With Betty finally on the road we headed out on the start of the all American road trip, first port of call – Montreal. Which is actually still in Canada we know. Leaving the bright lights of the eastern city of Toronto we headed up the 401 HWY, which takes you along the idyllic St Lawrence river, and you can cruise both the main interstate and the back water lanes, eventually arriving at Montreal.
We opted the stop the night in Canada rather than cross the border late at night, so found a great out of the way place to pull up for the nightin the middle of nowhere, surrounded by forest. Tapping into one of our 2-for-$35 bottles of Crown Royal (it doesn’t get much cheaper) we spent a great night under the stars talking about the meaning of life until Sarah mentioned this would be a shit place to stop if you were in the Walking Dead. Cue Matt grabbing the kitchen knife and handing Sarah another as we spent the next hour finishing our drinks and fending off make believe zombies whilst watching fireflies in the distant forest.
A quick stop off at a campsite we passed allowed us to have a 25c shower even though we weren’t staying (it can’t help to ask, especially on a Monday!).
Trying to cover Montreal in a day is a huge undertaking, mainly for the fact that this city is bastardly hilly, especially on bikes!! Eventually finding a free place to park, conveniently out front of the Molsen brewery, we set out with bikes under bums and map in hand to give it a shot anyway. First adventure was trying to find a way across the major raised highway cutting through the lakeshore (as we’re typing these mosquitos in Wisconsin are turning this into a blood bath!!!).
Arriving at the Vieux or Old port area, we took the accent up the port clock tower which affords a grand view back on the river frontage of Montreal and manmade riverside beach below. Gazing down on the beach which is set up for the summer we wished we had the time to kick back and bask in the sun, drinking jugs of sangria like the locals. Alas, having taken the requisite photos we headed off.
Walking the bikes up one of the main pedestrian streets we were offered to have our caricatures drawn a multitude of times, big noses and red hair are a good combination to draw supposedly. Arriving at the high end of the street we found free wifi at the tourist office, with unique background music from the square supplied by a chick on double bass accompanied by a fella on banjo banging out hits like ‘Hit me baby one more time’, ‘ Like a prayer’ and ‘Seven nation army’. Rock on.
Matt, in his usual fashion, had the need to hunt out a local brew pub which landed us at the Le Cheval Blanc. We found this to be one of the more social pubs that we’ve encountered in Canada, and we met a friendly chap named Chris. Chris had a great story about hitch hiking from the east coast across Canada and the USA with his brother some 30 years ago. They made it to just outside Winnipeg (about half way) before Chris had enough and they decided they’d try to hitch from both sides of the road, letting fate decide whether the first ride would take them onwards to the west, or back east where the adventure would all be over. Turns out they did get a lift east, but only as far as Winnipeg, where they both spent the next 30 odd years falling in love with their now wives and raising families. Chris had a great spirit and reminded us of one of life’s better mantras to live by and one which we’ll happily remember.
Life is not a dress rehearsal…Chris, Montreal
You only get one take so make it count!