Alimentaire, le soleil et la démocratie

I’ve been to Montreal for two quick jaunts before, but it’s been a couple of years, and I had never stayed more than a day. I always know when I had a good trip somewhere because a day or two after I return, I am looking for an excuse to go back or planning my next trip there. This is definitely the case with Montreal.

Rickard's Red in Montreal

I went up for a nice 4 day weekend, in the spirit of friends, food and democracy– it didn’t hurt that there was some nice sunshine involved either!

I swear, though, some travel gods must be pretty mad at me right now. My long weekend trip was flanked by two down right ridiculous excessive flight delays.

I started the trip taking off from DCA, and using up my premature arrival time to go back to my friends at the Delta Skyclub in preparation for a great and busy weekend. I was thrilled to take off on time, and arrive in Detroit for a quick layover, but definitely with enough time to grab a quick Detroit lager and National Coney Island Greek salad. And then I realized I actually had enough time to brew the beer and age the cheese myself as my flight to Montreal was delayed a whopping 4.5 hours. I’ve had some bad delays, but this was definitely one of the worst. But of all places to have such a delay, I am really glad I was in Detroit, my hometown.

The major problem with the delay, though, was my car rental in Montreal. I was originally going to make it with about 30 minutes to spare before the rental place closed, but now I surely would have to wait for their 7:30 a.m. opening. fun! But despite that nuisance I was able to escape to Ypsilanti for a few hours, spend some great time with a great friend and have a few local libations.

poutine

Gabe's poutine one night

After the break, I took off to Montreal arriving at 3:30 a.m. eek. Lucky for me though, Delta gave me a hotel voucher for when I arrived. So I was able to get a few hours of sleep between landing and picking up my car prior to a 9:00 a.m. planned meet-up.  When the morning came I had a joyous fat-packed Quebecois-ish breakfast at the hotel, grabbed coffee (which would undoubtedly be fueling me all day) and headed out. My lack of driving knowledge of the region posed to be a bit difficult even with my GPS. But after a few wrong turns, I made it to my friends at the campaign office.

The day turned out great too. Sunshine, mid-60s, what more could you want? I perused the city between activities and ended the day with a few Rickard’s and some french fries doused in mayonnaise. (Disclaimer: this is something that I do not allow myself to do regularly. Unless I am served mayonnaise alongside my fried goods, I do not ask for it. When I am in Canada, I allow myself to indulge on the fat-packed foods though.)

Sunday morning was a great one at the Atwater Market in the heart of the city. Jack Layton was in town, as I mention in my previous post, and it was promising to be another gorgeous day. We were full of activities throughout the day, but got away at lunch to walk about downtown and experience some more of the city.

After the election results were announced at the victory party, some NDP friends headed into town to go to a popular bar. We kept wondering why it was so empty, then we remembered that it was  a Monday night, oops. Closing down the establishment in spirit of the party, Tuesday morning came way too early.

Before heading to the airport I got my fix of mussels in the old port, because well, that needs no explanation. The Montreal airport is seriously a nice place. It is a really gorgeous building, modern, clean, classy and fairly easy to navigate.

It was a bit odd, though, they scan your plane ticket at least 6 times before you get to your gate. Little ticket checkpoints, if you will. Another oddity was that U.S. Customs is at the Montreal airport and you get cleared before leaving. Kinda nice though. I wonder if it is a coincidence that one of the best experiences with U.S. Customs was actually in Canada?

Bagel, lox and brie. Nothing better.

Hitting the duty free and stockpiling my maple based good, I headed for another Montreal necessity: the bagel. I was skeptical, I will admit, as to what was so special about these dense pieces of bread. But woa, I get it. I had lox, brie, tomato and onion on one to start and wow, I want more of these in my life. So of course I used up all of my remaining looneys and tooneys on a bagel for the trip home and of course some smarties, coffee crisp and aero bars.

I wish my trip was smooth sailing from there…. After arriving in Detroit and waiting for my flight to D.C. we were about to board when they announced a 30 minute delay… then 45.. then 1 hour. Once we finally boarded and they explained to us that there was a “mechanical problem” related to the de-icer, things were looking better. That is until we sat on the plane for 1 hour and then head to unload because the workers installed the wrong part. Doh!

After unloading, we were told it would be 4 hours more. Luckily they got us out of there only about 2 hours later, and gave us some food vouchers. It would have been really helpful if the food vouchers they provided would have been useful. Every single restaurant or bar was closed. Every single one at this massive airport hub. All we were able to get were candy bars and chips from a little book shop. Thanks Delta, apparently loyalty has its perks.

See you again, Montreal.

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