Montreal on Bicycles

2nd to 4th July, 2016

We are not going white water rafting like I wanted to, instead we are going cycle around Montreal. I think it’s a fair compromise. I have always wanted to pedal my way through a city. We choose to use Montreal extensive public bicycle sharing system – Bixi, but first some breakfast. Yelp shows us a 5 star rated brunch place around the corner. When we get there, there is a line outside extending almost all the way down the block. Too hungry to wait, we keep walking. Ever since the Canadians told us about Paris Crêpes, crêpes have been on our mind. Montreal is full of cafes and restaurants that serve crêpes. We walk into the first one that comes our way; let me tell you, we are not disappointed. These are by far the best crêpes I’ve ever eaten. Satiated, we go to the nearest bixi stand and hope to figure out the system. It ain’t no rocket science and soon we are on our way to Mont Royal Park. Mont Royal- Montreal..

DSC_0548We cycle through by-lanes and main roads, past what we assumed are the infamous  tam-tams and a short way up the hill. Somewhere near the hospital, we drop our bikes off, knowing that the system allows you to take a bike out for only 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, the bike has to be returned and taken out again if you still want one. That, and the fact that the slope ahead is too steep. We walk the rest of the way and up the stairs in the park to the Belvédère Kondiaronk.  A refreshing breeze cools us down as we take in a panoramic view of downtown Montreal.   This scenic overview is named after the Petun chief Kondiaronk, whose influence led to a major peace accord between the French, Iroquois and other First Nations in 1701. There is a  small public piano in the semicircular plaza outside the chalet. Visitors take turns to play and pose.

DSC_0588We walk down to the cemetery, from where we need to take a bus to the Oratory of Saint Joseph. A kind fellow passenger helps us with directions, while the bus driver gives us free tickets that are valid on any public transport for the next two hours. I must have over-hyped the heart at the oratory, because everyone wants to see it. In my defense, it is kinda  creepy to preserve someone’s heart like that! On a side note, while B and J, the husband and I are cycling around the city, Anthea  of Anthea’s Chronicles and Rohan  are attending mass at the Basilica of Notre Dame. The plan is to catch up at some point.

2016-07-08-PHOTO-00001782We use our tickets to ride the subway, to get to Vieux Montreal. From the subway station, we take bikes again and cycle along the old port. We stop here for sunset drinks. We are, after all, on vacation. After wandering around the narrow cobble stoned  streets of Vieux Montreal for a while and picking up souvenirs, it is time head to the Jazz festival for dinner. What better way to work up an appetite than cycling there! We are able to get 3 bikes out, but when B and J try to pull out their second bike, the code doesn’t work. After some trial and error, a phone call to the Bixi people confirms our worst fears, one bike did not get logged back into the system when we returned it.To return a bike, you need to push the front wheel firmly into an empty bike dock and make sure the green light comes on after docking the bike. If not, you start getting fined after the stipulated loan time (30 minutes) is up.  After twenty four hours, the bike is considered stolen and a fee of $1,000 may be charged to your credit card. OUCH!!

We hurry back to the docking station we left our bikes at and frantically try pulling out every bike to find the improperly docked one. Luckily, we had docked close to the end of the line and find the bike in just a few tries.

2016-07-08-PHOTO-00001769While the others a pedaling furiously to beat the rain, I am merrily singing songs in my head and  reminiscing cycle rides in the rain in Rasayani ❤ At our destination, we all  make sure the green light comes on and then double check by pulling the bike. We’ve learnt our lesson. Once inside the Jazz festival, we need to find a place to eat. After some hemming and hawing, we settle on a Thai place. We go in and order. Anthea and Rohan join us. Wherever we go, we seem to find decent ( and occasionally exceptional)Thai food. Through dinner, I’ve also managed to dry my wet shoes with paper towels and the hand drier in the wash room. We are now all set for the Casino. I make a measly $27 profit this time and the husband gambles it ( and more) away. Hey, we are at a casino! The whole point is to gamble!

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