A Travellerspoint blog

metro warrior and farmer's market run

sunny

I wanted to explore more of the pulse of the city yesterday. The place I currently live at is mostly business/touristy, I wanted to get out and explore the more locale areas where Montrealers actually live/shop/eat.

Not knowing exactly where I would end up, I got on the Angrignon-bound metro train after buying a day pass.

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I got off at station Lionel-Groulx and transferred to the Cote-Vertu train.

Then, I got off at Snowdon station and transferred to a Saint-Michel train.

After boarding the Saint Michel train, I decided to get off at De Castelnau.

According to my map, this is where Littly Italy should be...

I got off at De Castelnau and looked around. What neighborhood is this? Right in front of the metro station where I got off on is a McDonald. Um, interesting.

I started walking on Boul. Saint-Laurent because this seems like the main street and I wanted to make sure I don't get myself too lost from the metro station in case I need to run back. It was an interesting walk. Very quiet except for the many cars that passed and I guess I was expecting something like North Beach in San Francisco, but I did not find that here. This is more residential with some gyms and cafes thrown in. I did see a 24-hour fitness here.

By this time, I saw a park that looked very interesting, so I walked across the street toward it.

This park turns out to be Parc Jarry and has a lovely pond where ducklings play. Actually, I saw a lot of squirrels, ducks, pigeons, and seagulls all comingling happily here. At least I think they are happy as they did not seem like they are fighting. Two squirrels came very close to me to check me out. I had my camera and was photographing some lovely trees when the squirrels came up to me, so I took their portraits also.

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I lingered a bit in the park and sat on one of the benches while looking at map to figure out where I wanted to go to next.

Finally decided that I wanted to check out Marche Jean-Talon which is Montreal's farmer's market.

So I retraced my steps back toward the metro station. But before that, I saw some (or what I think to be some) giant kales growing inside the park. Wow!

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Got back to De Castelnau and took the Saint-Michel train to the next stop, Jean-Talon.

Got off on Jean-Talon and followed people out the station. I noticed that many of them were holding empty reusable shopping bags, so I followed them and lo, they were going to the marche.

The marche Jean-Talon is an outdoor farmer's market, but they do have a roof, so you can shop without getting wet even in extreme weather. There are many vendors selling all kinds of goods, vegetables, and fruits. Also, there are shops there selling spices, pastas, etc. and a few food stalls selling middle-eastern sweets, french style sweets, crepes, sausage stand, mediterranean wraps, mexican food, and coffee shops.

I tried my very first bite of deer sausage here. Kind of gamey and spicy. I don't think I will eat it again, but it was interesting. I also got a small chocolate chad (hot chocolate) here and it was very delicious and helped warm me up. And a very yummy sweet treat from the middle-eastern sweets stall. I was walking aimlessly when I saw some very tasty apples for $3, so I brought the whole bucket (I think there were 11 apples) and ate one while walking around the marche. It was fresh, crunchy, and absolutely delicious.

Even though I really wanted to buy more stuff at the marche, I was cognizant of the fact that I don't have a lot of space in my luggage, and that I can't bring farm produces home.

After spending nearly 1-2 hours there at the marche, I walked back toward the metro station.

I noticed that the neigborhood there is more diversified. I saw a couple of chinese/vietnamese grocery stores, pho, thai places, african and latino restaurants, etc.

I took the metro back to Snowdon, connected to Lionel-Groulx and then Honore-Beaugrand and got off at one of the station in downtown near my hotel.

After a full day exploring, I didn't feel like going out again, so I spent the evening in my hotel room, watching the Amazing Race. Thankfully they air it here. I also ate 4 more apples as my dinner (not all at once) because I was too tired and a bit lazy to get proper dinner. But I think I can eat worse foods than apples.

Besides, these are Spartan apples, so very in season and so deliciously good.

Posted by 4kitten 05:57 Archived in Canada Tagged montreal Comments (0)

local foods and new experiences

sunny

I know that Canada isn't Southeast Asia or Europe for that matter, so what exotic food can they have that is worth writing about?

Well, to start, our northern neighbors have very interesting humor and food.

After my day trip from Quebec, I came back to my temporary home in Montreal. Not that I am especially famished, but I did want to snack on something. On the train, I spoke with Smokey asking him to help me locate a restaurant that serves Poutine.

For the uninitiated, poutine is french fries with cheese curds and gravy. Now that's the traditional way. Other variations include but not limited to tomato sauce, chicken, and for the fancy people, even foie gras is not off limit.

My very well-travelled friends Patric and Cin recommended me to try this dish, thus Smokey worked hard to locate two restaurants in Montreal that's known for this fab snack.

But given that I came home kind of late, I decided to eat at a restaurant near my hotel. Luckily, they do offer poutine. Yay for me! (clap, clap) I ordered the poutine and a pesto pizza. The waitress warned me that the poutine was going to be huge, but I made up my mind to try it, so nothing will stop me. Nothing. And I figure I will just take the pizza to go. So I was prepared...

Until I saw the big-ole-plate of POULTINE.

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Wow, people eat this by themselves!?!?

Anyway, I tried it as-is and with ketchup (at the waitress' suggestion seeing I was struggling) and still I only made a dent. I think I ate 1/4 of the plate. Don't count me in on any eating contest because I will probably lose. Hard to tell, but it's true...

It was very good. Yummy.

I also enjoyed it with a local stout beer. One of the things I have been enjoying in Quebec and Montreal is their local brews. I love, love, love a good beer.

Anyway...

I had a wonderful meal last night and some yummy leftover pizza for breakfast this morning (but I did missed the free breakfast 'cuz I wanted to sleep in late.)

And don't worry everybody, I didn't drive or operate any heavy machinery, aside from the remote control watching Phantom of the Opera in la francais...(sigh, so sad but so darn romantic.)

Posted by 4kitten 19:13 Archived in Canada Tagged montreal Comments (0)

walking around in Quebec City

sunny

Being that I only have a couple of hours to do Quebec City by foot, I decided that I wanted to get drop off in front of the Basilique-Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-Quebec after my train ride/short cab drive.

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My problem is that I am direction-challenged. I usually get the hang of it in a day or two, but new places always present a bit of pressure for me to get accustom to. Thus, instead of trying to figure it out, I needed the initial assist available to orient me (thus the cab ride).

I was taken up a hill and got drop off in front of the Basilique. According to my lonely planet guidebook, "this basilica, which began life as a humble church in 1647, was gradually enlarged over the years (and repaired following damages during British-French warfare) until reaching its present glory in 1925."

Although I am spritual, but not religious, I do like going into churches to check out their architecture and local history. Being influenced by my Chinese/Vietnamese-French/Italian godparents, I also light a candle for my dad who passed away years ago and his ashes scattered in the sea. So whenever I travel anywhere, he is always with me, so to speak. I also spoke a prayer for my grandmama and my boyfriend's dad who also passed away years ago.

Getting back to the topic on hand. One of the most famous things about Quebec city is that it's one of the oldest European settlements in Northern America that is considered to be a permanent settlement, and not a trade outpost. According to wikipedia, the name "Canada" derived from this settlement. Also, the remaining fortifiled walls (from the Battle of Quebec) that still exists here is a UNESCO "World Heritage Site".

Chateau Fortenac (runs by Fairmont group) is a hotel that dominates this city's skyline. Everywhere you look up, you will see the impressive view of the Chateau and it's majestic walls.

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Not to be outdone, the Old Town also have a lot of historic sites. From houses of famous generals or people (most of them now turned into hotels), you feel like you are in a time capsule walking down the cobblestone street. Gorgeous to look at and great for photographing.

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However, if you look carefully, there are lots of tacky, touristy shops everywhere. I only went into two to check things out, but really did not buy much because it reminded me about all the touristy spots in San Francisco that I avoid.

I did stop into a fondue house (le petite chateau), but the service is very bad (rushed and a bit rude). So I only ordered a glass of cider (local) to try and it was very yummy. And a ham & gravy crepe (a local quebecois special). It was okay, but I really like the lovely cider. Astonishingly expensive too given the bad service left a bad taste in my mouth. If I had waited, I could have gone to Aux Anciens Canadiens which is housed in the historic Jacquet House that dates back to 1676 that specializes in quebecois specialities. I would have rather spent my money there. Grrr... Anyway, I know where to go next time I visit Quebec properly (meaning more than one day).

Anyway, after walking around, I saw the ghost tour, but could not join as they start at 8 p.m. and I have to back at the train station by 5:30 p.m. bummer. So I consoled myself by walking toward the La Citadelle. The citadelle is star-shaped and one of the most strategic points in Quebec City. Very impressive.

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After 2 more hours, I was again very famished (a crepe is not a lot of food but does have lots of butter), I took a detour and ate at a place call, Patisserie au Palet D'Or. This is what I would imagine a french cafe would be. Great baguettes, great chocolate pastries, and round out with a cuppa tea...ohhh...i wish I have dined here first instead of the other place. I was so happy and satisfied after this lovely meal. And it costs less than $10 (yes, the special was: Chevre & pesto baguette w/ beverage + dessert for $7.50 + tax. Take that rude fondue restaurant. The ladies that serve me are lovely as well. Very gracious and tre magnifique. I tip them well here because they really do deserve it. Merci beaucoup.

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After walking around some more, I was confident that I could find my way back to the train station unassisted. So I went back to the Basilica and retraced my steps from the cab ride and walked back to the train station. Took me 15 mins very leisurely walking down hill. I guess it was good that I took cab uphill because the walking uphill could be somewhat difficult although not a bad thing to do if you can manage.

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I wait about 30 mins for the train. After I boarded the train, I look out the window and saw a big chimney stuck out like a sore thumb in the Quebec skyline. What the heck is that? Then I noticed the water and the signage on the building and realized that it is a paper mill. Although I am a city girl, I do know a thing about mills. If not treated properly, the waste that paper mills produced can be unfriendly to the environment. It felt somewhat ironic that after my trip to an environmental musee yesterday that I found myself witnessing this.

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But I think when we travel, we often see things that are paradoxical, don't you think?

My ride back to Montreal was uneventful and the night descended on us rather quickly, so that all view outside was blanketed in darkness.

More later. I am preparing to explore some more sights of Montreal today.

Oh, almost forgot... I spoke with smokey last night & he told me that the SF Giants won and we are going to the World Series Game! He didn't shave for a week and let his beard grew. Love it. Go black & orange!

Posted by 4kitten 09:13 Archived in Canada Tagged quebec Comments (0)

exploring by train

sunny

I wanted to take advantage of the good weather to do some exploring. Suppose to be raining around here any day now.

I woke up this a.m. at 7:30 a.m. and went down to breakfast. Afterward, I took a short cab ride to the Via train station and took the 8:30 a.m. train to Quebec. Qui, I went to Quebec today.

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The train is very organized. Almost like an airline and much more comfortable. No wonder some people rather take the train than fly around here. For the curious, they offer a first class panorama lounge, and then for the mere mortals (moi), we get to sit in economie.

Tre bon nontheless. I enjoyed the 3 hour ride. We passed by many wheat fields, happy cows (yes, they were in the open and walking around), and lots of little streams and waterways. Also, I saw a lot of backyards and houses. I wonder if those people installed double pane windows because the train is fairly loud and liberal with the horn.

Getting back on topic, Quebec.

After getting off train, I took short cab ride to Quebec's Old Town.

More on this later. Very tired since I walked almost all day... But I am doing well. Talk to you all soon. Miss you guys!

Posted by 4kitten 21:46 Archived in Canada Tagged quebec Comments (0)

dinner and shopping

sunny

Montreal comes alive at night...

Oh, and it's almost halloween...(cue scary laugh)

Anyway, like I said, I see a lot more people at night while walking around then in the day time...

Last night, I went to a much buzzed about vegetarian restaurant in Plateau du Mont Royal district. The place has been opened since 2003, but people still go there. The restaurant's name is Chuchai. I went to try it out and enjoyed the veg food. Because the bus going there was not operating, I ended up taking a cab to/from restaurant which costs about the same as the meal, so yeah, I am not sure I would do it again although it was definitely a very shopping friendly neighborhood. All the chain stores are there mixing it up with more local boutiques. The hat I brought from home was not operating in Montreal weather, so I spent the $100 I won on new wool hats, mittens, and taxi cab rides. And get this, my wool hat's got super duper cute little ear flaps to protect my ears from cold. See, it makes a difference when it's locally designed and made. Oh-- and it's got two cute cat-like ears on top of the head too. So I can be a true kitten... The mitten is multi-colored and really cute too!

If you recognize this description, don't follow me around. I appreciate it.

The language problem can be complicated...

One of my cab driver is french and so when I gave him the address, no problem, But if I tried to talk to him about something like the road condition (it's very heavy traffic), then he goes silent. After ignoring me (people find this almost impossible...hm, I wonder if it's cuz I am cute! Lol), he broke down in tears and told me in broken english that he doesn't speak english. Mon Dieu! (smacks cute kitten mitten hat). Anyway, I stop talking to him so as not to complicate the english/french relationship. See Smokey, I am very diplomatic! :P And I am totally kidding about the part about him breaking down in tears...he was actually sobbing. Just kidding...

After I got back to the hotel, I took a nice relaxing shower, and did laundry. That's right, there's laundry room on the premise. Yay, lucky me. I love clean laundry...so I went upstairs and lo and behold, guess what I discovered...

Not only was there a laundry room, there's a terrace overlooking downtown montreal. Absolutely gorgeous! And freezing cold too, so I after I put the laundry in the machine, I went downstairs to grab my coat and went back upstairs to enjoy the view. Reminded me a bit about my view from Brooklyn overlooking the Manhattan skylight.

Went to bed after my laundry was done. Tired, but had a great day exploring the city.

Posted by 4kitten 20:12 Archived in Canada Tagged montreal Comments (0)

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