October 17, 2013

The Montreal Trip: A Last – Colorful -- Look Back

You might think that attending the World Parkinson Congress (WPC) in Montreal, Quebec in the fall might have been a slightly “gray” experience -- all those thousands of people like me, with their own versions of the degenerative disease we share . . . the great city’s 17th, 18th, and 19th century old stone walls . . . the gray autumn skies . . . the damp wind blowing in off the St. Lawrence River . . . .

As it turned out, my time there was ANYTHING but gray. Mostly – even through some of the mind-numbing medical and scientific technicalities we heard -- the experience was colored by the dazzling optimism of people with Parkinson’s – and people taking care of people with the disease – living their lives, being hopeful about their futures, eager to share, listening, ready to learn. It was humbling and inspiring.

I’m going through all my notes now – and photos -- and reviewing materials from the Congress. I’ll keep learning through this process. But, looking back, I’ll remember how bright and colorful everything seemed to me . . . especially the amazing people I met.

The adventure began with a stopover in Ithaca, NY -- where I grew up -- and a visit with my terrific brother Roger and his son and daughter-in-law.

The WPC Opening Ceremony was pretty splashy . . .

A highlight from that first night was the address by WPC Ambassador Robert Kuhn -- attorney, blogger, great guy, and PWP. He's at the podium here with "Parky."

The escalators at the Palais des congrès -- the convention center -- were impressive . . .

And so was the effect of the light through the center's colored glass walls:

There was hundreds of posters in the exhibition hall that visually summarized findings of the many researchers working on PD issues.. This was one of the simpler, more colorful ones:

Daniel Bissonnette, Montreal's Film Commissioner, gave a moving address on opening night about his experience taking care of his wife, a PWP.

The old city's architecture is such a colorful mix of styles. At center here is the Aldred Building, which resembles the Empire State Building in NYC. Both structures were completed in 1931.

On display were many hundreds of colorful panels -- each representing a PWP -- for the Parkinson's Quilt. This reminded me of course of the AIDS Quilts  and of the many friends I lost to that disease. Here are just a few of the Parkinson's Quilts.

We heard Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal, a wonderful local boys choir. Pictured here on the great overhead screen are just a few of those talented choristers:

One of the exhibitors in the great hall:

A bank of escalators in the Convention Center, splashed with color from the windows:

The illuminated Notre-Dame Basilica on a pleasant Indian summer night:

Inside, the ornate front of the church:

The massive pipe organ in the back of the basilica:

Yes, even the food was colorful. Here's the fresh grilled salmon with broccoli rabe at Holder Restaurant on McGill Street (highly recommended):

Some of the most memorable colors came from the autumn trees as we headed south along narrow roads through the Adirondacks. A special highlight for me: the beautiful River Walk into the woods at Speculator, NY, along Lake Pleasant.

Gray? No way!

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