The bus ride from Burlington to Montreal was a bit more exciting than our other bus rides as it included a stop at the Canadian border for passport checks and customs. We were questioned about our stay and then asked if we were bringing any food in to Canada, which Pete and I both replied 'a subway sandwich' and asked if she wanted to see it. She gave us a look which translated as ' of course not,don't be so silly' and we were through and on to our second country, Canada!!!
We arrived in Montreal expecting it to be rather nippy but as we left the bus station with our backpacks on, we had to stop two minutes later to take off our fleeces, it was hot! We walked the 8 mins to our air bnb, which was an apartment owned by a French Canadian, Jean Claude, who teaches the accordion and translates English music into French. A few of the nights we heard him playing, he was really good. He explained that most of the older generation speak just French but the younger ones will speak both French and English fluently.
Having a comfortable nights sleep we headed out to meet Chris, Kristie, Bowie and Lennon. Chris is my brother's best friend and we all grew up together so a visit to Montreal, where Chris now lives, was a must. Funnily enough we had unintentionally managed to book a place which was 15 mins walk away from his, so with Pete leading the way ( due to his photographic memory and good sense of direction -he always leads the way :-)) we arrived at Chris's.
We received a really warm welcome from their dog Bowie and cat Lennon. We had a chat then headed out for a walk with Bowie. You are not allowed to let dogs off the lead in Montreal until you get to a doggy park ( a gated area where dogs can run free). Pete and I were in our element with so many different breeds of dogs there.
This was followed by a cup of tea in a doggy cafe where dogs can run around. We then had lunch in a pub and we tried two Canadian dishes - Poutine ( chips, gravy and cheese curd) and Perogies ( potato dumplings) both went down very well. We reminisced about the old days and quizzed Chris and Kristie on what it was like living in Montreal and Canada generally ( Pete does love a question :-))
It started to spit with rain after this so in typical British style we went to get an ice cream :-).
The next day we headed to Mont Royal park where you can look down onto the city. When we got to the look out point, there was a big concrete concourse. It was a Sunday so was pretty busy but at the same time there was a peaceful buzz. There was an old piano on the concourse and just after Pete had said ' I wish someone really good would come and play some songs', a man started playing a bridge over troubled water. Hopefully Pete's preys will be answered again on our trip although I imagine it would mainly involve Watford keeping up their winning streek.
In a bid to save a few dollars we decided to walk to the old port. We found a place for a sandwich and coffee and then had a walk along the key. After discussing the strength of the current which looked incredibly strong and likely to drown anyone who fell in ( we are cheery), the zip line and how the geese were cleaning themselves we headed back to our air bnb to get ready for tapas with Chris and Kristie.
As we got to the restaurant a bit early we went for a walk in a nearby park. We have noticed how many they have in Montreal, all with lakes, play areas, pools and noticed how well kept they were! The highlight of this walk was the albino squirrel that Pete spotted. The squirrels seem really tame here and come right up to you but Kristie reminded us that they carry lots of diseases so we pretty much ran away from it after that 🙂
The tapas at Tapeo was amazing, the best I think I have ever tasted. The vine tomatoes with basil and goats cheese was insanely good. Think I could eat that every day. I think the difference was that it wasn't all covered in lots of oil, which has been the case with other tapas that we have had in the past. We had a great giggle with Chris and Kristie and got out at their place so that we could walk off the rest of the tapas.
The next day we decided to walk to the Olympic park which took us about an hour and twenty minutes. We love a good walk!! It was a Monday and a lot of it was closed but we got to see the swimming pool and the home stadium for Impact, the Montreal football team.
We headed back in to Montreal and decided to stop at La Banquise, a food place which Chris informed us did the best Poutine. Loving food we thought we had better see what the fuss was about. Well, the choice of Poutine was immense. Pete's eyes lit up as he looked at the menu and said ' I am going for it' and that he did, having a large meat loaded Poutine. His face when they brought it out was a picture, it was huge, but he looked at me and said ' I am going to do it' and again he did. After overindulging the only thing we could do was go back for a nap. Which we did for around 2 hours and that was our Monday evening.
The next day, we skipped breakfast but had to try another speciality of smoked meat sandwich from Schwartz's ( Pete not me). We got there and the place was heaving with a queue outside so
we decided to get a takeaway. Pete was impressed by the sandwich so Montreal got a big thumbs up on food.
That evening we went for dinner at Chris and Kristie's. Chris kindly cooked me a veggie stir fry with veg from his garden and everyone else a spag Bol. We really enjoyed our time in Montreal and found it an interesting and relaxing place. Up next Ottawa........