Arriving in Montreal!

6/24/22

OK. I will start by acknowledging the Supreme Court decision. It is a devastating blow to my country, and especially to anyone there with a uterus. My Facebook feed is full of outrage and heartbreak. I share those feelings, and I know there is much cultural and political work to be done in the coming years. I don’t have much more to say about it here, though. On this journey I have been living as much as I can in the present moment and in the beauty of nature and of the human connections I’m making, and so I’m choosing to focus on that now.

So…

Today was another beautiful day. I said goodbye this morning to my wonderful Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu Warmshowers host, Gaby, and headed out along the Richelieu River toward Chambly, before peeling off to the west to get to Montreal.

The rain had cleared up. The sun had come out. The bike paths were every bit as breathtaking as Gaby and Aurelie had told me they would be. Wow.

Later in the afternoon, I felt the heat and humidity increasing, and by the time I met up with Aurelie in the early evening, I was definitely ready for a rest! I had stopped just before meeting her (and just after crossing the unbelievable Jacques Cartier Bridge, over Ile de Sainte Helene—Saint Helen’s Island—where Expo 1967 was held and which I hope to explore later) for a late lunch at the all vegan Copper Branch restaurant along Rue Sainte Catherine. That bridge was one of the longest, and also most impressive-looking, I have ever crossed. (You can just get a glimpse of its peaks from afar, in the one photo.) But it was a haul! Lots of bike traffic in the narrow bike lane, two hills within the bridge… it was an experience. Off to the right, I could see the roller coasters of the La Ronde theme park. I wish I could have taken photos of them, but that bike path was clearly not the place to do so.

After my meal, I climbed another short but steep hill (I walked the second half of it) to find Aurelie waiting for me at the top, cheering me on in the company of her own Brompton (named Archie!)

I met Aurelie within the past year, in a Facebook Brompton bicycling group. She is a very interesting and inspiring person! She moved to Montreal from her native land of France about ten years ago, and she lives a minimalist lifestyle. She works as a documentary filmmaker, specializing in short films about people in eastern Canada who live minimalist lifestyles, live in tiny houses, etc. (Take a look at her YouTube channel! Lots of very inspiring short films. They are all in French, but many have English subtitles.) She travels to these locations on her Brompton, often with the same Radical Design Chubby trailer that I use!

Tomorrow, she is organizing a Brompton ride here in Montreal in my honor! I don’t know how many people will be able to attend, but I’m excited to hopefully meet a new local or two.

Today is also the national holiday of Quebec, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. (It may seem odd to those outside of Quebec—including me—that a province would have a “national” holiday, but this is how people here refer to it. I don’t know too much about the history, culture, and politics of the province of Quebec, but I do know it is very deep for those who call this place home.) As I traveled today, I saw many large holiday celebrations in public parks, and lots of people in group rides on the bike paths (not sure if that was because of the holiday, but I guessed so?) and I noticed that many restaurants and shops were closed.

Aurelie led me on the final segment of my bike ride, from the “Gay Village” part of town (where the Marillion shows will be held next week, at the L’Olympia concert venue) back to her apartment, where we rested on the lovely balcony in perfect evening weather, and ate a wonderful tapas-style al fresco dinner she had prepared.

I’m excited for the rest of my time here in Montreal (and hopefully also Quebec City)!

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