Montreal (And Then I Promise I’ll Shut Up About It)


I’m not going to bore you with the narrative version of the trip you’d give your mom (and THEN…). I’ll stick to what I love most – a list. The pieces that will stick with me; the good, the bad, the mundane, the “what the hell was THAT?”.


Turcotte Yards

(photo by Lou Musacchio)

To get from the airport to downtown, you travel along Montreal’s 1960’s-version-of-futuristic freeway system. Swirls of concrete in the sky. Our cab driver explained that it was designed to invoke a feeling of flying. But the fact that it was crumbling just made me want to hug dirt. Under this freeway is nothing. Bare land. The railways own it, but essentially, there’s nothing down there. An incredible, ugly waste of space. The fact that the aesthetics of the highway meant more to this city than the waste is telling.


Beauty and the Beasts

 The women of Montreal are unbelievably gorgeous. Maybe it’s because they have access to fashion that most of the country doesn’t. Maybe it’s because the humidity does amazing things for the skin. Whatever the case, they are jaw-dropping. And then there’s the men. An alarmingly large percentage of the male population looks like they are (at least distantly) descended from Mordecai Richler.

(photo from here)

What can we learn from this? The universe may have made you beautiful, women of Montreal. But it is playing an incredible cosmic joke on you.


Old Montreal

 Beautiful and old and nearly too much. There were times when I could barely catch my breath, and had to convince myself constantly the I wasn’t on a movie set.

(photo from here)

Oh, and one guy has cornered the entire souvenir market down there. Seriously. We went into a store, got sneezed on by the proprietor, picked out a few things, went and had a drink. Walked for a while, found another souvenir shop, decided to look around. Noticed the merchandise looked familiar, looked behind the counter, there’s the same guy. We told him he should at least pretend to be his own twin brother. He looked down his nose, dismissed us as Anglo trash, and tried not to touch our money.


Debauchery at The Windsor

 I’ll get into it another time, but I’m a Riders fan. Big one. And even though the team wasn’t actually IN the Grey Cup this year, they still held their annual party in conjunction with the game. And they held it here, at the Windsor Ballroom.

(photo from here)

 We shouldn’t be allowed in there. The only venue really appropriate for a party of domesticated hillbillies would be a nice quonset.

(photo from here.  Notice the rental rate.  See what I mean?)

This ballroom is the birthplace of the NHL. Famous people have their weddings there.  When we left on Saturday night, I stuck to every piece of floor I stood on, be it plush, expensive carpet or Italian marble. They’ll think twice about renting that place to any schlub with a damage deposit.



We ate. A lot. And it seemed like we couldn’t miss. Every little place we happened on was exquisite.  This is James Rooster. Sight of the “I-can’t-have-prime-rib-for-lunch-only-mobsters-named-Sal-have-prime-rib-for-lunch-oh-fuck-it-I’ll-have-the-prime-rib-please” lunch.

(photo by Martin Cathrae)

My fat pants are tight. Totally worth it.


Y’all Are Crazy

 From the tour bus driver who nearly drove us over a cliff (he claimed the transmission on the bus wasn’t suited to city driving, I claim he was a moron. We’ll have to agree to disagree.) to the ticket taker who shouted at people as they were walking into the hushed Notre Dame Basilica, you guys are nuts. But the proverbial cake-taker had to be the large, French gentleman who decided our group was lost. We weren’t, but he took our hesitation as the perfect opportunity to try out his Samaritan act. At first, I thought he was drunk. He loudly proclaimed that he was taking the Metro to the Olympic Stadium too, and he would make sure we got there. Then, he got us lost. Then, he sang a song about trains (the lyrics? “Train! Train!” accompanied by some very large arm movements) (I think it was supposed to be air guitar, but if that’s true, this guy was playing something more along the lines of an air cello). My assessment of him as a drunk shifted to crazy-pants as he cornered our friend and described to him the very small village he’d built in his basement. (Of course, we abandoned said friend. No need to be a hero.)


…And Kind of Rude.

 We’re going out for our last dinner of the trip. I’m wearing my not-so-hot-for-actual-walking-but-damn-they-look-fierce boots. I’m not walking. We hail a cab. My friend gives the cabby the address. He snorts. He tells us to quit being so lazy and just walk. Seriously.


I want to go back in every season. I want to go back with no purpose, and just wander. I want to go into the places I was too scared to go into this time.


I want to go back.


8 responses to “Montreal (And Then I Promise I’ll Shut Up About It)

  1. Sounds like you had a blast. I rectom I’m going to have to do some research on Montreal now!

  2. I love being ‘introduced’ to a place I’ve never thought of visiting. Now you’ve got me interested as well.

  3. I rectom I’m gonna start saying “I rectom.”

    And Ginny, heroism is overrated. I’ve been one for years, and always unnoticed.

  4. I want to go on holiday with you ginny. and rassles too.

  5. Sounds like you definitely saw the good, bad and ugly of the beautiful city 🙂

    I love going to Mtl. I just wish one of these days I’d get to go for pleasure instead of business, so I’d want to do more than just crash in the hotel room with room service at the end of the day 😦

    I also had a ‘what the hell was that’ moment in a tourist shop. Walking down one aisle filled with Spongebob, turn the corner to the next aisle filled with bongs, pipes, paraphernalia in general. LOL I thought I’d walked through the looking glass!

    Great pics in your post! Love the freeway pic! I was there the day before the highway collapse, and it was kind of scary knowing we had been traveling that road the day before!

    And I love the street music in old Mtl, just not so much the streets themselves!

    K. I’m done now 🙂

    Glad you had a good time, and made it home alive!

    And at the risk of sounding like a cliched ass kisser … you’re already a hero in many other ways! 😉

  6. derfina: It was kind of cool not to do ANY research. Just took advice from people on the street. Wow, how did we pull that off?

    mongoliangirl: Let the good folks at l’Bureau d’tourism in Montreal know where to send the comission cheque.

    Rassles: My Crazy Person Magnetic Field is not nearly as strong as yours. Not nearly.

    nursemyra: If I thought for one minute that I could keep up with you, we’d be set.

    Kim: Yeah, but did they have a Spongebob Bong?

  7. this post makes me want to travel again! ugh, it´s been so long.

  8. I’m not sure if they did or not! I was sight seeing / shopping with one of our managers, so it was a very QUICK pass down the bong aisle 😉

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