Getting to Montreal…

The ride to Montreal was short and uneventful. I officer at the border crossing asked me a lot of questions about my visas (US and Canadian), seemed satisfied with the answers and let me pass.

Here is where a minor annoyance came up. My GPS seemed to be routing me through scores of little backroads, which normally would have been pleasant, but I just wanted to get the most direct route to Montreal. The route appeared to be almost 40 miles, but I was certain that Montreal was only 20 miles away. What was worse, the road was narrow with no shoulders and the only place to stop was people’s driveways, which I didn’t like doing, so I couldn’t stop to futz with the GPS for a long while. I finally hit a long red light, where I checked the settings and found that I had set “Interstate highways” as an obstacle to avoid. Problem solved! I unchecked the box and was immediately routed to the closest freeway and was in Montreal in a little over ten miles.

I found parking outside the hostel – taking a good few minutes to decipher the French No Parking signs – and went in. Checkin time wasn’t until another hour and they asked me to come back later. I chained up my gear to my bike but there was no way to leave my boots so I was forced to wear them. I walked a couple of blocks north to St. Catherine St., the main downtown street. It was hot, very hot and I felt overdressed in my long sleeve moisture wicking base shirt, pants and riding boots. I found a place to eat at – yet another creperie – where I was able to use the first of my Canadian currency.

After lunch, I went in search of a battery charger on St. Catherine St. I found a universal charger for the whopping price of CDN $56. :( I could have found one for half as much online, but that is a luxury I cannot afford right now seeing as my battery has been steadily depleting. I call this Phileas Fogg way of travelling — throwing money at obstacles to make them go away. Let’s hope I won’t have to take recourse to it too many times on this journey.

Missions accomplished and time to check in. I was handed two sheets and a card key. Thankfully I got the lower bunk bed. The bathroom looked clean and overall the place was bustling and cheerful and well-maintained, like most Hostelling International locations. I took a much needed shower and felt human again.

Then spent some time on the computers in the basement to upload the first batch of photos. After this, I set out to explore Vieux Montreal. It was a 15-20 minute walk up to there and I got to see some part of the old city. It was pretty crowded and tourists were everywhere, as can be expected it such a city. In that respect, it reminded me a lot of Vancouver, BC. More thoughts on Montreal in a later post.

I stopped for dinner in the Quartier Chinois under the misguided assumption that I would find genuine Chinese food there. To my horror, all the food I tried at the buffet was either luke warm or inedible and the chocolate eclair I tried for dessert had just been taken out of the freezer. Yuk.

Headed back to the hostel and ended up chatting with two cute boys. I might go see the city with them tomorrow. Montreal really does seem like the kind of place you should be in with someone else. That’s a feeling I don’t get very often.