Skip to main content

Remembering Montreal and Burt Bacharach

REMEMBERING MONTREAL AND BURT BACHARACH

by Lu Sobredo

 

It was a warm summer night in 1988. It was my first trip to Montreal, Canada. I did not know what to expect. I would soon discover when I picked up the hotel phone. Those were the days before cell phones. For the first time in my entire adult life, I traveled outside the U.S. by myself.

 

I had traveled with my family in my youth. And after college and a job that pays, I traveled with my college best friend Donna to Hawaii and all over Europe, except Spain. Spain came later as my destination of choice after I married the love of my life in the early 1990s.

 

But back to my first night in Montreal. I picked up the hotel phone to call home to reassure my Papa and Grandpa (I lost Mom to the big C only six years before) that I arrived safely in a luxurious Marriott Hotel in Montreal. The shocking part was discovering that the phone operator greeted you in French. I was rattled at first, found myself responding in Spanish. How ironic, I thought. I never took a Spanish Language course in school. But actually I took French in high school and college, and could even manage a simple conversation if need be. I even helped a few Americans in our tour group who didn’t read or speak French navigate our days in Paris in 1985. But the limited French skill was of no use to me in Montreal for some reason. While touring, shopping and dining, I pretty much stayed monolingual.

 

I chose a nice sit-down restaurant near the lobby of the hotel during my time there—white tablecloths, candlelights and flowers on the tables. The guests were dressed in business attire or dressy outfits. Wearing business casual suits was something I was used to doing for work. I took a couple of them on this summer vacation. On that first night, I asked for a table for one. I remembered the maître d’ welcoming me warmly. He seated me at a table where I had a nice view of the whole restaurant, including the view of the front where I could see him. I found out later that feeling protective for some reason, he wanted to keep an eye on me since I was eating by myself. The ponytail I wore cleverly on one side of the head must have made me look younger than I was. My waiter kept checking on me. The waiters, the bus boy, the maître d’ came by singly and at times together during the evening just to chat with me. It was an interesting experience to have all that attention. I was undaunted. 


It helped that I had traveled before, but never on my own. I have been given special treatment at restaurants before while on business trips with other colleagues. But I would seem to be the only one getting a free dessert on those trips. The waiter would say, “Compliments of the chef.” I must have smiled a lot or raved about the excellent dishes more often, or more sincerely perhaps than my colleagues did. I wondered if the chefs were told each and every time. 

 

I consumed most of my meals for three nights and three days at the same restaurant at the Marriott, except for the third morning, I treated myself to a high-end buffet breakfast on the top floor that overlooked water views. I got used to eating by myself and receiving extraordinary attention from wait staff.

 

Something memorable happened by my second time for dinner at the restaurant downstairs; the same staff were there—the maître d’ and wait staff addressed me with familiarity. I asked them to address me by my nickname. I was once again treated with much attention. The chef sent over a free dessert and as I was admiring it, I noticed that the maître d’ was refusing to offer a table to a gentleman who had just walked in. He was wearing jeans, a long sleeve casual top or hip length light colored rain jacket. His wavy hair appeared disheveled. Or maybe that was the look he was going for. I looked again. I could tell the customer was making his case to get a table, when I realized the man looked familiar. Since by then the maître d’ had already taken a liking to me; he was at least in his fifties or so, so he could have been my uncle’s age, I approached him and the customer.

 

I turned to the customer and said, “You look so much like Burt Bacharach.” His response, “That’s because I am.”

 

I said, “Of course you are. What a pleasure to meet you. Is there a problem?” I was now looking at both men. Mr. Bacharach said, “I can’t get a table. My plane just landed, so I am tired and hungry, and I would really like something to eat.”

 

I said to Robert, “Mr. Bacharach is one of our musical artists, a star in the U.S. Please show him to a table.”

 

“I cannot seat the gentleman without a jacket.”

 

I said, “Do it for me.” He regretted telling me that he couldn’t break the rule. Then, I asked, “How can you help make it happen. I’d hate to see Mr. Bacharach go hungry.”

 

Robert then said, “I’ll see if the jacket in the back fits him.” Robert walked away to retrieve a navy jacket from the backroom. 


By now, Mr. Bacharach was impressed with what I had done. He said, “This is amazing, I thank you so much. After dinner, if there's a grand piano in the lobby, I will play for you.”

 

Alas, there was no piano in the lobby. Robert told me so. Now if this scenario had happened today in my more mature state, I would invite Mr. Burt Bacharach to join me at my table for dinner, while I finished that free dessert. And I would insist that he sing acapella for me. But just having received the offer, a sincere smile and a handshake made my evening.


Remembering the night I encountered and came to the aid of Burt Bacharach is something special. No one could take away the wonderful feeling of having visited Montreal.



Essay ©Lu Sobredo

Photo ©James Sobredo

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2020

About the Author 
Lu Sobredo is writer/publisher at Lu Travels Abroad, a blog dedicated to folks whose limitations do not hamper them from traveling. A year into early retirement her world collapsed from the diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Her total life changed, but she did not let RA define her. With love from family, friends and an awesome doctor, she regained some functionality--her new normal. She will have RA all her life. And she now writes about life and travel with RA. During the pandemic of 2020, she stays put and writes poetry and a first novel, a travel of sorts but in the heart and mind.


Comments

  1. Thank you, Prosy. I think so, too. It is an experience I have told my family and some friends. But I thought I better memorialize in writing before my memory completely fades away.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thank you for reading my blog post and leaving a comment. Have a good day!

Popular posts from this blog

Travel and Why Not?

By Lu Sobredo WELCOME to LuTravelsAbroad Website! What's new with me? TODAY I am exploring possible format/design for my LuTravelsAbroad website, for my Blog and Facebook page. Tickled to be launching a new venture. I have this incredible feeling of drive from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. A similar feeling that came over me when I finally realized I will travel abroad again. Travel while disabled, you might ask? Why not?

WHY A TRAVEL BLOG The Travel Blog and Facebook web presence is meant to be a self-help travel corner, and a vehicle for opening up about my personal health journey. When preparing for the 2016 travel, some websites and travel blogs were a great help. While in Spain as I focused on the moment and less and less on what discomfort to anticipate, I gradually experienced the thrill of traveling. It was then that I began to envision creating a one-stop self-help corner for people facing physical and other challenges similar to mine. The hope always is to nudg…

Top 10 Restaurants We Love in Spain

By Lu Sobredo
Gastronomy and Spain have become synonymous. Writing this photo essay makes me think of scrumptious meals. My mouth is literally watering with great longing to return.
Since starting my blog in 2016, my husband and I are often asked for recommendation of places to eat when in Spain. I have given recommendations in a private message through my travel Facebook Page: Lutravelsabroad. And I do it happily. But there is no reason to keep our recommendations private.
When one finds a gold mine, I believe it is important to share the wealth. My family and I have managed to partake in culinary feasts on a budget when traveling. When we do some modest splurging, it is all planned and calculated into our travel expense. Why not live a little while we still can? If curious, you can still access my first Blog post on the subject: Happy Eating on a Budget in Spain. This earlier essay takes you from the Madrid area and Barcelona, to the Galician region in Santiago de Compostela including …

Walking the Camino de Santiago: Pilgrimage on My Terms (Parts 1 & 2)

By Lu Sobredo PART IIntroduction Walking near the border of France and Spain through the Spanish Pyrenees to the city of Santiago de Compostela was not the vacation I envisaged, not for my first trip to Spain in 2010. However, my husband James, the avid adventurer had other ideas born out of an earlier visit to Madrid and Seville in 2006. It was a decision that turned out to be monumental for the family and deeply personal for me.

This essay is sprinkled with practical hints from lessons learned in the pilgrimage. It is a personal reflection of the whole experience. It is about the physically challenging, emotionally invigorating, and spiritually uplifting journey. It was an experience made increasingly significant because of a life-changing diagnosis that followed three years later, a diagnosis that has rendered me chronically disabled. I sincerely hope this serves as an important reminder to all: act now on your dream to travel while you can because tomorrow is promised to no one.

Fr…

Finding Philippine Art at the Asian Art Museum

by Lu Sobredo

"Celebrate the rich diversity of Philippine art with 25 compelling works recently added to the Asian Art Museum’s collection. Expressive indigenous carving, jewelry and textiles; Christian devotional statues from the Spanish colonial period; postwar genre and landscape paintings; and contemporary works come together in this intimate exhibition to tell fascinating and complex stories of the Philippines.” ~ Asian Art Museum
IntroductionI’m surprised to be hanging out on a Thursday afternoon at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco in the middle of summer. Most times, I am there either appreciating some permanent exhibit or being drawn to a special exhibit or event. Sometimes, I could be found simply sitting at the museum Cafe sipping green tea and lingering over an apple almond tart. It is at these moments when I am moved to write. The writing I do these days is for my blog.
It feels like I have been given a gift every time my husband James participates either in a sched…

Through His Camera Lens: Lights, Landscapes and Life Abroad

by Lu Sobredo
~Celebrating the many dimensions of my husband James Sobredo: his interest, talent and heart as reflected through his camera lens.


IntroductionYes, my son and I, and sometimes our friends take very good pictures with our mobile phones. But the person, whose camera lens I totally rely on to document life's moments and special places, is my husband James Sobredo. Being around him and his photography partner and close friend, Steven Montalvo when on their photography shoots, is both meditative and exhilarating to watch. As if their eyes are connected to their hearts. And after many hours and enormous patience, they might be happy with the outcome. I know I am.

Folks have asked me why I find blogging so much fun? Other than the fact that:
My family actually have visited the amazing places I write about.I get to meet fascinating people and who have become part of my family’s life. As strange as this sounds, it’s even fun to awkwardly attempt speaking a different language when…

Life With RA: Exercise Strategy That Works, Article #5

LIFE WITH RA: EXERCISE STRATEGY THAT WORKS Article #5
By Lu Sobredo
Why write about exercise if you suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)?
Exercise was the last thing on my mind when RA inundatedmajor joints in my body starting in 2013. Pain was excruciating on both knees, ankles, wrists, fingers and hands. Inflammation and stiffness were so pronounced; I grew resentful over how the disease stole the flexibility my body once knew. Everyday routine did not happen without my husband's help. But I did my best to will my pained body to move. The body gradually adapted to gentle and measured movements. And three years after I began the regimen of medications & treatment, my RA-ridden body gradually stabilized. There is no cure for what ails me, so who knows what the future holds. However, I am convinced that without attempts at movement, the disease could have crippled me irrevocably.



WHY EXERCISE WHEN THE BODY IS IN PAIN Exercising when in pain sounds counter-intuitive. But three years …

World in Motion: Part I -- Health Storm

WORLD IN MOTION: PART I

A health storm descended on my family's lives...
By Lu Sobredo
The southeasterly wind howled. What has angered it so? The rain wasn’t happy either. The delugepounded against the wall near where I slept. There was swaying for sure. Or was I having one of those episodes that compelled my husband to drive me to a nearby hospital? We both agreed my symptoms were alarming enough that warranted a run to the emergency room.  

I slowly opened my eyes to get my bearings. Still too dark to be morning. The light from the digital clock reminded me we spent the night in our sailboat. It was 3 a.m., Sunday January 6, 2019. Epiphany Sunday, the feast day for christians to commemorate when God the incarnate revealed as Jesus Christ to the Magi—The Three Kings. Somehow, I felt the Universe was speaking to me in kind words despite the tempestuous weather.
Our boat was safely moored. However, the wrath of the storm hitting Northern California made itself felt. The wild rocking of …