Montreal Week: Winter 2010

I love this city. Everytime I come here, not only do I have a wonderful time – but I feel a kind of spontaneous affinity for this place which resembles far more how I feel about Vancouver than how I feel about anywhere else. Like the trip I paid to Montreal during reading week fall 2009, this has been a family trip – Simon lives here, and Malcolm flew out here from Uvic for the week as well.

Quebec is a great place to drink beer. There are more microbreweries doing more different things here than anywhere else I’ve visited. And the prices are always reasonable – twelve packs cost 12-15$, and it is not unimaginable to see twelve packs of Unibroue, which in Ontario would run you 25$, for 11.99$. We found this fantastic grocery store in Verdun where you could buy anything either by the case or by the bottle. We bought a “Ginger Beer” Beer. It wasn’t good. But that’s ok – because we didn’t have to buy six to find out.

This grocery store was a bit strange. In some ways, it felt very fancy, like a whole foods. On the other hand, you could buy pork rinds by the pound. And, it took us ages to find the tofu section – which was tiny. Ironically, we were looking for veggie burgers so we could recreate “dirty burgers” from Trailer Park Boys.

We did actually make dirty burgers – you can see the final result here. Actually, we watched a lot of Trailer Park Boys this week. And, we drank a lot of beer while watching it. It is a very entertaining show. It manages to strike a good balance between strong season-long story line, and enough  random funny things happening in each show. I.e. in season 7 there is a model train theme that runs through the series, starting with a model train convention in Bangor, Maine, and concluding with the use of a model train to smuggle dope across the border. But, that’s enough about Trailer Park boys.

The light was not particularly conducive to photography most of the time, and a lot of the city is brutal in a not particularly attractive way. This isn’t even a very good photo – but it certainly is interesting. If anyone understands how that building got an imprint of an older building in the side of it, feel free to speculate in the comments section.

If it weren’t for Urban Outfitters, where would hipsters lose all their money? Of course Montreal has one of these.

This is just neat. Or maybe it isn’t neat. Either way, it made a decent photograph.

According to the guy who works there, this place has the best fries in the city. And, I agree. Try the “Bourgeois Tofu”, a small 1.99$ sandwich. Order two though, they are a bit small.

Walking around the city at night, it starts to remind me of Vancouver.

My brothers insisted we go to an indy show feature the “Antlers”. Good thing – the band is fantastic. See here. Very intense power duo. Another power duo my bros introduced me to are Japandroids. Apparently power duos are the thing now, thanks to the White Stripes I suppose.

We had coffee and baked treats at the Atwater Market. Thanks mom.

This city is magical at night when the whether is warm and the snow sticks on the ground.I took this photo when I was on my way from “Arts Bar”, a kind of McGill equivalent to AUS beer gardens, to see my friend on the Plateau. I was happy, but a bit depressed, when I realized that I still don’t feel this way about Toronto. Why are some places so much more loveable than others? I have my theories on this, but I won’t bore anyone with them here. Or, maybe Toronto is just missing AUS beer gardens. (Actually, it’s missing the AUS straight up since both York and U of T student societies are arranged in the idiotic college structure rather than by faculty).

At midnight that day, the snow was still coming down hard.

I’ve never understood why walkups are so popular in Montreal. Safety, anyone? Apparently not. Who pays for the broken limbs?

Notre-Dame Cathedral is neat, but it costs to enter so we stayed outside, contemplating whether we could pretend to be Catholic. Old Montreal in general is pretty awful – touristy, but also thin. My brothers don’t appreciate the absurdity of yuppy life like I do – while I find the hyperstylish object store perverse, wonderful and absurd, Malcolm just finds it repulsive. And that’s fair enough.

Possibly the highlight of the trip was going to a Quebec Major Junior hockey game – the Montreal Juniors play only a few subway stops away from Simon’s dorm. It’s certainly the most francophone thing we did, and most working class. Junior hockey is cheap, gritty, and not terribly good if you’re used to watching the NHL (or currently, the Olympics). But it is cheap (10$ tickets from a scalper), and pretty exciting.

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