Chinatown - Grampies Track the Tortes (2019) - CycleBlaze

March 15, 2019


I hadn't really planned to make a post today,  since we have yet to start cycling. However in a significant way we have started the trip, so posting is a good idea. 

Not planning to make a post, I didn't particularly take photos. At one thousand words per missing picture, this could be a wordy entry! No worries, though, because not all that much happened.

We started with the Metro, Montreal's generally good subway system. But generally good does not mean perfect, and we began with an  SNCF like experience at the wicket.  The first and simplest question is how much it costs to ride. Well now, there are about 33 different answers, embodied in an 11x3 finely printed matrix posted to the wall. If you can't understand it, you can discuss with the lady in the booth, provided you can hear her with the rushing wind through the doors, train sounds, the plexiglass shield she is behind, the French language, and her Haitian accent. Her claim was that although there is a reduced price for seniors, this does not apply to people with a foreign, like British Columbia, Canada, ID. Do I sound a bit bitter? No time for that, there is a line forming. And by the way, they don't take credit cards.

Negotiating access to the subway.
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There are 18 different amounts of money that could get you onto the Metro today. The lowest is $2.25 and the highest is $199. Dodie and I paid $6 each, return. The kids paid $2, but returned for free. But isn't $2 less than $2.25? Sabrina explained it to me, but it went over my head. And oh, Joe rode for free. His 5th birthday is on Monday. Enviable position to be in.
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Montreal's Chinatown is comprised mostly by de la Gauchetière street. To get there from the Metro stop we crossed René Lévesque boulevard. In our day that was called Dorchester. But René Lévesque became Quebec premier (1976-85) and the street got renamed. We would not necessarily be great supporters of Baron Dorchester, commander of the British forces in North America (1782-83), but at least he did repel the American invasion of Quebec in 1775. Lévesque's big thing was to try to break Canada apart.

So anyway, we crossed the darn street and reached de la Gauchetière. The Chinatown portion is short but colourful. We first took the kids into a Chinese trinket, anime, toy, and general junk store. I think it offered a genuine experience, particularly for the man outside that ushered us in, and the sales lady inside that would not stop talking or following us around. The kids did enjoy looking at all the stuff, but I noticed the many "no photos" signs. I have often wondered about a policy like this, and in fact have had altercations over it in bakeries, in Dinkelsbuhl Germany and in Vienna. But now, as a demure tourist, I did not feel inspired to make a fuss (plus was not out today to be taking photos). However as the saleslady continued to dog our party, I decided to dog her a little, and asked for an explanation.

Clearly, I was out of my league, because though it seemed clear she was the daughter of the owners, who were in the store, she denied any knowledge, asserting "I just work here". What can you say to that, especially if you are not actually spoiling for a fight.

Later, I put my question to Google, and came up with an account of how Starbucks had had a no photos policy, when they were trying to discourage competitors from copying all their winning decor, and suchlike.

Ok, next time I want to open a Chinese junk store, I'll sneak back with a GoPro under my hat.

Chinatown, Montreal
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Next up was, yes, a Chinese bakery. Predictably, in a city of excellent bakeries, this one was also excellent - though in the Chinese genre. We got the kids a selection of  green tea vapour cake, chocolate vapour cake, red bean mochi, pork bun, sesame fried rice flour bean paste balls. All top

A Chinese "torte". The label says "fruit cake". It clearly is not "fruitcake". Check that price tag!
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quality, but of course I am looking for tortes. Probably this would qualify:

A souvenir shop yielded some good Montreal postcards. Down in the "Old Montreal" section of town we know there are some quite tacky souvenir outlets. But we found a place near Place des Arts that had sort of reasonable mass produced Indian craft items. Most notable though were high quality raccoon caps (with tails). $50 for a quality fur hat seemed like a good deal, and I loved the last one I had, when I was about seven. But even I could appreciate the impracticality of buying something like that so early in the trip. Amelia pointed out that raccoon is "raton lavant", a piece of vocabulary that I certainly did not have. Impressive.

In the metro a young man was playing reels on the fiddle while stamping his feet on a board. This is the iconic music of Quebec, and listening to him was a great way to close off our mini tourist excursion.



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Jacquie GaudetI remember my mother (born 1930) telling me that she travelled at the child fare on the bus in Edmonton into her twenties. It was by height and at 5'1", I guess she was below a line painted somewhere.
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3 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Jacquie GaudetToday on the bus I learned that the preferred rate is available to kids 6-11 without ID, but that a senior needs a "Photo Opus Card". I could cry foul, but maybe it's ok that they need me to prove that I am an old crock.
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3 months ago