Montreal was a real treat (albeit completely different than Quebec City). Quebec City has that certain "European-charm"--clear streets, gorgeous historic buildings, horse drawn carriages etc. Montreal is a more diverse city and comes with a side dish of steaming hot metropolitan culture. After taking a walking tour of Montreal, we visited the Notre Dame Cathedral of Montreal. BREATHTAKINGLY beautiful interior. After indulging on this architectural delicacy, we took a bus out to the Biodome where were visited the 4 ecospheres: tropical, temperate, coastal and arctic. I actually already visited the Biodome the first time I ventured to Quebec 11 years ago (but it was still nice to re-explore the Biodome). After we made our way back to the city center Alanna and I met up with our host family and had dinner in a charming little neighborhood just outside of the city center. Our host dad is a professional photographer and he showed us his amazing work and he also gave me tips on how to use my DSLR camera.
Later that evening we met up with Alanna's cousin and found a good spot to watch the fireworks competition that's being held in Montreal this entire summer. We saw Canada's official entry into the competition. It was an amazing show based around the theme of "love." The fireworks lasted for 30 minutes, and our view from the bridge was just spectacular :)
The next morning I headed uptown to meet up with my friend Catherine who was in the same residential college as me at Yale. We grabbed brunch at a wonderful restaurant called Lawrence. I opted for the d'oeufs champignon--yum! The mushrooms were so rich and buttery, and the iced cafe au lait was to die for.
After brunch, Catherine and I decided to take a mini-culinary tour of Montreal. We grabbed Montreal-style bagels at Fairmount Bagel (they hand roll the dough, soak the bagels in honeywater, and then bake them in a brick oven over an open flame. HEAVEN!) The bagels are much smaller than New York style bagels and are quite sweet. Fairmount Bagel coats there in poppy seeds, and when you order one at the counter, it comes piping hot out of the oven and into your hand (all for 75 cents).
After our trip to the bagel shop, we made our way to a patisserie which as "better Croissants than Paris!" I opted to get an almond croissant to go. It was delicious, but I have to admit that I am a diehard fan of Croissant D'or in New Orleans.
Finally, we made our way to Shuartz's--famous smoked meat establishment in Montreal. The line outside the diner was 2 hours long! Luckily for us, there is also a take-out counter adjacent to the diner. After thirty-minutes in line, we finally ordered our smoked meat sandwiches on white bread with lots of mustard, and a black cherry cola on the side. Perfection!
After lunch, I said goodbye to Catherine, and headed to the large city park to meet up with Alanna, our host family and Alanna's cousin for the weekly musical gathering: Tamtam. For an hour or so we listened to the syncopated rhythms of African drums echoing throughout the park. There were a few hundred people enjoying the music, basking in the sun and dancing. After a while we walked a bit further into the park to check out the life action role play (people who dress up in mediaeval garb and fight one another with faux weapons).
All in all a wonderful experience in Montreal!