Flying to Montreal
I’m on the plane again. Heading Montreal, for the Invensys “Collaboration Service Delivery” meeting. It’s the first trip of 2012, just few months after having been on the road three weeks in Paris, Nashville, Chicago.
As always leaving is tough. A mix of stress, sadness, fear for what you leave and for what you will find when you’ll get back. Making several weeks of travel every few months compatible with managing the company and, mostly, managing a family is becoming harder and harder each time.
In any case the expectation is high. I’ve never been in Montreal, and never been in Canada during winter. I’m really curious to see the “big winter”, a winter that I expect so different from the one we are used to in Italy, even in our area which is enough north and close to the mountains. In the meanwhile I really appreciate the inflight Internet connection. Not cheap… but it’s really nice to have the possibility to spend some time online.
Walking around Montreal
It has been a nice and chilly day that I’ve spent walking around the Old Montreal. Old Montréal is a lively neighborhood, located along the St. Lawrence River, five minutes’ walk from downtown and just a short walk from the Palais des congrès (convention centre). It has the flavor of an old european city. A mix of France and British architecture and culture in a Canadian interpretation. It’s a little surprising seeing Notre Dame de Montreal, a small copy of the marvelous Notre Dame de Paris, really close to a small shop selling “Inuit art”. This mix of culture make everything new and surprising.
Surprising si even the underground city, a set of interconnected complexes (both above and below ground) in and around Downtown, packed of shops and restaurants. What is really amazing is the extension of the tunnels connecting buildings, metro stations and squares. For sure you can understand why they built it. Considering that today the weather was “nice” and the temperature was only -10 °C, you can understand that some kind of protection is really needed.
What an unbelievable experience today! I did one of the things that you normally see in the movies, but you never think you could do. It’s because it happens in places far away from where you live and it’s hard to imagine that some day you could be there in the right conditions to experience it by yourself.
When my friend Marc, told me that being in Montreal for a couple of days without scheduled meetings, I could go in the sky resorts area and do a snowmobile or a sleddogs tour I had no doubt. Sleddogs! When could it happen again?
I left the hotel in the morning heading the nice resort of Esterel. When I got there I was really surprised… a very nice place with no human beings. I drove for miles without seeing a person, and what was worse… a dog. Nobody along the streets, nobody out of the houses, nobody around what seems to be the only one hotel. At the end I found the start of the sky tracks with a nice lady that told me that there’s no more sled dogging in Esterel since a couple of years. What a terrible news! Fortunately she gave me a new hint, Sant-Adele – Mont Gabriel. No wait. I drove immediately there and it was pretty easy to find the sled dog base at the golf club.
A nice guy came to pick me up at the parking with a snowmobile and brought me at the start of the track. The dog team was almost ready and waiting for me. Six nice Huskies with a wonderful team leader: Smoothie.
I had a brief training to learn the sled dogging basis and to try to forget everything you normally see in the movies. No more than five minutes to be ready to start driving my sled and my dogs team. Do you think dogs really want to run and pull the sled and you? That’s not completely true. They are not so committed. They tend to look around, to stop, to play with the dog beside them, to fight, to…
Your role is to keep them concentrated and moving forward, with a combination of incitements (“En avant!”, “Hop, Hop…”, “Go!”) every time they want to do something else than pulling. But you had even to brake, give direction moving your body left or right to change your center of gravity and to help the dogs pushing the sled by yourself going up on the hills. Not so easy I can guarantee! The counterpart is that you are in a amazing environment, going on tracks in the middle of bushes, completely embedded in the nature and in a marvelous landscape.
It was really exciting. A marvelous experience that I never thought I could do.