I just came back from my run and ended up hiking at this beautiful mountain of trees, Mont Royal. Mont Royal is a landmark of Montreal located in the Northern part of the city. According to many sources, it is a volcanic complex which was active 125 million years ago.
It will take around 20 minutes if you jog to that place from Pierce Boutique Hotel. I reached the base of Mont Royal around 10.15am when the sun is already up beautifully.
If you are in Montreal, please do not miss this place. Nothing is more peaceful than being surrounded by nature, beautiful landscape of trees and tranquility. Hike to the top of the mountain. It is not challenging to reach the top. There are well-maintained staircases and pathways throughout the area. You can also use the GPS to guide you to reach to the top or ask around which I did most of the time. Apparently, there are several spots for photography at different peaks.
I went there alone and it feels safe since there are a lot of joggers, hikers and tourists especially at the summit. The view of the city from the peak is stunning. I ended up spending more time there than planned, plus minus about two hours. I cannot stop myself from enjoying the beauty. The charm of the greens which are turning into tints of Autumn made me fall in love with this place.
Right after the morning hike, I dropby McGill University’s Le James bookstore to shop for the university's merchandise. Most of you may already know by now, merchandise of shows and celebrities are my thing. The merchandises could represent ships in shows and movies, any fandoms such as Taylor Swift, Orphan Black, Little Mix, Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift and so on. And this includes universities I visited overseas such as the one I went to visit a friend years ago at New York University (NYU). Sometimes, I purchased t-shirts or mugs that is a metaphor of a situation, or as an item to remember a place or a person. Le James bookstore apparently has lots of stylish hoodies, mugs and shirts, hence, the reason I ended up spending quite a sum.
I had lunch at Sho-do with J. She said her friend recommended this Japanese restaurant as it seems to be one of the good ones in Montreal. According to J, the sushi we had are of Canadian produce. Do not compare the ones here and the ones in Japan, alright. No place in the world can compete with Japan's sushi quality. But the ambience and service in Sho-do were not bad.
After lunch, J brought me to the same French bakery, Maison Christian Faure where she got for me the birthday pastries. I had pass-by this place several times but didn’t know this was the one. So, she bought for me a pastry I cannot remember the name, but it was super nyummy. Three layers of crispy crusts with cream in between. Next time, if ever I find this thing again in other parts of the world, I am gonna buy one.
TIME CHECK - 6pm
Heheheh I played cheat and took a cab to Old Port of Montreal in order to reach as soon as possible. If I were to take the train, plus minus with me losing my way and the train schedule, I guess it will be too late.
Wow ... guys this place looks extremely boundless. Especially that view of the St.Lawrence River. Most of the stalls are already closed. I am casually walking around here and taking pictures of this view of the Le Grand Roue de Montreal observation wheel and the river while observing people in this cool fresh air. After this I am going to find that French pastry again. J said that there should be more choices at this Maison Christian Faure Old Port outlet. But also to be prepared that most of the pastries will be gone before end of the day.
Oh well, yeah she is right. That favorite pastry of mine, the one I just had after lunch including the raspberry passion birthday tart are not there anymore. Only left with a few others which also looks good. I am gonna surprise her with some of these gorgeous pastries.
Wow the beautiful lady who served me is so lovely. I bought a chocolate twirly croissant, fresh from the oven and she gave me another one for free. Woot woots... Gonna give to J one of this. Anyway, I am alone and will be leaving tomorrow to Toronto. Who wants to eat so many? I love pastries but in reality I prefer to give it as gifts instead.
I am now going back to the apartment. It is already getting dark. Planning to buy some groceries to surprise her hahahaa… and wanna try the Briyani at this place which I have been passing by a few times near Concordia University. The Indian food aroma, oh gosshhh. Anyway, I need to try the Indian food here and see whether it is nice. I love Indian food especially Chicken Tikka Masala (it became mine and Hans favorite since we had it at Neha's party years ago), and also my all time favorite, Briyani rice.
This is funny. I ordered a chicken briyani and the staff at Bombay Mahal Thali asked whether I want to choose some gravy. So I did. I remembered selecting only one which I thought is common to be served with the briyani and I assumed it will be a small serving of curry/dhal with briyani. I ended up bringing back a pack of chicken briyani, 3 gravy with another set of white rice and a naan. I did not order those!! It costs around CAN$21. Who wants to eat so many? Are you kidding me??!! I managed to eat only half the chicken briyani and decided to bring to J so she can at least have it for tomorrow or whatever. Furthermore, I have to make sure I am not too full because J promised to make pancakes for me!!
I am having my last dinner in Montreal with her at her house. I don’t know why I am kind of sad. Or maybe not. I am. I don’t know. I don’t enjoy goodbyes. That feeling is like death by a thousand cuts. Okay, I guess as usual I should be able to handle this. Manage it. It will be fine.
Heading there by cab again although it is only like a 20 minutes of walk. Flag a taxi which I have never done for years in Singapore since the existence of Grab. I didn’t use any taxi app here since it was just a short stay. Maybe Montreal has some cab app you can download if you guys come here. For your info, the cab fees is considered not bad if you are comparing apple to apple. Somewhat similar like in Singapore. Example 17km is about S$18-$20. In Montreal, the cab fees is roughly like this. But again, I am very bad in measuring distance so this info might not be accurate.
It is drizzling quite heavily actually. But really with these groceries, pastry and the packets of food, I cannot handle by myself to walk there even though if it is not raining.
For the last three days of my stay, the weather in Montreal started to change from scorching sunny to rainy. Luckily, it did not affect any of my activities. The sun is important for good lighting specifically for photography like selfies ;).
I am now in J’s apartment. She is making the pancakes batter. As you know, I am not the type who help people in the kitchen to cook that includes not helping my mum. So, I had to offer my help after debating with my inner stubbornness of should I or shouldn't I.
After helping her to peel the green apple from the groceries which I got for her, now I am standing in her kitchen stirring these apples with sugar and something else (she told me what it is but I cannot register it in my brain). Guess what I am making? Caramelized apple for the pancakes!! And also she said she will be making for me an apple cake, so I can bring for my trip tomorrow. What the hell?! I have tried convincing her there is no need for the trouble. Because for me making a cake will take 4 to 8 hours. But she insisted and I do not want to argue again on my last day here. From what I understand from her it is common and is a culture in Canada to make for someone an apple cake as a gift. Ok she wins.
While I am stirring, she is making the pancakes and the butternut squash soup. The aroma of the baked butternut (a fruit) and the pancakes are making my stomach growls with appetite. The butternut squash soup is the one she promised to make for me when we were in Ottawa shopping for a butternut at Whole Foods. I have no idea how this thing taste or looks like. Let’s see later and will keep you guys updated. It is already 9.15pm. J’s friend, Z, who was introduced to me on the first day I was in Montreal if you remember, will be here too later.
Okay, I need to sign out for awhile. J dropped a bottle of her coffee powder. I am going to help her to clean it up. This reminds me of a symphony.
Guys, the butternut squash soup is heavenly creamy! I have never tasted anything like this. And the caramelized apples with pancakes are compatible with each other. I also learnt to make whipped cream by shaking it in a closed bowl, shake hard. I was like wow it can work like this? I mean she shakes it better, that is definite.
For food wise, in conclusion I can say that although I did not try so many food in Montreal, I literally had the chance to have meals cooked by a very skilled Canadian. Consider it the true blue local food. I cannot thanked J enough for her time everyday making meals for me. I was not expecting that she spends her time with me throughout this one week, day and night and cook delicious meals everyday for me. As you guys already know by now that I am not the type who likes to bother people, so this was unexpected. She treated me so well, like extremely well. And she deserved all the great things there are in this world.
I have to end this part of my write-up about Montreal immediately. See you guys when I land in Toronto.
Woke up at 11.30am today. I had a good night sleep. J advised me to go to an old port area. So, I went. And lost my way since I took a bus and stopped at a wrong bus stop. Oh by the way, the bus driver was so nice. My bus card did not work and when I wanted to pay with coins he declined by offer. I had a free ride.
Not surprising to anyone, I had alighted at the wrong bus stop which means the GPS is alerting me with inaccurate directions. There are no one around to ask, so I decided to ask the traffic light will it be alright, and they said I don’t know. She also encouraged me to go to Biosphere. It was in my plan but I was like "Ehhhh is it necessary?". I was talking to myself.
No regrets. Biosphere was amaze-ball!! Of all Montreal attractions, I can say this is in the top tier of a must-go. There were not many visitors yet at this time. Although it started to drizzle, I could take quite a number of beautiful shots of the massive biosphere structure. This environment museum is located on a large land on Saint Helen's Island. The exhibits tells a story not merely showing the facts, which is astonishing. I know we have climate problems affecting us in some ways but I ignored the facts in a micro perspectives, like how it affects certain types of crops and animals which has disrupted our eco-system. The dilemma has already began, altering our living condition.
You should also walk towards the other side of the area where the view of St. Lawrence River is spectacular. The crystal baby blue water is pretty and majestic. There are lots of spots for photography and also this is a place if you need to be in a surreal environment with no traffic. Another go-to spot is to walk towards the cafe, there is a massive space to look out to the view of Montreal city and Mont Royal across the river. Gorg! I planned to stay there for an hour but ended up extending it to three. It was already four in the afternoon when I left the place.
Cited part of lyrics from: Death by a Thousand Cuts by Taylor Swift
Then, I head to another spot which is not in my plan, to buy some souvenirs for my friends and family. According to Google, the nearest souvenir shop is Souvenir du Quebec which is only one stop from Biosphere train station. Most of the souvenirs like hoodies, shirts, magnets are available there. The store is modest but the service is homely and the lady was helpful in attending to my requests. I then had late lunch next door, a Lebanese restaurant, Bacho Pita. I am so famished and also am craving for middle-eastern food. Guess what? I can finished my meal! I had to drag myself cos the serving is too much. The owner seems concerned when he asked, "Is everything okay?".
At this point of time, I decided to walk back to my apartment from that location. It was about 1.5 hours walk. Cool rite??! And again it is a destiny. I found Maple Taffy. Many blogs had highlighted that one should try this especially during Winter. My plan was to try it in Vancouver at Granville Market but well since it is right in-front of me now, I should just grab it immediately in case they do not have it at Vancouver.
Maple Taffy is maple syrup rolled in ice. Yes the ice melts instantly after you put the whole thing in your mouth. Since the maple taffy is an elastically sticky and hardened syrup, every time you place it in your mouth the whole taffy will gradually drop towards your hand. That is the reason the tissue which they wrapped on that stick comes in handy. And make sure the taffy did not stick on your face like it did on mine. I noticed it only after I reached my apartment. There was this whole stretch of sticky maple syrup on my cheek. Sweet cheeks.
Tonight, we had homemade pizza and the expresso cookies. Tomato and kale pizzas. Okay, the dough J made reminds me of the one I had in Paris 6 years ago. The best pizza I ever had all this while was at Paris and the one J made is on par. It is soft and tasty. And why it takes her only less than 30 mins to put everything and done with the baking? Everytime I made pizza which was a century ago, it took me at least half a day.
Today is my birthday. Now you know why I scheduled my trip at this time. Apart from the convincing by J, and one of my bucket list is to explore other country in Autumn, I just wanted to have a getaway and celebrate it somewhere else other than my country. By myself.
I started my birthday this morning with a seminar which I conducted at McGill College. As you all already know by now, I am trying to market my business, Grapholistic International, outside of Singapore. I started this company in year 2005 and the last time I organised a seminar outside of Singapore was last December at the University of Tokyo in Japan. This time I managed to do it in Montreal's McGill University. One takeaway from organizing this seminar, never give tickets for free. Turnouts is such a disappointment even though after participants had booked in advance. The reason I gave free this time is because I am targeting students from the universities in this area such that they need not spend their allowances on this seminar. There is always the first time. It shall be the first and the last.
Right after the seminar, I took a cab to L’Eguelionne bookstore. The ride was about 30 minutes. It is quite a distance. I went to submit the book which I had written for consignment, Masterpiece in Your Heart, The Platinum Edition. Before this trip, I had done some research on the target market and locations of the bookstores that fit my kind of poetry. L'Eguelionne not only serves my target market but they could accept my type of book with open arms. I had tried those in some places but they do not attend to small writers and distributor like me directly. Also, I am so surprised they are so open to buy my postcards impromptu. The staff is well-composed and speaks with respect. Thank you! And if anyone in Montreal is interested to buy the copies, you can get it there. It is located in the Village at Montreal. I will be honored if you buy it. Also, it comes with a package of 4 postcards as a gift.
A little backstory of Masterpiece in Your Heart. This book of poetry is the second edition or so I called the Platinum edition which is now available in L'Eguelionne Bookstore in Montreal and Little Sister's Bookstores in Vancouver are my first venture to sell the hard copies in bookstores. The first edition was published without any much planning. I had poems in hand, my first online distributor, Blurb is so convenient to design and sell and then the dream in my head for years to have a book publish. That is all it needs to publish a book. Then a year later, I revamped the looks and sent my book to be edited and design by professionals to improve it. And boom, there it goes.
I have been writing for years since I fall in love with reading books during my secondary school period. And then the ball started rolling from there. I kept writing long essays, poems and novels which mostly are not published.
This book is mainly about the feelings I experienced with people who made a lot of difference to my life in terms of experimenting with my feelings. If one is observant and who might know me well, they will understand what I am writing about. I doubt those I wrote about knows that these poems are about them, which is good. Also, if you have no idea what I am referring to, some readers of mine considered it as how they also feel when they are with the ones they are in love with. My story is mine, and my story could be yours too. Thank you for everyone who had supported me by purchasing Masterpiece in your Heart since the beginning.
Normally, I do not cook if I travel not only because I want to try as much local food as possible but also because I stayed in hotels, not serviced apartments. This time, I just made myself a fried briyani bee hoon which I bought the ingredients yesterday near the park. Never cooked this before in my life and these are the only spices I can find in the supermarket which fits this. Most of it are sold in large jars and packets which I am not interested in. The side dish includes a juicy grilled chicken from Antep Kabab located just beside my apartment. Requested only the chicken without the pita bread. The guys are nice to entertain my special request. I wanna try their kebabs tomorrow. Their restaurant has a long queue. I know why now. The chicken is tender.
Anyway, this bee hoon is damn spicy! I cannot take it and could not finish it plus still no appetite.
Nearly 10 at night. I tried to avoid which usually I am very skillful in this, but this one is like surfing in waves, because I could foresee the end of this story.
It is about 12pm. Just received a text from J to have breakfast at her place. I have no idea what time she sent me the text since I always off my phone when I sleep.
I will dropby Cafe Myriade later which is at the corner of the street to get us both coffee. This cafe is recommended by travel bloggers, one of the places to check out for coffee when in Montreal.
Okay babes, as for the black coffee, I prefer the one from Tim Horton. My preference might be a bit bias but I feel like this is a bit thicker and rougher compared to Tim Horton’s. The taste in general is fine but not to my taste. But don't stop yourself from trying when you are here. Maybe you will like it.
Just finished my breakfast at J's. She made for me scrambled eggs and bagel with cream cheese and cucumber. I need to leave her alone to do her school works. Now I am heading to somewhere which I have no idea. Actually, I do not have many plans to visit tourist attractions here. My intention to come to Montreal is only to spend my time with J. Maybe I will hop on the train and bus to somewhere just to kill time.
See... I lost my way! I ended up in some roads but not at all the places I intended to go to although I mentioned earlier to somewhere I have no idea. Anyway, I found this park, La Fontaine, while walking endlessly. Ended up sitting there from 4 to 7.30pm.
If you asked me why I can sit there for so long.. firstly, the weather is so comfortable. Cool and not too windy. Secondly, it is safe. Thirdly, I felt something. Nothing to do with paranormal, please. Stop it with your horror stories. I feel like I need to be alone to think and to understand every beats of my thoughts that could have been clouding my judgment. Sitting down at this bench with the full view of the lake, people hanging out and observing those beautiful swans seems a good idea. And also I have plenty of time.
My phone started to ping. Once. And an hour later, again. and again.
Walking at the lit up pathways from the La Fontaine Park to my apartment, Pierce Boutique Hotel, took me nearly two hours. It was a safe place to walk by myself apparently, and walking in the autumn night is satisfying.
I am back now in Montreal. It was a relieved that I managed to sleep through since one in the afternoon for 6 hours, dead flat. I am sure tonight I will have problem sleeping again. It seems like my time management is chaotic.
J is coming here to have dinner with me. I suggested her to come here instead so she can check-out my apartment, and most importantly I am actually so tired to walk to hers. It is near but yet feels far especially if I am so tired like this.
A few hours later ... (I write this sentence for fun!)
Heya.. I am back! So, we had lunch at a place called Abe and Mary's. I love the cafe setting. It is spacious segmented with sections where they showcase their merchandise, and also there is an area allocated for culinary classes. The food is in the healthy category. I have no appetite yet and so had to force myself to finish it. Didn't make it.
We chat for awhile before J's friend from school, Z, joins us. We walked to their university which I had insisted J to bring me. I love to go to universities wherever I traveled. I am curious to know how educational institute looks like in other countries. I admire unique building architecture. The structures of buildings in every countries normally have insights of the history of the place, or stories about an individual who made the difference to the community. McGill is the top university in Montreal, and second in Canada (after University of Toronto). Based on my observations, their faculties are structured of dome-like ecstatic and stone walls.
McGill University land space is massive. The area where I was is only the Faculty of Law and it took nearly 20 minutes to walk from the entrance to this building. Walking that far in a cooling weather should be fine but not today. Did you notice that scorching sun on my photos? Well, that fireball seems more dominant here than it is in Singapore. I could feel the rays burning through my skin.
Right after checking out their school building, Z left both of us for his class, while J brought me to check out her place which is a walking distance. They say - "To know a country's culture, mingle with the locals and visit the place they stay".... Alright, Anonymous!
xx About an hour later xx
I am back in my apartment. Getting ready for tomorrow. Pack!
Backstory -- I know J through my friend whom I met in Russia. Remember, the tallest guy I met in Yakutsk, Siberia. He is also my guest writer in this blog. If you have not check it out, you can read about St. Petersburg written by him in my website. Also such a close coincidence, he will be reaching Canada on this 5th Nov while I will be leaving the day before that. So, basically Fyodor knows J when they were in Singapore. We were introduced through a Whatsapp group which our Fyodor left immediately after. He once said that "Nice people should hang out together to make the world nicer." Then, both of us went to Sentosa beach and dinners after that before J left Singapore. So, here we are. One year later, Me in Canada, in Autumn.
I am now in Montreal after six months of planning for this trip. After the 24 hours tiring flight, this gentle breeze of the early Fall welcomes me to this country.
It is nearly seven in the evening. I took the opportunity to stretch myself by walking around in Boulevard de Maisonneuve where my apartment is. First of all, it took me quite awhile to search for the right food for my dinner. I mean there are lots and lots of food choices here, Thai, Chinese, Lebanese, cafes, fast food and fast food but I am actually more tired than hungry. So, I ended up choosing my dinner out of convenience that is the vegetarian burger and thick french fries in A&W. Take note that there are no curly fries, Coney dog and root beer float which are the signature ala-carte items in Singapore and Malaysia.
This area is quite crowded with mostly students from all over the world since this part of downtown are where the universities such as McGill and Concordia are located. Will explore this area tomorrow.
I am not going to share so much tonight. I need to unpack my stuffs and have to go to bed early. I need to be fresh for tomorrow. Meeting my friend, J.
PLACE TO STAY IN MONTREAL
Pierce Boutique Hotel by Simplissimo
PLACES TO EAT IN MONTREAL
Abe and Mary's
Maison Christian Faurie
Bombay Mahal Thali
Shish Taouk AlThaib
Blog Posts on -
Maple Ridge/Silver Valley
Mozio via Agoda