We’re Finally Here

-10 Minute Read-

Old Montreal.
Old Montreal.

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Follow Along

Joel’s Journal - Entry #87 - 1/26/2017

We’re finally here.

I pulled my coat tighter around me as I stepped over a patch of ice and out onto the slick cobblestone street.

M hopped over behind me and we walked across together.

Behind us, the cathedral of Notre Dame loomed, the grey stone turrets seeming to reach up and scrape the sky with their ornate points.

We hadn’t made it down in time to go inside, but that was okay. It’s not raining, the snow has let up, and we’re walking the streets of Old Montreal. It hadn’t been part of the original plan, but just kind of happened.

I smiled though, because all that matters is that we’re finally here.

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The morning was a quick wake up and out the door. Rain was falling on Oshawa and the black steel steps of my fire escape were slick as I carried our bags down to M’s car.

We decided it would be best to take hers as the issues with mine are yet to be diagnosed. As of now, I’m still not sure if that was the best idea, but I’ll get to that.

Being the gentleman that I am, I decided I would take the first shift of driving, and for the most part it was a fairly quick and uneventful drive. It took us about five hours with a couple stops for coffee and bathroom breaks, but any drive under ten hours seems to always go by quick for me now. Driving across the country in 14 hour bursts will do that to you, I guess.

We arrived at the Airbnb on Ile de Soeurs around 2 in the afternoon, but were kind of left out in the cold. Our hostess had messaged in the morning to see when we would arrive, but had gone silent throughout the rest of the day. We stood in entryway to the apartment, which was completely quiet in the middle of the day, and after calls and texts went unanswered, we decided to just head off and find something else to do.

We’re in Montreal! Not a minute to waste.

We decided it would be Old Montreal as our first stop, and with it being still early, there was little traffic heading into the city and we found parking along a side street.

I have to admit, for the most part, the outskirts of Montreal aren’t the most visually appealing. Heavy industrial yards scattered with snow covered piles of assorted metals and woods, tall silos attached to massive rectangular brick warehouses and graffiti covered walls greet you along the edge of the highway before the road swings around and you’re in the city centre.

Old Montreal is gorgeous though. The curving stonework and uniform beauty of the buildings are completely European and I admire each detail with my neck craned back as we make our way along the street.

I snap a couple solid Instagrams as we walk along, dodging the falling bits of snow and freezing droplets as they fall from the eaves far above. We have no particular destination in mind, only heading in the direction of a few landmarks that we can glimpse between the gaps in the buildings.

I don’t know any of their names, the tiny tourist pillars that dot the street are all in French and my Grade 9 level is not really cutting it at this point. And while I might not know the names or the history, I can still admire the beauty and the architecture. I snagged a couple of good shots as well. The day was rather grey, and didn’t add much in the way of detail, but it did make the shots rather moody.

It was nearly two hours later and after a solid bit of exploring that we were able to connect with our hostess, who was very apologetic and gave us all the details of how to get into our apartment. With my hands starting to freeze and the cold slowly seeping into my leather boots, I quickened the pace and M and I returned to the car and headed for the apartment. As the name implies, Ile de Soeurs is an island, which sits just south of downtown Montreal and a quick 10-minute drive.

Well, 10-minutes if you don’t get lost. Our lightheartedness quickly turned hectic when our maps app lost itself and we ended up onto a ramp that twisted us onto another highway in the complete opposite direction. It took quite a bit of time and quite a bit of yelling to finally work out how to get back going in the direction we wanted to go. Oh, and it was rush hour at this point too, so, stress levels engage at maximum capacity. It was here that M’s car decided to make a few mystery noises of its own. It’s something she says the car is prone to do (have to admire the creativity I guess) but the grinding metal noise coming from the breaks is a little unsettling.

We did eventually make it back.

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A large leather couch dominates the living room, a blanket hangs lazily off the corner. A wooden table surrounded by four chairs sits across the room in front of a wide window that holds a view of the park and the old trees that stand outside.

One wall is coated in what looks like strips of reclaimed wood and a tiny TV and speakers sit in the corner.

Our bedroom has a large double bed with wooden end tables and lamps on either side. I toss my bags and my jacket onto the leather lounger in the corner and make my way back out to the couch. I grab a beer and a snack before flopping down beside M.

Not long after, I’m horizontal, and whether it was all the walking or all the stress from the long drive out of the city, but I’m almost immediately asleep.

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The sleep is still lingering in my eyes as M and I stand in line.

The tiny bistro is filled to capacity and the warm light in the window does nothing to help those of us standing out in the cold.

I zip my coat up tighter and look over at M. Her hair is blowing slightly around her shoulders in the breeze and I think to myself that she looks absolutely beautiful. The soft orange light creating a hazy glow around us pushes away the darkness and seems to make her eyes glow. It’s not long before we’re inside at a table and I’m sipping a cold beer.

“We’re finally here,” I say to her.

The restaurant is Lola Rosa and was only part of the trip that the two of us planned together last month, but it’s just an amazing feeling to see these things coming together. I feel like I’m always making travel plans and they end up being nothing but pipe dreams.

But this was is real, and I couldn’t be more happy with who is sitting across the table from me.

The tables around us are filled with people chatting and laughing. Some sip tiny tumblers of water while another pours dark red wine from a green bottle.

I look at M who is trying to decide what to get from the menu. She’s ecstatic because it’s a vegetarian restaurant and instead of having only one or two options, she has an entire menu to choose from.

I smile again and lift my beer to my lips.

We’re finally here.

Writer’s Note: Hey everyone! I hope you’ve enjoyed my first instalment of journals from Montreal. There will be more to come in the next few days, so, until then, make sure you keep doing what you love and doing it well!

Thanks for reading,

J.J.W.