canada,  north america,  travel

Travel: On y va – Day 1

It was a bright and early morning for us. Thankfully, we were all packed up the night before and only needed to roll out of bed and go. We were traveling relatively light, just one checked bag and a roller-board carry-on, so it was easy for us to hop on the bus. It was a beautiful sunny bus ride downtown before we hopped on a surprisingly well-timed Orange Line out to Midway Airport. We were pretty amazed at how smoothly things were going. So I suppose it wasn’t surprising when David’s laptop set something off at security, and he spent an inordinate amount of time waiting as they went through all of his things with little cotton pads. Eventually, we were through and got our typical McDonald’s breakfast (a bizarre airport tradition for us)–sort of akin to the grand tradition of drinking bad coffee on a road trip, at least for David.

We bided our time in the airport lounge, reminding ourselves of various French phrases (French numbers are hard!). It wasn’t too long before we boarded Porter Airlines’ little prop plane (row 1, maybe a first for me) and were settled in for the short hop over to Toronto. With free wine and beer served in actual glasses (Porter is quite proud of that fact), time flew by (pardon the pun). It was planned to be a very short layover, but because it was our first port of entry in Canada, we needed to go through customs, grab our bag and re-check it. It was looking to be quite tight until we discovered that, for reasons unknown, our flight had been delayed for over 3 hours. They re-booked us on an earlier flight, but that was still nearly 2 hours out. Thankfully, Porter has a comfortable lounge offering wifi, free snacks and drinks, so we were able to relax in relative comfort.

Eventually, we piled onto our next tiny plane and made the even shorter hop to Montreal (about 55 minutes). The flight attendant amusingly announced that weather conditions in Montreal are “winter”, perhaps particularly depressing given that it’s the first day of Spring. Nevertheless, it continues our grand, if not bizarre, tradition of taking spring break vacations in cold, wintery locales (in 2013, we traipsed around Scandinavia at around the same time). Deciding that we didn’t want to spend an hour on a bus to get into town, we hopped in a cab and navigated our way to the AirBnB where we’d be staying.

The apartment was located on a cute little side street off a main road that looked to have a good selection of restaurants and bars. Unfortunately, no one was there when we arrived. I’d emailed our host to let them know that our flight was delayed and that we’d try to be there before 8 pm (because we took a cab it ended up being closer to 7 pm). We went in search of wifi, which we managed to snag on a street corner, though it was slow and ultimately ineffectual. As neither of our phones could make calls in Canada, we tried calling from a pay phone and eventually got through. There’d been a miscommunication where they thought I’d meant we’d be there at 8 pm, rather than before 8 pm, but after hanging outside for half an hour, I was relieved to be let in at all.

our Montreal apartment

our Montreal apartment

our Montreal apartment

our Montreal apartment

The apartment itself is just darling–nicely furnished and well-equipped (even has a wood-burning stove in the living room, which we’ll definitely be using once or twice). We were both starving at this point, so I quickly unpacked us and figured out where we would eat. I couldn’t resist trying out Poutineville, which was only a block away. When in Rome right? The restaurant was bustling with young people, and we were seated between a French-speaking couple and an English-speaking couple. David had been starting out in French with everyone, but people would switch into English fairly quickly, much to his chagrin (likely because they recognized he was not a native speaker and were trying to be helpful). While we appreciate being accommodated, David is eager to use his French, so we’ll just keep trying! It is a fascinating linguistic situation to be navigating. David ordered La Bouche en feu (Fire Breather), which was a poutine that included hot peppers, spicy poutine sauce, cheese curds and chicken wings. I opted to build my own, getting a poutine with cheese curds, braised beef, mushrooms, sautéed onions, mozzarella and the house sauce. Both were super tasty if not amply portioned, so I wasn’t able to finish mine. We swung by a tiny convenience store to pick up some wine and beer (and white cheddar popcorn!) before settling in for the night with a movie.

La Bouche en feu poutine

my build it yourself poutine

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