Montreal has lived up to its reputation. A place where modern art and history synchronize. The clamor of the city in harmony with the ubiquitous churches offering peaceful refuge. It is also motorcycle friendly, with free parking downtown as well as creative parking everywhere!
The summer is construction season and many of the sites need navigation through plywood walkways and makeshift lanes. The Old Port is beautiful. The buildings of intricate design and immaculate gardens abound. We are enchanted by narrow streets with cafes and a sense of the times of yesteryear.
We visit the clock tower, the first observation point of those entering the city. We happen upon Rue de Remembrance with the largest graveyard I have seen. We begin where there are only headstones of various shapes and sizes, in somewhat chaotic arrangement as there does not appear to have uniform spacing. There are family plots with stairs to the area, not to be outdone by a sarcophagus looming behind. There is an plan, inasmuch as heritage, and we see the Japanese area, orderly and well appointed. There is Russian, Italian, Jewish and at the point we realize how truly large this place is when we have wandered and are not sure of the exit.
We find Schwartz's deli, apparently a must, and he says the sandwich did not disappoint. I am more taken with the view from the deli across the street. A dilapidated, graffiti ridden building that really isn't out of place except for the lineup of tourists from all over the world have not shamed or influenced the owner to change a thing. I love that! The deli itself is well-used and tired, but the outcry if it was changed I expect, would never be tolerated.
We also find our way to Mile End - the "hip" part of town that boasts artists, musicians, boutiques and cafes. At one time described as the heart of the independent music scene in Montreal it is also the Jewish area of the city and payos are abundant. We park the bike on a side street and see two young girls conspiratorially whispering as they surreptitiously watch us shed helmets and jackets. When I smile and wave they quickly look away, though I can hear a faint giggle confirming their naughtiness at their voyeurism.
The houses are walk-ups that encroach the street, very much like Brooklyn. Bicycles of all sizes are chained to decks on each level, curtains wave out open windows and the sound of babies crying and mothers scolding are the backdrop of our walk.