Thursday, April 20, 2006

LOVE. THIS. TOWN.

Oh, I am so moving to Montreal. It's got everything I would ever look for in a home base: maneuverability, rich gastronomic culture, attractive cityscape, happening arts and entertainment, outdoor activities, safety, beautiful denizens (but not in the L.A. botoxed, bleached, lasered, nipped, tucked, Zone diet, plastered, personal trainer kinda way), affordability, and some of the friendliest people around.

My day started out at the Marche Jean-Talon, allegedly the largest market of its kind in North America. It wasn’t as bustling as I'd hoped it would be but I did have a gorgeous sandwich for breakfast, consisting of fresh torn basil, pesto, ham, local cheese, and lettuce, neatly encased in a loaf of pleasantly chewy artisanal bread. Surprisingly, the surrounding area was...bland, to put it diplomatically. Here’s a photo, for those of you who have never seen a car or a sandwich before.


Sufficiently stuffed, I took the metro to Place des Arts and checked out the awe-inspiring Anselm Kiefer Heaven And Earth exhibit at the Musee des Arts Contemporain. He makes gargantuan pieces exploring spirituality, using materials ranging from plants to lead. I dig it. Not surprisingly, I thought of Jonathan again - where he is, what he's seen. It made me teary but it was the best show I could have seen on this trip.


Afterward, I walked around for a bit and met Jimmy, a native Montrealer who sells his photographs on the sidewalk downtown. We chatted for about an hour about living in this city. The life satisfaction that people exude is amazing. He gave me some numbers and navigational tips and I was again on my way.

A few blocks later, as I was basking in the sun at Dorchester Square trying to figure out where I was going, I made friends with Juan Pablo and Chola. We hung out for another hour or so as I picked his brains pertaining to Montreal life. I can’t believe I was worried about being lonely on this solo journey. Montrealers go out of their way to make you feel welcome. JP, who is a musician, gave me a flyer for a party he is helping organize tomorrow night – I’m still not sure if I am going to go, as it said something about college girls and there was a picture of a busty blonde wearing a wet T-shirt. (I suspect I may be too old and too flat for that sort of thing. Not to mention, too sane. Not that I would have to wear a wet T-shirt to the thing but still.) That makes JP sound like a letch but he really wasn't at all. Just a very friendly, laid-back, multilingual, interesting Chilean Montrealer.

Juan Pablo was meeting somebody at 15.00 so we parted (around 15.10). Next, I hooked up with Kyle. Remember Kyle? The waiter who served me my first smoked meat sandwich ever? Turns out Kyle is a 24 year-old jazz musician and a perfect gentleman. Is it the French influence that teaches men how to treat women here? In all my years, I've had a scant handful of men open my doors and foot the bill. I've been here for 4 days and I've already met 3. Girls, move to Montreal. ASAP. Unless, of course, you're the type who views such acts of good breeding as a fast track to a 50's chauvinism revival.

We sat at an outdoor terrace of a cute restaurant on Prince Arthur in the Plateau, where I promptly developed a pretty impressive watch tan. Can you imagine? An April tan in Montreal? Thanks to my personal guided tour, I now know that this is where I want to live. In one of those charming 1-bedroom flats in the Plateau. Sadly, I'll be missing the Canadiens playoffs this Saturday. I'm already considering coming back in October for the beginning of the season and some more time soaking up this city's amazing vibe.

It's now almost 21.00. The plan is to take a walk to Old Montreal, after which I might be really bad and have some late-night poutine.

More soon...

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