I just came back from my run and ended up hiking to this beautiful mountain of trees, Mont Royal (a volcanic complex which was active 125 million years ago according to many sources), which is one of the landmarks of Montreal. It is actually quite near from the place I stay. It took around 20 minutes if you jog to that place. I reached the base of Mont Royal around 10.15am. If you are in Montreal please do not miss this place. Nature, beautiful landscape of trees and tranquility. Walk and hike to the top of the mountain. It is very accessible and not that far. You can use GPS to give you guidance to reach to the top or ask around which I did most of the time. Apparently there are several spots and peaks and several entrances. I went there alone and it is safe as there are a lot of joggers, hikers and tourists especially at the summit where the chalet is. The view of the city from the peak is stunning although there are lots of people. Plus minus I spent about 2 hours in Mont Royal. Since it is the Fall, the beautiful greens are starting to turn into tints of Autumn.
Right after that, I drop by McGill University’s Le James bookstore to shop for McGill's merchandise. As most of you may already know by now, I love merchandise of shows or people I like. Most of my clothes represents ships in TV shows and movies, fandom related such Taylor Swift, Orphan Black, Taylor Swift, the university I went to, NYU, Taylor Swift and so on. I am not a fan of branded stuffs but a fan of these kind of stuffs. Sometimes I purchased stuffs that could be a metaphor of situation or even to remember a place or person. I ended up spending quite ehem $$$ at McGill Le James.
Quickly, I head my way to Sho-do to meet J for lunch. She said her friend recommended this Japanese restaurant as it seems to be one of the good ones there. According to J, the sushi we had are Canadian produce. Also do not compare the ones here and Japan’s sushi, alright. Japan’s is definitely tip-top. I have not been to any places which matches their quality. But the ambience and service in Sho-do were good. After that lunch, J brought me to that French bakery, Maison Christian Faure which she got for me the birthday pastries. Oh my..I walked pass-by this place several times but didn’t know this was the one. She had to buy for me a pastry because she said she felt bad that the lunch wasn’t really satisfying. And well I had this pastry by myself, it is super nyummy. Next time if ever I find this thing again in other parts of the world, I am gonna buy at least one.
TIME CHECK - 6pm
Heheheh I played cheat and took a cab to Old Port of Montreal so I can reach as soon as possible. If I take the train, plus minus with me losing my way every time and the train schedule, I guess it will already be dark. Wow ... guys this place looks extremely spacious. Especially that view there of the St.Lawrence River. Apparently, most of the stalls are already closed. I am walking around here and most of the time taking pictures of myself with my new McGill hoodie. I am going to just stand here for a moment to take in the view of that observation wheel, Le Grand Roue de Montreal from here and observe people. The air is fresh here so I should not waste that moment. After this I am going to find that French pastry again. J said that there should be more choices at this outlet, but most of the pastries will be gone before end of the day compared to the one at downtown.
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. These 2 pastries is making me don't wanna look at anything else now that I saw you. Only left with a few of others which actually looks good. I am gonna surprise her with some of these. When I said some means like four gorgeous pastries.
Wow the beautiful lady who served me is so nice. I bought a fresh from the oven chocolate twirly croissant (I cannot remember the name of it) 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 to buy pastries but in reality I prefer to give it as gifts.
I am now heading back to the apartment. It is already getting dark. Planning to buy some groceries to surprise her again hahahaa… and wanna try the Briyani at this place which I passed by a few times near Concordia University. The briyani aroma gosshhh. Anyway, I need to try the Indian food here and see whether is it 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.
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 in a small serving to have it with the briyani. I ended up bringing back a pack of chicken briyani, 3 gravy with another set of white rice where they placed the gravy 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 tomorrow or whatever. Furthermore, I have to make sure I am not too full.
I am meeting J at her house for my last dinner in Montreal, with her. I don’t know why I am kind of sad. Or maybe not. I am. I don’t know. I mean like, I counted days, I counted miles to come and meet J here and I have never done that with anyone. Oh wait, I mean I did once in 2013 to UK. So, I don’t enjoy this type of moment like saying goodbye to someone who has a place in your heart. That feeling is like death by a thousand cuts especially if it is different. Okay, I guess as usual I should be able to handle this. Manage it. It will be fine.
She said she is making pancakes for me. Heading there by cab again although it is only like 20 mins walk. Flag a taxi which I have never done for years in Singapore since the existence of Grab. I didn’t use any app since it was just a short stay. Maybe Montreal has some taxi app you can try to check if you guys come here. It is drizzling quite heavy actually. But really with those groceries, pastry and the Indian meals, I cannot handle all these by myself walking even though if it is not raining.
For info, the cab fees is considered not bad if you are comparing apple to apple. Somewhat similar like in Singapore, Example 17km about S$18-$20. In Montreal, the cab fees is roughly like this. And again, I am very bad in measuring distance so this info might not be accurate.
The last 2-3 days, the weather in Montreal already started to change from scorching sunny to rainy. A cab driver told me it is supposed to be turning from Fall-Winter. But luckily it did not affect any of my activities. Most of the time, the weather provides me with good lighting for my selfies.
I am now in J’s apartment. She is making the pancakes batter by herself. 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 battling with my inner thoughtfulness.
After helping her to peel the green apple skins from the groceries which I purchased for her, now I am standing in her kitchen stirring the apple 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 with excitement that she will be making for me 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. Making a cake from my imagination and many years of experience (less than 10 times baking a cake), I projected it will take 4 to 8 hours. But she insisted. For her it is common and a culture to make for someone an apple cake as gift. Alrighty then.
While I am stirring now, she is making the pancakes and the butternut squash soup. The aroma of the baked butternut fruit and the pancakes are enticing my 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 in a fiction.
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 than I did, that is definite. We are having our dinner with Z.
For food wise, in conclusion I can say that although I did not try so many food outside 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 cos I am sad to leave. I have the sense that this seems like our last and we will not have that opportunity to meet again in a very long time. Most of the time my senses are 99% accurate. But these moments in Montreal and Ottawa, personally are very special to me.
Woke up at 11.30am today. It was a very quiet night and I had a good night sleep. J suggested me to go to an old port area. 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 he said it is okay. I had a free ride.
Since I alighted at the wrong bus stop or probably the GPS is gaving me wrong directions. There are no one around to ask for directions, so I asked the traffic light will it be alright, and they said I don’t know. J also encouraged me to go to Biosphere. It was in my plan but I was like 'ehhhh is it necessary?'. I ended up going there.
No regrets. Biosphere was amaze-ball!! Of all Montreal attractions, probably I can say this is in the top tier of a must-go. There were not many visitors yet. 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 did not know it in a micro perspectives like how it affects certain types of crops and animals which has disrupted our eco-system. It has started and eventually altered our living condition.
You should also walk towards the other side 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 if you need to be in a surreal environment with no traffic, there is a spot after the cafe to view Montreal city and Mont Royal from the other side of the river. Gorg! I planned to stay there for one hour but ended up extending it to three hours. It was already 4 in the afternoon when I left the place.
Cited part of lyrics from: Death by a Thousand Cuts by Taylor Swift
I head to another random spot after that to buy some souvenirs for my friends and family and of course for the royal highness (Me!). According to Google, the nearest souvenir shop which is one stop from Biosphere train station is at Souvenir du Quebec. Most of the souvenirs like hoodies, shirts, magnets are all there. The service is also homely and the lady was helpful throughout. After that I had late lunch next door, a Lebanese restaurant, Bacho Pita. Guess what? I can finish the food although I had to drag myself cos the serving is too much for me. Maybe I was too obvious that the owner was like asking me halfway through my meal, "Is everything okay?". Since I was the only customer at that time, why rush.
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. Read in blogs saying that one should try this especially during Winter. Planned to try it in Vancouver at Gransville Market. But well since I found it here, 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 elastically sticky and hardened syrup, every time you place it in your mouth the whole thing will gradually drop towards your hand. That is the reason the tissue they wrap 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. That is when sweet cheeks comes about.
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? Every time 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, the Autumn season which I have been looking forward to explore, intentionally I wanted to celebrate it here. I mean like by myself. This is the first time I celebrate my birthday overseas. *laugh laugh* (this laugh sounds fake)… hhahahaaha (this is real)…
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 expand my business outside of Singapore. The last time I did this was at University of Tokyo,Japan. So this time I managed to do it in McGill, Montreal. One thing I learned from this seminar, never give things or tickets for free. Turnouts is such a disappointment even though after participants had booked in advance. The reason I gave free this time targeting students, so they need not spend their allowances on this course. And well since this never happened to me before, it is the first and will be the last. So, if Grapholistic do not give stuffs for free in the future, there is a worthy reason for it.
Right after the seminar, I went to L’Eguelionne bookstore to submit my poetry book, Masterpiece in Your Heart Platinum Edition for consignment. Before this trip, I had done some research and this bookstore with open arms could accept my type of book for consignment. Also I am so surprised they are so open to buy my postcards when I asked the guy impromptu. He is well-composed and speaks with respect. Thank you! And if anyone is interested to buy the copies, please get it there. I will be honored. Also, it comes with a package of postcards as a gift. This bookstore is located conveniently in the Village.
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 stay in hotels not serviced apartments. I just made myself a fried bee hoon cooked in briyani spices which I bought yesterday near the park. And the juicy grilled chicken is from Antep Kabab located just beside my apartment. Requested only the chicken without the breads. The guys are nice to entertain my request. I wanna try their kebabs tomorrow. This bee hoon is damn spicy! I did not finish it, also because I am still not having the appetite yet.
Nearly 10 at night. I tried to avoid which I am usually very good at if I do not like the person. But this is like fighting with myself, what I want and what I should avoid 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 guys as for the black coffee, I prefer Tim Horton though. 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.
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 am heading to somewhere which I have no idea. Actually I do not have many plans to visit the 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 then bus to the Village, probably.
See... I lost my way! I ended up in some roads (rue in French) but not at all the places I intended to go to. Anyway, I found this park while walking endlessly and ended up sitting there from 4pm to 7.30pm.
If you asked me why I can sit there for so long.. firstly, the weather is so great cool and not windy to sit at the park. 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 let myself think and feel free listening to my thoughts and heartbeat. To get rid of those feelings that has been clouding my judgment. Sitting down at this bench with the full view of the lake and those swans is a good idea. There are quite a number of people hanging out here. My phone started to ping. Once. And an hour later, again. I know if I were to reply in a heartbeat, it will be clouded again by my needs.
2 hours later…
6 hours later…
Walking from the La Fontaine Park to my apartment, Pierce Boutique Hotel took about 1.5 hours and that walk was so satisfying. It was dark but the roads are safe for walking at night.
I am blogging now in Montreal. It was such a relieved that I managed to sleep through since 1pm for 6 hours, dead flat. I am sure tonight I will have problem sleeping again. It seems like my time management this time is chaotic in comparison to when I traveled to USA few years ago.
J is coming here to make dinner for me. I suggested to come here instead so she can check-out my apartment and most importantly I was actually so tired to walk to hers. It is near yet feels far.
A few hours later ... (I wrote 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 such a spacious place comprising of the cafe, merchandise section, and an area for culinary classes. The food is in the healthy category and quite good. But as usual first few days when I reached a new country, my appetite is not that promising. I had to force myself to finish it and couldn't make it to the end.
We chat for awhile before her friend from school, Z, joins us. They brought me 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 and I love to see unique building architecture. The structures of buildings in every countries tells stories of the history and sometimes in relation to the nature. As for McGill, it is the top university in Montreal, and 2nd in Canada (after University of Toronto). Mainly with dome-like ecstatic.
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 is fine but not today. Did you notice that scorching sun in my photos? Well, that fireball seems more dominant here than it was in Singapore. I could feel it burning through my skin.
So right after that visit, Z left both of us as he needs to go for a 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 60 minutes 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, please read about St. Petersburg written by him here. Also such a close coincidence, he will be reaching Canada on the 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, we had a blind date at Sentosa beach (not date date...just a normal friend kind of date. Don't worry this will sound normal) . So, here we are, one year later. Me in Canada - in Autumn.
Here I am in Montreal, after 6 months of planning for this trip. After the long 24 hours flight, the gentle breeze of the early Fall, or probably their late summer welcomed me with its open arms.
Had the chance to randomly walked around this area this evening where I am staying in Boulevard de Maisonneuve. 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 and fast food and fast food but I am kind of tired and not really hungry. So I ended up having a vegetarian burger and thick french fries in A&W. Note that there are no curly fries or coney dog here.
This area is crowded with people, mostly students from all over the world since this part of downtown are where the universities such as McGill and Concordia are.
I am not going to share so much here since I just arrived. I am going 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