Travelin’ Man – Stupid Is More Than Just A Word


Today’s Music: Christopher Cross – Ride Like The Wind
Days Til Spring: 30

It started with an innocent conversation between me and my wife (The Most Wonderful Girl In The Universe).
Me: Hey honey, want to go to Canada in February?
TMWGITU: *thinks* Who’s playing?
(She knows me so well! And we’ve had this conversation before. A lot.)
Me: John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett. Acoustic! On stage at the same time!
TMWGITU: *sighing* Ok.

So my wife (who rarely thinks just a concert is reason enough for crossing an international border) planned a long weekend for us in Canada – two days in Montreal, two in Ottawa. Fortunately, when it was time for the trip, NYC was on the verge of a heat wave – 40 Fahrenheit! – so, in fine stupid fashion, off we went to Canada!

Montreal in winter was stunning! After checking into our room, we walked over to Old Montreal to get our very first (so we thought) Poutine.
Poutine is a local delicacy of french fries smothered in gravy and cheese curd. One of the options at the place we went was to get it with smoked meat.

The French on the soda bottle is how you know I'm in Montreal.

The French on the soda bottle is how you know I’m in Montreal.


We were in time for their Fête des Neiges, an annual celebration of snow, held on a small island in the Saint Lawrence river. We took the subway to get there, and I added yet another rail pass to the collection (which sadly consists of only New York, London and Montreal).

The festival was a massive party – Ferris wheel, zip line from the museum, live child foozball.
Yes, you read that right.

At last! A use for kids I approve of!

At last! A use for kids I approve of!

After that (and a great night’s sleep), we headed out the next morning to the top of Montreal to get bagels.
Back near the beginning of the twentieth century, Old World Jews migrated to Canada. Among the traditions, rituals and foods they brought with them were bagels.
I’m from NYC, born and bred. So after my wife told me how famous Montreal bagels were, and people around the hotel raved about them, I had to check them out. The big difference between Montreal bagels and real bagels (yeah, I said it) is that Montreal bagels are boiled in water with honey added. If I hadn’t known it was honey, I wouldn’t quite have been able to identify what was wrong with them. Lucky me.

It kinda looks like a bagel.  But the resemblance ends there.

It kinda looks like a bagel.
But the resemblance ends there.


To be fair, we did go to the two oldest, most famous bakeries to try the bagels.
I’ll stick with an NYC. Preferably with a schmear.

Part two will cover Ottawa, because otherwise, this post would be very long.
So until then, enjoy this view of a ferris wheel rising from the snow.
Ferris Wheel
And some random guys playing hockey on a rink in the projects. Because Canada.
20140131_200908

About these ads

199 responses to “Travelin’ Man – Stupid Is More Than Just A Word

  1. Live child foosball? Where was that when the kid had excess energy?

    Looking forward to seeing what you did in Ottawa. Looks like a great trip!

    Like

    • We had a blast, if only for the silliness of leaving a bad winter to go to a worse winter.
      But it was nice to see that they celebrate the snow. Really nothing else you can do with it…

      Like

  2. I am going straight out to theShed to construct some kind of “live child foosball” game!

    Like

  3. You have to hit Toronto next time. We have a whacky mayor. You may have heard of him. More fun than slave-induced foosball.

    I hope you hit Shwartz’s while in Montreal – that’s the real deal for smoked meat! But Montreal is a groovy place – been there countless times. It’s a fun city, for sure!

    Like

  4. No comment on the bagels… well, one, I agree with you. Sigh. I used to live in Montreal and am the world’s biggest Montreal Expos fan – I get nothing for this adoration, given that the team doesn’t exist anymore. Sorry about the cold, dude.

    I grew up in Ottawa, most of my family still lives there, so I’m there all the time (it’s about a six hour drive from where I’m at on west side of Toronto). Great city but colder than all get-out. I remember going to school early in the morning in -40 C; it was rank awful. But a great city anyhow.

    Like

    • And yet, Ottawa knows exactly hos to manage its snow.
      The last night they were there, they had massive 5′x5′ snowblowers to shoot the snow into a stream of dumptrucks and cart it off.
      On teh other hand, it looks like they don’t even bother shoveling for less than 6 inches.

      Like

      • Pretty much…. in Ottawa, you never ever want to buy a house that has a sidewalk, and never a corner lot – or you’ll be shovelling forever. You also have to learn that sometimes, staying at home is okay.

        Like

  5. How was the poutine? I’m not sure if I’ll ever be brave enough to try it. The word ‘curd’ just doesn’t do it for me.
    I’d love to go to Canada, and loved your pics – especially live kid foosball. Excited for the next installment!

    Like

    • I’ve been ordering gravy to go with my fries for years. The cheese curds (and smoked meat!) were a nice add on. If you like the fries and gravy, and cheese in general, poutine might be a nice dish for you.

      Like

  6. Glad you enjoyed some Canadian hospitality and child torture!! Next time – Muskoka in the summer. :D

    Like

  7. Hmmmm…..my father lived in Ottawa – so I’m curious abooot the foozeball action there…I bet they feel they have to emulate those Montrealians (yes, I made that up). I hope they put a spin on it – like adult sized foozeball or Yeti Foozeball…

    My mom owned a bagel bakery (she’s right outta Brooklyn) and it hurts me to read about putting honey in the water kettle. Deep, deep, deep inside.

    Like

  8. Looks so cold there! The bagels don’t look bad at all, just a funny shape. I guess people have to keep warm somehow, hence the crazy sport and lots of food. I’m fascinated by the live child foozball. Maybe it would catch on as a new winter sport in Central Park. :?

    Like

  9. Oh boy….child size foozball? Good think y’all left (abandoned) me home alone. I have never had a Canadian bagel either and now not sure I want to.

    Like

  10. It’s for better or worse. Remember the contract? And it’s not like you asked her to go to have root canal performed. You went for a whoop-ass concert.

    Poutine looks deadly and delicious. I’d just press it to my thighs where it’d end up anyway.

    Dude, that doesn’t even LOOK like a bagel. You’re being charitable. That’s not very New York of you.

    Where are the pics of the ice sculptures! They’re masterpieces.

    Like

    • The ice sculpture pics will be in part two. They really were incredible.
      The bagels, not so much.

      She enjoyed the concert. And as stated at the top, she’s used to it by now. I can still judge how outlandish I’m being by her reaction. This one just earned a short sigh.

      Like

  11. Like Nadia, I am curious about the Poutine, too. I mean you can’t tell us you tried it and not tell us what you thought. :)

    Like

    • I enjoyed it. we went to that place after we checked into our hotel, and we were hungry after traveling.
      Hot, filling, and it hit the spot. After years of hearing about it though, I was surprised it was so familiar – basically cheese fries with gravy. And meat!
      Quite tasty. We finished the dish.

      Like

  12. Giant foozball is awesome.

    Like

  13. I mistakenly read/exchanged “football” into the Live-Child Foosball” scenario. Unfortunately for me I guess…it still made sense…
    I just love taking holidays with you and TMBGITU…..

    Like

    • Foosball is better then child football – because they’re strapped in!
      Sadly, many of them couldn’t quite keep their feet, so they ended up dangling.
      Sad. But still kind of funny.

      Like

  14. I would love to go to Montreal. My husband and I were there once for a conference. We got to stay a whole three hours before we were called back home due to a work emergency. Needless to say we didn’t see too much! As for a human-foosball game? Very cool!

    Like

    • I like any city I get to visit, even if I get to find out I never want to go there again.
      Montreal has a lot to offer. A week would be better spent there than just a couple of days, but we did find plenty to do and see.

      Like

  15. While French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curd sounds utterly revolting I will try one of those Montreal bagels just to see if they even taste like NY bagels, they certainly look nothing like those but still we have to try them out just the once, oh go on then dish me up some French fries smothered in gravy, you never know I might even like that too :) lmao

    I am looking forward to your next posting as your adventure definitely rocked, well Canada is a very nice place to visit, or so I have been told :) It looks a wicked place and there are a lot of car shows, I hope you managed to get one in while you were there Guap :) I would be venturing off every weekend to the Lamborghini and Ferrari ones as they are awesome :)

    Have a bagel in Ottawa next and grab a hockey stick just in case you fancy a smack around with the puck, or is it a puc? :)

    Andro

    Like

    • No car shows, but the food was pretty good.
      And I was surprised (not sure why) to see an ice hockey rink right in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

      Like

      • In the UK at the moment you would be seeing lots of ducks in residential areas :( lol I shouldn’t joke really as there have been a lot of peeps losing their businesses and houses, it has been such freaky weather lately my great friend :) Glad you had a wicked vacation :)

        Andro

        Like

        • I’ve heard your isles were getting battered. I hope the local areas are at least handling it well and staying as safe as possible.
          Hope you ride it out with as few issues as you can.

          Like

  16. For a New Yorker, Montreal bagels are a “say what?” experience. They aren’t bagels. They are nominally round, but they are NOT bagels.

    Like

  17. You make me want to go back to Montreal, where I loved the poutine as well as the bagels (what can I say? I’m an Italian from central Mass.) I’m smart enough to wait for summer to head up there, though!

    Like

    • I was in Montreal once before in winter, but that was to ski.
      This time, it was to slide on the snow. At least they know how to play in it, instead of grumping about like us NYCers.

      Like

  18. French fries and gravy sounds good, hold the curd.

    I like honey and I like bagels–not sure I’d like them together.

    Ferris wheel pic is gorgeous. Did you go up on it? Zip line? Volunteer as a foos ball kid? (What was the most adventurous thing you did? Curd doesn’t count. ;) )

    Like

    • The winterfest was very busy, so we ended up getting hot chocolate and strolling around the island/park. It was really beautiful – they even had a snow tube run!
      The mos exciting thing was in Ottawa – ice skating. But that came next.

      Like

  19. Must have local delicacies. That looks like quite the spread. And celebrating snow is the way to go! Bagel what? Can you zip line into the kids?

    Like

  20. OMG, I clicked on the *like* button before you dissed the bagels…just thinking about a hot Montreal bagel is making me hungry – how can you not LOVE big time???!!! Okay, I don’t know NY bagels, but still… :)

    Like

  21. This post is so great in so many ways! Or mainly because it sums up the past month of life for me up here. I totally agree on the bagels, if you can call them that. Also I don’t understand why they won’t put the cream cheese on for you.

    Did you get to ride the dogsled at Fete de Nieges? And see the creepy polar bear mascot? When I went the windchill was around -25 F, so at that point I just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible, and I can’t believe I missed the child foozball! I really missed out.

    Did you get the poutine at Montreal Poutine in Old Montreal? They have people standing outside to get you to come in. When I was there they had really crappy service, but the poutine was out of this world!

    Like

    • Yes! We did go to Montreal Poutine in Old Montreal! And you’re right – the service was awful!.
      We loved the way they had the whole island set up for the Fete, and despite the crowds (and steady snowfall), everyone was remarkably good spirited and patient. It would be really nice to have an experience like that in NYC.

      Like

  22. A fair in winter?!
    Anyway, Smoked beef from that place called Schwartz is the best there is. we liked it so much that we got some to bring across the border. Alas, beef crossing borders is not allowed even when it is very well done. We had to throw the meat out before we could cross the border.

    Like

  23. Cool! After watching South Park, I’ve always wanted to go to Canada:) Btw, Lyle Lovett, -he was married to Julia Roberts once, right?

    Like

  24. My partner is in Montreal in a couple of weeks for work. I’ll tell him to take a warm hat

    Like

  25. Always wanted to go there. One day. John Hiatt! Now your talkin!

    Like

    • I’ve been to Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal – all beautiful cities, but I think Ottawa is my favorite so far.
      And I’m just glad I got to see John Hiatt again. He’s getting old…

      Like

  26. Awesome… getting to know you… getting to know all about you… sing it with me, now…

    Like

  27. Haha ‘finally a use for kids for kids I approve of’ :D.
    But french fries smothered? Why would you smother that? Traumas much?

    Like

  28. Your wife sounds pretty awesome. ;-) My husband’s uncle has an adult sized foozball table where you actually get in and play.

    Like

  29. Never been to Montreal. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you.

    I’ve been to Toronto a couple of times. Lovely town. Everything is so clean and people are so polite!

    Like

  30. Never been to Montreal, although have been to Toronto and Calgary, both the in the summertime, eh. I know a few adults who would also love to be part of a foosball team and a few more who would love to crank the handle. How big was the ball?

    Like

  31. Ach! A fellow weekend traveler in the snow! It looks like you had a great time, bagels notwithstanding. And that duo, acoustic, on stage together… DEFINITELY worth an international border crossing. Can’t wait for part deux (notice my French)!

    Like

    • I’d have gone just for the concert.
      It was my wife who was smart enough to turn it into a vacation!

      I spent the two days in Montreal starting all transactions with “Parlez vouz angalis?”. Sadly, I was screwed every time the answer was “Non”.

      Like

  32. What a great time you had! Traveling for concerts – you are awesome. Looking forward to part 2 and ice sculptures!

    Like

  33. What a fantastic time you must have had (I’ve always thought someone would invent a use for children!) LOL :D

    Like

  34. welcome to my country!

    Like

  35. Oh my at the childs foozball. I should be horrified, but instead I want to play lol

    Like

  36. I’m intrigued by Live Child Foozeball. I don’t think I saw helmets and elbow pads in your picture. Normally we’re very safety conscious up here.

    Like

  37. You went to Canookia and didn’t meet Lily? Tsk.

    Like

  38. Unless the ball is made of kids, what is the point?

    Like

  39. What?! You came to my country? What do Ferris wheels and ice skaters have to do with Canada? Oh yeah all the French writing on things is in all of Canada.

    Like

  40. Mmmmm…poutine with Montreal smoked meat! Hey, did you get trying some beavertails? I lived in Ottawa for a year, for school, and I became addicted to them. OMG…they are the yummiest.

    Like

  41. Sounds like a great trip, you hoser. I’d never heard of Poutine, but it sounds like something I’d really like. Thanks for taking us along!

    I assume in the next installment you’ll let us know how the John Hiatt/Lyle Lovett show was?

    Like

    • Having enjoyed fries and gravy for years, I was surprised at how familiar poutine looked. The smoked meat was a nice touch though.
      For now, I’ll just say the two didn’t disappoint, and I’ll fill in the rest in part two.

      Like

  42. How fun, Guap!! Those french fries look amazing! I told you to eat enough for me too and it looks like you did! ;) :)

    Like

  43. Boiled? *shudder* Looks like fun. I am still keeping my last vacation in the bag. Not too much longer though. ;)

    Like

  44. How do I volunteer the gaggle for foozball ..er..participation?
    Hahaha finally a use for kids you approve of.. snort.
    Only 30 days til spring..sadly I think it will be a jump right to summer this year here in the desert. Already in the 80s in the day. and I just got new boots dammit. Looks like you had fun ..hi to TMWGITU ;-)

    Like

  45. Snow? Never heard of the stuff!

    Like

  46. Wonderful trip. Canadians know how to embrace the winter, but at this point in my life, I stick to visiting there in the non-winter months. Wonderful if the island with the park was part of Expo long ago. Otherwise, why else would a subway go out there. Looking forward to Ottawa because I haven’t been there! … cheers to Ride Like the Wind.

    Like

  47. Honey? Water-boiled? There’s no way you went to Fairmont if this is how you describe a Montreal bagel. No way! Plus, please tell me you went to Schwartz on Park Ave for THE best smoked meat experience! Please! Why didn’t you tell me you were going, I could have been your virtual tour guide! Poutine = Lafleurs. Did you go THERE??? I’m feeling sick.

    Next up – Ottawa? My 2nd hometown in Canada. Now I am falling apart
    at the thought that you MAY not have been there during Winterlude (where I worked for 6 years). I think I have hives breaking out on my back.

    p.s. the pic of the poutine, the dude with the Mexican drug rug. Is that you? Because it could totally be my husband (TMWGITU, but G stands for GUY). He’s got THE EXACT SAME MODEL, bought and paid for in La Paz!
    p.p.s. Montreal is home to the largest jewish community having directly escaped the holocaust. I like saying that. It makes me feel special.
    p.p.p.s. If you do happen to google it, please don’t let me know if I’m wrong, it’ll spoil the myth that my college teacher was the best teacher in the world.

    Like

    • - We went to St-Viateur bagel and Fairmount bagel shops. Both were the same result – an interesting, slightly sweet bread that was NOT a bagel.
      Sorry. ;)
      - We had the poutine at Montreal Poutine, though it really was everywhere – like hot dog carts in NYC.
      - As a new yorker, believe me, I am well covered for smoked meat options.
      (Though I’d trade it all for good pastrami.)
      (Which we also have.)
      - The drug rug is me! I bought that in an artist district in Toronto when we went up to see the Cars a few years ago. I own two others – a red one, that I got in Epcot center a while ago, and a pink one that is decades old that I bought at a now-gone sailing place I used to rent 16 footers from.
      (I love my pullovers!)
      - You’re absolutely right (from what I’ve heard) about the post-Holocaust Jewish community in Montreal.
      - We were in Ottowa for the Winter Fest. Ice sculpture pictures to come.

      Like

      • Cool! I’m soaking it all in. Actually I just had a hot pastrami on rye bread with just mustard, and it’s always a struggle to make sure they don’t put any cheese or sauerkraut on it. Nobody gets it… But the sandwich is just exactly like the smoke meat I remember from my childhood.

        I ran the snow carving comp at the Winterlude. It was my thing. Those things were huge. HUGE! I miss the snow now.

        Like

  48. I loved Montreal, but I haven’t been during winter. I think I was there during the 1 week of summer that they get. Glad you had fun!

    Like

  49. As for road tripping to see Lyle Lovett, I file it under “I’ve gone further for less” (much less, if I’m being honest). Add John Hiatt to the equation, and going north in the winter makes a whole world of sense. Looks like a fantastic trip!!

    Like

    • So far, I’ve flown to see The Cars, Van Halen, and Coachella. Overnight roadtrips have been to the Happy Mondays/Psychedelic Furs, Van Halen, and a few others.
      I’m lucky to have a wife who reminds me there is (occasionally) more to life than music.

      Like

  50. Sounds like an awesome time!

    Like

  51. I am glad you enjoyed our fair country in winter. Music is basically the only reason I would travel to a colder place in winter, although I have to say that the winter festival Ottawa sounds fun. I have never been, but that’s because if I get on a plane in the winter it better be to some place where I can replenish my Vitamin D stores.

    I agree that Montreal and New York bagels are just separate categories of food, but I prefer a wood fired Montreal bagel. Maybe because we can’t get a decent NY style one here. I had a rather revelatory bagel in NY (Essa bagel?), but there’s nothing even remotely equivalent in my town.

    Like

    • I would guess that any conflict between the NY/Montreal bagel communities is dependent on where they were raised.
      If I didn’t think of it as a bagel, the Montreal creation was quite tasty.

      As far as the winter festival, it was just nice to be someplace where they embraced it like that.

      Like

  52. I’ve only been to Montreal once: a spontaneous road trip in college. We were headed to Churchill, to see the polar bears and stopped in Montreal. It was exotic, at the time, and very cool. This sounds really fun, Guapo, and the Lyle Lovett/ Johh Hiatt is amazing! Just saw them a few months ago; they rocked the house. Can we agree, that outside of NYC, they are just baked goods with a hole in the middle? ;-)

    Like

  53. Haha!! I love that child foosball. I’m starting to think that Canadians are funnier than we are! Oh that Poutine looks so delicious! And with French diet coke no less! Cool!

    Like

  54. I’ve never had poutine. I mean, like poutine, properly prepared. I’m on the wrong side of the continent.

    I met a Canadian blogger at C4C once that thought my hometown should (and could) get a poutine restaurant. Poor, poor, lad. He doesn’t realize it will never happen unless East Canadians somehow migrate to eastern Washington state en masse.

    Like

  55. First of all I need to have my ‘AWWW’ moment here because of how sweetly you call your wife ‘The Most Wonderful Girl In The Universe’ , I bet she is ! :)

    Secondly What the heck is that kid thing??? Are they attached to those rod thingies or is it just me?
    P.S were bagels that bad, huh?

    Like

    • They were harnessed in. It was very funny, because most of them didn’t seem to realize what that meant when they tried to move.
      And then there were some who just decided to dangle.

      The bagels weren’t that bad – as long as I didn’t think of them as bagels.

      (And I’m just as much of a sap with my wife in real life.)

      Like

  56. Ooooh, the poutine just sounds icky to me…but the child foozball, I agree – a good use for children! :-) Can’t wait to hear about the show in part 2…hopefully it won’t take you as long to publish that as it is for me to publish part 3…lol

    Like

  57. No live child foosball video? Off to youtube!

    I’ve never been to Canada but would love to go.

    Like

  58. I’m a big admirer of your sense of adventure! I’m glad you enjoyed your trip! (and have to add my wtf and laughter to child foosball!)

    Like

  59. The poutine description mad me gag (the curd and all) but the kids dangling,waiting to – what – knock foosballs off a court – that is hilarious!

    I’m ALWAYS late to this party! Dang!

    And what’s wrong with “Everything is Awesome”? That should be your song this Friday. Don’t be a H8er.

    Like

  60. Love the song. Sounds like a real fun trip :)

    Like

  61. Foozball! Love it – is it an export? Think I could bring that to Finland and make a name for myself?! Great roadtrip, looking forward to part two.

    Like

  62. Our bagels here in the Toronto area are not like Montreal bagels, they’re more like you would get in New York. Other then that, I agree Montreal is a beautiful city. Glad you had a good trip.

    Like

  63. Oh Guap, now we’re gonna fight.

    How can you not like Montreal bagels??? Yes, they are different to NY bagels, but they are awesome in their dense and slightly sweet flavour. Toast those puppies and spread some butter on; snarf them down while the melted butter drips all over your hand. Heavenly!

    Like

  64. I don’t get the bagel thing. So they’re a piece of bread with a hole in it. ANd people like them. Why? Why?????? But Montreal, that I get. Nice trip!

    Like

  65. Pingback: Traveling Man: Would You Like Some Snow With Your Snow? | Guapola

  66. Ah, now I see why the bagel reference. Glad you enjoyed the city.

    Like

  67. So we even have “projects” in Canada? What did you think of the poutine? Personally, I can live without it, but hubby likes it. I’d rather just have fries with gravy!

    Like

Ahem *best Ricky Ricardo voice* Babble-OOOoooo!!!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s