Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Long Road Home, Part II-- Montreal

After a 30-minute nap in Mainz, it was off to Montreal to visit my good friends, J.P. and Nathalie, whom I met in Nepal on the Annapurna Sanctuary trek in April, for my one-day grand tour of Montreal!

(I was originally supposed to meet the sister of a great friend of mine, Nick, in Montreal, but the plans fell through at the last-minute due to timing-- I really hope to be able to see her and her family someday soon, though!)

J.P. and Nathalie met me at the airport in Montreal, full of energy and excited to show me the city they call home. It felt so good to see them again as if no time had passed since we had last seen each other. I was sooo happy to have met them in Nepal!

The first stop was the Parc du Mont Royal (Royal Mount Park) and its fantastic view of Montreal... I couldn't believe just how beautiful and green a major city could be!

Next stop-- Old Montreal.

Walking through the old part of town, I couldn't help but start to fall for the city... The weather was perfect, the city was rustic, clean, and had plenty of beautiful Quebec (French) women abound...

J.P., Nathalie, and I decided that a beer was in order and settled down at a famous local brewery, Les Trois Brasseurs (The Three Brewers) for luscious beer and a common local dish... Poutine.

Poutine, a combination of French fries, cheese, and gravy, I am told, is a dish only found in Montreal.

Not since France had I attempted to devour something so fattening, but oooh sooo good!!! Yummy!!! I highly recommend anyone going to Montreal just for the Poutine!!!

After gorging ourselves (OK, mainly me gorging myself) and savoring the splendor that the combination of barley, hops, and water bring, it was off to the homestead.

But before we left, J.P. presented me with the profits from the offer they had presented me with in Nepal.

J.P. and Nathalie had agreed to bring my trekking poles back to Montreal from Nepal for me and sell them there, as I was having a tough time trying to resell them in Nepal. The poles were original Lekis, but all of the tourists wanted to buy new, cheap, Chinese knock-offs.

J.P. informed me that Quebec has one of the largest per capita outdoor markets in the world, and told me he would bring them back for me and send me the money when he got word I was home. I immediately asked where I needed to sign up for this deal!

It turns out that he was able to sell my poles for more than I orginally purchased them. I graciously accepted their hard Canadian currency and thanked them repeatedly for their efforts. Ironically, apparently my poles were headed back to Nepal!

J.P. and Nathalie have a wonderful home just outside of Montreal and were kind enough to let me stay at their place for the night.

Unfortunately, on this day, my body was lacking an ounce of energy, which was painfully obvious, especially to them, the closer we got to their house. J.P. and Nathalie had invited to me to a family gathering that day to which I was overly excited to attend. Regrettably, by the time we got to their house, my fate was already written on the wall. Being such wonderful friends as they are, they understood and could see my pain and invited me to relax in their jacuzzi, instead, and recover through the aide of sleep while they were away. My body, not my face-- it was too tired-- gleamed with excitement.

A few hours later I awoke and found J.P. downstairs reading. I asked him about the party, and we caught up. Later, we found ourselves in his lower level watching a DVD that he put together about their trip to Nepal. Man, how we wanted to return to the place that we love in that instant!

Before long, our beds were calling our names, so we set in for the night.

The next morning, I awoke, seemingly fresh, though not really, and met J.P.'s son, Jean-Philippe, and his pseudo step-son, Jonathan who made the trip the night before to the house after the party. Both are splendid young lads are were just as happy to meet me, as I them.

The gang was headed to go boating on this glorious day, a day in which hot air balloons were ascending into the sky surrounding Montreal. We all hovered near the windows in the kitchen to get a view.

We all sat down for a fresh breakfast, enjoyed each other's company, and I presented the family with a gift that I had carried along with me from Kashmir-- a hand painted set of coasters. My new friends accepted the small token of my appreciation, and before long J.P. and I were off for the airport, less than 22 hours after I had arrived.

I had seen a small part of Montreal-- just enough to whet my appetite for more-- and had visited my new good friends. And my stomach was full of good food and Poutine from the night before-- Life was grand!

... And I was now reluctantly headed on my short flight home.

The fabulous view of downtown Montreal from Parc du Mont Royal (Royal Mount Park).

J.P., Myself, and Nathalie at Parc du Mont Royal.

A view of the Olympic Park from the East side of Parc du Mont Royal.

My idea of multi-taking: Stuffing my face with Poutine (french fries topped with cheese and gravy), a Montreal tradition and my first taste, and washing it down with an Amber Ale at Les Trois Brasseurs (The Three Brewers) in Old Montreal. Delicious!!!

A view from the bridge heading towards the airport.

A final glimpse of beautiful Montreal.

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