Drove to Montreal today. That in and of itself was enough for the day. I was exhausted after the drive. Leslie walked around the old Montreal part of town, which is adjacent to our hotel, in order to get her bearings and to get out a while. We also spent a lot of the evening organizing our next two days. We decided on a couple of evenings of jazz at the two main jazz houses in town--The House of Jazz and Diese Onze.
Our first morning in Montreal was spent walking through Old Montreal, visiting the Basilica, having breakfast and browsing the shops that lined the streets. We also walked along the St. Lawrence River promenade.
Went back to the room for an afternoon nap, then grabbed the car to head out to dinner and our evening of jazz.
Dinner was at a place popular with locals that specializes in burgers and poutine. To describe poutine to folks south of the border (that's south of the Canadian border) is that it is basically French fries or frites covered with cheese curds and brown gravy. Yeah, sounds weird but it is good if not good for you. We both ordered the beef burger, salad and poutine combination. The burger patty was very small and thin. The bun was whole grain but also small. The salad had plenty of veggies on it and came with two squeeze bottles, one with a sort of ranch style herb dressing and the other a balsamic.
After dinner we hiked over to the Diese Onze jazz club in time to get seats at the bar right in front of the stage. The opening duo were two guitarists playing a Django Rinehardt style of music. The group we'd come to hear started playing at 9--Eric Harding's trio of piano, bass and drums. They were rather disappointing. The pianist played with little imagination or variation. Everything sounded the same. The bass player had obviously never played with him before as Eric kept throwing chord changes to him. The drummer was the weakest link, playing in a very heavy handed, detached style. We kept asking who he was playing with because his solos were so unconnected to the style or theme of the piece being played. Still, it was a nice evening out and we didn't get back to the room until after 11.
Had the car brought around this morning and we headed off in the direction of the Jewish quarter of Montreal looking for a bagelry that had been recommended to us. Actually there were two bagelries that apparently cause a lot of debate in town as to which is better. We found the St. Viateur bagel shop first and so that was the one we tried. It was really more like a small factory. No place to sit, nothing besides bagels and the condiments that go along with them. So we took our bagels and cream cheese and sat in the car to eat them.
We really needed a cup of coffee and since we next ran into the Jean Talon Market, it was there we sat down and ordered a breakfast and coffee. Ordering coffee American style has been a bad experience for us here. What we've been served has been very weak, flavorless coffee. The espresso coffees we've ordered are great but significantly more expensive.
Expensive seems to be what everything is here in Canada. Food, fuel, housing, taxes are even high with up to 18% tax on some things. No wonder we see so many Canadians coming down to Bellingham to shop and buy gas. I don't blame them.
Anyway, after a breakfast ham and egg panini, we walked through the Marche Jean Talon checking out the fresh fruit and veggies, the fromage, patisseries, charcuteries, and maple product sellers.
Then we hopped back in the car and drove over to the Montreal art museum where we spent a couple of hours, then we drove around some of the nicer neighborhoods of Montreal, checked out Oratory St. Joseph, a stunning looking church on a high hill we'd noticed as we first drove into Montreal. Sadly, it's contemporary interior didn't do much for us and we only stayed a short while.
Finally, we drove over to Little Italy for dinner and to an Italian bakery where we bought a few items for later. A chocolate filled cannoli and a bread soaked in lemon cello and filled with whipped cream. Fabulous!
Back at our room we tucked in for the night. A little rain and sleet had begun to fall so this was a good evening to stay in.