Montréal (it was cold, but also awesome)

“Montréal?!” the kids exclaimed in dismay when we told them where we were headed over the Thanksgiving break. “Isn’t it really cold there?” We assured them that it was cold, but not too cold (so in other words we lied). We’ve learned that when it comes to pretty much every vacation decision we make, the less they know the better. That way they tend to go with the flow because, well they don’t have much choice. Plus…the power of suggestion and all that. When we arrived at the hotel, the kids got out of the car–yawning, stretching, trying to come alive–and both of them said “aww, it’s actually not that cold”. It was 11 degrees with a windchill of -1,000, but ok, let’s go with that. It was only later when we’d walked for 40 minutes (“it’s a SHORT walk, I promise”) to the Old Port that they started to notice it was a little chilly. My daughter said “I can’t seem to feel my legs” and my son said “is it bad that my fingers are turning blue?” So yeah, it was bitingly, bitterly cold, BUT, it was a fun trip anyway. Here’s how we spent our time, when we weren’t talking about how cold it was:

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When my daughter saw me taking a picture of this she said “you’re going to post that on Instagram with the caption ‘quick trip to Tokyo'”.  I pointed out that this is the entrance to CHINAtown, so who’s the smartass now?
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After walking through Chinatown, past lots of lovely, steamy and inviting ramen and dim sum places that we didn’t go in, we made it all the way down to the Old Port. Not much to report from that jaunt other than we opted not to spend $90 on the Ferris wheel. Not because we’re cheap but because we figured if it was -1,000 degrees on the ground it was probably -1,500 at the top. Also I hate Ferris wheels. Also we’re cheap.
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We were looking for St Paul Street because we heard it was the cutest. But we didn’t find it so here’s the only picture I took in Old Montreal. I actually have no idea why I took this- maybe my eyes were iced over and I thought it was cute. It’s not cute, but I’m not sorry I took it. Ugly buildings need love too.
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I like this color situation and I like my daughter so at least this picture makes a little more sense.
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After we thawed out for a bit, we went to dinner at Lov (which was fab) with my husband’s cousin’s daughter who lives in Lille, France but is in her first year of studies at Concordia College in Montreal, though she seems to spend a lot of time in Miami (try to keep up).
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LOV is a vegan restaurant with a cozy vibe and good lighting.
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Clearly they take their plant based lifestyle very seriously. This gave me pause, but I tried not to think too deeply about it. Anyway, the food was good.
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This is Nell. She loves Montreal except that it’s really cold and also the meat is really expensive so she’s living on pasta and she’s really missing eating meat. She told us this AFTER we sat down at the restaurant, which as I just mentioned was vegan. Oops. Well, at least she got to eat vegetables which are apparently also really expensive in Montreal.
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The next day we started off at the world’s largest Barbie exhibit, which happened to be right across the street from our hotel. As luck would have it.
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Because no trip anywhere is complete until you’ve experienced a Barbie exhibit.
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Right?
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Montreal has a lot of public art. It’s probably helpful to have distractions and stimulating things to look at that keep your blood pumping so your limbs don’t freeze and break off.
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This is Galerie Blanc in the Gay Village. It’s totally amazing, and totally free, and totally outside. I hear it’s lovely in the summer. It’s also lovely in the winter except you kind of have to hurry through so you don’t die of hypothermia as you ponder the art.
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Every time it’s his turn to make dinner, he makes spaghetti. Well, not every time (he’d take offense to that) so I should say ALMOST every time. Ok, that’s better.
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They. are. having. so. much. fun.
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Oh thank GOD for warm and cozy coffee shops. Especially cute ones like Humble Lion.
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Thanks for being amazing, Humble Lion barista.
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Not all museums are outside. The MAC is Montreal’s contemporary art museum and it’s 100% indoors. It’s also 100% awesome.
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If you go soon you can experience the world of Janet Werner.
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Janet Werner uses found, fashion photographs (mostly of women), which she cuts up, recombines and transforms. I for one, was inspired. After all, aren’t we all just trying to transform ourselves after being cut up in one way or another by someone or something? Oof, let’s go deep.
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And now, I’ll commence with the REAL reason we came to Montreal. And that was to shop at Eva B’s. And no, I’m not kidding.
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Eva B’s is the B all to end all vintage and consignment shops and is probably the best anywhere. Again, I’m not kidding.
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From books…
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to whatever the heck this is…
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to creepy TV vignettes…
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Eva B’s has it all.
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And the best part is, the clothes are (mostly) really vintage and still reasonably priced.
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The way thrifting was meant to be- a lot of random stuff that you feel like you have to have, because it’s amazing and it’s cheap.
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I thought this was whiskey they were passing out and that make me think that Eva B’s truly was the best place on earth, but alas it was just tea, so that makes Eva B’s not the BEST place on earth, but close.
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I wanted to buy everything. It’s a good thing that wasn’t whiskey because I would have bought it all.
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Well, maybe not all of it- I don’t think I have a use for that thing which might be a slide projector, but might be an oil filter, I’m not quite sure. The painting is cool though.  And the single, dilapidated snow shoe.
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So, so true…
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My son had his heart set on buying a mannequin hand, but it was the only thing in the store not for sale.
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I tried to convince him to bring these legs home instead, and he would have agreed but my daughter said it might be embarrassing to have them strapped to the roof of our car as we passed through Border Control. Also, slightly weird for an 11 year old boy to have a pair of naked legs in his room. How would I explain that one to my parents the next time they came to visit? So we left those behind too…
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Also Eva’s has lots of records! There were some interesting finds and a bunch of Michael Jackson albums collecting dust.I guess nobody’s buying those anymore.
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We spent a full two hours there, or maybe more. It was so disorienting- like being in a casino.  When we finally left we were surprised to see that it was still daylight.
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We have family in Quebec City, so the next day they came down to spend some time with us. We decided to check out the Olympic Museum because we’d heard good things. Canada isn’t really an Olympic powerhouse, but who cares? What else are you going to do on a Saturday morning in Montreal? Actually, I could think of a few things, but majority rules…
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Here you can try your hand at being a Canadian Olympian. All of us were terrible at the Toboggan, the Luge, and the Super G simulations. So, I guess we will not be representing Canada in Beijing in 2022. Damn it.
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This is harder than it looks. Just saying.
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In addition to hosting the ’76 Winter Olympics, Montreal also hosted the ’67 World’s Fair. Moshe Safdie built Habitat 67 as a pavilion for the Expo, intending it to be a model for affordable urban living that worked within the confines of densely populated cities but offered all the amenities of a suburban dwelling. In my next life I want to be an architect, because that would be so dang cool. Either that or in THIS life I want to live in a place like this (but not this place exactly because we’ve already established it’s cold and you’ve probably figured out how much that bothers me).
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The Expo also had this- the Biosphere, which prompted my son to ask if there were any rides (like at Epcot). There are no rides.
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After that we went back to Eva B’s for more art, more legs, and more tea that wasn’t whiskey.
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One thing you HAVE to do in Montreal is go see Aura at the Basilica. You can’t take pictures during the show so you’ll have to take my word for it.
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Picture this, but with all the lights changing and moving and then being enhanced with lasers and other cool effects–all set to haunting music that’s also somehow really soothing. That was kind of a terrible description of an amazing sight, but believe me it’s spectacular.
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This is a bookstore. It looked better in person. But in every new city I go to I feel the need to visit at least one independent bookstore. Take that Amazon, you bastard (I am not a slave to you, yes I am, no I’m not, yes I am- but only at Christmastime but that’s because I can’t help it if I’m a last minute shopper and one day shipping is a lifesaver).
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These are notes we found in a drawer in the table at the restaurant where we had dinner.
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Lola Rose is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant. We keep accidentally ending up at vegan restaurants where we’re all very happy. I could totally be vegan on a part time basis. Is it possible to be like 80% vegan? That could work. Because, at least 20% of my days need to involve cheese somehow.
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ICYMI: Leonard Cohen is from Montreal! I love Leonard Cohen and found myself humming his tunes for the rest of the weekend after stumbling across this display of admiration and affection. I forgot to mention that Montreal has miles of underground malls that you can use to escape the cold and get from place to place.  But when you do that, you miss all the good things like this mural and all the lovely architecture. SOOO… my advice is, brave the cold and get out there and explore this amazing city. You might leave slightly frost-bitten, but your heart will have been warmed by the friendly people, your senses reawakened by the stellar art scene, and your spirit restored by the relatively laid back vibe (well, as laid back as a city of 3 million can be). A bientot, Montreal, a bientot!

 

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