Does the Sun Shine in Montreal?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

After the Friday night we had in Montreal, we all slept in a bit on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, we woke up to pretty overcast weather. Our hotel had a nice breakfast (included in the cost of the room, nice!) so we stumbled downstairs to get something to eat before showering and getting ready for the day.

We hit the streets of Old Montreal, with umbrellas in hand.

(Don't mind me; jackets don't really fit properly anymore. They're too short in front!)

Old Montreal is pretty cool. Love the "old" feel on the streets.

Since we're all into visiting old churches, we went in search of Montreal's famous Notre Dame. Because we can't read French, we saw a sign outside of this church that said something about Notre Dame, so we mistakenly thought we were there.

It was really pretty inside...

...but it was also really... small. We lit candles and said novenas, but I think we were all kind of wondering what the big deal was. It wasn't that fantastic a church.

We continued our exploring. The rain let up a little bit so we walked down to the waterfront.

The old Molson plant... yessss. :) I have to say, it was very disappointing not to be able to enjoy any Canadian beer during our trip. I mean, isn't Canadian beer half of the reason anyone wants to go to Canada? ;)

As it began raining again, we went back up and explored a bunch of the shops. My mom shopped around the different artists/street vendors to find a photograph or painting, since she likes to get stuff like that from the cities she visits. She was pretty sure she found the one she wanted, but we decided to walk around a bit more before going back to get it.

It was during our quest to find the liquor store (not for me, obviously!) that we stumbled upon Notre Dame. The REAL Notre Dame.

Alright, yeah. This was much more impressive. We wanted to go inside to check it out, but we found that they charge an admission fee. While it's only $5, I feel pretty strongly that churches should not be charging people to walk through their doors. I understand the donations requested for lighting candles, but in my opinion, if a homeless person needs a place to stay warm or dry, they should be able to go into churches. Like St. Patrick's in New York... it's huge and beautiful and a tourist destination, but they don't charge you to get inside. Out of principle, we decided to forego Notre Dame. Sorry, Montreal.

By this time, it was late afternoon and we were ready to go back to the hotel for a little bit before getting some dinner. Before that, though, we stopped in a convenience store so Michael could get a 6-pack of Canadian beer to enjoy. We also picked up some Canadian delicacies. :)

Ketchup flavored chips! I love Canadians. :) None of us had ever tried them before so we decided to give them a go. We also saw a Dill Pickle flavor and wanted to try that, too. It's my understanding the Dill Pickle ones are actually available in the States, too, but we've looked for them since we've been home and haven't seen them anywhere. So apparently they aren't available in our area!

The ketchup chips were... interesting. I didn't think they were half bad, but my mom and Michael weren't really fans of them. The Dill Pickle ones, though... YUM. They didn't really taste like "pickle," per se, but they had a nice dill flavor, like dill dip. We liked these so much that we went back and got a full-size bag the next day. :)

Anyway, before we went back to the hotel to enjoy our chips and drinks (I got an Orange Julius! Do people still have Orange Juliuses in the States? The ones around here closed YEARS ago...), we walked back down to the little alley where my mom had seen the photograph she wanted. She purchased it, and the artist spent some time telling us all about the photo and Montreal.

On our way back down the alley, another artist my mom had been talking with earlier (when she was shopping around) completely harassed her. As we walked by, he said, "It's really frustrating to me that you would listen to that guy's bullshit." (Referring to the artist she purchased from.) My mom started apologizing to him--even though she totally did not owe him an apology--and he continued to lay into her, telling her that his photos are way better than the other guys, and "I deserve to have a good day!" (Referring to his sales.) What a freaking asshole. I finally told my mom to keep walking and we continued on our way as he continued to yell after her, in front of a whole bunch of people. Nice way to win customers, you douche.

After unwinding in the hotel room for a little bit, we walked back down and had dinner at a place called Trois Brasseurs. It was casual and nice, and exactly what we were looking for. We ended up ordering a couple of their "flamms," which are essentially really thin-crust pizzas. We got The Provencale, which had pesto, tomatoes, romano and parmesan, and The Louisiana, which had BBQ chicken, peppers, onions, and cheddar cheese. YUM! My mom and Michael also shared one of their beer samplers.

After dinner, we walked around Old Montreal a bit more, then retired to the room fairly early since my mom and Michael had to be up early on Sunday for the bike ride.

Fast forward to Sunday morning, and I barely remember hearing them leave. I slept in, waking up around 9:00 a.m. to find that it was basically pouring rain outside. Yuck. I figured that while they were doing the bike ride, I would maybe go out and explore more on my own, but with weather like that, I was not motivated to go anywhere. I went downstairs and got some breakfast on my own, then putzed around the hotel room, surfing the internet, watching TV, reading, taking a long, hot shower, etc.

Meanwhile, Michael and my mom were braving the elements. The temperature was only in the 50s, and it rained for the ENTIRE RIDE.

At the starting line. They still look relatively dry.

Looks fun, doesn't it? (With this weather, I was sooo glad to have a good excuse to not be riding. I would've been miserable.)

Still, my mom and Michael toughed it out.

At the 51km marker. They did it!

At around 1:00 p.m., there was a knock at the hotel door and I answered it to find my mom and my husband standing there, looking like drowned rats. They were completely soaked, shaking (so cold!), and dirty.

Of course, I snapped a photo of them.

And one of my mom's back, since she was filthy.

I was so happy to be dry, warm, and cozy. As far as I'm concerned, these two were nuts. I'm pretty sure I would have insisted on bailing on the ride. I give them a lot of credit.

After they were all showered and dry again, we headed out to have a late lunch/early dinner since we were all hungry. It was just MISERABLE outside. Rainy, cold, and disgusting. There were hardly any people on the streets of Old Montreal, as I think everyone just wanted to stay inside.

We perused menus at some nearby restaurants, and ultimately decided on a little Italian place called L'Usine de Spaghetti Parisienne. They served fresh bread with an awesome garlic butter, had a lovely salad bar (which was included with the meal), and our food was delicious. My mom and I both had the pasta primavera, and Michael had one of the specials--a pasta dish with mushrooms and olive oil. The waitress was really friendly and delightful. We were very happy with our choice.

I wish I could say we did a lot more with our day, but it was just so disgusting outside. It was not meant to be a day for being out and enjoying the city. Plus, Michael and my mom were tired. We ended up back at the hotel for a bit, then Michael and I made a run for DQ Blizzards (something else we don't have at home--DQ!) later in the evening. Once again, we retired early.

Of course, we woke up on Monday morning to gorgeous, sunny weather. Figures, right? We took our time eating breakfast and getting ready, but we were soon on the road to go home.

I will be completely honest and say that Montreal did not live up to expectations for me. To be fair, I had a horrible experience that Friday night, which tainted the whole weekend, then the weather was absolute shit. I'll be one of the first to admit that weather can really make or break your experience with a city, and unfortunately for Montreal, the weather gods were just not with us that weekend.

Those of you who've been readers for a while know how much we usually enjoy our vacations, and how much we usually pack into our time in each new city--so you can probably tell by the lack of activity and photos that we really just did not have that great of a time! But at least my mom and Michael made the most of their bike ride.

We'll have to go back some day to give it another chance!


Beth June 17, 2010 at 11:29 PM  

That is just wrong that you don't have a DQ or Orange Julius near you! Here in the Twin Cities they are actually in the same store. So you can get your Blizzard and Orange Julius drinks in one stop!

Noel June 17, 2010 at 11:39 PM  

Your last post about Montreal made me want to cry. I can't even imagine being in traffic like that with no bathroom, no food, etc...and pregnant too!!! I refuse to drive in big cities merely for fear of something like that happening, me getting completely lost or run off the road or something (which has actually happened to my sister).

Wow! Montreal looks like the northwest.
We've got tons of DQs, a few Orange Julius' and some local beer! I've been to Canada, but only British Columbia and the other western areas.

After your nice Florida vacation, Montreal kind of sounds like a pretty unsatisfying trip!
Hopefully your next trip goes much better :)

Lindsay June 18, 2010 at 7:57 AM  

I personally feel so sorry for you seriously not have ketchup and dill pickle chips in the states?? OMG! ha ha! Im sorry Montreal didn't have a good impression on your. If you and your family ever decide to stop in Ottawa to visit e-mail me and I will show you all the hot spots. Plus next time you are in canada you HAVE to try Old Dutch chips, 1000% better than Lays, a real canadian delicacy! :-) Nothing says a good Friday night like a nice cold canadian beer and old dutch chips. Have a great weekend! xo

americamowry June 18, 2010 at 8:13 AM  

No DQ back home? There's one on every street here in SE Michigan. A few DQ/Orange Julius combos too!
After your Friday night, it's no wonder your weekend sucked. How unbelievably frustrating, I'd have been in tears too!!

Beckie June 18, 2010 at 8:58 AM  

I remember going to Marketplace and getting an Orange Julius and a pretzel. Those were the days. I'm now in NC and I know that one of the malls around here has an Orange Julius. Nothing beats an Orange Julius.

Emily,  June 18, 2010 at 9:42 AM  

We've got ketchup & dill pickle chips here in SE Michigan (but maybe just because we are REALLY close to Canada??)

And no DQ?! How do you live!!? :)

Life of a Doctor's Wife June 18, 2010 at 9:48 AM  

I feel the exact same way about Toronto for the exact same reason. Rain and cold can really put a huge damper on your fun.

Sorry you didn't enjoy it! I hope you go back again sometime - it really is a beautiful city for exploring.

Sounds like you at least got some yummy food!

Heather June 18, 2010 at 10:21 AM  

Beth--They had a DQ/Orange Julius combo in Montreal, too. HEAVEN! :)

For those of you shocked about no DQ--Thankfully, we have "frozen custard" locally, which is absolutely amazing, so I generally don't miss DQ all that much, to be honest. But the worst part about not having a DQ here is that--for some reason--we still get the COMMERCIALS! So we have to hear about wonderful things like the brownie batter blizzard and such, but have no opportunity to actually go and get one. Bastards! (We also have Sonic and CiCi's Pizza commercials, even though we don't have either of those here, either. Weird.)

Lindsay--No ketchup chips! I've seen them during previous trips to Canada, but have never actually bought them to try them before. Although I'm not all that disappointed about the ketchup chips, I definitely wish we had the dill pickle ones. Those were GOOD. Oh, and another thing I was fascinated with... your "Corn Pops" cereal is completely different than ours. Yours tasted like the cereal we call Cap'n Crunch! :)

Emily--We're REALLY close to Canada, too. It was 5 hours to Montreal, but we're not far at all from Niagara Falls! We still don't have ketchup or dill pickle chips! The horror!

Kim,  June 18, 2010 at 10:54 AM  

I totally agree with you that churches shouldn't charge admission. My husband and I just did a Mediterranean cruise last month and I was shocked to find that you had to pay to get into all the major churches in Italy and Spain...I kept thinking of St. Patrick's in NYC too, and how that's a tourist destination and they still don't charge! It made me wonder what those churches do when they have you have to pay to get in then as well? Anyway, just had to let you know that I'm with you on that. Sorry Montreal was a bust!

amandawk June 18, 2010 at 1:34 PM  

I live in Montreal and was just as excited as you about the Orange Julius and DQ. We also have A&W's up here. It is usually so beautiful up here in the spring/summer. I think that weekend was the first time it had rained in quite a while. The weather is usually really nice. You should come back some time and give the city a second chance.

Anonymous,  June 18, 2010 at 2:12 PM  

I'm surprised that you don't have DQ's where you're at! And we have those chips (both flavors) here (St.Louis) too. I just noticed the Ketchup ones the other day :)

Christine June 19, 2010 at 1:07 PM  

This is shocking to me that there is no DQ in Rochester - but there are tons in Buffalo!

Rachel,  June 24, 2010 at 7:18 PM  

They have dill pickle chips here (So. Cali) but they are Pringles not Lays.

Sorry you had such a miserable trip.

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