Object of My Desire

“You don’t understand, I need that credit card back!!”

I almost fell to my knees to pray to Allah, Goddess, anyone.

Montreal, I really like you.  It’s been fun meeting new people and getting an invite to one of the coolest brewpubs in the city.  You know what’s wonderful about you?  I’ll walk past a Reitman’s and beside it is a Catholic church built in the 1700′s.  How do you do that?  Make the ordinary so extraordinary?  The point is I’m late.  Very.  Of course it was my fault I got off at St. Laurent instead of  Laurier, started hoofing it, realizing these ineffectual feet couldn’t possibly make it to Dieu du Ciel on time.  And I am grateful for the chance to have this time.  Whoever I have to thank – big hugs and kisses. And here’s my blood in exchange. But come on, an $8.00 cab ride towards disaster?

The cab driver was amiable, but took forever to process my card, slide it through the machinery already – I wanted to shout at him to hurry.

It was a slow-mo replay, he seemed to take hours instead of minutes to complete the visa slip.

He had my card cradled on his thigh when it slid off and disappeared.

Semi panic singed my throat as he clumsily handed me the slip with a goofy smile.  You realize THAT was 1 of 2 cards I have with me.  PERIOD.

My voice struggled to remain casual.  “Oh yeah,  guess I need my card back.  Can you find it?”

“Sure, no prob.”

It was momentairly amusing to watch a grown man root underneath his butt cheeks, until

By |October 13th, 2010 |Categories: Montreal |30 Comments

5 Best Eats in Montreal

It was touch and go with Montreal.  I was stonewalled in areas like Frontenac or Old Montreal, wondering if I could take another limpy, fishy tasting cod fillet or tasteless salad.  Realizing I was hanging in the wrong areas, this hungry traveler eventually found her treasures, and then some.

1. Poutine – La Banquise

Several eastern towns in Quebec lay claim to inventing this hugely popular dish.  Poutine is everywhere – sold in fast food chains or local eateries.  A foodie investigator might find all that poutine confusing, so where is the best? I happily introduce La Banquise.  Recommended to me by Jodi Ettenberg, I was impressed with a few things.  It’s not immediately close to a Metro, a terrific way to work for the grease.  Because it’s a fair walk, you get the chance to sober up or realize how soddening drunk you are.  It’s open 24 hours a day.  They not only serve classic or vegetarian, but theme poutine.  Mexican or an Elvis anyone?  Above all, the price was beyond reasonable for a serving fit for two of me.  Go!  You must.  Address: 994 Rachel East.  +1-514.525.2415. Close to Sherbrooke or Mont Royal Metro. www.restolabanquise.com.  Price range: $7 to $15 CDN.


2. Vegetarian or Organic – Bonny’s

This place was discovered because of a happy accident, or was it serendipitous?  It was a good thing  Griffontown Cafe’s doors were closed in the height of a Wednesday morning, while Bonny’s proved

By |October 1st, 2010 |Categories: Montreal |25 Comments

Worst Washroom of the Week

Navigating the stairs of washroom doom?  Not a sound idea…

Montreal, Quebec

By |September 18th, 2010 |Categories: Montreal |7 Comments

Toronto Subway vs Montreal Metro – A Comparison

If you’re a Canadian, two major cities on everyone’s lips are Toronto and Montreal.  The two most populated cities in Canada boast extensive train systems, and yours truly had to navigate both on a daily basis.  So, how do the two stack up?

Access

Toronto: While in Toronto, I stayed in two fairly densely populated areas, Yonge and Spadina.  Both subway stations were a bit of a walk, at least 15 minutes.  The stations in general are laid out decently, but seem to cover a concentrated area.  The Yonge-Unversity-Spadina line is a U-shape, while the Bloor Danforth runs east and west, leaving out some grey areas in between.

Toronto platform

Montreal: No matter where I was in the city, or what time of day a Metro station was always near.  Whether hanging in Verdun, The Plateau, or NDG, I never felt stressed about finding a station to return to my hovel.  Montreal’s lines are organized by color and destination name, which renders it simple to understand, even if you’re a lowly Anglophone. The orange line is a U-shape, but two separate lines (blue and green) intersect at different zones in the city east and west.  That’s a lot of coverage.

Metro turnstiles

The winner? Montreal.  Excellent access all around!

Layout of Stations

Toronto: Their system is a veteran, first built in 1954 with 12 stations, but since then has expanded to 69 stations.  Accessing the platforms is either by turnstile or heavy, awkward revolving doors, difficult to push myself and a backpack through.

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By |September 17th, 2010 |Categories: Montreal, Toronto |17 Comments

When CouchSurfing Took My Innocence

Sometimes the unexpected is what the soul needs.  Even a dose of fear.

Everyone’s first time is a trial in unknowable outcomes, an expectation of blissful happiness or gutter disappointment.

I reserved judgment on mine when I knocked on Alain’s door, encouraged by the “welcome” sign printed on white letter paper tacked to the mahogany finish.  All I could fathom was the dense weight of my pack even though I dumped items at Appartement Qualitas.

Or msybe the itch on the roof of my mouth signaled the surreal scene as I exited St. Laurent Metro, walking towards an obvious parkade (I’m couchsurfing by a parkade??), then turning sharply right on Clark leading to a state-of-the-art directory in the building’s entrance.

Between The Village and St. Laurent is no man’s land, an arm’s length from seedy stripper bars, god knows what else.  Yet, here was this plushly designed, modern building planted in the middle.  Puzzled, I was.

Press the suite number or # for the concierge.

A wave of hotel treatment prodded me to call the concierge.

“Ahhh-hem, yes, I’m couchsurfing with Alain?”  Did I just say that?  Way to moron.

Like a wizard with a charmed key, entry sprang from incantations, not my backpacker stature.

The concerige imposed a formal figure in a navy blue uniform, tapping a clipboard, a signal for me to sign my rights away.  No, girl, just type your name neatly. Under ‘guest’.

A ride in a pristine elevator had me hopeful.

Within 3 minutes, Alain’s burly figure, and kind brown eyes scattered creeping thoughts.

“Hello! Welcome!”

“Bonjour!”  Oh how lame my French is.

My knowledge of Alain should overflow a football field, but in couchsurfing reality, intimacy was the scale of a cookie jar.  I had a verified, vouched for profile,

10 Best Pictures of Toronto and Montreal

TORONTO

1. Toronto skyline

2.  Subway tunnel

3.  Crazy plant car, Kensington Market

4. Massey Hall

5. Royal Ontario Museum

MONTREAL

1. Metro Station

2.  Notre Dame Basillica

Notre-Dame Basilica

3. Olympic Observatory

4. Notre Dame de Bon Secours

5. Row houses

By |September 6th, 2010 |Categories: Montreal, Toronto |26 Comments