Thursday, June 8, 2006

And that about wraps up Montreal

So, after Mary left on Monday, I was on my own in Montreal.  It was such a lovely day, I decided to take the Metro over to Ile St. Helene -- a little island in the middle of the river to the South of---

When we drove to Montreal, I had two maps.  A map of the City of Montreal, and a map of the surrounding area.  Now, according to the City map, our hotel was on a street that ran East/West straight across Montreal.  And it was labelled as route 138.  I saw route 138 on the map of the area, and it ran North/South.  This messed me up something wicked.  I mean, I can get us on 138, but I can't for the life of me figure out where it changes to East/West.  I got us on it and we got to the hotel, but this was still messing me up.  I ultimately read, in the Fodor's "Canada" book, that everyone in Montreal lives in a state of denial.  Montreal is on the St. Lawrence river, where the river runs North/South.  However, there's this convention in Montreal to consider the river to be South of Monteal. They just all got together and decided that the river flowed South of the City.  Apparently it is said that Montreal is the only city in the world where the sun rises in the South.  But, hey, everyone goes with it, so I did too.  The island is just to the South of the city.  Riiiight.

Anyway, the island (and the one right next to it) are this great big City park.  Where the 1967 International Exposition was held---

If you go to Montreal, you might get the feeling that they're milking this Expo 67 thing a bit too much.  I mean, this Expo was, like, before I was born, and they're still celebrating it like it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Sometimes you want to shake the City by its shoulders and say, "Yeah, but what have you done lately?"

So, the city park on the islands has a bunch of the old Expo 67 sites on it, like the Biosphere -- this big old metal sphere thing (that the big sphere thing at Epcot was probably based on).  I went out to the islands and took a stroll through the park, and went on up to the Biosphere (which was pretty impressive, in that relic-of-the-1960s sort of way).  There's also an old fort on the island -- dating back to the early 1800s (oldest in Montreal) -- and I poked around there and saw the cannons and tried to envision what it would have looked like when they were manning it preparing to fight off the Americans.  (There was a museum there, but, as it was Monday, it was closed.)

(There was also a theme restaurant there -- sort of a Medieval Times type of place only with respect to Montreal -- but that was closed too.  As was the Haunted House theme restaurant.  I was running out of theme restaurants and ended up just going to Subway.  And I bought some clothes at the Gap.  Yes, I know.  American abroad.  But they were really cute skirts and they were on sale.)

Next day, it was another beautiful hot day, and I really wanted to go out on the water, but those silly little pedal boats you could rent at the Old Port weren't doing it for me.  After about an hour of internet research, I found that you could rent kayaks and go for a paddle down the Lachine canal.  (Ah, a canal.  Totally flat water.  Perfect for an inexperienced paddler like myself.)  So I headed on out to the canal, rented me one of them nice, stable, yes-I've-only-kayaked-four-times-in-my-life-and-that-was-in-a-two-person-kayak kayaks, and paddled up and down the canal for about an hour.  Very peaceful.  There's a bike path along the sides of the canal, and people were biking all along it, enjoying the day.  I even paddled past some guy fishing in the canal.  (Are there even fish there?)  Really nice start to my last day in Montreal.  (Until about 7 hours later, when this woman bumped my arm at the Metro station, and I thought, "Ow!  That really hurt!  You should apologize, you wench!" and then I realized that she'd only tapped me but my arm was bright red from the sunburn.  Oops.)

I went back to Old Montreal and did a little souvenir shopping, then went out to dinner at a steakhouse which had been recommended to me as the best steakhouse in Montreal and way better than steakhouses in the States.  (I noted they served only "USDA Prime" meat -- apparently there's SOME things the States is still the best at.)  But they, like, age it 30 days and it is some seriously tender, yummy steak.  I was quite impressed. 

Had a nice chat with the waiter and we agreed that Montreal is sort of like New York, but with a dash of Europe mixed in.  Of all three cities I went to in Canada, Montreal was definitely the most foreign.  I had to keep reminding myself I was still in North America, as it often felt like this city didn't belong on this continent.

And then ... caught a plane to New York.  Now this is a city I understand.

1 comment:

hewasolddog299 said...

"Now this is a city I understand."

You can take the princess out of the city, but you can't take the City out of the Princess!

Great travelogue, btw.