Wednesday, April 1, 2009

L' Ētranger Ētrange à Montréal

Amtrak is currently running a special on The Adirondack , so I just got back from Montréal after a phenomenal long(-ish) weekend. (For only $75 r/t!) I had originally planned to visit (and write about) two swank hotels, The St-Paul and The St-James, but I got a bit lost (in a good way) and distracted (by a very charming Montréaler). These two properties are both former financial institutions, so I was going to write a piece about “Things to Do with Dead Banks,” but I never found them (which is kind of unfortunate because it would have dovetailed nicely with today’s protests of The G20 Summit in London). Oh, well.

Instead, I zipped around the city (on foot and on the métro) and found a couple of other things that had caught my attention in print before I left.

The first was the Marché Atwater (pictured above) for some chocolate infused with aged balsamic vinegar from Geneviève Grandbois for a friend. The building looked to me like the love child of Buffalo’s Central Terminal and London’s Tate Modern and the interior totally reminded me of San Francisco’s Ferry Building. I got the sense that there was some adaptive reuse going on, but I don’t know what the building was originally constructed for. (If you know, please send me an e-mail because I’m extrêmement curious!)

The other thing that I was looking for was evidence of Montréal’s bike friendliness and I found it, as well! Check my photo of the dedicated lanes completely segregated from the city’s fast-and-furious auto traffic(!):
I ate really well at Le Commensal and at ChuChai (with the aforementioned feisty Quebecker). The Thai food was some of the best I've ever had in my life!

I’d wanted to visit the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, but I didn’t have time this time around. That’s OK, though, as the special railfare is still being offered through the 21st and I’m thinking of going back for The Blue Metropolis Festival in a couple of weeks anyway. (Maybe I'll be able to find those hotels-that-used-to-be-banks then? I wouldn't bet on it. My sense of direction is horrible, but it usually leads me to interesting places nonetheless.)