When registering for the translation conference in Orford (near Sherbrooke, QC), I had decided to fly into Montreal a day early to visit as much of the city as I could in 24 hours. A day is such little time to visit a city with so much history, art, beauty and gastronomy. However, I do not regret my little « escapade » from a tumultuous work routine and an intense (but highly instructive) professional conference.
// escapade // nom féminin: Sortie furtive. Les pensionnaires ont fait quelques escapades. SYN. équipée, fugue (Source: Multidictionnaire)
I landed at the Montreal Trudeau Airport on Saturday, August 18 at noon (on schedule) and after stowing my heavier suitcase at the convenient staffed airport « locker room » (consigne), I made my way downtown with the 747 shuttle bus. From the Berri/ UQAM central station, it was an easy 2 metro stops up the orange line to Avenue Mont-Royal. With my 24-hour pass, I also had access to the bus network, and it was only a 5-minute ride to my airbnb room in an apartment located on Rue Fabre.
With only 4 hours of sleep the night before, I knew I had to make sure I did most of my visiting that afternoon and then wrap the day up with an early dinner (as I wanted to avoid wandering on my own in an unknown city at night and I would be too tired to experience night-life anyway!). So up Mont-Royal I walked, and then through the Plateau Mont-Royal park. It was a 2.5-hour walk total, but despite the Beavers Lake (Lac des castors) being under construction, I kept walking until I got to the Chalet du Mont Royal… the view of the whole city was absolutely breath-taking!
That day, just about all of Montreal must have been out. It was in the upper 70’s, sunny, with a nice, cool breeze. An ideal day to be out running, strolling or playing in the park. After the Chalet (where weddings and large receptions are held), rather than making my way down right away, I kept walking to the Cross (pictured left), which is lit at night. From there, I must say I was starting to feel a bit lost and was unsure of where exactly I was located in the loop and how I could go down towards Avenue Mont-Royal or Rachel street (for my dinner plans). Thankfully, some nice folks showed me the way to the Belvedere (another view point of the city), where I was able to catch bus #11. I was dropped off about 10 feet from the famous 24-hour Poutine restaurant called « La Banquise« , recommended by my kind host.
I can’t say I enjoyed it… Sure, I was starved after skipping lunch and walking all afternoon, but the extremely-high-fat/ high-carb combination could have clogged my arteries right on the spot! Boy, am I not used to this type of food. It was pretty tasty actually, but I could not eat more than half of my plate (pictured right) until I felt like I was going to explode (not to mention I felt disgusted). But the night was young, and on my way back, my host had recommended the bar « Le Lab« , where they serve hundreds of customized cocktails, shaken to your taste! Just the show was worth going. And rather than waste time studying the menu, the barman simply asked me about my tastes and made exactly what I was looking for on the spot. A refreshing, fruity cocktail with a surprise: a hint of fresh basil… delicious!
Now you can not visit Montreal without trying a freshly-baked bagel… and brunch is de rigueur on Sunday morning. On my way back on Avenue Mont-Royal, I enjoyed a wonderful, healthy, delicious brunch on the sunny terrasse (with wifi access) of the Les Folies restaurant. The succulent platter of salmon-bagel with cream cheese, salad and fries, was accompanied by a refreshing home-made juice cocktail and of course a cappuccino. I must say that it felt heavenly and my body seemed to thank me for the much-needed nutrients (after letting it down the night before with a high of fat…).
I had one hour to spare before returning to the airport to meet my ride to the conference, so I stopped by the must-see Vieux Montreal. I was enchanted! At Place Jacques Cartier, restaurant patios were filled with brunchers, eating to the tune of a classical outdoor concert. Passers-by would stop their market shopping to enjoy the music. After purchasing a little souvenir, I walked through the Rue des Artistes, where beautiful painting, hand-crafted jewelry and sculptures were exhibited. Then on to the Port on St-Laurent, bordered by boutiques, crêperies and restaurants, before heading back up Jacques Cartier to my metro station.
I got to the Berri-UQAM central station early, but unfortunately, I was looking for the return bus stop on the opposite side of the street from where the incoming shuttle had dropped us off (how logical of me…). After wasting about 30 minutes wandering all around the block, I was finally informed that the outbound 747 stopped inside the station, underground… aaah! How could I have known? It was a nice drive back to the airport, the bus filling up with more people at each stop. I was relieved to find my « roommate » for the conference at the designated meeting spot where we enjoyed a cup of coffee while waiting for our ride, who unfortunately, had gotten delayed by customs. Our ride to the Estrie region was an adventure filled with laughter and GPS confusion. Unforgettable moments, and a region I am planning to come back to on vacation and visit with my husband. A little bit of France, a little bit of North America, all in one spot… The best of both worlds, with added Québécois awesomeness!