Each of us got to pick one activity for the trip. My Wife's was dinner at Au Pied de Cochon on Wednesday night. One of the city's most famous restaurants, Au Pied de Cochon specializes in the finest Quebecois cuisine. Our reservation was for 6 o'clock, a good choice as it turned out as the place was quite crowded when we left two hours later.
Our hand towels, before and after saturation. Our waitress, noting our curiosity when they were first set on the table, warned, "Please don't eat them!":
Overall, I found the exhibition underwhelming, though I'm not entirely certain what I was expecting. It occurred to me afterward that part of my problem is that, as much as I love them, the Beatles' story always leaves me a little sad. The band broke up before I was born so nostalgia is not the right word for what I feel. As a kid, hoping that I might someday be as good at anything as the Beatles were, I couldn't understand why they would have wanted the dream to end. In the last room was a looping film of the band's very last public performance, not in any huge stadium or grand concert hall but on the roof of their recording studio in downtown London. The Let It Be recording sessions were the height of dysfunction in the band's history but they played one day on the roof just for the heck of it, to the delight of some and the annoyance of others going about their daily lives on the streets below. My daughter and I sat for a while happy as clams watching the film - the best part of the exhibit.
|via Tourism Montreal|
In my experience, the most annoying part of visiting any city is driving and, worst of all, parking. So our plan for this trip was to find a hotel where we could leave the car for the entire visit, then explore the city via public transit. The Auberge de la Fontaine suited our needs almost perfectly, though as My Wife pointed out, a spot closer to a subway station would have been nice. I love city subways and Montreal's is excellent. Negotiating the system in French was a little tricky at first but we got the hang of it quickly. We'll have a better sense of what to do next time.
Visiting in winter was humbling. Montreal really isn't much further north from where we are but it sure felt a lot colder. Even so, if you want to know a place, I believe visiting at different times of year is important. The area where we stayed was not touristy at all - at least not in February - so most of the people we saw were just going about normal business, walking their kids home from school and such. Staying in town for more than a few hours, I did start to develop a strong sense of otherness not knowing the language. Montreal is genuinely bilingual so most people - and certainly those in the service industry - speak both French and English fluently. Still, most start with French and only switch once they realize you're not understanding. They're nice about it but I'd feel better if I could meet them halfway. That said, I think Montreal would be a great place to learn French. With most signs in both languages, one would build vocabulary in a hurry with minimal effort.
Even with the stresses of winter and city traffic, it was a fun trip. I hope we'll do it again sometime soon.