The train ride was about 5 hours. It was pretty comfortable and I didn’t mind so much but I always tend to mind the fact that the travel time alone takes away from the actual venturing into places/activities within your destination.
I had a glass of red with my double chocolate flavoured protein bar. Yep, that was dinner. It was actually pretty good.
I’ve been to Montréal a couple times before but it’s been years. I had forgotten how much cooler their subways are. Bonaventure, at night, could pass for sections of Batman’s cave. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had filmed neo-noir types of works here.
Besides jumping twice for mistaken stops and then missing my actual stop (nice), it was a pretty quick night as I had arrived around 22:30 and, thanks to Covid, everything was closed. So I met up with my friend, headed to his place, chilled, and called it a night.
We had some delicious salmon bagel with cream cheese for breakfast the next day… yummm 😋
After which, we headed over to Mount Royal, which is supposedly where the name “Montréal” came from.
“You ready to slowly die?” my friend asked as we approached the stairs.
“Why is it crazy long?” I asked in reply.
“Doesn’t look like it.”
“Oh, that’s just the beginning. There’s more up there when we get in.”
Yeah, no kidding.
I still wanna hike mountains at some point (I haven’t as an adult) but it’s good I got a taste of the kind of physical strain it might entail.
The view from the top was beautiful and breathtaking… literally.
It’s a small mountain in the middle of the city which is pretty awesome but my cardio: not so much.
My friend, on the other hand, was still very physically calm and stable when we got there.
On our way to grab some lunch and catch o̶u̶r̶ my breath, we passed by some quaint streets and an art studio. We intentionally stopped by to see some metalwork sculptures (Glen Le Mesurier, a fairly well-known local artist). I would’ve taken more photos of his pieces, which were all over the neighbourhood but everytime we were around the installations, it was either overcast or nighttime and there weren’t any proper streetlights around it; it just wasn’t enough light for me to work with.
We discovered that the entire building was essentially an open artspace (a bunch of studios, various types of media).
We walked around downtown that evening… and if you know Gelene at all, then you would know that street art is one her priorities when she explores urban spaces because, as far as she’s concerned, a city isn’t a city without willful and orchestrated grime.
Fuckin’ love it.
(*in case you’re interested, there’s a great read that touches on its history, evolution/revolution across the globe along with its symbiotic role with society and industrialism, “Street Art: The Graffiti Revolution” by Cedar Lewisohn)
We also checked out core downtown where the museum and university are… but of course everything was closed. Duh.
It was still nice though.
We were going to check out Old Montréal (I’m after the architecture… yeah, Europe is mos def on my list) but our heinies started getting real cold ’cause the temperature took a sudden dip so we decided to do it in the morning instead. Exploring isn’t really fun, educational, nor productive when you’re uncomfortable ’cause then your thoughts and consciousness start to veer towards how cold you are vs just taking it in because you’re chillin’ (all puns intended).
I’ve never been to Europe but apparently, Old Montréal has a good grasp of the vibe.
I do remember being around this area some years back when I visited last. There were some skateboarders in the middle of town. It was a cool juxtaposition (old and, arguably, stern & formal-looking buildings vs post-modern graffiti skateboarding kids). They weren’t around this time but try to picture it.
Very few places allowed customers to use their toilets even if you purchase something so I ended up eating ice cream in the cold weather so I can use a facility. Inspiration didn’t hit that time when nature called but I enjoyed my dessert.
After this, we headed to The Biosphere, which was closed (surprise!) but the make looked interesting so I wanted to check it out.
We headed back to my friend’s place to grab some lunch and get ready for me to leave.
I got that dreadful feeling… you know when you travel and you get sad towards the end because it’s ending but, also, you know that it’s time to leave and that it’s the right thing to do (sometimes, I really hate being a grown-up)?
…like, it’s time to go. All things in due time, fortunately and unfortunately.
I was only there for a weekend with only 1 full day (Saturday) so I didn’t really anticipate going through that usual sensation… goes to show how much of a great time I had, I suppose. 🙂
My friend and I bid farewell to each other as I headed to the trains. By then, the dreadful feeling had already gone and was replaced by excitement of the idea of traveling, even though I was technically headed home. I looked forward to the 5 hour ride. I brought my tablet with me so I actually managed to be productive for a good part of it.
Conclusion: While global travel plans may currently be on hold for most of us, we don’t have to stop entirely. I’ve always meant to explore more of Canada but it’s not priority because I live here.
It’s much like how I originally intended to go to the Philippines on my last trip (February) but ended up in different places due to Covid19.
Sometimes we get taken off our anticipated paths to discover wonders in our journeys that can be of all sorts of value – either towards our end destinations or towards the wealth in our lives (the kind that can’t be bought nor sold) – that we otherwise wouldn’t have come across… like I have during this lovely weekend in Montréal.