Saturday, 15 December 2012

Less than 24 hours in Montreal

My Visa interview was scheduled for Dec. 13th at 8am at the US Consulate in Montreal.
I travelled to Montreal by myself and stayed at the Travelodge, downtown - about 2 blocks away from the consulate.
My journey was filled with adventure -- I was in a city that I'd never visited before;  I spoke English in a primarily French-speaking city and I was doing it all alone.
My first hurdle was to get from the airport to my hotel, via public transportation : the 747 Express is a bus that runs from the airport directly to downtown Montreal, making stops at all the major hotels along the way (around 10 stops in total). 
I had done some research before hand, so I knew I had to buy my fare at a booth in the airport somewhere -- I just followed the signs, which were pretty straight forward.
Once on the bus, I crossed my fingers and just hoped that it was the right one..  Flying at (what felt like)
 120 km per hour on a dedicated highway (I swear to god, I thought I was going to die, we were going so frickin fast), we ended up downtown in about 30 minutes and before I knew it, it was stop #8 and I was at my hotel.

The Travelodge was nothing fancy.  My room was… well, a room - with a bed and a desk and a washroom.  Small, but perfect for my 1-night stay.  The washroom had a tiny standup shower but was complete with an escape window (just like the one's you see in the movies!)
The heating unit for the room was broken, and I had to bang it really hard to get it work; I almost flooded the washroom because the shower curtain was barely big enough to fully enclose the shower; I had to run the water for close to 20 minutes before I got any warm water.  A true gem… but as sarcastic as it may sound, I'm not a picky person and the quirkiness of the hotel room just added to character to my stay.
But the room was just the first half of this evening's adventures.  The real adventure started when I decided to *leave* my hotel to try and find something to eat for dinner.

Around 630 pm (note the time) I decided to walk to a diner that was about a kilometre away.  I had searched for 'poutine' on Yelp (uh of course I'm going to eat poutine in Montreal!) and found a restaurant called Le Gros Jambon -- everything on the menu looked super awesome, it was highly recommended -- heck, I decided on what I was ordering before I even got there! 

The weather was pretty shit -- it had started snowing when I landed, and the wind had picked up significantly.  But it made for a beautiful walk through the hilly streets of Montreal.  I snapped a few photos, but the camera did not do the scenery justice.  

Finally, after a brisk walk in -5 weather, I reached the diner -- only to pull on the door, and it be locked. WTF? I double checked the hours on the door, I double checked that it was even the *right* door, I double checked Yelp for the hours of operation -- sure enough, it was supposed to be open till 9pm and at 7pm they decided to close up shop and leave me hanging -- with frozen toes and lobster-grilled-cheese-with-a-side-order-of-poutine-LESS. I pulled on the door once more, only to have a lady at the till look at me through the window, shake her head and continue calculating her receipts.


So started my poutine mission.  My phone had little juice, I was far from my hotel, it was cold… and worst of all -- I was HUNGRY.  I got on my phone and Yelp'd another poutinerie, walked a few blocks to get there - CLOSED. 
Walked north to find any other restaurant -- everything was closed. Everything except for Subway, McDonald's and Tim Hortons.  Are you kidding me?! I didn't come to Montreal to eat dinner at a fast food chain restaurant!!
Up and down the streets, I kept searching for *a* restaurant -- ANY restaurant, but I had no luck.  I was ready to give up, and started walking back toward my hotel (this is about 1.5 hours into my journey).  I finally came to a resto bistro called Pizzedelic.  Sure, at this point *anything* will do.

First thing's first -- I scanned the menu for poutine.  DUCK POUTINE?! Heck yes!  I ordered my poutine, a sangria and (just to be safe, since at this point i was STARVING) an "inferno" pizza.  I sat in the cute little restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed my meal. (Took the pizza to go, cuz my poutine filled me up plenty).

The walk back to the hotel was pretty short.  Passed by a beautiful plaza on the way and stopped off in a Starbucks to grab a green tea.
Once I got there, I was pretty much done for the day.  Washed up,  settled in and called it a night.... but not before devouring half of the Inferno pizza!

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