Montreal is an amazing city and one of the great things about it is the lack of traffic. The roads are virtually empty, like they used to be in the UK back in the seventies. Sherbrooke is an interesting road too. Nearer the centre of town it's where you'll find the Hilton and the Holiday Inn and a few others, the Opus being another, not forgetting the Ritz Carlton, but if you venture out and, as I did, turn left out of the Holiday Inn heading in the direction of the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, the landscape changes dramatically. The office blocks disappear and suddenly you find yourself in an exclusive and very peaceful environment. Not only no cars – seriously, hardly any – but there are quiet suburban streets and elegant apartment blocks.
After walking for 30 minutes, I turned left and found myself in a street full of boutiques and coffee shops. I was tempted to linger awhile and perhaps I should have as I ended up taking a cab to the airport and now here I am, eating a chicken sandwich with fries and drinking tea. I could have left it at least another two hours, but I'm here now.
|This hangs from one of the ceilings in the public|
area of Montreal Airport.
On the cycling front, I'm not holding out much hope of a ride around Atlanta, but I might be pleasantly surprised. Yesterday we cycled around Montreal on the Bixi bikes, I was reminded of David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries, which have been mentioned on this blog before. Byrne takes a foldable bike with him whenever he travels or tours with his band and he always gets around the cities he visits using pedal power. I'll have to check out what he has to say about Montreal and whether it tallies with my experiences – except that Montreal isn't covered by Byrne. Perhaps he's considering a follow-up book of further adventures.
Airports are funny places, they're always so sparsely populated and grey. There's something very calming about an airport: rows of empty seats and deserted thoroughfares with occasional flurries of activity around foodservice outlets, like Houston's, where I'm sitting now having finished that chicken sandwich and fries. I had beef soup as a starter, which turned out to be a meal in itself – a stew no less –and now I'm writing this post and sipping on my aforementioned Orange Pekoe tea.
Chicken sandwich with fries at Houston's on Montreal
Airport – beyond passport control.
The international world disappears while you're in the air – unless you take a glance at the in-flight magazine's duty free brochure where all those horrible international brands can be found again, except, perhaps, the Blue Man Group, although if there is just one Blue Man Group, perhaps they'll be travelling to another country. They only disappear when you're back on terra firma, in your own country, where they seem to keep their distance, apart from occasional reminders from those 'international' entertainment brands, like Dame Edna and, more recently, Sacha Baron Cohen who is well and truly gunning for Toblerone status.