Tuesday, October 18, 2011

montreal: le troisième jour

Our last full day of exploring in Montreal was a doozy. Kurt turned the gps option on his phone and was able to map everywhere we rode our bikes (until it died late in the evening, that is). Let me tell you, we rode everywhere. I think Kurt often forgets that I am not his brother or one of his guy friends and can't be pushed the same way. Contrary to popular belief, I am not a cycling machine. There were times I just wanted to stop riding and sit on the side of the road and cry. But then I figured Kurt would yell at me, so I kept up my tough facade and powered through. All the whining I did probably didn't make my toughness too convincing though. Alas, while I was exhausted by the end of it, we were able to see so much of Montreal!

Luckily we had a proper breakfast at Olive + Gourmando this day. I read about it on the Design*Sponge city guide for Montreal and it did not disappoint. Kurt and I had lattes and pastries on a bench outside because it was much too crowded to find a table inside.

Once fully fueled, we set out exploring. Our first stop was the Palais des congrès. Kurt wanted to see the roof deck but we were not allowed, so it was kind of a bust. The building is interesting...colorful, at least. We decided it is like a convention center but had some shops and restaurants in it too, so there is some activity even when there are no events.

Another park Kurt wanted to check out.

Then we made a stop by the McGill University stadium to feed Kurt's obsession with football stadiums.

Then came the part of the day I had been dreading. We rode all the way to the top of Mont Royal (Montreal's namesake). Hills and I are not friends. Luckily the slope was pretty gradual and a beautiful setting designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. It was another gorgeous day so there were tons of people and families out running, walking, and biking just like you would see in Prospect or Central Park.

We finally made it all the way to the top (764 feet above sea level!) and had a great view of the city. I guess it was worth it :)

After descending the hill, we meandered through the McGill campus for a little while before heading to get lunch.

Kurt has a friend from his Ohio State days that lived in Montreal for a while during school. He suggested we visit Schwartz's for some smoked meat sandwiches. Obviously, it was a popular place. Instead of waiting in that ridiculously long line, we went to the take out side and enjoyed our sandwiches on a bench outside in the sunshine.

We couldn't figure out the construction of this sandwich. There were four teeny pieces of bread surrounding a huge hunk of meat. Needless to say, it requires many napkins but was super delicious! After we had our fill of protein it was back to riding. Our next stop was the Île Notre-Dame on the Saint Lawrence River.

Montreal has a really great system of bike paths along the water. I was so impressed how easy it was to get around, especially from one island to another.

I'm a bad architect and didn't do any research before going to Montreal on interesting things to see. Luckily, we just ran into Habitat 67 while on the bike path.

It's pretty great minus being so disconnected from the city. There is really nothing around it, so you would have to drive (or bike) everywhere. I heard Celine Dion lives (lived?) there :)

What in the world is Kurt doing? you may ask yourself. Well, he is gathering nuts, Buckeyes to be precise. These crazy Canadians planted Buckeye trees all along the bike path and Kurt is determined to make his own necklace.

I must take a moment to tell you that as Kurt was gathering Buckeyes like a crazy person, an entire sweet family of Auburn fans rode by on their bikes. They were absolutely thrilled to return my War Eagle! as they rode by. Kurt, remind me...did we see any Ohio State fans while in Montreal? :)

The main thing we wanted to see on the Île Notre-Dame was the Formula 1 track where they host the Canadian Grand Prix. As we got close enough, Kurt said Omigod. People are riding on the track. We can ride on the track!!!! He was beyond excited with glee.

My favorite comment from Kurt was, "I've driven this track so many times in video games. I never thought I would get to ride on it!" Here Kurt is going around the hairpin turn. We sent this picture to his guy friends to make them jealous.

After we spent a sufficient time joyriding around the track, we hopped over to another nearby island to see the Biosphere.

We had a couple hours to kill before our bikes were due back at the bike shop, so Kurt looked up a local brewery he had been researching and we decided to ride down there for one beer on their terrace.

We rode along their beautiful system of canals (not quite like the Gowanus) and saw tons of people out enjoying the weather. We rode soooo far and I was already exhausted but I kept telling myself there was something to look forward to at the end.

But then the brewery was closed and I wanted to cry. We rode all this way for nothing?! Le sigh. It was quite a disappointing moment.

Defeated, we rode back to the bike shop and passed another market along the way.

After dropping the bikes off, we walked limped back to our hostel and saw this sign in front of the bar next door. Kurt was thrilled to see some college football in the city (you know we had to watch the Ohio State v. Nebraska game somewhere) and was amused by the spelling of "Iowha".

After all my griping, you would think we would be finished cycling for the day. You would be wrong. Montreal has a great bike share program called Bixi, so we we grabbed a couple of those bikes to head to get drinks and dinner. NYC is slated to get the same kind of program next year, so we were excited to see what we could look forward to.

Per Kurt's friend's suggestions, we headed to the Latin Quarter to grab some drinks.

The friend highly suggested a bar which looked meh from the outside, so we went across the street to this other outdoor space.

Then we decided while we were in the neighborhood to check out the original bar which Kurt's friend mentioned he frequented and we were blown away! 

They had a huge backyard space that connected to several neighboring buildings. I wish we had gone there first! If you ever visit Montreal, definitely check out Bar le Saint-Sulpice.

After we finished our pitcher (the bartender convinced us it was a better deal!), we borrowed a couple more bikes and set off to find a place to watch Ohio State take on Nebraska. [Normally, I would not condone football watching when in a foreign locale but this was the first game Nebraska has played against OSU since they were admitted into the B1G Ten this year. I am a saint. I have decided next trip we take there will be lots of girly stuff like shopping and bakeries and an occasional fancy night out. Seriously.]

The first sports bar we stopped at refused to change their TVs because there was a hockey game on that night even though there wasn't a soul in the bar. Oh, right. We're in hockey country now...

We weren't coming across too many bars with TVs until we saw this one. It was very Montreal Canadiens-centric and luckily they were not playing that night, so the sweet bartender let us put on whatever we want.

It was kind of an old man bar but the bartender was this young hipster girl. I really enjoyed the music she played. They also served yummy pizza from the place next door, Pizzédélic.

Remember that disappointing brewery visit earlier? Well, in the end we tried some of their beers. Very good! We'll have to go back for the brewery tour sometime.

Sadly, the Buckeyes lost to Nebraska so Kurt and I drowned our sorrows in a bowlful of poutine, a Montreal specialty. 

It's a bowl of French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. Perfect late night food and a great end to a long day and over 33 miles of biking!!!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...