I got a bit zealous in my social calendar planning last fortnight and ended up sick as a dog this week; our full blown weekend mini break road trip to Montreál with Nathan this weekend looming behind a growing pile of snot-filled tissues by my bed. Two weeks ago we spontaneously decided to drive to Montreál for the Pride weekend, as we’d heard it was only a 5 hour drive from Toronto – the same travel time it would take door-to-door to fly. We’d been talking to Nathan, who was free, and had a car (a very drivable Audi). Thankfully by Friday I cleared the biopsy list and was able to leave work by five. We planned to drive halfway to Kingston (about 250 km), spend the night in a hotel before driving the next 300 km. Each half-trip took us about 3 hours door-to-door, because you spend at least half an hour in city traffic. It was a good idea to break up the drive.
Kingston was a surprise. I had thought it would be a small, run-down town, like Churchill. It was sprawling and had many interesting buildings. We arrived at about 8 o’clock, and Dan checked us in to our not-too-shabby room. Outside were outlet stores and every chain fast food you could name. Nathan needed to buy sneakers as he’d come straight from a work meeting, with leather work shoes on. The stores had closed! We drove downtown to the very long main drag to find a place for dinner. Nathan browsed Yelp for ideas and we were intrigued by a restaurant called Chez Piggy. We were satisfied with our food, and despite the drizzle, were dry under the umbrella in our outside seating.
We slept in then got breakfast at a curious cafe down on the main drag. We had parked next to a bakery cafe and left the town with a bag of raspberry jam donuts, the oil slowly leaking into the brown bag over the rest of the day and weekend. We got to Montreál at 1 pm. I’d had a headache since breakfast and was ready to accept that I’d have to stay home, and sleep. My Man Cold from earlier in the week wasn’t going without a fight. Thankfully Dan and Nate also needed a nap and, like a bunch of nannas, we checked in, and slept until about 3. Travelling is hard work! Dan had booked dinner at 18:30 at a restaurant recommended by one of Nate’s friends.
We had three hours to wander around before dinner, so we walked East, towards Place Émilie-Gamelin where the festivities were centred. We didn’t realise how far it was but were distracted by the sculptures and architecture along Sherbrooke Street. On our first visit Dan and I had only walked around the old town and Rue Sainte-Catherine; on our second visit we had only explored René-Lévesque Boulevard; there was still more to see! It was drizzling and we walked up Rue Sainte-Catherine as stalls were packing up. We walked all the way to the end of the pink balls that hung over the street, before back-tracking to the restaurant for dinner.
BOUILLON BILK – Montreál
This was awesome. We’ve not had much luck travelling and finding good places to eat but usually fare better when have recommendations from friends (like our last trip to Montreál). Saturday night was another win. I chose a lobster, avocado, chilli, tomato and nectarine starter which was a colourful plate laid out like that course at Alinea with the 60 flavours, surrounding a generous mountain of lobster. For mains I had a poultry dish that was also delicious. I only had one drink, as my headache returned. My hopes of a big night out on Rue Sainte-Catherine were dim. We sat at the bar and our server was down to Earth and made us feel so welcome. She even gave us a tip for breakfast this morning, which we were lucky to make.
We caught a cab back to the hotel; there was no way we’d walk that far again. Dan bought eye drops to moisten our drying contacts. I took the last of my cold & flu tablets hoping that my sinuses might just give up trying to destroy my skull from within. Nathan took his shoes off and elevated his feet while he waited.
We ended up having a really good night. My headache dissipated slowly and I was a miserable fun sponge until it left. We started out with a drink at the bar opposite Cabaret Mado – the one we’d walked out from with Ur after the bar tenders ignored us for ten minutes. Curiosity (or my single vodka and Red Bull) got the better of me and I dragged us into Stock Bar across the road – and it was awesome! The bar was full and the performers acknowledged the audience. After we had our fill of people watching we went next door to Unity, a multi-level night club, where we spent the rest of our night out. The crowd was friendly and we had fun. The music encouraged dancing. They even played Eurythmics, Sweet Dreams. By the time we stumbled back out onto the street looking for a cab home the rain had stopped and the street was full of people.
Another awesome place to eat! We shared La brioche, le beignet et les configures (house made jams with toast, brioche and donuts). I didn’t make it through my Omelette, poireaux, vieux cheddar. We took nearly an hour to get out of the city; police were already setting up road blocks for the parade. If we’d taken tomorrow off work and had time to break the drive with an overnight stay again we would’ve stayed to watch it but we wanted to get going and not get caught in the cottage traffic. Nate and Dan swapped drivers just past Kingston, in a small town called Belleville where we had all-you-can-eat sushi without realising we were ordering from an all-you-can-eat menu. At the Toronto city limits the traffic was crawling. It was like hitting the Kwinana Freeway driving back to Perth from Bunbury.
Clothes in the wash. Alarms set for tomorrow morning. Another weekend squeezed dry.