on a crisp clear morning in ottawa, kylie and i were dropped off at the train station by dan, ushered into a neat canadian line to board the train (we have not lined up to board a train in any other country we've visited) and whisked by viarail to station centrale in the heart of downtown montreal. all of the montreal metro stations are designed in unique ways and many feature beautiful art.
upon exiting the train and making our way to the conveniently located metro station, it was immediately and clearly apparent to both kylie and i that we had entered another country, except that we hadnt. the buildings were older and more ornate, the locals dressed much more elegantly (especially the ladies... i dont think we saw a single hoodie or pair of lulu lemon pants) and all the signs were in a funny language that i could speak only with a deliberately appalling franglais accent.
this was our second time in montreal and we gravitated quickly to that which we loved most about the city: food and friends. our lovely B&B was located a block off of st. denis at its foodiest, and equally close to the restaurant/club district on prince arthur.
we had a quick walk to the sherbrooke metro station, through this lovely park. from there our pass touristique allowed us to thunder underground to any part of central montreal we wished to visit. on our first day we walked through mount royal park and downtown montreal, stopping at 2 different restaurants on st. denis to enjoy its culinary wonders.
the next day our friend kate picked us up at a chocolatier on st. denis (where one is encouraged to drink melted chocolate straight rather than dip things in in or apply it in small quantities to a crepe) and took us to her house in lesalle where we met her husband paul and their 2 year old daughter natalie. kate was a classmate of mine from medschool and we have availed ourselves of her hospitality on previous trips to both san francisco and montreal. with her parents' dedicated tutelate, natalie proved to be a budding bilingual prodigy, with a solid grip of 1-40 in english and french, as well as the alphabet and the days of the week.
paul, relishing his opportunity to be a stay at home dad, served up a fantastic chicken and chayote with cornbread. afterwards a walk was necessary to digest the cornbread, as well as the significance of giant chubby rock legs on the st. lawrence.
unfortunately, this is the only picture we have of kate and paul. the dark night was more conducive to the taking of silly pictures.
the next day was marked by a bike ride up mount royal to view the squirrels, the children and downtown montreal. we are proud to have participated in a mass transit revolution by renting 2 of the cities fleet of drop anywhere commuter bikes.
every park we went to in ottawa and montreal was overrun by cheeky squirrels.
these sturdy beasts of burden bore us up and down the mountain and all the way to fairmont bagels for some fresh sesame bagels. from there we took the back streets and back alleys, past some (dys)legitimate tagging:
and eventually back to the metro, where we returned our bikes and boarded a subway to meet our friend christine at the upstairs jazz club.
3 youngsters from gay paris were playing and they were fantastic. some old standards, some original material and a few unrepentantly deviant takes on current pop made up the bulk of the 2 sets we saw.
the food and the company were also excellent.
on our final day in montreal we wandered around downtown once more and met dan's brother jonathan, who gave us a tour of his adopted home neighbourhood around concordia university. we had some tasty lattes and then boarded the metro on a quest for the famous montreal smoked meat sandwich.
we found it. this place was crazy busy, and the people certainly did NOT come for the decor.
after a packed but restful time in montreal, we proceeded back to station centrale, encumbered with stained glass for carlynne and pipe tobacco for dan (and me) and were ceremoniously whisked back to ottawa where we were picked up by a smiling carlynne. spreading our family across the continent has made travelling so much easier!