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Writing this from a homey hotel room in downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada. How did I forget how cool Montreal was when it’s less than 2 hours away!? I’m from Ottawa which is basically it’s neighbor and a suburb from a global perspective. So far so great and can’t believe haven’t spent more time here when it’s less than some peoples commute in the morning. Spent the day getting to know to Montreal by doing the things that matter like meeting people, eating, seeing things, eating and learning as much as you can…
Took the train, love the train, especially in the western world. Traveled with VIA Rail again, it was pleasant. At the train station met my host from Tourism Montreal and we had lunch at Laika Montreal. When I walked in, immediately eye balled this ladies albacore tuna with great zeal. Not long after was thrilled to find out it was one of the daily specials. It was delicious and the place had a chill / something different feel to it. Not long after the meal was finished and was acquainted with my host, Rafael showed up and we went on a tour of the city.Rafael was a knowledgeable guy and we decided that since a walking tour is in order tomorrow or the day after, might as well see some things that are a little more out of the way.
First we drove through the downtown core and the financial district to passing Five Roses Flour and making our way to Habitat 67. Habitat 67 is a very unique looking apartment (cube) complex that was built for Expo 67 by a gent with a vision. A vision to build very efficient and private units for urban living. The complex consists of 354 cubes that weren’t a hit when they came out but are in high demand now. Habitat 67 has a choice location between the St. Lawrence and downtown. Directly behind it is part of the Lachine Rapids where people surf, yes they surf. When told about surfing was actually picturing an indoor location, no it’s outside. The rapids form this perfect wave, perfect meaning it never ends. When we arrived there were people surfing it, talk about unexpected?
Afterwards drove past the casino on our way to the Montreal Biosphere in Parc Jean-Drapeau, on Île Sainte-Hélène that was also built for the Expo 67. From there made our way to Mont Royal which is a mountain on the island of Montreal and where I was born. Don’t get to say things like that everyday!? Naturally I’m biased but it’s a really beautiful and forested place with choice views of the city. This was cool and not something you’d normally see in a Montreal travel guide or something similar.
On the topic of this park, would like to mention that Montreal is a very green city with 1000 parks and over 650,000 trees, crazy stat, I know. The place is busy as there was a decent number of people there at 3PM on a Wednesday. Two neighborhoods on the mountain are Westmount and Outremont, both very nice neighborhoods. From there made our way to Mile End for an idea of what it’s like living in Montreal.
What I noticed and really liked was the blend of commercial and residential properties. With this set up also saw lots of unique shops aka not large chains or big box but personalized operations that probably / definitely play a part in the community. Rafael lived near this area so we went to some of his favorites. This place called Kem CoBa had amazing sorbet and the mango flavor made me think of being back in Indonesia eating mangoes by the half dozen from Probolinggo. If you are near the Fairmont and Clark corner, there are also some sauce and bagel shops worth visiting as well.
Later headed for dinner at Tributerre Bistro, had an “omnivor antipasta” and vegan pesto/ sun-dried tomato spaghetti, was going to ask for Parmesan cheese but decided against it. If you’re into vegetarian food, would be up your alley. The place reminded me of “The Green Door” in Ottawa. Afterward it was time to head to the Chi of Shaolin.
The Chi of Shaolin : Tale of the Dragon was a performance held at TOHU that could be classified under circus. It was acrobats, contortionists and other performers who truly put on a spectacular show. Had grandiose plans of most brilliant photos until the security told me what they thought of my plan. The performance was class and got me thinking how before the television this type of thing must have been quite fashionable. Old gents donned in burlap blazers would blaze cigars while…
The paper people were an exhibit in the lobby of TOHU made from recycled paper, brilliant.
Tomorrow will be more of the same, indeed.