We left off last time with my craving for a real Breton crêpe finally satisfied. I’m so glad that there is a place in Canada where I can find good crepes (Breizh Café)…now if only I could narrow that search down to Toronto!
The next day Azim left early in the morning for his soccer tournament, and I had the whole day to myself. If I have to be honest, I’d say this was my favourite day out of our entire trip. I had the most fantastic time wandering around Montreal, and enjoying activities that Azim wouldn’t have liked 🙂
I started off with a leisurely stroll down to Old Montreal, where I treated myself to a croissant and a coffee for breakfast. It was quite cold but sunny, so I was able to walk around and explore the waterfront for a little while. I don’t think they call it a waterfront – I know part of it is the “Old Port”, but I’m not sure if that encompasses the entire stretch of boardwalk. It was a beautiful day for walking, and I was able to imagine how lively and beautiful it must be in the summer.
I spent most of the morning at the Agatha Christie exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. I practiced my French to land myself a student ticket (Je voudrais un billet étudiant s’il vous plaît . Je suis une étudiante à Ryerson) – I don’t know how much longer I can pull that off for!
The Agatha Christie exhibit was a real treat. I’ve read several of her books, but I had no idea she lead such a fascinating life. I already knew that she’s the world’s best selling-novelist, and also that she mysteriously disappeared for a short period of time after her first husband asked her for a divorce (I only know this second tidbit because it was the storyline of a Doctor Who episode *geek alert*). I’ll share a few more fun facts:
- Agatha had more than one career in her lifetime. After her first marriage ended, she actually boarded a train and headed down to the Middle East where she became interested in archaeological digs. This is where she met her second husband, an archaeologist, and she spent many years partaking in digs with him, and photographing their findings. She continued to write during this time.
- During the second World War, the British intelligence agency MI5 investigated Agatha after a character called “Major Bletchley” appeared in her 1941 thriller N or M?. MI5 actually suspected that Agatha had a spy in Britain’s top-secret codebreaking centre, Bletchley Park (which you may recognize from the movie The Imitation Game). Agatha denied these claims – it must have been quite an annoying coincidence!
- When her beloved character, Hercule Poirot, passed away he was actually given a full-page obituary in the New York Times! This is the only fictional obituary the Times has ever published.
I spent hours wandering through the exhibit, which I know would have bored Azim out of his mind. It was a luxury for me to read all the little plaques, without having to rush 🙂
My next stop was my Craft Beer Tour! I had planned to take a food tour, but unfortunately the dates for our trip were all sold out when I went to reserve. The friendly staff at Local Montreal Tours suggested I try the Craft Beer Tour instead, and it was probably the best decision I could have made! I had the BEST time. And I don’t even like beer! But I swear I’m a convert now.
The tour took place mostly in Montreal’s lively Latin Quarter – definitely one of my favourite parts of the city. I arrived by myself and quickly made friends with a few Americans who were visiting Montreal for the long weekend as well. Taking tours alone is one of the easiest ways to meet people and have a good time! One of the girls I met is a sock designer in New York City. Uhm, how awesome is that?
We started off at Brasserie St-Bock, which has an incredibly impressive selection of microbrews (click the website link to read all the fun beer names). Montreal is very well known for their craft beers, and I got totally schooled in how to properly taste beer, and how to pair it with food.
At St-Bock we tried a pale ale, and another beer that legitimately tasted like bacon. I’m not kidding! We paired these with a poutine, and the combination was stellar. I would actually order this over wine and cheese if I’m in the mood to eat a day’s worth of calories in one sitting.
Our next stop was L’amère à Boire, where we tried a Hefeweizen (my favourite) paired with beef gravlax, and a Czech beer paired with an aged local cheddar. The cheddar was sooo good – our tour guide swears that it’s because the cows in Quebec are healthy and happy. I thought he was probably right, so I ended up buying more of it when I visited the Jean-Talon market a few days later!
Our last stop was Benelux, where we tried a stout, another pale ale, and paired them with chocolates. I’d have to say that I prefer savoury food pairings with beer. But now I’ve learned, and I’d say I’m comfortable enough to throw a Beer/Wine and Cheese party 🙂
I would recommend Benelux to anyone visiting because it is a really cool place to eat and drink (beer). It also happened to be a 4 minute walk from our hotel, so I happily walked back (with a buzz) after the tour was over.
I had such a wonderful time! The tour was supposed to be three hours long, but I think we ended up staying and chatting with each other for much longer. It was a really fun group of strangers – it’s these experiences that make the best memories.
Later that evening Azim and I went for dinner with his soccer team, but I was still dreaming about beer, cheese, and Murder on the Orient Express…
Stay tuned for my next instalment – it includes my “hike” up Mont Royal! xox