Montreal
8/22/07 - 8/27/07
Home
Travel
This trip was the 3rd time in 6 years we've been able to take a trip to Tee's hometown of Montreal. This one was a
bit different however, in that the main purpose of the trip was to attend a birthday party/family reunion for Tee's
Great Aunt Irene who turned 100 years old this summer. We also would be joined in Montreal by Tee's entire
family this time, including our two nephews Barron and Wilson.

Our flight to Atlanta was quite good. First off, I took the opportunity of being alone with Tee to give her a birthday
present. It was a beautiful gold and jade necklace I had purchased at a new shop next to my barber's place. The
place originally caught my eye because it is named for a neighborhood in Sydney, Wollahra, only a couple of blocks
from where we used to live in Paddington. The selection was impressive and the woman who owns the shop was
very friendly. Tee seemed to really like the necklace.

The time of year was just right for this trip. Although the weather was a bit muggy the first couple of days, it
couldn't have been more perfect for the last couple. We flew in via Atlanta and arrived at the newly renamed
Trudeau Airport (formally Dorval) at about 8:30 p.m. to find no lines at customs and no shops open in the entire
airport. We picked up our rental car and we're checked-in to our hotel room by 9:30. This time we chose to stay at
the
W Hotel Montreal, which had opened since our last visit. By the end of this year we figure we will have stayed at
almost half of the W Hotels currently open. The W Montreal is a fairly typical W Hotel in that it is well located
(Square Victoria) and has a hip, funky, stylish environment. We've found that W Hotels are a fun place to stay when
not with the kids. It helps us to feel like we're really on vacation, and keeps Tee from feeling she's on business.

Although it was a bit late, we made an attempt to walk around and find a place for a late dinner. We walked past a
couple of interesting places a couple of blocks south of the hotel and eventually stepped into an inviting looking
place called
Boris Bistro. They had just started closing down the kitchen, but the chef made an exception for us
and we were able to put in our orders before they shut down completely. We sat at a table against the front
windows and watched the passersby as we ate. Tee had a piece of salmon and I had a mushroom and duck risotto.
Both were fabulous. Along with a couple of glasses of wine and a relaxed conversation, we felt we were off to a great
start to our trip.

When we first checked-in we were told that Wednesday night was the big night for one of the hotel bars, Wunder
Bar, so when we returned from our dinner we went to the bar to have a cocktail and do some people watching. The
Wunder Bar is a narrow, glitzy bar just off of the hotel's front desk. Although both the hotel entrance and bar
entrance is occupied by burley "doormen" operating a series of velvet ropes, I took it all to mostly be for show. As
guests of the hotel we fortunately didn't have to bother playing the game of wondering whether we appealed
enough to the doormen in order to get in. When we entered the bar it was starting to fill up so we quickly sat at a
small table which had "reserved" signs placed on it. We ask if we could sit there until the party that had reserved it
came and were told we could. The cocktails were beautiful! I had a couple of the blueberry/mint martinis and Tee
had a couple of another type of original martini. They were delicious but incredibly expensive. Although one would
expect drinks at a popular club in the W Hotel would be pricey, we were soon to discover that with the weakness of
the American dollar EVERYTHING in Montreal is now expensive. Our cocktails were $15 each! And with the
Canadian dollar now being equal to the American dollar, that meant our total bill for 4 drinks would come to over
$60 American after tip! Although watching the beautiful young people of Montreal made for good entertainment,
and the drinks delicious, we certainly weren't about to make the Wunder Bar a regular stop.
Entrance of the W Montreal
Tee checks with the map before our walk
Thursday was a day specifically set aside to make a small road trip out to visit Tee's "cousin" Annabel and her family
who live on a farm about an hour outside of Montreal. That morning we drove first out to where Tee's parents were
staying with their friend Barb in Beaconsfield. We had a quick visit with both Peter and Freddy, then Freddy joined
us on our drive up to Lachute. Although I had never met Annabel or her family before, I had heard about them for
years from Tee. Tee has had an ongoing relationship with them ever since living with them briefly in Japan back in
1989. Annabel is originally from Quebec but married a man from Japan, Kesuke, many years back. They were
living for several years in an area well north of Tokyo, but moved back to Canada 12 years ago.

Freddy is actually Annabel's first cousin and has many childhood memories of the farm were Kesuke and Annabel
currently live.  For several years after originally having been owned by Annabel's parents, the house and property
had been left abandoned. Kesuke has now been working on the place by hand and has made it livable if not still
very rustic. His handiwork is quite impressive on it's scale. The rooms contain handcrafted items such as window
frames and moldings that are remarkable little examples of quality Arts and Crafts items. He also had made
particularly interesting wood items such as the towel racks, toilet lid, and soap dishes.

The most impressive thing about the place is the spectacular gardens. There are a couple of flower gardens as well
as a large vegetable/herb garden that contains dozens of various plants all in prime condition. Kesuke served as
chef of our lunch that day and incorporated a variety of things straight from out of his garden. The lunch included
tempura vegetables, mushroom rice, and BBQ chicken. It was a very satisfying and we really appreciated his efforts.

Annabel is a kind and friendly lady with a distinctly rural Quebec accent which is very disarming. She made us feel
right at home and I felt like I had known her for years. Their son Brandon in now 16 years old and taller than both
of his parents. He is autistic and has required a great deal of love and attention from his folks. It's quite obvious
that they have done a great job in that regard because Brandon is a high functioning, polite, and fun kid to be
around. The family is certainly a eclectic bunch, but they form a great unit and make for a easy group of folks to
like. Thanks for the great afternoon guys!
Kesuke, Annabel, Tee, Me, and Brandon
At the farm in La Shute
Once we were back in Montreal, Tee and Freddy dropped me at the hotel so that I could take a short nap while they
went to see Sue, Syb, and the kids who had just arrived at their hotel nearby. A couple of hours later they came by
and picked me up in order to make our way to a fun family dinner we had planned at the legendary
Chalet BBQ
restaurant. The Chalet BBQ is one of those places that is a MUST to visit when in Montreal, especially given it's
history with Tee's family (Her parents got engaged in the parking lot 40 years ago!). The menu is straight forward
and simple; you order how much and what part of the chicken you want, fries, cold slaw, and drinks. No one comes
to Chalet BBQ wanting anything else! And why would they? This simple, straightforward, comfort food is about as
satisfying a meal as anyone would want. Add to that some cold Canadian beer (we drank Pete's favorite, Labatt's
Blue) and you can't feel any better about a meal.

We were fortunate to have the whole immediate family show up for the dinner. Our group included Tee, myself, Sue,
Syb, Wilson, Barron, Freddy, Peter, Sandy,  and Barb Emms. We were even lucky enough to all sit at the one extra
large table near the rear of the restaurant. We ate, drank, talked and laughed together for an hour or so. It was a
great time and exactly the kind of get-together we had hoped for.
Chalet BBQ signboard
Freddy and Tee say "Come on in!"
The gang at Chalet BBQ
Once back at the hotel Tee went to the hotel gym to work off some of her BBQ dinner, while I decided to take a bit
of a walk along Rue Sainte. Catherine. St. Catherine is the main drag for shopping and entertainment in
downtown Montreal. It was a bit late when I took my walk, so most of the retail shops were closed. It felt good to
walk however, and there were plenty of people out and about. I came across a film festival that was happening at
the Place des Arts, where they had the street blocked off and were screening a movie on a large outdoor screen. I
stopped and watched for a few minutes, realizing right away that it was some "anti-war" movie. Yaaaaaaawwwwwn. I
walked along St. Catherine for several more minutes before returning to the area of our hotel.

By this time I was ready for a cold beer and stopped into a large bar/restaurant next door to the W. The place is
called
Le Quartier, and when I had walked by it earlier it had been quite busy and inviting. However, only a couple
of hours later the place was nearly empty and it seemed they were ready to close although it was only about 10:00
p.m.. I asked about this and was told by the friendly bartender, Rick, that it is a tradition throughout Montreal that
on Thursdays people do most of their drinking between 5:00 and 7:00, and usually clear out by 9:00. This tradition
is referred to as "cinq a sept" (5 to 7). I drank a Molson Export draft and chatted a bit with the bartender. The place
is really quite nice, and is probably often patronized by a good-looking, upscale crowd. I left and went for a drink at
the hotel.

I wasn't interested in going back to Wunder Bar, but instead went to check out another hotel bar on the 2nd floor
called the Plateau Bar. This place seemed to fit in perfectly with the W culture. It was upscale, swank, and funky
while remaining tasteful and relaxed. I liked it right away. Again I took a seat at a place with a "reserved" sign and
figured if someone wanted to kick me out they could - but no one ever did. I drank a Stella and did some good
people watching while trying not to look out of place all on my own. After one relaxing beer I was done and called it
a night.
Tee on the tee!
Getting ready for another huge drive!
...or another duff.
Tee spots a turtle on the fairway
In front of the clubhouse after our round
We awoke the next morning greeted by some fairly heavy rain showers. This was disappointing since we had set this
day aside to play some golf at a great course we've come to know here called
Club de Golf de L'ile de Montreal. Well,
come rain or shine we had brought our clubs with us and we were determined to play golf. Fortunately the rain
began to subside as we were getting ready, and had quit almost entirely by the time we were in the car. We got to
the course just in time to change our shoes, pay our green fee, and purchase a breakfast sandwich. This would
make my fourth time playing this particular course, but I hadn't yet seen it since it had been fully developed. The
course is only six or seven years old, and on the occasions I've played here before the clubhouse and facilities were
still in some phase of construction. Now that all of that is finished the place looks really good, and while not a large
structure, the clubhouse is modern and comfortable.

We set out for the 1st tee and found that we practically had the course to ourselves. Although the fairways were a bit
wet, the rain had completely stopped and had obviously served to keep any crowds away. The only downside was
that due to the wet conditions no carts were allowed off of the paths. Other than that we had no complaints. The
temperature was nice if not slightly muggy and we played some fairly decent golf. It truly was one of the most
enjoyable rounds of golf that Tee and I have played together in some time, and I know it set Tee to wanting to play
more frequently if we can find the opportunity.
We returned to the hotel to shower and change before heading out for dinner and drinks. From there we returned
the rental car to the Avis office on Metcalfe. We then walked to a large wine store on the St. Catherine side of the
large Eaton Center shopping complex. We bought a nice bottle of French Bordeaux and took it with us via a taxi to a
great little French restaurant in the "Plateau" area of town.

The restaurant is called
Les Heritiers, and is a place I had come across while doing some online research for our trip a
couple of weeks before. The place seemed perfect for what I had in mind; an especially good French restaurant with a
smaller, intimate atmosphere off the beaten path. Well, we were not to be disappointed. As soon as we arrived we felt
good about having chosen this place. It's located on a quiet side street, with an atmosphere that indicates it most
likely caters to the neighborhood regulars and those in "the know" about quality French fare. The interior is
decorated in a low-key, subdued French country style, consciously not wanting to distract from what's most
important...the food.

Tee had a nice fillet mignon with a mushroom sauce, while I was typically more adventurous by ordering a set menu
which included an escargot appetizer, mushroom soup, a main of veal kidney and sweetbreads and roasted veggies,
followed up by a cheesecake topped with a rum and maple syrup sauce. It was fantastic! Exactly what I had been
hoping it would be. We both left feeling entirely satiated.

We then took a short cab ride to the corner of Mount Royal and Saint-Laurent and started walking around this fun
and lively area of town. Saint-Laurent was unusually quiet, but that is certainly due to the massive construction of
the road that continues for several blocks. We then walked east to Saint-Denis, an even more active and "happening"
part of town. We walked down (southbound) St. Denis for many blocks thinking that eventually we would come across
a comfortable place to stop and have a drink. While there was plenty to look at in terms of people, shops, restaurants,
cafés, and pubs, the only places that would serve our purpose of providing a comfortable seat and a cold beer were
places that either required you to eat or were already overflowing with people.

Finally we decided to stop walking and just grab a cab back to the hotel. I told Tee about Le Quartier next to the hotel
and so we stopped off there to have a drink. The place was having a Latin themed night, but there were only a
handful of people there. While we were able to get a seat on the comfortable sidewalk patio area, the service was
horrible and I refused to tip our waitress/bartender. We left after one drink and went to the W's Plateau bar where I
had such a nice relaxing beer the night before. Again we got a nice, comfortable seat and another incompetent
waitress with attitude. When I signed off on the bill I attempted to send her a message by tipping exactly ONE PENNY.
Saturday morning was a much appreciated lazy one. Tee got up and went to the hotel gym while I sat in bed watching
the CBC and doing the Globe and Mail crossword puzzle. At around noon we set out to get some dim sum in
Chinatown for lunch. Montreal's Chinatown is small but significant, and located only a couple of blocks from the W
Hotel. The first time Tee and I traveled together to Montreal in 2001 we had stumbled onto a great dim sum place in
Chinatown and we figured that it would be relatively easy to find it again, or perhaps we could find another such place.
On our way to the main drag in Chinatown, Rue Clark, we crossed through an open plaza in front of Montreal's
Congressional Palace where there was a beautiful water fountain backed by the wonderful multi-colored glass
windows of the adjacent building. It made for a nice background for a photo, so we waited until some unsuspecting
tourists passed by and we asked if they would take a photo of us there. Not only did they accommodate us by taking
our photo, but then in turn asked if we would take one of them. It was obviously a great spot for a photo.
On our way to Chinatown
We entered the Chinatown district to find all of it's shops and restaurants full of activity (isn't this always the case
in every Chinatown?). We quickly spotted the dim sum place where we had eaten years before but continued to
walk around to see what other options might be available. Our hotel concierge had mentioned an alternative dim
sum place called Lotte Furama, which we found near the top of the street. We decided to give it a try and climbed
the stairs to where the main dining room is located on the 2nd floor.

Although the large room was packed with diners, we where shown right away to a table at the far end of the
restaurant. There were certainly a number of white faces in the place, but the overwhelming majority of patrons
where in fact Chinese; always a good sign. Within seconds of taking our seats we were approached by the first of the
dim sum carts and started in to what turned out to be a fully satisfying Saturday lunch. We sampled a variety of
dishes, including grilled eggplant, fried tofu, chicken feet, and a large array of steamed dumplings (most of which
contained shrimp). All of this was accompanied by a pot of delicious Jasmine tea. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the
next time I'm in Montreal I suddenly get a wild craving to come back here again.
Front entrance of Lotte Furama
1st "course" of our dim sum lunch
At this point Tee was ready for a nap and headed back to the hotel while I decided to go do some shopping. I had
spotted a specific t-shirt at a little shop on St. Catherine on my walk Thursday night that I wanted to go back and
get. It was a yellow t-shirt with a simple yet sophisticated reggae symbol of a lion profile with a crown on it's head. I
walked straight to the place and bought the shirt from some heavily pierced and tattooed English speaking shop
assistants, who turned out the be some of the friendliest, most professional people I would come across during my
stay in Montreal. Go figure.

As I continued to walk around the St. Catherine Street area I noticed a number of wall murals done by graffiti
artists. While most were merely overdone "tags," several were quite impressive. And while I think the whole idea of
graffiti on public property is undesirable and stupid, I couldn't help but be impressed with some of the work I saw,
and even felt that perhaps many of the better pieces were commissioned by the building owners. I snapped photos
of several examples which I've posted below. I also noticed a few people who noticed me taking some of these shots
then decided to take out their cameras and shoot some photos of their own.
Images from the walls of downtown Montreal
Next stop for me was Saint-Denis, where I hoped to pick up an item or two of clothing at one of the hip men's
clothing shops there. My first problem was catching a cab; not normally a problem in downtown Montreal. There
were several things going on downtown that day, including the film festival, and that seemed to interfere with the
normal flow of traffic. I waited at a major intersection (Berri and Rene-Levesque), but still had no luck for more
than 30 minutes. By the time I was dropped at Mount Royal and St. Denis I didn't have a lot of time left to shop.
Luckily however I'm a guy, and know how to shop without spending much time. I walked briskly down St. Denis
and swept through any potential shop like Dog The Bounty Hunter sniffing out fugitives. It took me only a matter
of a couple of minutes after entering a shop to know if there was something of interest to me or not. On this day
there seemed very little that caught my scanning eye. I was determined not to leave St. Denis empty handed, so
when I spied a casual Quicksilver shirt at a small "surf" shop I bought it although it was somewhat plain and a bit
expensive. Funny enough I've come to like it more in the days since buying it than I did initially, so it seems to
have served it's purpose.

The day was HOT and slightly humid, so after having waited in the sun for a cab and then charging down St. Denis
and through it's shops like a desperate scavenger hunter, I was ready for a cold beer. Wow! how I was ready for a
cold beer! I continued to walk down St. Denis thinking that I would spot a place to drink at any moment. But, alas,
there were no pubs around. Actually, there was one pub I passed, and although it appeared to be open there
wasn't a soul inside, not even a bartender. So I kept moving on. I was really quite shocked that it would be so hard
to find a beer on such a busy, and "happening" street in the middle of a hot Saturday afternoon! I kept thinking to
myself "if this were Sydney there would be a pub packed with people all drinking cold beer every hundred feet!"
But, although I truly love Montreal, it's certainly no Sydney.

By this time I was sick of walking and terribly thirsty, so I finally just stopped a couple of young guys walking down
the street and asked in my full American-English accent "Do you guys know where I can find a pub around here?"
They were very nice and told me that most of the pubs were back downtown on Crescent or Peel Streets. I thanked
them and immediately hopped into a cab and headed off to Rue Crescent. I'm quite familiar with Crescent, having
spent quite a bit of time there on previous visits to Montreal. I suppose the Crescent, Peel, St. Catherine area is
considered the "tourist" area, but I must admit it's an appealing spot as well. The area is full of interesting little
places to shop, drink, and eat. In fact, Tee's dad Peter's old watering hole for a couple of decades,
The Sir Winston
Churchill, is located right in the heart of Crescent Street and is still THE pub in the area. Although I've had a
couple of beers there before, this time I was looking for something a bit more low-key and found just the place just
a bit further down on the same side of the street.

The place is called
Pub Claddagh, and is a smallish traditional Irish pub with a great open front perfect for
watching the busy foot traffic passing by. Right when I entered I knew I had found the right place. The pub was
uncrowded but had a good number of patrons. They also had a very friendly English-speaking bartender, Stella
Artois on tap, and an open table right at the front window. If I had only come here an hour before! Luckily I still
had about 45 minutes before having to be back to the hotel, and that was plenty of time for two pints and a nice bit
of quiet meditation and people watching.
The pub that saved me!
Pub Claddagh
I then returned to the hotel in order to shower and get ready for the big birthday party/reunion that night. I took a
quick nap before getting ready since Tee had left early to the party. After getting dressed I took a cab up to
The
Cantlie Hotel on Sherbrooke where the party was being held.

It was still the cocktail hour portion of the party when I first arrived and I spent the time chatting with some of
Tee's more distant relatives whom I had never met before. In fact, the only people I had met before were Tee's
immediate family, Syb, and Sandy. I felt a bit uncomfortable, but by the time we had taken our seats for dinner I
felt better in that Tee's crew were all seated at the same table. Irene, the birthday girl, looked terrific for being 100
years old, although she looked significantly older than when I had last seen her 3 or 4 years ago. She was in a
wheelchair and seemed to have a hard time seeing, but was also in good spirits and appeared to be enjoying all of
the attention.

The program consisted of a buffet dinner (which was pretty hit and miss), an ongoing slide show, and some short
speeches about various thoughts and memories of Irene. The event was enjoyable all in all, but did go on about an
hour too long in my estimation. The party room also got quite hot and stuffy, so I (and several others) ended up
spending most of the last hour taking long breaks in the well air-conditioned lobby of the hotel.

The highlight for me was meeting a few interesting characters that were in attendance. First was Scott, Irene's
nephew, who caught my attention straight away with his unique look. He's a bald guy with a long braided
mustache who was wearing a beautifully tailored English suit and tie from the 60's. He also turned out to be a very
friendly guy who, despite being 62, is a full-time ski bum and snowboard instructor.

Later on I met and began chatting with Tee's 2nd cousin Vinnie and his cousin Martha. Right away I thought that
these two had a special "cool" about them, and Vinnie especially seemed to be an interesting and engaging
character. The two of them were talking music at one point and I asked if they were musicians. Vinnie told me that
Martha was
Martha Wainwright, sister of Rufus Wainwright and a well-know and successful musician of her own. I
was impressed! Rufus Wainwright is certainly a very famous name in the music world, and Vinnie told me that
Martha also has several CDs out and tours internationally with her own band!

Later on, Tee was visiting with Vinnie and mentioned the fact that we were big fans of the
Arcade Fire, the band
that put the Montreal music scene (which includes bands such as
The Wolf Parade and The Dears) on the map a
couple of years back. Turns out Vinnie is not only a big Arcade Fire fan as well, but grew up in the same
neighborhood in Montreal where they got their start. By the end of the conversation Tee and Vinnie had made
plans for Vinnie to join us the next day in order to show us his neighborhood and some of the hangouts of the
Arcade Fire and the other of Montreal's most well known bands.
Irene at 100 years young!
Peter, Me, Freddy, and Tee
At Irene's party
Originally we had planned on a big brunch at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel the next morning, but when the morning
actually came we were feeling far too lazy to get dressed up for it. We called and canceled our reservation and
eventually made our way out of the hotel in search of a good cup of coffee for Tee. It was a beautiful, sunny day,
with temperatures having cooled off slightly from the day before. We headed south from the hotel and Tee bought a
coffee from a place just a block or two away. I sensed that we were not too far from the part of town referred to as
"Old Montreal," which has a plethora of old, historic buildings, cobble stone streets, horse carts, and interesting
pubs, restaurants, and cafés. We only had to walk a couple more blocks before we knew we had entered the
western edge of Old Montreal. We then turned east, and within another block or so found ourselves in the middle
of festival dedicated to the history and traditions of the city of Montreal. There were a big number of people dressed
in historic dress. There were also a large number of booths demonstrating old techniques of craft/tool making,
production of clothing and food products, and demonstrations of military marches, formations, and ceremonial
firings of guns and cannons. What a fun thing to have stumbled upon! We were so glad to have decided to walk in
the direction of Old Montreal!
After walking around for a while taking pictures, watching some of the demonstrations, and buying some carrot jam
(a childhood memory for Tee), we decided to head up to Montreal's most legendary place to eat, Schwartz's Deli for
their famous smoked meat sandwiches. Before heading out Tee gave Vinnie a call and he was excited to join us for
lunch, so we arranged to meet him there. Turns out that the area where Schwartz's Deli is located on St. Laurent is
basically the same area where Vinnie is from and near the area he was looking to show us that day.

We showed up at Schwartz's to find a very significant line out the door. The line didn't surprise me given the
reputation of the place, but at least initially it moved very slowly. Vinnie joined us within a few minutes of our taking
our place in line and began right away telling us some interesting historical tidbits about the area. Luckily the line
began moving a bit quicker after 20 minutes or so and within only about 30 minutes after having joined the queue
we were seated at our table amongst all of the life-affirming noise and vitality of Schwartz's.

We all ordered the one thing that one can only really in good conscience order here, which is the smoked meat
sandwich with a side of fries and cold slaw. I'm fortunate to have been brought to Schwartz's by Tee and her dad on
my first visit to the city in 2001. It truly is one of those places that one MUST visit when in Montreal. I've thought
back fondly on it many times since, and felt lucky to be back! The sandwich looked smaller than I had remembered
(Tee even mentioned something about this later), but certainly tasted as good as I had remembered.
Images from Montreal's "Rendez-vous With History Festival"
The queue in front of Schwartz's Deli
Schwartz's legendary smoked meat sandwich
We left the deli after lunch heading north on St. Laurent aa Vinnie continued to tell us of the history of the area;
it's once hearty Jewish past, it's architecture, and it's evolution toward it's current "hipster" scene. He also was full
of great tales and anecdotes of his own personal history with the place. We walked through a few different areas,
including the area in which Leonard Cohen lives and owns a section of buildings, a small park, and into the more
quiet and somewhat residential area approaching "The Mile End" part of town,  where the heart of the Montreal
music scene exists. Again, the weather was absolutely perfect for a walk around and we were all thoroughly
enjoying each section of the area as we passed through.

Vinnie pointed out the place where the currently hot Montreal bands play most of their gigs locally; a place called
La Sala Rossa. Just across the street from the concert venue is a cafe/pub/restaurant closely associated with La
Sala Rossa and the music scene there called
Casa Del Popolo.  At this point we made a perfectly timed stop off at
Casa Del Popolo for a couple of beers on their very comfortable patio out back. The three of us talked about all kinds
of things, including music, our families, Vinnie's job in the movie business in L.A., Quebec politics and culture, and
our philosophies of life. It really was a fun and inspiring hour or two spent in a fantastic little setting.
Vinnie, Me, and Tee
Inside Casa Del Popolo
Vinnie on the back patio at Casa Del Popolo
We continued to walk north along St. Laurent until finally veering east into a distinctly residential neighborhood
which then gave way to an old industrial part of town. After walking through a few blocks of huge, mostly empty
former warehouse buildings we came to a place where a section of chain linked fence had been cut open (Vinnie
says it's been perpetually opened up for decades) leading to a wide open and unused area of land surrounding the
train tracks. Vinnie told us that the locals use the trails that traverse the area regularly as walkways. It was really
interesting walking through this area because it was certainly not a side of the city any regular tourist would be
exposed to.

As we emerged from the grassy area near the tracks we entered the heart of the "Mile End," and quickly came upon
an auction house where a live auction was taking place. We stepped inside to have a quick look around. While there
was nothing terribly impressive amongst the items up for bid, it was a unique atmosphere, in that the auction was
(naturally) all in French and Vinnie knew a few people there from the neighborhood.

Just around the corner from the auction was another inviting little pub that we decided to step into. The place had
a Mediterranean feel to it and is called
L'Assommoir. Although it's a small place (and a bit pricey) it's a beautiful
spot, with a clean modern interior, a large, open window space near the front, and a terrific bar menu. We took a
prime table up against the open windows at the front and drank in the gorgeous summer air along with some
delicious cream ales. We didn't think we were hungry until Tee ordered some sardines grilled with potatoes and
tomatoes in oil and garlic. They were absolutely delicious, and we wolfed them right down. I think we all were kind
of wishing we could just sit there all day drinking, talking, and taking in the wonderfully relaxed atmosphere of a
beautiful late-summer Saturday in Montreal. But, we eventually had to push on, say goodbye to Vinnie (what a
great guide!), and hop the bus back to our hotel.
Our grilled sardines at L'Assommoir
Once we had showered and kicked back in the room for a couple of hours we then headed off to Rue Crescent and
to a specific Indian restaurant called
Devi to have our final dinner in Montreal. Having done a bit of research I found
that Devi (sister restaurant to the well-know Devi in Manhattan) was a "true" Indian restaurant. That is to say that,
much like many "sushi" restaurants which are often actually run by Koreans, Chinese, or Vietnamese, many so
called "Indian" restaurants are often run by Pakistanis or Bengalis. Some of the information I came across about
Devi tauted the fact that it is actually owned and run by Indians and serves authentic Indian fare. I probably would
never have know the difference, but appreciated being given the "heads up" by some online bloggers.

The restaurant had several customers but wasn't busy. We were able to get a table on the outside patio fronting the
restaurant, and continued to be able to enjoy the day's pleasant weather,  watch the sky grow dark, and do the
necessary watching of the people along Rue Crescent.

Tee and I split orders of Lamb Saagwala, curried chick peas, Nan, and Raita. They didn't have any Indian beer,
which I thought was very odd (even in Salt Lake you can get several), but ended up trying a light beer from Brazil
called
Brahma which turned out to be quite good. The food was great and the atmosphere out on the patio just as
nice. It was a perfect way to take in our last night in Montreal.
My Indian dinner at Devi
The day of my departure once again arrived too quickly. I wasn't able to sleep in much because my flight was at
11:30 a.m., and Tee had to take a business call in the room from 9:00 anyway. I wasn't rushed in getting ready
however, and Tee finished her call just in time to see me to my taxi at the front of the hotel.

It was a long day getting home, with an almost 3 hour layover in Cincinnati. Luckily they have a nice pub-style
restaurant called Moe's in the C Terminal which served a beautiful smoked meat sandwich and Stella on draft. That
definitely helped the time pass quickly! When I was finally in Salt Lake I couldn't wait to see the kids. I drove 80
almost the whole way to my sister Shauna's house where they had been staying since the day before. What a great
treat to see their faces after 5 days away!

So, another great trip to another great city came to an end. I couldn't be happier or more grateful for it. A big
"THANKS" to all of you who joined us in Montreal or helped mind the kids while we were away! Wouldn't have been
the same without you!
_______________________________