Bicyclist from Buffalo

Rue Petit-Champlain, Québec
QUÉBEC, Canada
July 25, 2015

A deep red raspberry, a speckled tan tiramisu, a muddy brown chocolate flecked with chunks--every conceivable color was represented among the tubs kept cold in the display case. Each color of ice cream or sorbet was again doubled by its brighter pastel hue in mounds of light, sweet macroons--strawberry, lemon, hazelnut--piled upon tiered trays set atop tables running alongside the long freezer.

Professor N. and I bought both varieties of sweet and then indulged, eating our sorbet and macaroons while seated on a park bench set up above nearby Canal Lachine. And why not? Atwater Market was our final stop at the end of a full day cycling all around Montréal. Though I rode twice a day over an entire semester past the traditional butchers and greengrocers partitioned into traditional, covered stalls it wasn't until I had an out-of-town guest to show around Montréal that I finally set foot inside the old marketplace.

Bike Ride: View
Along Canal Lachine
Professor N. (who teaches not here in Montréal but at Buffalo) and I have seen each other sporadically over recent years when I've passed through western New York. These episodes have been brief: for all the times we've seen each other we're still at a getting-to-know-each-other-as-friends stage. We've never had more than short hours over brief days to become acquainted over what times as I've passed through Buffalo. I view this visit of hers to Montréal as time to more firmly establish a yet-budding friendship.

I was pleasantly surprised that Professor N. was up for biking around town. Though she does bike for leisure on occasion she'd never ridden anywhere along city streets, even back in Buffalo. She'd always placed her bike inside her car and driven it out to some nearby dedicated trail for her rides. That is, until I convinced her that the cycle tracks running through Montréal would provide ideal paths for us to get around town.

Professor N. Sits Outside
Notre Dame des Victoires
Yesterday's excursion began by rolling downhill from my NDG home across Westmount to Boulevard DeMaisonneuve. The two of us followed the cycle track into downtown before finally turning left and continuing along a few blocks to reach the McGill campus. As faculty at a different institution, Professor N. was naturally curious to check out the parallel department here in Montréal. We checked out the Education building, recharged over cold cups of water in the third-floor lounge of the Institute of Islamic Studies, toured the beautiful library on ground floor of the same building, before finally picking up souvenirs at the soon-to-be-defunct campus bookstore.

As Professor N. is curious about all things to do with education I suggested that we roll along to the Grande Bibliothèque. Once inside we worked our way from the top floor down to the basement exposition hall where a multimedia presentation on Québec playwright and novelist Michel Tremblay was still running. I'd taken the exhibition in several times previously, first while it was running at the Musée de la civilisation back when I lived in Québec City. It seemed a solid introduction to Québec art and culture to offer a guest visiting the province.

After a ten-minute ride from the library rolling into Chinatown we sat on an outdoor restaurant terrace to split a mammoth steamed bun. We chased our snack down with a drink at a nearby pub on Ste.-Elisabeth St., a place that, on any other day, would have been one of my favorites. But, I'll have to remember to avoid Friday happy hour in future. We could scarcely hear each other over the conversation of all the other patrons in the courtyard.

David and Professor N.
Outside Château Frontenac
Rolling along Canal Lachine to return home I realized that I hadn't ridden along that stretch for over a year, since the term I lived in Montréal's Southwest borough. Returning uphill and back home was accomplished mostly by cranking the pedals--though a few of the steeper blocks had to be walked up on-foot.

That bike ride was yesterday. Today, we're making the obligatory day trip to Québec City that I insist anybody who comes to visit me in Montréal should tag onto their itinerary. This visit was all the easier as Professor N. had driven her own car from Buffalo, obviating any need for us to rent one back in Montréal. I was happy to drive; I'm always happy to drive. Professor N. was happy to have time not seated behind the wheel. I'll be the one driving again when we turn around and return to Montréal later this evening.

Thanks for making the drive to come visit, Professor N.! See you again when I pass through Buffalo this October?