Snowy Explorations With a Side of Pizza

Captured on campus.
Captured on campus.

Joel’s Journal - Entry #88 - 1/27/2017

I could barely look up, the snow pelted my eyes as M and I made our way along the street, dodging between the people heading in the opposite direction, the people who had become nothing more than lower torsos and legs.

M used her navigational prowess to get us back to the car (those reading this journal for some time will know that this is NOT my forte), and I tossed my bag into the back before brushing away all the snow that had accumulated on top so that M could get inside.

It was the light fluffy kind of snow. The kind of snow that builds up in the seam between the roof of your car and the door, then the minute you open the door, it goes blowing inside to dust all over the seat. We couldn’t be having that.

When the car was cleared, I threw myself into the driver’s seat, and took a breath, day two in downtown Montreal, what a beauty.

It started off bright, grey and filled with trees.

I opened my eyes from where I lay on the bed and the window across the room was filled with the bare branches of the large stand of trees that fill the park behind the apartment. The square park is surrounded by four identical buildings, all of them four storeys with balconies that look down on the park area that is probably quite green in the summer months.

Now though, it’s coated in snow and dog tracks.

M and I throw together a quick breakfast burrito with the ingredients we’d brought along before heading out the door. Our first stop, the Montreal Biodome.

Now, my feelings are kind of convoluted when it comes to these sorts of things, whether it’s the Toronto Zoo or the Montreal Biodome. I don’t like the idea of seeing animals in captivity. It’s not natural, plain and simple.

Yet, there’s a part of me that knows some of the animals were rescued and are now getting the care that they need, and are also sometimes part of valuable research that can go into saving the species or other animals in the wild. And for the most part, with some exceptions (I’m looking at you Marineland) the animals are treated well.

There’s also another part of me (completely selfish, I’ll admit) that absolutely loves them, because without places like this, I would never have the chance to lay eyes on penguins, or tigers or lions, or gorillas, or puffins. Although the Isle of May is on my list of go-to locations.

Anyways, the place was really great, and divided into four different pavilions with different types of wildlife in each one. Naturally, the penguins and the otters were the most popular. M and I had to contend with the groups of children filling the place and pressing their faces to the glass to get a better look. I guess going on a Thursday morning, the school groups are the only ones that are going to be there with us.

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The Olympic Stadium looking a little worse for wear at the moment.

The wind had been blowing pretty hectic all morning and when we pushed back outside, it gusted around us in the channel between the large Biodome building and it’s surrounding facilities. We snapped a couple pictures of the Olympic Stadium that loomed above us and retreated  to the parking garage.

Now, we’re going to have a bit of grumpy words ahead, so be warned.

If you ever come to Montreal, heed my advice and when you’re downtown, drive as little as possible.

For one, Google and Apple maps have absolutely no idea how to navigate the city, and will not only take you down one-way streets (yes, it really happened), but will also try and take you on roads that don’t even exist.

On top of the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any proper lane structure on many of the main roads, and that fact that this doesn’t seem to bother anyone are just exacerbating factors.

Enough about that though, we originally planned to head to Notre Dame again and check out the inside. As I mentioned yesterday, we only saw the outside. However, time was a little tight to make it to the 2:30 p.m. close and we couldn’t find a proper place to park without risking a ticket or a tow. So, we changed plans and headed for Mount Royal.

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If you look close, you can see where we were before, the Olympic Stadium standing tall in the middle of the shot.

From so high up, things seem a lot more tangible. Like a complete puzzle, I can see all the lines that dissect the entire space that is the city. I can see the thick concrete lines cutting channels between the buildings heading away from the mountain’s base and I can see the dark gaps where the horizontal streets running parallel with us make their way.

It all seems so simple, but after driving a couple days in the chaos, I know that’s not true.

It really is quite the view though.

I took a couple deep breaths, trying to ease away the stress of driving. When M and I were back in the car, I leaned over and gave her a kiss. That always tends to help.

We smiled at one another and then jumped back out to get a picture of ourselves with the view.

Things started to look up after that.

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We gassed up the car (we were running critically low) then drove around Mile End for a little while before heading back in the opposite direction to St. Catherine’s Street.

We parked near the university, and since we were so close, decided to walk around the campus a little bit. We peaked into a couple buildings, walked around in the library and snapped some photos of the older buildings. It’s something M and I have found we like to do together. It’s one of the more amazing things about new relationships, discovering those little things about one another that pull you closer together.

When we visit Guelph, where M went to school, we always spend an hour or so walking around the campus there. I’m not sure what it is, but even being on the McGill campus for the first time, I already liked it there; even in the winter, and even in the freezing cold.

After the quick exploration, we headed over to our actual destination and did a little shopping.

St. Catherine’s Street reminded me a bit of Time’s Square in New York City. Perhaps it was the massive light-up billboards that almost make it seem like daylight outside when night has already fallen, or maybe the crowds of people surging along the sidewalks on every block.

We made our way through the main blocks and with each step, it got us closer to the restaurant that was our dinner destination. I can’t remember the name of it, but it was a pizza place, and it was amazing.

We got seated in a small table that was right by the door. An older couple were next to us, sharing a bottle of wine and deep in some french conversation. M and I chatted and laughed as we tried to figure out the french menu using Google translate, and when our glasses of wine arrived, we clinked them and drank.

The snow had already started to fall outside.

Enjoying the lights along St. Catherines Street.

Enjoying the lights along St. Catherines Street.

Tomorrow is our last full day here and second-last in the province. It’s been an amazing trip so far, however brief, and I continually find myself looking over at M and thinking how lucky I am. Sometimes I smile and tell her exactly what I’m thinking. She always smiles back, the one that makes her chin drop down to her chest, and tells me I’m not lucky, but I know she’s just teasing.

I’ve found myself stressed a couple times on this trip, I guess driving in chaos can do that, but tomorrow I think I’m going to re-read this, and tell myself to just relax.

Thank you so much for reading, and if you’ve made it this far, please remember to do what you love and do it well.

J.J.W.