Can you believe it’s been three years, since J and I last made one of our improvised mini-trips to downtown Montréal?
It was about time we’d start our little escapades again.
So, as we used to, previous to that little pandemic thing, we didn’t plan anything. We just set a date and time, and agreed to meet at the metro station in my neighbourhood.
While in the subway wagon, we had to decide what we’d start with (because it would have been a shame to spend all day traveling around town – the weather was absolutely lovely).
Montreal is well-known for its countless summer festivals. From June until September, it is not surprising to have several different ones happening at the same time. Right now, the Jazz Festival is the biggest, so we thought we’d go have a look at it first.
After skipping two years in a row, it was a given that there would be A LOT of people. And I remembered how much I enjoy stopping for a moment, in a crowd of tourists, and listening to try to guess where they come from (you can imagine how excited I get when overhear Danish – but I didn’t get lucky yesterday).
There were a lot of people, a lot of food trucks and a couple of art pieces reminding everybody that this was indeed the International Jazz Festival. Which, after a little while proved to be a great idea, because there was surprisingly very little Jazz in the air. On a saturday afternoon, we would have expected little gigs happening on different street corners (if they’d been all on the same one, it probably wouldn’t have been very enjoyable…).
So we decided to leave the site, and see where our feet would lead us.
Little stop in front of this church, just because. Though not Catholic myself, I am always impressed by the beauty of these buildings, especially when they are incrusted in between skyscrapers. We do have amazing churches all around town, and they sure are worth a little visit.
But J and I had spotted something on the other side of the street, and we crossed over to check it out.
For some reason, we love visiting gift-shops. And as soon as we entered the door, I told J that we should buy a souvenir for her mother. J’s mom doesn’t have a traveling nature, and her (44 years old) offspring visiting big bad Montreal still is to this day a source of worries. It was only natural that we bought a little reminder that J had made it back to Trois-Rivières in one piece.
This idea ended up with a 45 minutes long shopping spree, hunting Montreal souvenirs for our parents, our sibblings and even for Chéri. We had great deals of giggles, imagining their faces when we would offer them the small presents.
Of course, if we were to buy souvenirs, we had to do something very touristic.
I had an idea…
Meet Montreal’s Ring. I don’t know if it is the sculpture’s official title, but it is what every Montrealer calls it. Built last April (if my memory is good), the huge structure has raised many debates already. First of all, a lot of people question spending five million dollars to fix an oversized steel ring in between two buildings. Others (like me) wonder why we bought the thing from the U.S (I think), instead of building it ourself.
But it is besides the point now, the ring is there, and I think it is actually pretty cool and impressive. J, not so much (don’t get fooled by her acting talent in the last picture).
It was time to get to the restaurant, because time flies when you’re having fun, so we headed to the Old Port, to eat at Le Jardin Nelson, our favorite place in Montreal. Unfortunately, upon arrival, the queue to enter the restaurant was comparable to that of a (very) popular ride in a big amusement park. I was expecting ”XX minutes wait from here” signs (but there weren’t any, which added to my doubts we could get in before closing time).
We saw it as a sign that we had to try a new place, which was much more easily said than done. The Old Port is a tourist trap, and most restaurants are over priced. We thought we might get lucky at Marché Bonsecours (above picture), but the food court was already closed… So we kept walking.
We settled for a cute pizzeria that had fair prices, and no queue at all.
The waitress didn’t seem to be happy to be there, but the pizzas were fabulous. J and I caught up, because phone conversations are not the same as one on one time in person. We laughed a lot, made plans for the future (something that had been on hold for too long), and enjoyed eachother’s presence.
We did pick on the waitress once or twice, asking for water (that took quite a long time to come to the table) and pepper (which never made it).
I think that asking our waitress to take away my leftover was the breaking point. I’ll let you judge from the above picture. When she put it on the table, we had a hard time waiting until she was back in the restaurant to burst into laughter.
If that’s not a case of passive-agressive packing, I wonder what would be?? J and I were laughing so hard we were crying, and the couple at the next table even asked if they had missed something.
I showed them my leftover packaging, and they joined in our laughing festival.
At least, I didn’t insist to get pepper! J added.
We had to calm ourselves, because the bills were coming.
While I was paying my bill, I couldn’t hide my surprise when I saw our bitter waitress crumpling J’s. I mean… How satisfying could that have been? How childish, especially since we hadn’t been difficult customers, by all means.
We paid, and left the terrace, and before heading to the metro station, I stopped J.
There was a singer with a minimal set up, close to the restaurant where we were. He had been performing amazing covers thoughout our meal, and I told J I wanted to go and give him something (he had a fabulous voice).
I shyly approached him, and tucked a bill in the red cup at his feet.
Thank you – he said in his microphone.
You’re welcome – I replied – I really like what you do!
I was walking back towards J, when I turned around again, and asked him if I there was a way I could follow him online. He suddenly seemed very shy.
No… Actually, this is my very first performance. I was afraid I might disturb people tonight.
I was startled.
No way this is your first performance! You have an amazing voice… As a matter of fact, you are, in parts, the reason we chose our restaurant, because we were getting the free show (which is true). Please keep doing what you do! You’re great!
He seemed truly touched. And I was glad I had taken the time to walk up to him. I was too shy to walk back a second time to ask for his name, and I didn’t take any picture.
But if I ever hear his voice on the radio or on tv, I’ll remember yesterday’s encounter.
And that’ll make me smile.
Because that was a priceless moment, to end a priceless day.
One thought on “If you came to Montréal… (14)”
This post was heart warming, funny, and sweet. I’m glad you took the opportunity to do something that was oh so pre-2020 “normal”. It must have felt great! I visited Montreal a few years back and I loved it! That waitress was something though.