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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Big East Tour - Day 2

Waking up with a hangover in a brand new city is not fun. I think everyone will agree with me on that. Still, I managed to power through (although it did take me nearly 3 hours to actually get myself ready to leave the hostel). We decided to head for the old town, which would bring us on a walk through most of the downtown anyway. Vieux Montreal is a very beautiful spot; with it's old cobbled streets and European style architecture, it felt so familiar. I did get quite narcissistic and take one of my favourite photos with the Rue St Helene sign (not quite my name but close enough!).

I really wanted to get a smoked meat sandwich (as per everyone's instructions) but I went for a full smoked meat poutine to soak up the previous night's alcohol. For anyone who doesn't know, poutine is basically chips, cheese and gravy. Originally from the province of Quebec, they call it French fries, gravy-like sauce and cheese curds (the squeakier the better). I got a Bloody Caesar to complement it - again, quick explanation of this Canadian delicacy; essentially a Bloody Mary but they use Clamato juice instead of tomato juice. Yes, this is clam and tomato juice. Yes, it sounds disgusting and it did take me a long time to get a taste for it. The trick is to get it extra spicy with gin instead of vodka. Best hangover cure ever. The picture does not do it justice at all, I'm well aware.

Took a stroll through the mains square with a huge statue dedicated to the alleged founder of Montreal, Paul de Chomeday de Maisonneuve, who came along in 1642 to settle the island of Montreal for the French. The square is beautiful and dominated by the Notre Dame Basilica, which was actually designed in large part by an Irish Protestant architect called James O'Donnell. There is a $5 charge to get into the church during the day, $10 to get in for the impressive light and sound show that animates the history of the basilica itself as well as Ville-Marie de Montreal.

From there I headed down to the Places Jacques Cartier and the old port, then headed up to the Parliament Buildings, through Chinatown and right up through McGill University, hitting at least 5 other beautiful churches on the way. I was making my way to Mont Royal, the hill that overlooks the city. One of the major attractions here is Mount Royal park, which was originally planned by the same guy who did Central Park. There is a cross that looks down over the city, symbolic of the wooden cross set up there by good old Maisonneuve as a thank you to God for not drowning the entire city during some major flooding in 1643. I didn't quite make it up that high but I did get as far as the Kondiaronk Belvedere and managed to take this beautiful shot.

At that point, I was completely exhausted. I went to meet up with a friend of mine in a Shisha bar to the east of the city and by the time I got back to the hostel, all I was able for was my not super comfortable hostel bed. Almost a lame way to end my time in Montreal but I feel that I saw everything I wanted to see. Apart from Eggs and Legs, the almost unbelievable strip club that serves an all day breakfast buffet while lap dances are happening. Eggs and legs baby.

Moral of the Story: Travelling hungover is not the way forward but sometimes it forces you to make more of an effort. Like sweating the shit out of your hangover by walking up a mountain (or a hill, whatever, it was tough).

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