in may i ventured up to montreal and toronto to spend 5 days with amaidhi, sneha, and nithya. sneha moved to toronto two years ago, and i have been trying to swing a visit since then, so when she told me amai and nithya were coming to visit we played around with some dates and i booked a ticket to head up there.
i met amai and nithya in montreal on friday evening and then sneha drove in on saturday with her friends karishma and dalbir. we had a fabulous few days in montreal, a fun road trip, and a great night and day in toronto. below are my highlights from the trip.
dinner at paul, jasmine, and liz’s. i hadn’t seen “uncle” paul since his india visit in 2010, and it had been 6 years since i last saw jasmine, so it was great to have a chill dinner at their house and have a few hours to catch up. we saw jasmine again on monday for our drive to toronto, but this was our only opportunity to see paul so i’m glad we were able to make it work.
two breakfasts at tommy café. amai, nithya, and i stumbled upon this spot by random chance, and it was so good we ate breakfast there two days in a row. the bloody tommy was so good, and the bageldictine [eggs benedict on a bagel] was maybe the best thing i ate the entire trip. the food was delicious, and the space is airy and bright and green, and both of our visits were pretty much perfect.
wandering along the water. we stayed in the old part of the city, so we were right by the old port and the st lawrence river. after breakfast on both saturday and sunday we walked off our meals with a stroll along the river. it was fun to see people out getting some fresh air and to watch the street stalls setting up for the day.
the views from mont royal. the large hill that gives montreal its name is a beautiful park that has a lookout offering incredible views of the city. on saturday evening we drove up the hill to watch the city as it was overtaken by dusk, and we enjoyed a fair few photoshoots atop the hill.
a visit to the basilica. on sunday afternoon we braved the long weekend crowds and made our way to the notre dame basilica. it is one of the most beautiful churches i have ever seen, and it was well worth the time and money to visit.
drum circles in parc du mont royal. on sunday afternoons during warm weather months crowds gather in the mont royal park to play music and dance and picnic and enjoy the fresh air. people bring their instruments – mostly drums, but some guitars as well – and jam for hours around one of the statues, and hundreds of people come out to enjoy the music, dance, snack, and drink. we put together our own little picnic and enjoyed the music and the revelry before taking a wander through the park.
street art in the plateau. the plateau, the neighborhood near the park, has some incredible street art, which we admired on a stroll to get some poutine. three years ago the government announced an investment in public art, providing over half a million dollars to artists to transform public walls around the city. it brightens up blank walls, makes neighborhoods more inviting, and provides for some great photos. fun fact: i even saw a birdcap [a local memphis muralist] collaboration in paul and jasmine’s neighborhood as we were leaving their house on friday night!
poutine at la banquise. poutine is a must-eat on a visit to montreal, and apparently la banquise is the place where you must eat it. the queue stretched onto the street, even with the threat of rain, and let me tell you it was worth the wait. my choice, the meat on meat on meat, was delicious but far too much for one person. i think my favorite was the mexican-style option with guacamole and sour cream.
a road trip to toronto. when planning our trip we had to figure out how to get back to toronto, but luckily for us jasmine was driving to toronto on monday for a concert and offered to give us a lift. sneha rode back with karishma and dalbir, and amai, nithya, and i piled in with jasmine. we hit some traffic along the way, turning what should have been a 5 hour trip into an almost 8 hour one, but we had a good time and i even drove for a bit. ps — canadian drives are just as inept on highways as american ones.
a fun night at sneha’s house. since we didn’t know what time we would be getting back to toronto we decided to take it easy on monday night and chill at sneha’s house. her roommate alina made us some delicious snacks, we made drinks, and we had ourselves a little dance party just like the old days in bangalore. it was exactly what we all needed and was a perfect final night in canada.
a walk through st lawrence market. st lawrence market reminded me a lot of the central market in budapest, with stalls upon stalls of spices, meats, and pastries for sale. i was tempted by so much of the stuff but didn’t have luggage space so had to settle for window shopping.
a final lunch at sukho thai. as our last meal in town we went to sukho thai for lunch and devoured every last bite that we ordered. it was the perfect way to wrap up the trip.
a sister reunion. the ultimate purpose of my trip was to spend time with amai, sneha, and nithya, and i had a great time catching up with them. they took me under their wings when i first moved to bangalore in 2005, and so many of my happiest india memories include at least one, if not all three, of them. it had been three years since i last saw them, but we picked up where we left off and it is so nice to know time and distance have not changed our friendships. i will always be grateful for the three of them.