Bienvenue au Québec!
I was dropped off at the nearest metro station and proved myself incompetent when I first went to buy my ticket. Perhaps I was flustered or pressuring myself too much, either way, I wasn’t having much luck. While it doesn’t take a rocket scientist… I certainly wasn’t making a very good case for myself.
I successfully navigated through a transfer and onto another line and when I reached the McGill station I got off and realized quickly I’d forgotten to put on my toque. I say I realized it because I’ve learned one important lesson since arriving. In Vancouver, if it looks grey and cold, there’s a 99% chance it’s cold. In Quebec, when it’s sunny and clear, that doesn’t mean it’s warm. So as I stepped out of the station my ears and forehead immediately froze as it was greeted by the -17 degree weather, and that’s before you account for wind-chill. I wasn’t worried about where Nicki was, my first thought was where to burrow away until I could call her and tell her where to find me. Starbucks! Unadventurous, I know, but when you’re cold it’s the perfect locale.
Before long my face was regaining feeling and Nicki was seated across from me. We caught up for a few minutes and I remembered to put on my hat and we climbed the stairs of Mont Royal. It was brisk but through our laboured breathing our core started burning up along with our legs from all all the flights we managed to ascend.
From the top you get a view of the city all blue and grey from the icy weather. As we stood there Andrea asked if we’d be interested in meeting up for skating at beaver lake. For those of you who don’t know I like to make mini bucket lists that span a 3 year period and outdoor skating was on this current one. I’d done it as a kid and I’ve been itching ever since to do it again except that until now every time I tried, the opportunity passed without me.
Andrea and I attempted our best spins and I even landed myself in a small crack at one point and worried I might face plant into the ice but somehow I managed to regain composure and skate on. The three of us graced the large rinks with silly dances to the interesting mix of music ranging from journey to the backstreet boys. To our good fortune the ice was void of the crowds you might expect. It was a perfect afternoon treat!
Following our skate we braved the cold once again, this time at a slower pace on foot, toward the L’Oratoire, a cathedral dedicated to Saint Brother Andre, who was known for a gift of healing and the walls in one of the rooms is adorned with canes and crutches left behind from those he’d healed. It was surprising to me to find escalators and elevators inside a cathedral but I had to admit it was a beautifully modern piece of architecture and was filled with even better art. Ending off the evening was the absolutely necessary Poutine at an Irish Pub in the area of Cotes des Neiges called McCarolds. Yum!