CANADA ROAD TRIP - Chapter Nineteen

The Last Dance

(written August 30)

Waking up at 6:30 on Friday, August 28, I had a weird feeling in my gut. 

It’s that feeling of knowing that things are going to drastically change, and yet, you didn’t take the time to properly prepare for this moment. Logistically, we were as prepared as we could be. But mentally, I wasn’t there yet. I don’t even know if you can properly prepare for these moments. But time doesn’t wait for you to be prepared, and we had to get going.

(unpacking and organizing)

Gallium and Océane are a couple who live in Montreal. They were one of the first to contact us when we put up the ad for our van, and we met them a couple weeks ago to go over details and let them have a test drive. We had a plan to meet them for 8:00 to finalize the sale and get the transfer of ownership dealt with. We were happy to meet such nice people who would use the van the way we had built it to be used, and who would take it on even more adventures. It was a match that just worked. We grabbed a coffee together and chatted, and by quarter after 9:00 everything was done. The keys were handed over, and they drove away. 

It was sad seeing our van go. It was our home, and walking away from it was disorienting. Almost like a platform you were standing on was taken from right underneath you.

But it also felt like freedom. We were off to explore, and Montreal has a lot to offer. So we just kept walking.

Our first stop was the Pâtisserie au Kouing Amann, which specializes in the cake of the same name. It’s a yeast leavened buttery pastry with layers of butter and sugar folded in. As it bakes, the dough forms layers and the sugar caramelizes on the outside. The first time I had it was in Copenhagen, made by my friend Milton while he was at a coffee roastery called Andersen and Maillard. I haven’t had one as good as his since, but this one came very close. Their Quiche Lorraine was also very good. And it’s cheap, as if the prices haven’t changed in decades. A slice of the kouign amann is just over $2.

(pâtisserie au kouing amann)

After the quick bite, we went for a bit of a walk and ended up on Fairmount street. We walked by Wilensky’s, an unassuming corner restaurant that’s been serving the same thing since the 1930’s. They make their own sodas and they have grilled beef bologna sandwiches. It comes with mustard, your choice of swiss or cheddar, and served on a kaiser roll. The best part: if you don’t want mustard, they charge you extra. Eat it the way they make it.

(inside wilensky)

(beef bologna, swiss cheese, mustard on a kaiser roll)

Just down the street from there is Fairmount Bagel, another Montreal institution, and this one has been doing what they do for over 100 years. Montreal bagels are sweeter, less chewy, and smaller than the New York kind, and two bagels (sesame and all dressed) were incredible.

(montreal style sesame bagel from fairmount)

We killed time and tried to burn off some calories while hanging around Mont Royal and walking through Old Montreal and Chinatown, and then headed to the Southwest District. My friend Philip, from Copenhagen, mentioned that a former coworker of his, Cath, had just become the chef of a restaurant called Foxy, so we made contact and decided to check it out. 

The menu is small, everything is cooked on charcoal or wood fire, and the three dishes we got were incredible. A highlight was the house made feta, which was creamier and fattier than the feta we are used to, and served with peaches, honey, cucumber, and fennel. It was wonderful to meet Cath, the service was wonderful, the wine was tasty, and we left in a great mood.

(cashew dip at foxy)

(sitting at foxy)

Our last stop of the day was back in Mont Royal area, where we met with Hugh, my boss from the garbage bin job I took earlier this year (if you’re curious, read the very first blog on this website). We met him and his girlfriend, Jeanette, and did a couple stops around the area. Candibar sticks out, with the fluorescent lighting, neon colors, bar made out of lego, and urinals that resembled open mouths. The cocktails are all based on slushies and the environment was fun. 

After a quick stop to get one last poutine (this one was with smoked meat and a deep fried pickle), we were dropped off at our hotel just before 1 am. A very long and eventful last full day in Canada.

(candibar, mont royal)

The next day, we packed our things, checked out of our hotel, and headed to the airport. Finally the time has come for the next season of life. This time in another country. I can’t stress enough how amazing it’s been to see Canada in this way. It’s unbelievable how much it has to offer, and we didn’t even see that much of it. 

So for now, it’s au revoir. Thanks to all of you who have followed along for our journey! 

Let’s see what comes next.

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