Meeting Montreal

Bixi bike stand near Palais des congres(not the apartment; this is a Bixi bike stand)

So here I am, in a Craig’s List short-term apartment (read: a cheap functional dump w/wifi) near McGill University after having spent the day geeking out at the American Cheese Society conference downtown at the impressive and modern Palais des Congres across from the minimalist cool modern Quebec provincial government building. I’m chillin’ in between a full-day of learnin’ (you can see the geek stuff over at the Guild web site), and an evening of partai-ing on the Quebec provincial government’s dime. I got here by renting and then riding a Bixi bike that I parked at the stand on the corner of the block where my apartment is located. I’ve got my laptop on my lap thinkin’ that Montreal is not quite but also is more than I thought it would be.

This is a big effin’ city, but it’s strangely still. Neighborhoods coalesce and melt away almost within the same block, yet the downtown stretches like a cold granite desert of symbolic power high above the port, but without life felt behind the glass and stone facades. Like sunglasses on a corpse. The pulse of the city, for lack of a better word, is slack. Maybe it’s the Gout de Aout with everyone on vacation, buttered up on Old Orchard Beach? I’m sure I don’t know enough to say for sure.

The last time I was here was during a drive to the midwest to visit Alison’s Uncle Charlie and Auntie Kitts, followed by Liz and Bus and the Lancaster crew. That was back in the 1990s. My lasting impression of the city was a fabulous smoked meat sandwich (viandes fumee in local terms), and a lingering study, from across a bay, to Habitat. Since then I’ve heard wonderful things about the City from our NY friends who have made the trip for it’s trendy food and interesting nightlife. But we’ve limited our Canadian visits to St. Andrews over Labor Day, and the occasional trip to Quebec City in the winter, which can be quite magical, especially when the Canadian dollar is trading at $0.65…Chateau Frontenac here we come!

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