Canada is friggen cold. It’s not the kind of cold that s bearable and you just bundle up, it’s the kind of cold that if you don’t cover every inch of exposed skin you risk frostbite, the kind of cold where you wear 2 pairs of pants and 4 shirts every time you go outside… its ridiculous. Other than that however, its pretty cool.
I drove six hours from Maine to Montreal on Wednesday and met up with Alain, a fellow couch-surfer who hosted me for a couple of nights. The first night we went out for Poutine, which was a requirement for me being allowed to stay with Alain, because I’d never had it, and its the Montreal treat! It was delicious, it is basically french fries covered in cheese and gravy, and anything else you want to put on it. Mine had tomatoes, onions, and ground beef, not healthy at all, but very tasty. Al’s friend Jasmine joined us and we walked to a local pub that had 30+ beers on tap, and a type of jam-sesh with mostly accordions and violins, with a few other string instruments thrown in, it was very cool. Somewhere around our 4th or 5th pint there were about as many musicians in this place as there were customers. It’s also noteworthy to mention that a pint in Canada is about 20oz, larger than the American pint, plus one point for Canada.
Needless to say getting up the next morning was not easy, but I managed, and spent the day wandering around Montreal alone. It’s a great walking city and they have a great metro system. I hit all of the favorite spots like Old Port, Chinatown, etc. as well as wandered around the not so nice parts and the rich parts as well. In the middle of Montreal there is a mountain called Mont Royal and as the mountain ascends the houses get nicer and larger. The view from the top is breathtaking, you can see all of Montreal and beyond. Montreal also has more restaurants than any other city I’ve ever been in. You can’t walk a block without seeing at least 2 restaurants in every part of the city I explored. Also worth mentioning, that even though French is the official language in Quebec, everyone I encountered spoke at least enough English to communicate, and most spoke very good English, which was very fortunate, because my French is very limited and very bad. I didn’t have to opportunity to use some of my key phrases like, “Le singe est sur la branche,” (the monkey is in the branch) or, “Ou est ma chaise,” (where is my chair?) which are 2 of the only phrases I know…
Thursday night we opted to cook dinner, which was the economical decision. We did however venture out after dinner, meet up with Jasmine and go to an excellent pub that had awesome beer and great live music that played everything from AC/DC to Rod Stewart, and The Darkness to Lynyrd Skynyrd.
This morning I woke up early and made the trek to Mount-Tremblant, which I regret to report was disappointing. The ride up was beautiful, and the views from the lifts and the top of the mountain were excellent, but the snow was not great. For being so far north I would expect some powder, there was none to be found, the whole mountain was covered with ice, and some was badly groomed. There were sections in trails that were just lots of small, hard chunks of ice, which I’ve never seen before. And although it is not the mountains fault, it was far too cold to even enjoy. The temperature at the summit was -20F without the wind chill. I have never experienced anything so cold, I would literally get a brain freeze on my way down the mountain every time I went down. Unfortunately, this made the event very unenjoyable and I only rode for a few hours.
After my failed snowboarding adventure I drove to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, where I’ll be spending the next few days. More to come on that!