Sunday, August 9, 2009

When in France... or Quebec

So my high school French class was completely useless. Well not completely, I do remember how to order a glass of water.

Brian recently attended another conference to present his current research (poster presentation). He has been on quite a few of these in the last few years, including trips to San Francisco, Orlando, and Albuquerque. I was never able to attend with him until this one, which was the ISPP2009 conference. Located in Montreal.

As soon as we could get out the door, we left on Thursday, my last day of summer school. It took about 8 or so hours, with one stop for gas, plus about an extra 30 minutes at the border. Of course we got lost when we were almost to the hotel, and about had a minor mental breakdown at that point. But we made the 500 miles there.

We stayed at this hotel. The Hotel Quartier Latin was about the cheapest we could find, allowed pets, had a small breakfast (coffee, orange juice, and a muffin/croissant), and has $10 street parking or $9 garage parking real close. It is unfortunately right next to a “gentleman’s club” but other than that, it is on a vibrant street-Rue St. Denis-which is close to the university and subway, and lined with eateries of every kind, small shops, and lots of theaters. It was pretty much an ideal location for us-think right in the middle of the Gas Light District in San Diego or right on Mill Avenue in Tempe.

On Friday we took in the area, got a feel for our surroundings, and started exploring the city. We ate a hearty petit dejunair/brunch at la brioche-Lyonnaise. I had a croque monsieur (which has been of a favorite of mine every since I tried one in h.s. French), and Brian had a salmon croque when the first thing he ordered (he didn't even know what he ordered) was out. I also had a really delicious sparkling lemonade, and Brian had a bowl of café lait. We enjoyed the sunshine on the patio of this little café just a few buildings down from our hotel.
We retired for a brief siesta at our hotel, before setting out for the Park Mont Royal, where we could get a good view of the city. The river, Biodome, Olympic Stadium, and Montreal Casino were all visible from atop this mount. We then hiked around other parts of the park, and Coriander enjoyed the fresh air. Since the café there was closing, we just grabbed dessert-cheesecake and tiramisu.

Our next stop was another park, Cabot Square, this one a much smaller park downtown where the Repercussion Theatre was putting on an English rendition of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” The event was freewill donation, and we sat in our own chairs in the park, with Cori at our feet. It was fairly amusing, and pretty impressive for being free and done outdoors like that. The only problem was the crazy guy that kept yelling in the park-they really needed security-and the occasional sirens going by on ambulances or firetrucks. That pretty much ended our night-we skipped supper since we’d had so many snacks.

Saturday we started the day with traditional French crepes at Café Croissant de Lune. We watched the cook flip these big pancakes (jk Brian) at his station, and then dug in. I found them very hard to cut up, but otherwise my strawberry one was fairly good, and Brian definitely enjoyed his ham & cheese version. He again finished with a bowl of café au lait. He drank more coffee this trip on vacation than I care to think about.

We then commenced our very long walk around the city. We just headed toward the water front, stumbling upon some brick streets with a charming seaman's chapel as well as some art galleries that were way out of our price range. We got closer to the waterfront, and saw the clock tower, and gazed upon the St. Lawrence river. It was a beautiful day and it seemed half the city came down to the waterfront as well. We browsed some street vendors, as well as stores in the Marche Bonsecours, and followed little kids around until we found were they were getting ice cream. Breyer's tastes even better in Canada than in Indiana.

Clock tower.We finally rested a while and watched a couple having wedding pictures taken in front of a fountain, before heading over to see the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal. We already knew the church was closed for the day, but still figured we'd take a look at the outside of this famous place (Celine Deon's huge, immaculate wedding was there). We then saw another newlywed couple as we were there when they rang the bells and the wedding party exited the church and had pictures taken in front of the basilique.

After taking in enough romance in the streets surrounding the riverfront, we headed over to La Gauchetiere Street to find lunch in Chinatown. I've never officially eaten in any city's Chinatown, so I was excited. I loved looking at all the fresh and foreign foods for sale in the markets, and we found a good looking Cantonese-Szechuan-Thai restaurant right across from the gates called Deer Garden (notice the tri-lingual menu). It was very tasty-I loved the tea as well. Asian tea is the only kind I drink.

Afterward, we finally headed back towards our hotel, in a roundabout way. We toured St. Patrick's Basilica before walking the many blocks back home.

After some down time, we set off for dinner. I was in a very finicky mood, and we basically walked up and down both sides of the street before I decided on a little soup and sandwich place, Le Petit Etranger. When we were seated on the terrace, I immediately was reminiscing about eating at a similar location in Mexico. Though a world apart, they had some distinct similarities. I ordered nachos with sour cream and salsa (they were out of avocados for guacamole) and soup. Brian ordered the same thing he had the day before for breakfast, which turned out to be something with sausage and sauerkraut. He also had a cheval blanc, which got him pondering about the "goodness of beer, sauerkraut, and sausage". My husband is such a German. When our song started playing ("Better Together" by Jack Johnson), we knew we had picked the right restaurant. It was especially amazing that this song was playing considering we were in a French speaking country. It was very romantic. &

Sunday was my last day in the city. We didn't really have anything planned, but I knew I just wanted to hit the underground city and see how these Montrealers are able to avoid ever coming above ground in the freezing cold weather. First we stopped by IKEA (because it was so close) to check out some furniture we've been thinking about. Then we jumped on the subway, located just around the corner from our hotel. It was VERY easy to navigate, and we were downtown in mere minutes. By that time it was time to eat, and we took a recommendation from the girls at customer service to try Guido and Angelina's, a trendy looking Italian place on St. Catherine's. We both ordered pasta dishes, and though they were good, we both decided that Brian makes better pasta dishes. From here we went back and wondered around the "underground city" mall, which is really just a lot of stores that are connected and easy to access from the metro.

Brian escorted me home, and then headed to the opening night of the conference by rented bicycle (right on the street, you just check one out with a credit card and return it to a stand at your destination-very convenient) while I rested up.

When he returned we went to Pizzedelic, and ordered Frites delic, Siliciana pizza, and Trypolie de fromagess. It was great.

On Monday I dropped Brian off at his much more expensive (college paid for) hotel where the conference was held, and then headed home in the rain. Brian printed the directions all in Kilometers-which was quite a pain, but I managed to make it across the border (my trunk was checked and the guard asked me at least 57 questions!), through the Adirondacks without running out of gas (it was close), past the craziness of NJ, and across the bridge home to Delaware. Cori slept most of the way home.

1 comment:

Brian said...

Nothing says romance like Sauerkraut.