March 16, 2009

183: Trois jours à Montréal

Top row (left to right): a poisonous french frog; Death's Head moth (think Silence of the Lambs); living baseball cactus – real name, no foolin'. Middle row (left to right): Kerry is stonewalled by the Montréal phone book; atop the mountain. Bottom row (left to right): face in the crowd at a drum circle; beautiful worn typography; riot police!


Kerry and I took advantage of a midwinter airfare sale and booked a long-weekend getaway to Montréal this weekend, playing tourists in the country's most cosmopolitan city for three days that felt like a week (always the best sign, in my opinion, that a holiday is working).
Our first day out we took the Métro to the old Olympic park grounds to catch my annual glimpse of some penguins at the Bio-dome (Kerry was more transfixed at a display of poisonous tropical frogs), the curiousities of the Insectarium and the surrounding park's extensive network of greenhouses (eventually getting the boot as they closed shop, without ever getting to the much-ballyhooed display of live butterflies).

On Saturday we ventured into Vieux-Montréal to explore, and join the throngs on Saint-Catherine to shop (side note: I outshopped Kerry! Boys rule!). The old city was quite peaceful outside what I imagine the high season is like; only a single street performer was out entertaining a modest crowd, and Kerry found me a small shop chocabloc with Tintin-themed goodies.

Sunday featured our flatlander's exhausting yet successful attempt at scaling the city's namesake mountain, capped with a hazy spring view of the city and much people-watching of countless folks out for the beautiful day. We completed the day's ten-mile trek into Mile-End for some Fairmount bagels, a jaunt down Rue Saint-Laurent and, finally, we witnessed the tail end of another infamous Montréal tradition: a genuine street riot ­ this one, ironically, marking an international day against police brutality.

Kerry will tell you the highlights were definitely meal-oriented, and it is a sublime city to go and eat. We enjoyed tapas at a table with swings for seats, enchiladas draped in spicy chocolate sauce, cheese-stuffed multi-grain crèpes and fall-off-the-bone chicken and duck tajines at a boisterous basement Moroccan restaurant where we snuck in sans réservation thanks to
some extremely helpful and coincidental assistance from an off-duty employee.

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