Travel. . . Routine.
Two words that don’t work very well together.
I am not a big fan of routine, or traditions. I do have very few. But I do, however, hold one very dear.
Saint-Patricks Day in Montréal. The first year in some that I am not there.
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The tradition started with a friend of mine. We were good friends in college and one day, he had to drop out. Family issues. he needed to head back up north where he originally was from. Of Irish blood, which he was very proud of.
I didn’t see him for over a year. And then he came for Saint-Patrick’s day.
Over the years it became a thing. For some years it was the only time of the year we would see each other. He would drive or carpool to the big city and we would do all the things that we liked from Montréal, some of which we did in college.
This year not.
I don’t miss Montreal too much, but I realize I do miss that tradition. This tradition of a weekend without rules or boundaries. A weekend where we usually end up doing the same things every year. Not because we need to, but because we like it.
This year. Instead. I went to watch the Parade with my friend Denise. I did not think Munich even had a parade.
We had ice cream after, and that was that.
But back home. Back home so many things. And we usually do all of them. As such is tradition.
Having a good meal at the “Deer Garden” on the corner of Saint-Laurent and René-Lévesque Street. Great Szechuan restaurant. No frills. Lightning fast service. Modest decoration. Great prices. Only cash
Having a bubble tea in the “Quartier Chinois” (Chinatown), at the “L2 Lounge” right next to a sketchy massage parlor / beauty shop on the pedestrian part of “Rue de la Gauchetière“. The place to have a good a cheap bubble tea, so many options to choose from. Always taking jelly bubbles instead of tapioca. Cash only as well
Waking up to a Heineken is not too uncommon. Despite the fact that it’s not Irish at all, we never really cared.
Heading up for a quick Sheesha at the place where we spent all our (little) money back in college, the “Café Hookah” smoking lounge on “Saint-Denis” street. The decor might have changed after all these years, but they still have the house blends that we always liked. May I recommend “Aquaria” “Septième Ciel” or “Mystique” as the best in house hookah tobacco mixes.
Most nights ending holed up at the “Yer ‘Mad” bistro bar I love so much. Hidden behind an oddly placed door after some sketchy flight of stairs on “Maisonneuve Boulevard” with classic dive bar fake Scottish decor, busted toilet doors, stickers of unknown metal bands and student associations plastered everywhere, and what are definitely the best “Black Velvets” on this earth. Made from original Guinness beer and Quebec apple cider, on tap. Both. None of that bottle or can gimmick. Always fighting to get the peanut machines to work. At least they have free babyfoot, good music, great vibe and awesome staff. The best way to describe this hidden jewel ? “A cozy hole in the ground not so far from the main station“.
The morning is usually the theatre of a mild headache, and us making our way to the corner of “Mont-Royal” and “Saint-Urbain” streets to “Beauty’s Luncheonette“. Usually we wait a bit in line to get into the tiny space, where we subsequently sit down and engulf a humongous american style breakfast, making it all go down with a pint of fresh milkshake like it’s straight from the 70’s. The place was opened in 1942, and to this day, every time I go have breakfast, the old owner, on his trembling legs, comes himself to assign customers their table.”
We usually see the massive parade and try to go to an Irish pub in the evening, like “McLean’s” with their amazingly tasty pub food and conveniently located near “Dunn’s“, a decent smoked meat place, a Montreal classic, in the heart of Villemarie borough, on “Peel street“.
These small places that make me love my city, when shared with a buddy you don’t see all that much, make traditions worth it. And this year, on Saint-Patricks day, I somehow missed routine…