We returned from Europe on Wednesday November 15th and three days later flew to Las Vegas to spend a week with the Mitchells and celebrate Thanksgiving with them, driving to Los Angeles for two nights and then returned for a Turkey Day of Mitchell-esque proportions, with more people attending than one could count, especially given the amount of food and spirits that were consumed.
Our flight home to Charlotte to begin a long period in residence as I began working, for what would turn out to be about five months, as the Interim Director of Auxiliary Services (Bookstore, Food Service, Mail and Package Services, ATM’s, Vending, and Reprographics) at UNC Charlotte until a permanent replacement was recruited and started working in April.
It was a good gig and provided us with some needed cash as the house, given its age and the weather extremes that Charlotte experiences, needed quite a bit of repair work, including a $4,000 paint job. But we got a new front door in the process and best of all, I got a new bike, a Niner RLT Steel. We planned to make good use of it in the spring with a week-long tour on the Katy Trail in Missouri, but that is for another post.
So, we stayed close to home and did very little traveling with the exception of a weekend or two to visit family and friends in Durham and Wake Forest. I did get to take one bigger excursion though, a long weekend in Montreal with my nephew Dillon to attend the wedding (I was his plus-one) of good friends of his from Copenhagen. Many will recall that he lived there for two years and in 2015 my sister Beverly and I visited him, I for a week of exploring the city.
The flight went smoothly (connecting through La Guardia) and I’d anticipated waiting an hour at the Montreal airport for Dillon to arrive, only to find that he had been bumped to an earlier flight and was already there. We grabbed a ride into town via Uber for 37 Canadian Dollars (C), which trade at about 80 cents U.S. As were a bit early to check in to our Airbnb, we walked around the block to Le Club Expresso Bar on St. Denis, a place I had spotted on the ride in, where we would enjoy a latte apiece.
We would later come to find out that the area stayed in, Plateau Mont-Royal, is known for its many restaurants, shops and bars and is often referred to as being a slice of the real Montreal. Finished with our coffee’s, we walked back to our lodging, the “Authentic and cozy apartment – Plateau” Airbnb we’d rented, a two-bedroom, one bath, with kitchen for $88 a night.
Still early in the afternoon, I walked down to the end of the block to Avenue Duluth to a quickie-mart with a good beer selection, picking out a few to get us through the afternoon. We’d not seen each other since Jessica’s wedding last year, and as hectic as that was not much got covered; so, we put the rest of the afternoon to good use getting caught up.
With the help of Trip Advisor and some thoughtful recommendations by the owners of the Airbnb, we later made our way two blocks up to Rue Rachel East where we stopped in at a local brew pub we’d visit twice, Pit Caribou.
The retail/pub outlet for a local brewery, it was crowded when we arrived, and we were fortunate to snag a high-top bar where we made ourselves at home for a couple of hours, getting acquainted with some of the offerings, both from their and other local breweries.
One of my favorites was a high gravity Black Lager from another local brewer. After knocking back a few, hunger set in and we walked down one block to another Airbnb recommendation, Ma Poule Mouillee to get us our first load of one of Canada’s more famous culinary treats, a poutine.
This dish is essentially a pile of crispy French Fries with some kind of meat and other ingredients mixed in with cheese curds and then covered in some type of gravy, usually brown.
We ordered a large one with São Jorge Cheese, Grilled Chicken & Chorizo and had our way with it once I managed to hump it to the table. If ever a food item was invented to ward off cold winters and absorb copious quantities of alcohol, I can think of no better choice. And it was really, really good.
With a full day of sightseeing on the agenda the next morning and having finished up a long day starting with our early morning departures, we made our way back to the Airbnb. When we stepped out of Ma Poule Mouillee, we couldn’t help but notice a long line queued up in front of a restaurant across the street. Figuring it was very popular, we didn’t give it much thought, not realizing we’d be returning there the following evening.
In the meantime, It was very cold out and would remain so throughout our stay, bringing sleet and ice at times and a cold wind that cut through clothing. But our first day in had been successful and we looked forward to what the rest of the weekend would bring.
UNC Auxiliary Services: https://aux.uncc.edu/
Niner RLT Steel: http://www.ninerbikes.com/Niner-Builds?model=rlt_9_steel
Le Club Expresso Bar: https://leclub.cc/
Plateau Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/19856944
Pit Caribou: http://www.pitcaribou.com/
Ma Poule Mouillee: http://mapoulemouillee.ca/