Montreal in 12 Hours

I’m writing this on the bus during my Monday morning commute.

Less than 7 hours ago I was behind the wheel of the Honda on the highway between Montreal and Ottawa. It was dark and the roads were empty. We were listening to people rant about the afterlife on “Coast to Coast” late night AM radio to try to stay awake. (On that note I would add that there are some pretty interesting people in the world who stay up to call into radio shows in the early hours of the morning.) Around ¾ of the way through the drive Mike confessed that he was close to falling asleep at the wheel. He pulled over one km later so I could take over. I switched it to country music as soon as he was asleep.

1.5 hours before pulling over to trade drivers, we were sitting in the back row of a Mogwai concert at the Metropolis on Saint Catherine street in Downtown Montreal, Quebec. Mogwai is what I would call a Scottish transient rock band and it has that been around for almost 20 years. Their crowds are fascinating to watch (this is the 2nd time I’ve seen them play) and you get a mix of balding men in their 40’s on one spectrum and on the other: some younger “urban designites”… and then just about everything in between. The Metropolis had carpet on the floor, which is just about the most revolting thing to contemplate for more then 20 seconds. shudder.

Mogwai at the Metropolis

On Catherine Street – the dodgy end.

Clearly Mike is the one who introduced me to the Band, and I have to admit at first I was skeptical. But take a look at this amazing short musical film by Antony Crook called Thirty Century Man. It features a remix of the album track “How to Be a Werewolf” from Mogwai’s 1/18/2011 record, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.  You’ll see how magical their sound is:

3 Hours before the Werewolf song and the dirty carpet, we were eating at Pizza Restau il Focolaio. My pizza had arugula on it (not pictured here because I was too intent on cramming my face) and the bottom was just a little bit charbroiled from the wood burning oven. So satisfying.

We got a seat tucked in the corner which if you were wondering, is my favorite place to sit in a restaurant. Overheard at dinner: “What’s a tramp stamp Mommy?” as well as office gossip between two friends from another table adjacent to us.  The pizza was fabulous and it shows; the place has been around since 1984.

Wood Buring @ Il Focolaio

Italian in French

yes please

Two hours before the dinner of pizza and il restau we were walking along Saint Catherine Street. It’s a hub of downtown Montreal lined with high end shopping, interlaced with stores where you can buy any sort of smoking paraphernalia and strip clubs whose marquee’s bare it all. It’s also home to many examples of revolt following a Montreal Canadians loss… or win for that matter.

I’m proud to mention that I successfully navigated not one but two conversations in French during this short time frame which makes me want to promptly phone my not-so-faveourite French tutor up and let her know that despite my lack of knowledge of Les Pronoms Accentues I was able to converse quite respectfully indeed. Merci!

Catherine Street

local

Made in Canada

take a bike

or just walk

Full shot

Buy it on the street

Bike

1 hour before the lovely walk down Catherine street we were navigating our way into the city as  our Garmin GPS horribly butchered such street names as Réné Levesque which became Renne Le-vak-kee. That’s not close.

Also the funny and SO obvious thing that you will notice when you drive into Montreal is the CONSTANT road work. It’s amazing that the good people of the city can still get around… construction lanes become reduced to very narrow alleys, where on one side you have a barricaded concrete wall and just over the other is a bleak precipice, into which (if your car was to accidentally swerve) you would fall upon another construction site, two stories down.

On the way in

Half an hour before the downtown highway heading into Montreal we were napping at a rest stop in Riguald, Quebec.

We pulled over because we were both struggling to stay awake. It was 4:30 in the afternoon. (We don’t pass judgement here at Sparrow in the Tree Top. If you want to nap, you make it happen.) Do you ever just have the best nap of life that when upon waking you think to yourself, “That was absolutely the best use of my time.” ?

That’s what happened when we stopped in Riguald home of the nondescript rest stop and the world’s best afternoon breeze. The kind of breeze that just softly washes over you like you could be in a hammock at the top of a tree, except in this case it was the reclined front seat of a 2003 Honda civic with the windows cracked open for added effect.

1 hour before the best nap of life and approximately 17.5 hours ago, we were pulling out of  our driveway for a quick little jaunt to Montreal.

Maybe it’s the language, the beautiful flare of the city, but I feel like now, sitting here on a city bus headed to work, that less then 12 hours ago I was in a different world.

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