The bulk of the day was spent, as planned, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. They don’t open until 11:00 am, though, so there was time for an errand before.

I went to Centre Eaton and picked up a pair of New Balance walking shoes. An immense improvement! Probably the best shoes I remember owning. Zero pressure on existing blisters from my previous shoes, and a nice springiness to the step. Night and day. Now I can see why Steve Jobs only wore New Balance – not the same model, but still. I might have just found my new favourite shoe.

Anyhoo, I arrived at the MMFA (or MBAM in French, which is more fun, frankly) and discovered it’s housed in three different buildings, only two of which are publicly accessible as far as I know. There’s an old converted church, and there’s this new one:

Two very happy surprises about MBAM. First off, in celebration of a new exhibit of Napoleonic items that were recently donated, admission was free throughout the building. Second, something I didn’t discover until I got into the galleries. I saw someone snapping away with their point-and-shoot. Then another with a DSLR. Security guards were walking by and not saying a word. Could it be? Yes. They. Allow. Pictures.

I had already checked my camera with my bags at the coat check, and not wanting to waste any of the 6 hours I had in the place, I dug out the trusty iPhone and began snapping. Here’s a Renoir:

After a couple of hours in a few of the galleries, my phone battery was almost depleted, so I went back to coat check to recharge, and to retrieve my DSLR. On with the portrait lens, and more photos, this time (I hope) of better quality, although the iPhone’s no slouch either.

Here’s just a small sample of what else I got. Note Napoleon’s actual hat and death mask – both were taken with the iPhone, the rest with the Panasonic Lumix GH2:

As 5:00 closing time approached, I began madly snapping away, barely looking at what I was getting, knowing I could take time to look at it later, albeit not in person. Tired but happy, I also came away from the boutique with a few books.

Rather than heading straight home on the metro, I decided to have dinner in the MBAM neighbourhood first. I wandered a bit in that strange headspace you can get into where you’re so tired and hungry you don’t know what you want. Everything also looked just a bit too classy for my mood.

About then I saw some cheap yellow chaser lights, which led me to Carlos & Pepe, a Mexican restaurant. Turned out to be just what the doctor ordered – and I was the doctor:

Rested and fed, I made my way back to the barracks. A few errands tomorrow, then on to the train, and thence to Quebec City, to attend the conference that initiated this entire trip. My posts may be intermittent over the next few days, as much of what I’ll be doing will be work-related, but I’ll try and keep things up.

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