KITC would like to welcome back guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel. During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival. During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.
Our son, David, has always had eclectic interests. He went through the dinosaur and reptile phase and has also included researching our family history and meeting seniors over a hundred as his passions. As parents, Sandy and I have always tried to be supportive and nurture his hobbies. His latest interest, coin-collecting, took us on a road trip to Montreal to check out one of the largest coin shows in Canada, Nuphilex.
We arrived at Nuphilex early afternoon on Saturday. David was concerned that perhaps all of the good coins had already been purchased. Upon entering the hall, he found that was not the case. There were over forty dealers with an incredible selection of Canadian and world coins.
Having relatively little knowledge about coin-collecting, I am always concerned we may not be getting a fair price. Luckily, David has grown with his hobby researching what coins he needs to add to his collection and what is a reasonable price. We found the dealers at Nuphilex were all very helpful and explained some of the finer points of coin-collecting. We were also offered a decent price on all the coins.
After a few hours of numismatic (fancy word for coin-collecting) hunting, David, Sandy and I were ready to relax. Our past few trips to Montreal, we have chosen to stay at the Residence Inn Downtown. We love the hotel because it is only a two minute walk to the Peel Metro station and the rooms are always impeccably clean and spacious with in-suite kitchens.
We took an hour catnap and were ready to go exploring again. I had reserved tickets for the 7:00 pm performance of Aura at the Notre Dame Basilica. It is hard to put Aura into words. The first part of the experience allows you to explore the Basilica discovering a series of multimedia installations that highlight the artwork of the church.
The second part can best be described as rock concert meets religious experience. The music tends to be classical with the light show being equal to any Pink Floyd concert or techno rave. The overall effect is mind-blowing. The Basilica lit up with lasers and lights coming from all different directions. I have been fortunate to travel to a number of different places and have seen many shows but have never seen anything like Aura. My favourite was seeing the massive pipes of the organ illuminated by lasers.
After seeing Aura, I would be very interested to take a tour of the Basilica to find out more of the history of the building.
Once we were done at the show, our party was just beginning. The day we were in Montreal, Nuit Blanche (white night) was taking place as part of the Montreal en Lumiere festival. Nuit Blanche features activities with an artistic bent. It also takes place until the wee hours of the morning.
We stumbled upon the epicentre of Nuit Blanche in the Quartier des Spectacles near the Place-des-Arts metro. The area was a cacophony of sound and lights. There were activities for every age including a DJ stage, illuminated toboggan run and ferris wheel. Our favourite were the outdoor fire pits where you could roast marshmallows and sausages. It gave the feel of camping in the middle of the city surrounded by thousands of other revellers. The crowd was equally people under thirty and families. Everyone mixed together just having a great time.
David would have stayed up till the break of dawn. Unfortunately for him, Sandy and my party days are well behind us so we turned in before 11 pm.
The next day, we started off with a delicious buffet breakfast in the hotel. I loaded up on the sausages and eggs while David and Sandy loved the waffles.
Once we had checked out the hotel, David wanted to make one more visit to Nuphilex. As it was the last day, the crowds were smaller giving the vendors more time to talk with David. Of course, we did not leave empty-handed. David added ten coins to add to his growing collection. I am sure Nuphilex will become an annual tradition for our family.
If you go - The best place to keep up-to-date about all activities in Montreal is www.mtl.org. I would also recommend Nuphilex for non-coin collectors. It is fascinating to see the currency from around the world and provides a good lesson about world history and geography.
Disclaimer: Stephen and his family were comped for the hotel and Aura show as part of this review, but views are his own.