They do a really cool thing here in Montréal that I’ve not seen anywhere else I’ve lived. They provide free access to swimming pools across the city! No matter where you live, you will find a pool nearby that has certain hours open to the public free of charge.
Of course, during the summer, when the weather is nice and sunny and warm, this will be amazing as a lot of the pools are outdoor pools. But there’s a whole bunch of indoor ones too. So when the weather outside is as deliciously chilly as it is at the moment, there’s bound to be a nice heated pool close by. The fact that it’s free is incredible though. I had been questioning why there were so many extra taxes when buying stuff, but I suppose that all goes towards the many free services you get in the city. There’s no paying for water here, or rubbish collection and they give free swimming pools! That’ll save me a fortune over the year or so that we’re here.
The pool closest to where I’m staying at the moment, is called Bain Morgan. That’s it there in the photo at the top of this post. Lovely olde worlde building and a nice compact pool inside. When we move into our new gaff, there’ll be a pool just across the road from us. That’ll help with the exercise regime.
À Plus Tard,
The weather outside, as they say, is frightful. Or, in the case of us Canadian newbies, it’s actually quite delightful.
We’ve been literally walking in a winter wonderland these last few days as many inches of snow has fallen over Montréal. It’s quite unlike any snowfall we’ve ever experienced in Ireland. Soft, powdery, and utterly bewitching. And so much of it. Even as I type there is still a good covering. It’s not like home, where it snows and then immediately melts. This precipitation is in it for the long haul.
Of course, it’s not all sleigh-rides and jingle bells. After a while, it turns to slush. Particularly at the point in the road where pedestrians need to cross, creating massive muddy, slushy puddles that are impossible to avoid. I’m pretty happy I got me some decent winter boots (think hipster wellies).
So far, so new. I’m sure we’ll get sick of it before too long. It is only the start of the weather winter, we are constantly informed. It gets colder and snowier over the next few months apparently. That’s kinda scary. Mais c’est part de l’aventure!
À Plus Tard,
I think it’s fair to say that it’s well known that I like my food. I have a wide and varied palette but at times I am a complete sucker for comfort food. Beans and Mash. A good spaghetti bolognese. Steak and chips. The simple foods are often the best. Especially if nursing a head from the night before. But finding decent comfort food in a new country can often be a daunting prospect. Local delicacies often contain lots of limbs and innards and things that you might not want to see on a plate if your stomach is of a delicate disposition.
This is delightfully not the case in Canada and particularly in Montréal where the local go-to food is an incredible dish called Poutine. For those not familiar with this food-of-the-gods, the Montréalaise take a plate of chips, throw on a lash of cheese curds and then drown the lot in gravy. It’s the perfect hangover food and the perfect comfort food in general in a city where the temperature regularly plunges well below zero (we had our first experience of -10 the other day – the word cold doesn’t quite cover it).
Since we arrived, it’s been a goal of mine to investigate it’s many varieties. And in the week and a bit since we arrived here, I have to admit, I’ve managed to sample quite a few different versions. Not all of them have been great, it has to be said, and like any dish there are places that do it well and places that do it terribly. It turns out our first experience of poutine was actually pretty manky. The cheese curds didn’t melt and were just a bit on the rubbery side. Not knowing any different, I enjoyed the gravy and chips part but wasn’t gone on it immediately. Still, that didn’t deter me. The burger king poutine was better than our first try, but quite fast-foody. Food court poutine from Valentine’s was actually ok (especially when you add a bunch of meat to the mix). We ordered in one night and I got a similar to Valentine’s poutine from some place whose name I can’t quite remember.
But the best of the lot so far? La Banquise on Rue Rachel Est (about a ten min walk from the Mont-Royal metro station or on the number 29 bus route). Just incredible. I went for the large (and thankfully didn’t order anything else besides) of a version called La T-Rex. It had italian sausage, bacon, steak and pepperoni mixed in. As well as the cheese curds, there was also mozerella, giving the dish a lovely melty gooiness. The chips were nice and salty, the gravy thick and meaty. And it was massive. Definitely my favourite so far.
Of course, I am sure I will try more. Some will undoubtedly be bad, some will be to die for. And if I find any more comparable to La Banquise, well I might just keep that to myself.