Saturday, June 16, 2018

Montreal: Day 2

We began our second day in Montreal with a 5k run to raise money for women's health. The race, Pharmaprix Aimez-Vous, Courses pour les femmes, was themed on women taking care of themselves ("Aimez-vous." - "Love yourself.") and was inspiring to participate in.

It was simultaneously a great race and kind of a sucky one. It was not terribly well organized - I was glad that they had same-day packet pickup, but they had run out of our size shirts (luckily the small ran large and fit me) and some of the race course was full of obstacles or terribly narrow.

That said, it was really cool to run around in the port area, and the swag bag was freakin' unbelievable:

All the swag in the world
That's a grocery bag size container of beauty samples and food. Yes, that's a full size container of Pantene conditioner. I guess this is what happens when a grocery store / drug store sponsors your race! Lots of the samples were for women (Dave held up a Vagisil sample and asked, "What's this?"), so I got a lot of Dave's samples, too. Giggity giggity.

After we cleaned up at the hotel, we took a subway to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to check out Canadian art culture.

Lacquered painting with surprising detail
The contemporary art was really neat, and they had a good modern collection, as well. Our favorite exhibit was the Inuit sculptures on the top floor of the Canadian building (there are four or five buildings in the museum complex). Apparently Inuit communities have turned to stone carvings to earn a living after difficulties in hunting for fur and meat.

While in the museum neighborhood, we stopped for a couple of decent pints at the Sir Winston Churchill Pub complex. The terrace was a nice place to stop and plan the rest of our day.

The book recommended stopping at Atwater Market and cycling down the Canale Lachine, which sounded awesome, and we definitely had the weather for it.

The market is one of several very beloved, very famous open-air markets in Montreal. There were lots of fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables, meat, and also a section with prepared foods. I got some steamed pork buns and the green papaya salad at Satay Brothers (which was probably the longest line at Atwater, but totally worth it).

The Indonesian flair of this vendor was tasty and unique.
We rented some Bixi bikes (the equivalent of Divvy in Chicago or Vélib' in Paris) and went down the path along the Canal Lachine. 

Yep, pretty good day for a bike ride.

It was an absolutely beautiful day, and we had a blast on the bikes. They are definitely big utility bikes, not anything to be competing in cycle races or triathlons for sure, but they got the job done and felt safe. 

The canal goes by some industrial areas and parks that are obviously very well-trafficked by the Montrealers. Everyone's got to get as much sun as we can get before winter drives us indoors!

The Bixi rental process was easy, by the way. You use your credit card to pay for a one-way or all day rental, then you get a code for every 30-minute trip. Just long enough to drive by a folk music festival and see some of the canal before heading back to the Atwater station to return the bikes.

Flowers at Atwater Market
From there, we changed to another set of Bixi bikes and rode back to the hotel. We were tipped off by a native to look for the green-colored bikes, which are newer and 7 speeds (compared with the older 3-speed ones we had used for the canal trip).

We changed clothes and got a little fancy for Liverpool House, the wonderful Quebecois restaurant where Canadian PM Justin Trudeau famously took President Obama for dinner in 2017.

The menu had a lot of very meaty options, along with some great vegetables in season locally. We got ricotta herb gnocchi as an appetizer and split the hefty sausage special for dinner with some roasted turnips on the side. Chocolate tart for dessert. Fantastique.

Incidentally, Liverpool House hosts some very good beers, too. We tried Kilogramme, a good IPA by Pub BreWskey (where we shared a beer flight the previous day), and Funk des Soviètes, a fantastic, lightly sour saison by Brasserie Dunham.

After dinner, we stopped across the street at Burgundy Lion for beers because it is highly rated and is associated with the same restaurant group (Joe Beef) as Liverpool House. The food looked really good, but the beers were a somewhat middling selection of British beers (themed on the pub being a play on a traditional English pub). I think I had hoped to try more Quebec beers, so I probably just had the wrong expectations.

We turned in for a somewhat early night at the hotel and spent some time on the beautiful rooftop during sunset. From our hotel, you can see the Jacques Cartier Bridge and some downtown / Old Montreal buildings. The sky was clear and lovely.

I knitted while Dave checked his work email, then he read while I checked my work email (the hotel's WiFi blessedly worked up there). It was a great end to the day.

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