer, the assistant manager had arranged for us to be moved to their sister hotel, Auberge du Vieux-Port, on the river. Yes, they are sisters but from a different gene pool. This is not a bad thing. They are both delightful places to stay. The hotel Auberge is smaller and seems a bit older. The rooms are also smaller and a bit less modern. Also not a bad thing. Yes, I missed my soaking tub with whirlpool and shower the size of Miami, but I adored the intimacy, the view of the water, and the breakfast (which was included) at the Auberge. But the physical beauty of a hotel, and even the location, are not what makes them special. It is the people. And for us and other visitors, the most important element is the kindness of the concierge, and in our case, the limo driver Raymond, (who with the permission of the concierge rescued these wandering Jews, and made us feel like the car was our home whenever and wherever we needed it.) Jose, at Le Place and Michael at the Auberge, were absolutely outstanding. We were working, so the move was not convenient – but never mind. Jose said goodbye to us as if we were family, and Michael (who is really good humored), welcomed us in the same way. Despite the inconvenience, their performance was most professional, but they remained concerned and willing to do whatever was necessary to make us feel comfortable. And we truly did. Jose and I at the "sortie" Montreal is a bit complex. It looks like, and has the charm of Paris or Bordeaux. They have streets with names like Rue St. Catherine Street. Not everyone speaks English, but if they know you don’t speak French, they do their best to communicate. To say I like the city, and am grateful to have found a place with so much coleur, is an understatement. But to have found these two extraordinary hotels and to have been exposed to the people who make them work, was a blessing. So, October in Montreal for Gefilte Fish….. how cool is that. Send in the horse radish! We’re just sayin’…Iris

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