It has been a few days since my last blog post, but what a few days it has been! Since my last update we spent a day getting lost in Montreal. Our driver, Ryan, took us to the top of the mountain/hill in Montreal (the Frenchman who discovered the city named the mountain “Mont Royalé” after his king, but his Italian cartographer did not speak French very well and wrote down “Mont Réal”, and thus the name was born). We saw the beautiful view of the city, ordered some food in French and saw some more squirrels.
We then drove to the city to a shop that makes Montreal style bagels. They are boiled in honey water and covered in sesame seeds. We saw them getting made and when we bought them they were still warm! Ryan then took us to the market where he bought fresh basil, cream cheese and tomatoes to put on the bagels. I also picked up a punnet of fresh raspberries for $3! I couldn’t believe there were so cheap and so delicious when at home they are usually $8! We ate the bagels by the canal and they were absolutely delicious!
Now here comes a story… Careful, your legs may get tired just reading this. There are these things in Montreal called bixie bikes. You put your credit card in and pay $5 for access to a bike for 24 hours, and then the first ½ hour is free. After the half hour there are charges, but if you make it to each station within the half hour, wait two minutes and get a new bike, you can ride for free.
So Mark and I thought this sounded like a great way to see the city. Two of our fellow moose travellers, Katherina (from Germany) and Jeroen (from the Netherlands) joined us. We got the bikes and cycled all the way over to an island off Montreal. It was lovely and we changed bikes. We then saw a bio dome, another squirrel and lots of beautiful flowers.
We walked around the island to try to find another bixie bike rack… but to no avail. We found and amusement park and a waterfall… but it took a lot of walking and running up and down hills covered in rotten apples to find those bikes.
We finally found the bikes, and after a few more dilemmas, got them out of the rack. The next challenge was to ride then over an enormous bridge (very hard going up and very fun going down). Wind was blowing, bridges were shaking and French-Canadians were zooming past… quite the experience.
We then cycled through some dodgy areas with surprisingly friendly window washers and bikes with flat tyres. It was all well and good when there was a bike lane… but riding in Montreal traffic was not as simple. We got off our bikes and looked everywhere for a “Supermache” to try to buy some spaghetti and save money on dinner. Katherina masterfully used her French skills to try to find out if there was a supermarket in the area, but the Montreal-ians couldn’t think of any supermarkets within an hour’s walk. We went through Chinatown and a few other places before finally going back to our hostel. But we had a great day with a great motto: “immer gerade aus!”
When we got to our hostel, we found out there was a supermarket just 10 minutes in the OTHER direction. The day ended with amazing spaghetti and the beginning of a pub crawl that we deserted and turned into a frozen-yoghurt-mixer-fest.
So… the next day we piled in the bus and went to Quebec City. We went past the beautiful Montmorency falls (that are reportedly higher than Niagara).
Anyway, two days in Quebec have come and gone in a much nice hostel with all the moose group girls (and boys the next room over). We have explored the lovely old city and eaten crepes for lunch (apparently we have to call it ”crep” not “crape”) following by amazing ice cream.
We walked all around the city again (are you seeing a theme appear? I am) and followed one of our group (Mike from the Netherlands) around to tourist destinations 2 and 18 which required a lot of stairs. I don’t think we ever found out what destination number 2 was, but 18 was a waterfall. I will let some photos do the talking for Quebec as it is very pretty and I don’t speak French.
In the evening we saw a free show of cirque du soleil which is put on under a massive highway bridge… pretty spectacular!
So we are about to leave our lovely little hostel room full of girls from all over the world to have a home-cooked meal courtesy of our tour guide.
(PS. “Je ne parl par Francais” has been the most useful phrase ever!)