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Offline Leafsfan

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Jon Montgomery's Blog.
« on: August 08, 2014, 11:13:42 PM »
Week 1: FROM THE MOUNTAINS TO THE SEA

On a chilly, late spring morning, with the Athabasca Glacier and the Columbia Icefields as our shimmering snow-white backdrop, the second season of 'The Amazing Race Canada' was suddenly underway. To give the go in the midst of Jasper National Park, one of Canadaís oldest and largest national parks, and a UNESCO World Heritage site I might add, was truly a privilege. I also spent time on the awe-inspiring Glacier Skywalk, an absolutely breath-taking fusion of architecture and natural beauty.

To be honest, it was a little daunting walking out onto the glass floor of this impressive structure, jutting out from the mountainside, with the ground 918 feet below, so it was an exhilarating start to our journey. This ďdaredevilĒ who is used to sliding headfirst down an icy track at mind-boggling speeds is not so great with heights. But I got over it pretty quick and enjoyed the view.


The drive through Jasper remains my favourite drive of all time anywhere on this planet; I first drove through in my early twenties delivering an ATM of all things. Seriously. Itís a must for every Canadian. Just make sure you gas up  first as stations are few and far between. To then head straight to Winsport Canada Olympic Park was a special sensation. This is where I trained for many years, my home away from home on the sliding track. Now here I was as the host of The Amazing Race Canada Ė itís overwhelming and emotional to have these two worlds collide.

Even more uncanny is the fact that we were heading for Victoria, where I would soon be moving with my wife Darla, and I was instantly swept into a whirlwind tour of this city. I got to see a birdís eye view of Victoria when I did a tandem skydive.  It was an incredible experience in that I was able to endure all four seasons Vancouver Island has to offer on the way down. Victoria is certainly as beautiful from the sky as it is on the ground. What a sight! We made a great choice for our new home.
 
My next stop: The Fairmont Empress Hotel  and their age old Tea Room. What a neat experience, to go back in time with the gang from Walkabout Historical Tours in Victoria.  These women and some men dressed in period costumes in this stunning room, my mom would have loved this! I have to take her here when sheís in townÖ

 
Unfortunately we didnít get a chance to visit the Damage Control School at CFB Esquimalt, but Iíll definitely check it out as itís near my new digs Ė Iíd love to see how these men and women train to protect our waters and save lives at sea Ė truly incredible job they do! Thank you!
 
Our first Pit Stop for the race is the Fisgard Lighthouse on the historic Fort Rodd Hill, a place just teeming with interesting history. Built way back in 1860 before Vancouver Island was even a part of Canada, this place was once a beacon for the British Royal Navy's Pacific Squadron, and is now home base for the Royal Canadian Navy.


There we saw more of Victoriaís mix of weather, from sun to blustering rain, it seemed every time racers approached the weather would take a turn for the worse!
 
It was a speedy trip from the Columbia Icefields in the heart of Jasper National Park to Fisgard Lighthouse at the edge of Fort Rodd Hill on Vancouver Island, jam-packed with action every step of the way. What a start to this mind-blowing season ahead Ė next stop Tofino!

Source:http://www.ctv.ca/TheAmazingRaceCanada/Articles/Jonsblog/Week1.aspx
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Re: Jon Montgomery's Blog.
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2014, 11:14:54 PM »
Week 2: SURFíS UP!

Tofino is, in a word, gorgeous. The spectacular beaches and scenery, the friendly laid-back vibe, the weather, the seafood, the limitless things to do Ė everything about this place is just fantastic. Especially the surfing!

I was amped to return to Tofino, this is my third visit, my first was seven or eight years ago. That was also my first time trying out surfing, and I instantly loved it.

There are great waves on several beaches here, with varying degrees of difficulty. Some of the best can be found in Pacific Rim National Park, like the spectacular Wickaninnish Beach (locals call it ďWick BeachĒ). Beginners (and experts) can enjoy Chesterman Beach, which is where our Racers caught a couple waves.

Itís a safe place to start and thereís all kinds of surf shops in and around town where you can rent gear and they know all the seasoned pros if you need a lesson.  Catherine from Tofino Paddle Surf was on hand to help out and she had a good time reviewing the racers' surf videos too. 


(Catherine from Tofino Paddle Surf)

I had a blast hitting the waves again.

Itís not surprising that some of the racers had a hard time with surfing, getting up Ė and staying up Ė on that board is pretty tiring. Add your typical race ingredients of adrenaline, fatigue and frustration, and it can take a while.


(Rob wiping out on a wave)
 
About an hour south of Tofino is the fishing town Ucluelet, B.C., the home of Ucluelet Harbour Seafoods. This was a fascinating place to visit, the fact that they process 700,000 fish a day is dumbfounding. Itís right on the water so they have these opportunistic seals and bald eagles hanging around the docks, just an incredible sight. Racers sure had their work ďcutĒ out for them with the fillet challenge.


(Alain and Audrey filleting fish at the Detour)
 
Speaking of  seafood  , itís not hard to find the good stuff in Tofino. My personal favourite, hands down, are all the taco stands, there are several of these hidden gems serving up killer tacos and burritos. Itís worth the trip just to sample the tuna tacos. Thereís all kinds of lodging options too, something for everyone, and most of them right on the water with ocean views. Canít go wrong.
 
At the Pit Stop on the Olsen Crab Dock overlooking Clayoquot Sound, it was great to hang out with local surfing legend and ďPrincess of the PeakĒ Mathea Olin, sheís a veteran of the waves at just 11 years old!


(Me with local surfing legend Mathea Olin. She's only 11 years old!)

We had some fun watching underwater crab fights, passing time between racers arriving. The Crab Dock is actually one of Tofino's government wharves, itís where local crabbers store their gear and boats.
 
I definitely left Tofino feeling the opposite of crabby! Tofino really has that edge-of-the-world feel to it, just a perfect place to host a leg of the race. Itís only about a four hour drive from my new home, I know Iíll be back soon and often.
 
And now weíre off to China! Canít wait to get to  Hong Kong  ! Weíre going global!

Source:http://www.ctv.ca/TheAmazingRaceCanada/Articles/Jonsblog/Week2.aspx
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Re: Jon Montgomery's Blog.
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2014, 11:15:58 PM »
Week 3: THE VERTICAL CITY

Here we are, for the first time "The Amazing Race Canada" has landed on foreign soil! What a trip! Itís an incredible feat to get from Tofino to Hong Kong, about 10,550 kilometers give or take, and the two places could not possibly be more different. From the most laid back place in Canada, already a pretty easy going country for the most part, to the dizzying hustle and bustle of Hong Kong is a mind-blowing transition. The speed of the city, the breakneck pace, even at night, is exhilarating.
 
I had visited Hong Kong, or HK as itís often called, shortly after the Vancouver 2010 games on a speaking engagement for two days. This vibrant city is a healthy mix of Eastern and Western cultures, and oozing with history. Thereís even about 300,000 Canucks calling this place home!
 
Itís an overwhelming sensation entering Hong Kong at night, the skyline and high tech light displays emanating from the buildings are an explosion of light and colour. Coupled with jet lag itís downright trance-inducing.
 
One of the many surprising things about HK is that itís surrounded by lush green mountains and the city doesnít occupy all that much of a footprint, considering about 7.2 million people live here.



As a result Hong Kong is one the worldís most densely populated cities and they just build up, not out. We stayed in the Mongkok district, which is the most densely populated area of HK. Itís remarkable. HK is stacked vertically, layers of steel and glass and terrifically narrow apartment buildings towering over the commotion. Itís a bewildering marvel of human skill and ingenuity. Too much for this jet-lagged, mesmerized brain to fathom.
 
Our transport was a fully loaded really cool van, this thing even had wireless internet. I didnít know that was even possible. We whizzed through the streets of HK; the drivers in this town are unbelievable, it is not for the squeamish. Itís exciting but Iíd recommend anti-nausea medication for those of you who get a little queasy going really fast then coming to an abrupt standstill. They have several varieties of gridlock in HK, none are pleasant, but they just roll with it.
 
I was very lucky to spend some time with the Demon Chef, Alvin Leung who is a fellow Canadian and Judge on CTVís MasterChef Canada.



I enjoy food, but his world-renowned restaurant, Bo Innovation  , is beyond anything Iíve had the pleasure of trying. We were lucky enough to enjoy the 13-course meal with wine pairings and I could barely walk outta there!
 

Click here to view the Bo Innovation Menu

Bo Innovation alone is worth the trip to HK. Itís the kind of modern, experimental cuisine that changes you and what you think about food. Itís a life altering event, a meal like this. Listening to Alvin talk about food, and how he is completely self taught, and gaining insight into the mind of this genius was an unforgettable experience.



On the other side of the Hong Kong culinary coin is  She Wong Lam  , one of the many places around the city serving up a traditional Chinese delicacy: snake soup. This place is the oldest Iím told, and has been here for well over one hundred years. There are these stacks of wooden boxes and steel cages all over the restaurant, each of them teeming with living, slithering snakes. I strive to respect cultural traditions, and I also want to try everything these racers are going to be subjected to, so I agreed to try a shot of snake bileĖ and I have to say, it was surprisingly not unpleasant. Iím not going to make this a go to beverage option, an ice cold beer typically does the trick, but Iím glad I was able to experience this distinct part of Chinese culture that has been around for centuries.


 
Thatís one of the coolest things about Hong Kong and China: weíre talking thousands of years of history and civilization. And traditions are something they take very seriously.
 
Spending some time with Master Lee, a bonafide Kung Fu master, was very cool. Watching his students practice with weapons and choreographed moves was straight out of a Bruce Lee movie. I tried to master a few moves but I donít think I impressed anyone.


 
The Pit Stop at Kowloon Walled City Park offered a chance to discover a fascinating part of Hong Kongís history.  I learned this place dates back over a thousand years, and was once a military outpost that gradually turned into a lawless urban enclave, housing thousands of residents within its walls, stacked on top of each other in these ramshackle tenements. Roughly 40 years ago or so this place was notorious for being overrun with serious crime, the cops wouldnít even come here unless in large groups apparently, as it was fully controlled by the infamous crime syndicates the Triads. In due course Kowloon Walled City was demolished in the early 90s and they quickly replaced it with this impressive series of gardens and pavilions, a peaceful retreat from HKs hectic atmosphere.


 
As if this job wasnít already a landslide of awesome, I was lucky enough to hang out with another fellow Canuck Jennifer Tse. 



Jennifer was born in Hong Kong but immigrated to Canada with her family at a very young age.  She was raised in Vancouver before returning back to Hong Kong to pursue her career as an actress and model.

Click here to watch a video of Jennifer and I at the Pit Stop

She greeted racers by saying, ďWelcome to Hong Kong, city of life.Ē Truer words have never been spoken. Hong Kong is an enthralling vertical city; a sophisticated, modern and inspiring place.
 
Next stop  Macau  ! All bets are off!

Source:http://www.ctv.ca/TheAmazingRaceCanada/Articles/Jonsblog/Week3.aspx
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Re: Jon Montgomery's Blog.
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2014, 11:17:47 PM »
Week 4: THE MACANESE DANGLE

It was a mad dash through Hong Kong to the Turbojet ferry docks, and a speedy trip across the water to the terminal in Macau. What a place! Modern, flashy casinos and hotels all surrounded by this century's old European/Asian hybrid of architecture and cobblestone mosaic streets. And to think that Hong Kong was densely populated, Macau is even more so, while not boasting as many residents.


(Senado Square - a paved town square in Macau - during the day. This is also where teams had to learn a complicated folk dance for a Detour challenge at night.)
 
One thing that immediately struck me in this fascinating place is the humidity. Definitely donít get this in Calgary. Ladies take note! This town is tough on the locks.
 
Like Hong Kong, Macau is a ďSpecial Administrative RegionĒ (SAR) of China with their own legal systems and currency, the Pataca. While Iím not a gambling man Iíd bet that is one of the coolest sounding currencies on earth. The Portuguese arrived here in the 1500s and their influence is all over the city, especially places like the Ruins of St. Paulís Cathedral, only the faÁade remains from a fire back in the 1800s, and they kept it standing, which is a really neat place.


(Standing in front of the Ruins of St. Paul's)
 
I really enjoyed spending some time at A-Ma Temple, a stunning Buddhist place of worship and one of the oldest Ė if not the oldest Ė places in Macau. Although itís crawling with tourists, itís still very much a heightened spiritual place, and we got to light off some special firecrackers for a little good luck along the race.
 

(Me at the A-Ma Temple)
 
It seems one of the big themes of Season 2 is me jumping out of or off of things, which has been so much fun. Now, Iíve been really lucky to do a lot of pretty cool stuff in my life, but being able to bungee jump off the  Macau Tower  , the worldís highest tower jump at 233 metres (764-feet), was easily one of the coolest, most thrilling things Iíve ever done in my entire life.

To see this part of the world, the whole city of Macau, dangling off of one the worldís great towers was an unforgettable experience.

The narrow streets of Macau are just teeming with vibrant energy and history, and itís one of those places that transforms at night into this cavalcade of taxis and cars beneath a brilliant barrage of swirling lights. This is definitely one of the worldís most unique places, kind of a collision of old Europe and ancient China, with all the flourishes of Las Vegas amped up to eleven. There are incredible  restaurants  , shows, and honestly you could just watch the cars, vans and motor bikes race around town Ė itís like a stunt show on every narrow street!

(Pit Stop greeter Jasmine Ao in front of the bright lights of Macau)
 
Itís obvious that a lot of Patacas are coming into this city, itís one of the worldís richest Iím told, and with new casinos and  hotels   in the works it shows no signs of slowing down, much like this race!
 
Itís a long way back to Canada from here! Seriously, Iíd like to know how many people have left Macau and travelled straight to the Yukon, thatís gotta be pretty rare, right?

Source:http://www.ctv.ca/TheAmazingRaceCanada/Articles/Jonsblog/Week4.aspx
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Re: Jon Montgomery's Blog.
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2014, 11:18:48 PM »
Week 5:YUKON GOLD

Our time in China was a whirlwind caper, and getting back to Canada would be an expedition in and of itself. Back on the Turbojet ferry to Hong Kong, a long-haul flight to Vancouver made better with some time in Air Canadaís new premium economy service, plus another flight up to WhitehorseÖalmost 12,000 kilometres and close to 20 hours later here we landed in the Yukon Territory.


The road to the Sky High Ranch.
 
I donít suppose you could find two places on earth that are more polar opposite than Macau and the Yukon. To go from one of the worldís most densely populated, centuries-old cities to the wide open Canadian North is quite the contrast. Itís always great to be back on home turf, but to land in the rugged wilderness of the Yukon again added a whole layer of gratification. And the weather was absolutely perfect, a balmy 17 or 18 degrees, crisp mountain air, canít beat it!  When we shot this episode of the race the Yukon was the warmest spot in all of Canada on that day Ė AMAZING! I have to say that being here in the Yukon might just be one of my favourite Canadian destinations.
 
I celebrated my birthday on this leg of the race and was lucky to have one of those all-encompassing Yukon experiences Ė real outdoor fun. At Sky High Ranch we were able to do some dog sledding and build a campsite (I love camping and splitting wood).





From there I was able to test out the biathlon challenge and did pretty well on those targets. The Pit Stop for this leg, which is on the edge of  Miles Canyon  , is a stunning location.

 
Topped off the fun with outstanding and authentic  Mexican Chow   (great margaritas in Whitehorse, who knew?) and had a blast with the crew. The only thing missing was my dear wife Darla, our birthdays are a day apart so itís a pretty big deal every year for us.
 
Iím very excited to return to my home province of Manitoba and the great city of  Winnipeg  , my old stomping grounds. Canít wait to skate on the Jetsí home ice!

Source:http://www.ctv.ca/TheAmazingRaceCanada/Articles/Jonsblog/Week5.aspx
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Offline georgiapeach

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Re: Jon Montgomery's Blog.
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2014, 07:42:19 AM »
WEEK 6: Pride of Winnipeg

What a treat to be back in Manitoba. I love Winnipeg. Russell is only about three and a half hours northwest of the city, so I spent a lot of time here growing up. Itís great to be here for the sixth leg and get a little taste of home at the midpoint of the series. We Manitobans share a real pride in showcasing this province.

 

A huge shout out to the lovely ladies making Winnipegís best pierogies at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Ivan Suchavsky. These gals are so sweet and happy, and besides their delicious peirogies, you can also fill up on their positivity and generous spirit of giving back to the community.



 I picked up a few bags of these heavenly peirogies for the family, and was lucky to be able to hand-deliver to my very thrilled mom. Theyíve pinched and bagged over 27 million of these beauties and counting! The standards are high for this challenge, racers beware!


 My heart was racing all the way to the home of the 
Winnipeg Jets, my very first time inside the MTS Centre. What a tremendous amount of pride I felt to be able to skate out onto that iceĖone of those moments where being a fan and doing this job leaves you thankful and overwhelmed that I get to be here. I had a blast with the Jetsí mascot Mick E. Moose, heís not a very talkative fellow but sometimes thatís the best kind of associate.


 

Winnipeg Jets fans are very passionate and I know this entire city was over-the-moon when the team came back. This is my first time back on skates in six or seven years, and gliding out onto that ice and donning the Jets jersey was an incredible feeling, picturing the seats full of screaming fans. Itís a dream come true for any Manitoba kid, any Canadian kid really. I grew up playing hockey, my team actually won the Western Canadian Bantam Bronze in 1994, and weíre celebrating our 20 year reunion this summer.

 

Very cool to visit the Royal Canadian Mint, a true world leader in coins. Not only do they create currencies for over 75 countries, but the Vancouver 2010 medals were also produced and supplied by the Royal Canadian Mint. Full circle!

 

Always great to see the old downtown buildings, really cool that the Exchange District is part of this leg. The old ďghost signsĒ on these building are a safeguarded piece of Winnipegís history, like walking around a giant outdoor museum.



The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, opening in September 2014, has been one of the greatest developments for this city in recent years. What a marvel of architecture. It means a great deal to Winnipeg, not only the cultural significance, but shows a progressive side to this city. The 360 degree view is phenomenal from the top of the 330 tower of hope, and once again makes me very proud to be here and from here.

 

Iíve been blessed to spend the day with Royal Winnipeg Ballet principal dancer Amanda Green. I have a real appreciation for these artists, the athleticism, the years of discipline and hard work, itís astounding. I promised Amanda I would attend my first ballet this summer and had her teach me a few moves. I think I need some more practice.



(I think Amanda has her work cut out for her...)
 

Next up we cross the Atlantic Ocean to France and make our way to Normandy. This is a moment Iíve been looking forward to all season. A chance to see where just 70 years ago Canadian soldiers helped change the course of history. Iíve heard Canadians are still very well received in this part of the world it will be interesting to see just how muchÖstay tuned!
 
See the pics and more here: http://www.ctv.ca/TheAmazingRaceCanada/Articles/Jonsblog/Week6.aspx
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Offline georgiapeach

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Re: Jon Montgomery's Blog.
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2014, 01:36:01 PM »
WEEK 7: Normandy

History, Legacy, and the Hallowed Sands of Juno Beach

 By Jon Montgomery
8/20/2014 9:23:07 AM
 

With the knowledge that we were travelling to Normandy for the seventh leg of the Race, I felt impassioned and eager to visit a place with such historical significance. Leaving my home province of Manitoba and journeying to France, I couldnít help but wonder what mustíve been running through the troopsí minds making this trip over 70 years ago.

 

During the First and Second World Wars, our troops were involved in some of the pivotal moments and battles.  From the tragic Flanders Fields in neighbouring Belgium, to the catastrophic events of Dieppe, to the landings on D-Day in Normandy, Canadian soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice and I wanted to honour this at each and every step. I was keen to also see how Canadian soldiersí legacy remains in these communities. I understand that, to this day, the residents of regional villages and towns still pay tribute to Canadians for liberating them from Nazi occupation.


Itís roughly 250 kilometres from Paris to Normandy, and once outside the metropolitan area the landscape suddenly transforms into the famed idyllic French countryside. Itís truly magical. The first thing I noticed is how much older the buildings are here, compared to those at home in Canada. The small towns, churches and farmlands are so well preserved. Itís a history buffís dream.

(A picturesque shot of Bayeux)
 

Normandy is a very large region of France; it covers roughly five percent of the country. This area is chock-full of history dating back over a thousand years to the Vikings who conquered this part of France. The Normans (which apparently means ďNorthmenĒ) as they would become known, were a pretty fierce and progressive bunch, equally famous for their military spirit and their culture. 

 

A good example of Norman history can be found in the Bayeux Museum where one can find The Bayeux Tapestry, a mesmerizing 229-foot long, 19-inch high embroidery that depicts the conquest of England by William the Conqueror, from 1064 to the outcome of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. This conquest made William the Conqueror the first Norman king of England. It was created with mind-blowing detail, and is over 900 years old. 



(Standing in front of The Bayeux Tapestry)
 

Upper Normandy is situated on the English Channel, where epic battles and clashes have occurred for hundreds of years, culminating in the most recent Ė and biggest single-day assault ever launched Ė the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944. More on that laterÖ

 

We sat down for a meal at one of the 
restaurants


  in the neat little seaside town where we stayed in Normandy. In one of my more risquť moments, I and a few of my companions ordered the seafood platter, thinking it would be a bounty of local seafood treasures caught that dayÖhowever, it was more a heaping plate full of mixed odd, slimy, unseasoned, ice cold snails and alien-looking crustaceans. Iím an adventurous eater, but this cuisine was out of my league. I did finish it, Iím proud to say, but just a warning for anyone travelling to that part of the world, beware of les bulots. Thatís all Iím gonna say on the subject.
 

One of our stops was the Calvados Boulard distillery, a beautiful place that produces perhaps the finest example of this distinctly local libation. Itís an apple brandy, made from distilled cider, and it would have been disrespectful for me to not sample several varieties of this famous regional beverage, that they have been making here since 1825.




(I couldn't visit the Calvados Boulard without sampling some delicious apple brandy...)
 

The Percheron horses were a marvel to behold, what magnificent animals. And it couldnít have been a more picturesque location, a working farm in the middle of the rolling French countryside, magnifique!

 

I can confirm that the reports are true; the people who live in this area of France are big fans of Canadians. Everywhere you look in these small towns are tributes to Canada. Nowhere is this more expressed than at ďCanada HouseĒ, the first home liberated by The Queenís Own Rifles on D-Day. The current owners maintain it as a museum, where locals and tourists can see relics and artifacts. Thereís a famous photo of Canadian troops landing on D-Day with this very house in the background. The owners pointed out a really neat page in the guestbook, where Ernie Kells, a Canadian veteran on a recent trip wrote, ďSorry about throwing grenades in your cellar.Ē Now thatís amazing. So proud to be a Canadian, that after almost 70 years this guy still has a sense of humour. To think what he mustíve been through on that day and the days that followed.

 

As the culmination of our trip we made our way to Bťny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, the resting place of fallen Canadian soldiers. I was doing my best to prepare emotionally, it is a great responsibility to make sure we do these men justice, as a great many Canadians have a connection to the First or Second World War. As a matter of fact my grandfather James Gilmour was a navigator during the Second World War. He stayed in Manitoba to teach after graduating second in his class, while his identical twin brother Wes enlisted and was killed in a plane crash while training in Manitoba. As we approached the cemetery, I thought of how this war affected all the wives, mothers, fathers, families and communities back home in Canada.



(Reflecting at the Bťny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery...)
 

I took a little time to let it all sink in at the cemetery, looking at the headstones, how young these men were, and saw just how many graves there are Ė and this is just one of several cemeteries across the region Ė itís staggering and extremely powerful. You canít help but put yourself there, imagining what it must have been like, whether parachuting in on a pre-dawn raid, or navigating heavy arms fire landing on the beach, as comrades fell and died beside you.

 

In a lifetime of unforgettable moments, this will stand as one that is without equal. I hope to bring my family here one day to experience  the admiration  for their sacrifice . It is something I feel every Canadian should see.  And I feel so grateful.  It is a feeling I will carry with me for the rest of my days.



(Walking along Juno Beach)
 

A huge thanks to the Juno Beach Centre, and Jim Parks, who we were very lucky to spend some time with. The stories and memories he shared were extraordinary. And at 89 years old Jim remembers everything as though it were yesterday. Jim landed on Juno Beach with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles on June 6, 1944, almost instantly watching 24 of his buddies fall.


(With Canadian War Veteran Jim Parks at Juno Beach)

 Their legacy will never be forgotten, and it is something the people of Normandy hold dear to their hearts. Canadians were among thousands of Allied troops to land that day and to help liberate France. There is nothing more a human being can do than sacrificing their own life for others.  This has never been more clear to me, standing on the sands of Juno Beach.


read and see the pics here: http://www.ctv.ca/TheAmazingRaceCanada/Articles/Jonsblog/Week7.aspx
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Re: Jon Montgomery's Blog.
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2014, 09:39:10 PM »
Week 8: Paris

GETTING TO KNOW PARIS

Still reeling from our time travelling around Normandy and the emotional experiences culminating at Juno Beach, it was a reflective overnight trip to Paris. We arrived late and we were up and at Ďem with an early start, on a very bright morning in Paris. Of course it started with a coffee and croissant. Are we really in Paris???
 
What hasnít been said about this city? Itís stunning from every angle. As this is my first time here, Iím naturally sad that I canít experience this with my wife Darla. Love was certainly in the air for Audrey and Alain when they checked in at the Pit Stop, ooh la la!
 
It takes about one second to see why this is one of the top destinations for travellers from all over the world. The lure of legendary cuisine, the rich history, the ornate and mind-boggling architecture spanning centuries Ė itís an overload for the senses. The symmetry of this city, and how rows and rows of buildings vanish into the horizon, itís staggering.
 
One thing I noticed right away are the bustling  cafťs   Ė one on every corner. The chairs do not face each other, rather, they face the sidewalks so patrons can watch the people streaming past them as they sip their ritual brew. Itís a very, very busy city and there is no shortage of interesting people to look at from all walks of life. Thereís a palpable energy here, unlike anything Iíve ever experienced. I suppose that no matter what century it is Paris will always be one of the most modern cities on earth, yet it retains the timelessness of being a hotbed of civilization for thousands of years.
 
Oh, and itís springtime. Springtime in Paris. I meanÖcímon. Itís perfect.

I donít know if you can fully prepare for when you see the  Eiffel Tower   or Arc de Triomphe for the first time. Iíve seen these things in pictures and movies since I was a kid, the ultimate iconic monuments of Paris. The sheer massive scale of these things, itís overwhelming. I just found myself staring at them and getting lost in the moment. And that happens about every 10 seconds in Paris. One thing I have to recommend is driving around the Arc de Triomphe, it is the single most harrowing and inconceivable traffic circle Iíve ever witnessed. Drivers on the right slow down, to let the drivers on the left pass, who let the drivers on their left pass, who let theÖitís confusing! Advanced Parisian driving. It makes Hong Kong look like Russell, Manitoba!
 
Itís really neat how Paris is fragmented into districts, 20 of them in total, called arrondissements. These are arranged in a sort of spiral originating outward from the centre of the city. I would love to spend some time here and get to know each district, we stayed in the 14th arrondissement.

I was very impressed by the Centre Pompidou, a massive modern museum in the 4th arrondissement. The stylish Marais District where the cafť Detour was held, and Notre Dame Cathedral, are also in the 4th arrondissement. We visited the Notre Dame Cathedral, Iím told itís the finest example of French gothic architecture in the world. Iíd have to agree. So I feel like Iím an expert on this arrondissement.

The őle aux Cygnes where the Mentos Roadblock was held is a very interesting man-made island in the middle of The Seine. There is a replica of the Statue of Liberty, given to the city of Paris by Americans living in Paris to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution. Itís about one quarter the size of the big lady overlooking Manhattan. Pretty cool!

After a long couple days of running around Paris, soaking it all in, it was incredibly fun to spend time with Ivan the mime at the Pit Stop. Some of the best conversations Iíve had in recent memory.

The Seine, the river that divides the city, is a magical serpentine waterway and the banks are lined with unimaginably beautiful buildings as far as you can see. Left Bank or Right Bank, I canít believe how beautiful this city is. Paris, I will be back, I hardly got to know you Ė you are everything Iíve heard and more.
 
Off to  Montreal  ! One of my favourite Canadian cities, what will we get up to there?

Source:http://www.ctv.ca/TheAmazingRaceCanada/Articles/Jonsblog/Week8.aspx
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Re: Jon Montgomery's Blog.
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2014, 09:19:09 PM »
Week 9: RACING AROUND MONTREAL

Continuing on the French theme, we landed in Montreal. My wife Darla and I spend quite a lot of time here as she frequently sees a Montreal-based osteopath for concussion treatment. Iím always happy to be in this fantastic city. The food, the fun, the culture and look to this city have made it a favourite place and one of Canadaís true world class destinations.


(A city street in Montreal)
 
I should mention that the were in the midst of their playoff run when we there, the town was electric. Good run from the Habs this season!
 
I was beyond excited to be taking a brand-new Chevrolet Camaro SS for a spin at Circuit ICAR on the old runway at Mirabel Airport. Iím a car nut, so this was tailor-made for me, man those cars have a lot of giddy up! Donning the suit, helmet and accoutrements (all this French is rubbing off on me) was a super treat, and really too much fun. Our friend and Roadblock judge Claude showed me some new techniques, Iím ready for the oval track! Seriously one of the coolest things Iíve ever done, this place is a must for any car or driving enthusiast.


(All suited up and ready to go at Circuit ICAR)
 
It was a treat to meet the guys who run, their gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches are delicious. I love a good food truck and this one is up there with one of the best Iíve experienced.
 
It was also very interesting to visit Espace Verre, a glass making school and gallery, yet another first for me. Itís so cool what a trained artist can do with this material.
 
The Pit Stop at the top of The Belvedere in the Montreal Science Centre had an impressive view of Old Montreal, itís such an old city with such modern flair. We were overlooking the massive tents Ė a spectacle Iíve been lucky enough to see first-hand. Itís mind-blowing entertainment and started right here in Canada. I was lucky enough to hang out with one of Cirque du Soleilís incredible performers. During downtime and in between soakings from the rain on the exposed rooftop, I would notice him just standing on his head or doing some sort of inconceivable flexibility training. Like I said, mind-blowing.

 
Another great time in Montreal, however brief. Itís a nice transition from France to Montreal, as we ease back into Canada from our time overseas. Next stop is the gorgeous province of Prince Edward Island, I feel I might be getting my lobster on when next I check inÖ
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Re: Jon Montgomery's Blog.
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2014, 03:15:07 PM »
Week 10: CANADAíS HOMETOWN

Ah, Prince Edward Island, where a fair-skinned ginger such as myself feels right at home. Canadaís smallest province packs an impressive history, and it is every bit as beautiful as you may have heard. The people are incredibly friendly too, and the  seafood   is world class, I feel right at home here.

Thereís no shortage of fresh air in Canada, but thereís something about the ocean breezes you encounter on PEI that are like nowhere else. The green rolling hills, the seaside towns and fishing boats and red sand beaches, itís a truly unique Maritime setting.

It is crucial to put lobster at the top of your must-do list when you are on the island, thereís no shortage of restaurants, they all do a great job with this particular crustacean. Oysters, mussels Ė whatever you fancy Ė this is the place to find the best the Atlantic coast has to offer. Speaking of mussels, it was cool to spend some time at Aqua Farms and see how this top notch facility cultivates and harvests these tasty little shellfish by the millions, astounding!

What a treat to visit Province House, a National Historic Site, which is known as the birthplace of Confederation. The provincial assembly still meets here, a beautiful building thatís been around since 1847.  Itís incredible that we were able to visit Charlottetown in 2014, which marks the 150th anniversary (thatís a sesquicentennial for anyone keeping track) of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference.  It was here at Province House in 1864 that a group of our budding countryís delegates met, later known as the Fathers of Confederation, and they discussed options for uniting the existing provinces. Three years later their initial ideas became the first step in making this country we now call Canada a reality, when the British North America Act was signed on July 1, 1867 (hey thatís Canada Day!)

My dad is a history teacher so anything relating to history really hits home. We were so lucky to be able to go to the actual room where these guys met and discussed how they might go about forging a nation. The chamber and its contents are kept exactly the way it would have been 150 years ago, when these ideas started taking shape. To see this place really is a must for any Canadian.
 
I also really enjoyed working with the Confederation Players, these folks not only looked the part but they helped set the scene in Province House. This is one of my favourite Roadblocks weíve ever done.

I suppose we should also mention the potatoes, I have never climbed onto a mountain of any foodstuff, it was mindboggling to see that many tubers in one room. Unforgettable.
 
And what would a trip to PEI be without spending some time with Anne of Green Gables, the literary hero of this fair island. Our gal was a hoot and what a super location in Rustico, gorgeous setting and a perfect place to end the leg. 

Weíre getting down to the wire here in Season 2, next week is the semi-finals and we head to  New Brunswick  .  You wonít want to miss this one as we find out who gets to the finale and gets to play for over a half a million dollars in cash and prizes!

Source:http://www.ctv.ca/TheAmazingRaceCanada/Articles/Jonsblog/Week10.aspx
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