En route home to Chicago from Dublin, I had an unexpected side trip to Montreal. My flight from London was delayed, causing me to miss my connection from Montreal to Chicago – the last of the day. Air Canada comped my hotel and meals, so although I was exhausted and ready to be home, I embraced the opportunity to see Montreal for the first time.
In the morning, I woke early and Mr. Dottie and I set off to spend three hours wandering around downtown before we had to catch the 1:45 flight home. The weather was perfect – warm and sunny. Armed with a map, complete with Bixi bikeshare station locations, we planned to pick up Bixi’s at Parc LaFontaine and ride along a protected cycle track to the Old Town area, ending at Marche Bonsecours.
We arrived at the park and wandered around looking for the Bixi station for a good 15 minutes. (Montreal peeps know where this is going…) We were so confused, standing exactly where the map said the Bixi station should be. Finally I asked a woman walking by with a bike where we could find the station and she informed us – oh, the bike share? – Bixi does not open until April.
Sad about not being able to ride a bike (no time to track down a bike rental store), we instead walked the planned route, which was also a great way to take in the city sights.
The feel of the city is unique. The old buildings and French language contributed to a European feel, but overall it felt more like Chicago than Paris. I imagined an idyllic bicycling paradise, while in reality it was more…real. A big city with a lot going on. There were many cyclists and some cycle tracks, but also a lot of motor vehicle traffic. The number and types of people bicycling seemed similar to those in Chicago.
Since I could not ride a bike there, I compensated by buying a bicycle t-shirt. It says in French, “Ceci n’est pas une bicyclette,” which Trisha assured me is an arty little meme, nothing dirty.
I also bought a lovely bicycle-print dress at Marche Bonsecours that was designed and made in Montreal. I love the dress and I’ll definitely post about it later.
I enjoyed the unexpected side trip to Montreal. I only wish I had time to plan ahead, see more of the city, ride a bike, and meet up with some locals. Next time!