Monday, September 3, 2018

Montréal: Cousin to the North

Allo, all!

I am super excited to share my trip to Montréal, Quebec with you.

When I moved up to NYC for the summer back in 2013, I started to hear my hip New Yorker friends talk about weekend trips to Montréal as a must-do getaway for the cosmopolitan gourmand. Later, I got a somewhat less flattering (frankly, terrifying) mental picture of Québec after reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, which features wheelchair-bound Québécois terrorists called Les Assassins des Fauteuils Rollents .

Putting my DFW-based dystopian fears aside, my interest in Montréal was piqued again after becoming a full-time associate at my law firm. Short weekend trips can be a good option when deadlines are looming. Finally, after a brief hospital stay, I was reconnected with my cousin, who is currently living in Montréal. I reached out to him about staying for a few days and he said, "Of course!"

I hadn't seen my cousin in at least 15 years or so. I think I was around 11 years old at the time of the last full-family gathering, and I think only one of his children had been born. He was still playing in the Canadian Football League and I was doing big things in 6th grade. Now, he's working as the Offensive Coordinator for the Montréal Alouettes.

After a super-short direct flight from NYC, I arrived at my cousin's apartment in Milton Park
(also known as the McGill Getto, as many McGill students live in this area just northeast of campus).  After a great catch up sesh, my cousin walked me to a strip of restaurants on nearby Rue Saint-Laurent for dinner.

Obvi, I had to start my trip with a classic poutine: french fries fried in peanut oil to a deep brown, then topped with cheese curds and gravy. I made sure that the gravy on these didn't have any beef stock in it, unlike more traditional recipes (Je suis végétarien).

My first true Canadian poutine at Dirty Dogs.

On the way back from dinner, my cousin showed me some of the gorgeous murals in the area, including a gorgeous one at the end of his block. I came back a few days later during the daytime when the light would do them justice.

 The second day of the trip was super hot. The Northeast U.S. was in the middle of an intense heatwave at the time, so I thought my little jaunt up to Canada was perfectly timed. I was wrong. I only made it as far as Place des Arts before the heat prompted me to call an on-demand taxi service to finish the trip to Old Port.

Place des Arts contains a ton of cultural spots like museums and performance venues all in one spot. Here, you can see a plaza for outdoor performances during the summer. 

The Opèra de Montréal to the right, Mt. Royal off in the distance. 

I feel like I actually did see quite a few people drinking Canada Dry.

"Vieux Port" means "Old Port" en francais ;)

A one-dollar coin is a "Loonie" (it has a duck, aka a loon on it), and a two-dollar coine is a "Toonie"

Cafes lining the land-bound side of the riverfront.

Artsy shot of the ubiquitous maple leaf.

Not quite sure what was going on here, but I thought it looked like a giant ball of yarn and knitting needles on top of a car.
On my way up from Old Port toward Notre Dame Basilica de Montréal, I happened across Ssense, a high-fashion-for-cool-kids store based out of Montréal. Ssense carries Balenciaga, Gosha Rubchinskiy and Saint's sort of like Montréal's answer to Dover Street Market. The Ssense cafe was on one of the Montréal To-Do lists I'd seen online, so I popped in. I was delighted to see that the store was hosting an installation featuring the Craig Green for Moncler Genius collaboration. While I did not see the infamous tampon jacket featured on Diet Prada, it was really cool nonetheless to see the pieces up close.

Brutalist vibes from the 6th floor cafe. 

Didn't have a chance to go in, but I'm sure it's gorgeous. My cousin's wife recommends the Aura show. 

One of my favorite days of the trip was when it was cool enough to truly flâneur my way through the sleepy, leafy streets of Montréal. I am obviously a francophile and I was excited for the opportunity to try my favorite french foods while in Québec. My cousin's wife suggested that I try to find an ephemeral outdoor market down a side street for the best baguette, and told me about a charming gazebo-turned-cafe in a park at the end of the lane. Luckily, I was able to follow her directions and snag a baguette as well as a croissant, and visit the park with the gazebo cafe. 

On my last full day, I walked over to McGill, which my cousin and I both agreed looks like it was ripped straight from the pages of Harry Potter.

I saw a ton of students moving in and going on scavenger hunts in matching t-shirts.

...and there you have it! I hope you all enjoyed the pictures, which I shot using a Sony Alpha a6000 (not sponsored). Until next time!


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