If you travel a lot, especially as a solo traveler, you tend to make fast friends on the road. Some are just there to swap travel stories while throwing back local beers while others are the ones you walk through the jungle with looking for ancient ruins and rare birds. Travel friends are unique. You are often together for a short time, but the bond is instant. But, they come and go. You may friend each other on Facebook and favorite each other’s photos on Instagram, but the chances you’ll meet again are slim.
While in Sao Miguel I bonded quickly with 7 of my fellow world wanders. We were all from the Montreal, Toronto, and New England areas so it made meeting again fairly easy and possible. However, a lot of people are a lot of talk. We could all talk about meeting again, which we did over numerous beers and cheeseburgers, but where? Iceland? Sao Miguel? Paris? Portland? Montreal? Yes, Montreal was the perfect place!
Around Christmastime I emailed the group proposing a Montreal Rendezvous in February. It just so happened that it was a long weekend in the US and in Ontario. The only member of our Azorean familia that could not come was the Brown Student as his 12-year-old Chinese brother was visiting him from China while on school break. And unfortunately, I didn’t think we could kidnap him over the border or that I could pass as his mother. Trust me, I really thought about it.
We all met up on Saturday afternoon in various locations. A couple of my friends arrived a day or two before and were nursing hangovers. Okay, mostly the Baby had himself a wild night at a skate park bar. A what? Yes, apparently there is a skate park bar in Montreal. I arrived in Montreal around 2pm after about 5 hours on the road. I had two Garmin GPS devices with me, but both did not work well. Due to the lack of GPS signal and phone data, I parked near the hotel that I stayed at in October. I succeed to station myself at Java U, a local coffee shop with free wifi and messaged the group to inform them of my arrival. Cue really awesome superhero theme music because I’m that cool. Just kidding…maybe…
The Teacher was stuck at the border in a long line and the Soccer Coach was nearby. Both agreed to me meet at Java U. Unfortunately for them, I didn’t realize there was about 10 Java U’s throughout the city. Both boys went to the wrong one before I realized that I should Google the address. Oops! Finally we all met in the same Java U and made contact with our Airbnb host. Our Airbnb apartment for the weekend was located in the Plateau neighborhood on Avenue du Mont-Royal Est and it was the perfect location for a fun-filled weekend with friends.
I was a wee bit nervous picking this apartment because it was a new listing on Airbnb with no reviews. But, my chance paid off. Everyone loved it. Or at least that’s what they told me. The Baby and the Fashionable Filipino all arrived at the apartment around 5pm. The first thing we did… watch The Mindy Project on Netflix. Yup, we’re that cool. Don’t worry, the excessive amount of shots and beers happened later on that night. And poutine! Because when in Quebec you must eat poutine. Actually, we created our own hashtag for weekend, #poutinecrawl2015, that we all miserably failed at tagging photos on social media.
Two of the boys went out to grab a few things while the rest of us continued to watch The Mindy Project (yes, it is an amazing show and you should definitely watch it!) and we cracked open the couple of bottles of mead I brought from home. I think we all were a little tipsy by time the other two arrived back at the apartment to head out for poutine. We walked a few blocks and saw the long line at La Banquise and made the difficult decision of finding something else to eat since freezing our tushies off was not a fun option. By the fate of the travel gods, we looked across the street and discovered Ma Poule Mouillee, a Portuguese restaurant. It was a serendipitous moment and only fitting as we all met on the Portuguese island of Sao Miguel.
The restaurant was crowded with happy families and couples out celebrating Valentine’s Day so we decided to get our Portuguese poutine and salad (I made the boys get a salad and demanded that they eat something green. Yes, I was the house mom for four grown men) to go. Dinner was delicious! And, yes all the boys ate at least one bite of something green. 🙂
On to the bars! I really wanted to go to Tavern Big in Japan after hearing about it from some friends about a year ago. It’s a semi-hidden speakeasy located on Boulevard Saint Laurent. We first went to the restaurant a couple blocks down the street and then realized we were in the wrong place. The kind waitress directed us to the bar. Of course, I forgot the directions within 5 seconds, but luckily the Fashionable Filipino has a longer memory span than I (and the rest of the boys). Side note – the red door is now black in case you’re looking for a red door like we were. We had to wait for about 10-15 minutes before we were allowed in because it was busy.
Tavern Big in Japan did not disappoint either! The atmosphere was very cool and I can see why a lot of couples were there for their Valentine’s Date. It was certainly romantic with the low light and lots of candles. However, it is expensive. We decided to buy a bottle of Portuguese wine (can you sense a trend here?) and split it four ways, although the Teacher and I probably drank half of it. We’re lushes, what can I say?
Next up… my first gay bar experience! I clearly live under a rock, or more correctly Portland, Maine where we only have one or two gay bars because I’ve never been to one before. The Fashionable Filipino had a couple of friends in Montreal and we decided to meet them at the Sky Bar on Rue Saint Catherine. It was awesome! The bar has three levels with the top floor having the best music and dancing. As soon as we arrived, the Fashionable Filipino’s friend was buying us shots and beers. And from there the night turned into a fuzzy fog of more drinks, shots, and lots of dancing. And to steal a line from Forrest Gump, that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Our group got split while leaving so the Teacher and I made it back to the apartment before the other two boys. We immediately started messaging them that we wanted poutine and that we’re judging. I had no idea why we were judging, but it was certainly entertaining to read our drunk messages the next morning. However, the boys did get us poutine, but we were both passed out cold by time they returned with it. Oops! 🙂
Sunday was a slow day. We met up with the Artist for brunch at Restaurant La Petite Marche. Breakfast was good, but my stomach was starting to get slightly upset so I was only able to put down half of my meal. The benefits of eating with a brunch of guys is their ability to put down not only their meal, but yours too. When I was in Montreal in October I wasn’t able to see any of the art museums so I knew this time I wanted to explore the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I figured after a night of debauchery we should spend the afternoon getting cultured by learning about the Orientalist painters. Unfortunately we only had a couple of hours since the museum closes at 5pm on Sundays. I would definitely like to see more of the museum in the future. The collections are quite incredible and I’ll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about art. Unless you count that one art history course I was forced to take in college so I could graduate.
I was exhausted at this point and feeling slightly nauseous so we headed back to the apartment so I could take a quick nap before dinner. The gang was getting hungry after an hour and I’m not sure how we decided, but we ended up eating dinner at a little Pho restaurant just two doors down from our apartment. It was BYOB so we grabbed a bottle of mead and a bottle of red wine. I haven’t had Pho in a long time but it certainly hit the spot on a freezing cold Canadian night. After a dinner of slurping soup and catching up, we headed a block or two down to a cute little bar for a couple of drinks. It was a low-key night and after the previous late night, it was just a perfect way to cap off our little reunion in Montreal.
The boys and I were back in the apartment by midnight snuggling on the coach and watching The Mindy Project (again). The Fashionable Filipino work up early the next day and cooked a hardy breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast. The real fun of the weekend began when the Teacher, the Baby and I were going to hit up Schwartz’s for some smoked meat before heading off in our different directions. The Teacher’s car wouldn’t start. Apparently driving a hybrid car in Montreal during the wintertime isn’t the best idea if you plan on going home afterwards. We had to push his car out of its parking spot in an alleyway and then head to Starbucks to call CAA (AAA). The wait was at least 2 hours. I stuck around for a while because that’s what friends are for. He handled it well, but I could tell he was stressing a bit. If it happened to me, I would have freaked out and called my father in tears begging him to drive 5+ hours to Montreal and fix it! We grabbed Pho again and around 4pm I hugged the boys and headed home.
It was a fun weekend that I didn’t want to end. I’ve only known these people for a very short time, but when you meet people who you have an instant connection with, it feels like you have known them your whole life. Thanks for a good time friends and I’ll see you all again (just in the summer or in a warm place)! Much love! 🙂