Previous: Quintessentially Québecois: Wednesday
From the beginning: Quintessentially Québecois: Sunday
Our morning began with scrambled eggs, toast, and coffee. There’s something decadent about that first sip of coffee in the morning when you’re on vacation, wouldn’t you agree? We puttered around a bit before gathering our things and heading out to spend a day in Montréal.
Along the way, I spied a cute shop I had seen before and into which I had wanted to poke around. I batted my eyes at the driver, who promptly executed a U-turn, and into the driveway we sped (well, ambled, really). The first item I spied at the Boutique Aux Mirabelles was a wonderful metal framed conversation chair. I have always adored them! We sat and conversed for a moment before moseying inside where housewares, furnishing, and home decor beckoned. My favorite item was an ornate, white key upon which one hangs their keys. I don’t know why, but I have this thing for old-fashioned keys. I have a drawer with several, why? Dunno. I digress…
By the time we reached Montréal, my tummy was rumbling. Fortunately, my host knew the city well and took us to Soupesoup, a charming soup and salad place. Caroline Dumas, the founder of Soupesoup, created a comforting, warm place featuring soups, salads, sandwiches, casseroles, and desserts, prepared with care and using local, seasonal produce.
After lunch, we wandered in and out of several of the art galleries sprinkled throughout Old Montréal. We learned quite a bit about talented local artists whose works we took pleasure in viewing.
Between art galleries and our next event, We had just enough time to absorb a bit of history, so we bee-lined to Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, where we explored the Aztecs, People of the Sun exhibit. They were a fascinating if horrifyingly blood-thirsty people. Aside from sacrificing humans to ensure that the sun would indeed rise each morning, the Aztecs produced some pretty amazing art. Carvings, jewelry, statuary, vases, were all fairly intricate considering the rough or crude tools with which they used to create offerings to their gods. Suffice it to say that I’m extraordinarily glad to be living in the present day as opposed living in a time when human sacrifice (or worse, no indoor plumbing!), reigned supreme.
Next on our agenda was relaxing massages. Upon arrival, I was offered ice water with a sprig of mint and a lime slice. How is it that something so simple as fresh herbs and citrus can make one feel special? Is it the pleasant infusion of flavors or is it the time and attention to this small detail? From the warm welcome to the scented candles and soft music, to the goodbye hugs, this was a most memorable massage. How decadent an experience it was to realize that all I needed to do was relax and enjoy a talented masseur’s exquisite touch. The truth is, I was so relaxed I fell asleep for a bit during the massage. I hope I didn’t snore, or talk in my sleep, or drool.
We slipped off the massage table and into the Noodle Factory in Chinatown. The place is small, but the food was flavorful and plentiful. Our meal was delicious, yet paying for it was a bit of comedy routine. They didn’t accept cards and I didn’t have cash. Oops! Fortunately, less than a quarter of a block away was a bank with several ATMs. Saved! I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of technology, especially when it’s close and convenient.
After dinner, we wandered around McGill University; which, (according to Wikipedia), counts among its alumni 12 Nobel laureates and 138 Rhodes Scholars, three astronauts, two Canadian prime ministers, 13 justices of the Canadian Supreme Court, four foreign leaders, 28 foreign ambassadors, nine Academy Award winners, three Pulitzer Prize winners, and 28 Olympic medalists. But wait, there’s more! William Shatner was not only an alumni; he has a building named after him. How cool is that – walking the same grounds on which the future Captain Kirk once strolled.
We meandered from one end of the campus down a central street to an amazing bookstore. While it’s true I now read more ebooks than the paper variety, I still love bookstores, and I love the way books feel in my hands. I found myself drawn to the cooking section where I discovered several volumes featuring fantastic ideas for preparing vegetables. I wasn’t hungry, and yet the recipes and the accompanying photographs were mouthwatering. I’m not sure how long we stayed, as I completely lost track of time.
The sun had begun to set as we made our way back to the car. What did I want to do next, return to the house, pack, and prepare for my journey home, or sit on a roof-top terrace, sipping wine and enjoying a spectacular view? Be responsible or squeeze enjoyment into every possible moment? Inconvenience my host by keeping him out late and making him get up at the crack of dawn to take me to the airport, or disappoint him by passing on a greatly anticipated pleasure? I took the easy way out and made my host decide, and off to the Terrasse Place d’Armes we went.
Upbeat music and a refreshing breeze greeted us as we stepped out onto the rooftop bar. The clientele was mostly young professionals getting a jump start on their weekend frivolities. Most everyone was dressed in business attire, making one gentleman, who stormed onto the scene is a small blue v-necked t-shirt stretched taught over a well-defined, muscular chest, followed by a small statured young man dressed in dingy white shirt and jeans, seem completely out of place. They were a curious pair who came in, cased the joint, and left immediately. I can only suppose he didn’t find whomever he was seeking. We spent a while people watching, admiring the view, and chatting about everything and nothing, when I noticed I had reached the bottom of my glass. The drive back home went swiftly, and I was packed and setting my alarm not long after arriving.
I couldn’t believe how quickly the week flew by! As I drifted off to sleep, I couldn’t help wishing for just one more day.