Tour de Montreal du Nord

Someone's back fence

Someone's back fence

I got up bright and early Thursday morning to meet Emily for a fashionista’s tour de Montreal du nord. I had never ventures past. St. Viateur in Montreal. To me, it was the equivalent of Bloor street in Toronto… go beyond it and you get a nose bleed.

Emily first took me to the textile district to show me the most important stores to know. The most impressive place we  encountered was Kava. It had huge spools of Gutermann quality thread for $2, tracing wheels for as low as $1.50, and numerous other things for an extraordinary price. We also went to two bead stores (Arton beads in Toronto is still better) and various fabric stores. It was all quite interesting, almost tempting me to pick up the needle and thread again… if I had any money.

After the fabric district, we went to the Atwater Market. My cousin’s husband had encouraged me to go there when I first moved to Montreal, but as it was the other side of the world, I’d never gone. Yet, here I was now, in Atwater Market, and I was in culinary heaven. I was surrounded by every kind of Turkish delight imaginable, bouquets of dried lavender wrapped up in purple paper, little cakes topped with blueberries and cream, colourful local vegetables, and every kind of meat you could desire.

I was giddy in excitement. I could hardly control myself. The sight of all this wonderful food gave me such a high that I could hardly keep still. I wanted to run around and see it all, smell the sweet scents, and taste everything! My favourite shop was the butcher’s. They had the largest selection of meat I had ever seen. There was rabbit, venison, goose, caribou, bison, and horse! The best part was the cute illustrations of each animal above its section in the refrigerator. When I get a job- I know where I’m getting my burger meat!

Another thrilling moment for me was when I found myself sandwiched between a pear seller and a strawberry stand. I am a huge fan of pears, and to my left I saw a huge basket of bosc pears for $3. Then, to my right, there were fresh Quebecois strawberries… their scent seducing me with every breath. I just wanted to dive into them. They smelt like heaven itself!

Emily and I split a fruit smoothie, a bag of cranberries, and each got a fresh fig to eat. We walked around, comparing prices and sampling the organic raspberries and pastries that were offered us. We decided to come back and do our shopping at the end of the day… then all the fruits and vegetables would be mine to devour in culinary bliss!

We bicycled over to the St. Hubert plaza, which I had heard much about. I had envisioned in my mind something similar to the Ridley Plaza in St. Catharines, but of course Montreal doesn’t embrace ugly things like that. Instead, it was more like Queen St. West, 5 blocks of shops facing the street, all connected by a glass canopy to protect from the elements. There was a La Vie En Rose/Aqua outlet, Yves Roche outlet, DEX outlet, and various other stores, including some high-end boutiques. We went to the DEX outlet, where Emily bought a handful of summer clothes. We then peaked into some of the boutiques for inspiration, and went into a knitting store to feel the soft balls of wool and to look at their Fiber Arts magazines (Emily’s work is mentioned in one!).

At 3:30 we met her friends from Italy to show them the boutiques in Mile End. We poked our nose into a couple, but spent most of our visit there inside a Greek restaurant where we shared a huge salad and a pitcher of sangria. It was very refreshing on such a hot summer day!

After we were fed and watered, Emily and I bicycled back to the Atwater Market where we said our goodbyes. Many of the vendors were just beginning to pack up, so I quickly did my shopping, and was in and out of there within 7 minutes. I rushed over to the pear and strawberry man, then bought a tiny cucumber for a in-expensive at-home spa treatment. By the time I was back on my bike, my basket was bursting with goodies, and I bicycled home in complete happiness.

At 8pm I met Aria to attend a book reading. It had been promoted as “Robots fucking humans, humans fucking humans, robots fucking robots, and then Jesus gets involved.” but to our disappointment, it turned out to be a philosophical reading filled with shock value. It was neither erotic or humorous, as the promotions had implied. The reading was done with a local band from McGill, the Cyberdelic Sexfunk Trio, whom were friends of Aria, and quite talented. What I found most entertaining though, was watching people’s reaction to the unusual sex scenes described in the book. Jaws dropped, others were in uncontrollable laughter, and some walked out with expressions of utter disgust on their face.

During the second act, I had trouble staying awake. I was so worn out from all the cycling and walking I’d done that day that I could hardly keep my eyes open. So, after the show, I said goodnight to Aria and walked home to bed. It had been a very interesting day.

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