So I went to Brossard

I have been living in Montreal for almost nine months, and I am sad to say that I have done very little exploring outside of my comfy little neighborhood.  My reasons are valid, I am a working student with little time for anything else, but now that it’s almost summertime I am excited to the rest of the island.

Montreal is a pretty big place.

A = Chez moi

I started Project Explore Montreal with a leisurely trip to Brossard.  Admittedly, Brossard is off the island (South east-ish), but I had to visit a friend so it was a good place to start.

It was a weekday, and gloomy, so I had the bike lanes all to myself.  Usually I avoid bike lanes, but when I am traveling somewhere new I like the security they offer.  Somehow I feel like I can’t be too lost if I am still safely within those parallel, painted lines.

On the way to Brossard I got lost around five times.  The reason? I had to cross three bridges and Montreal has A LOT of bridges.  Between figuring out which bridges were the RIGHT bridges, and finding the cycling entrance I got a little turned around.

The bright side?  Cycling from the Village to Brossard turned out to be fantastic, scenic ride (despite the gloom). For instance, I got to see a view of Montreal that I don’t often get to see:

La Belle Ville

I also cycled through Jean Drapeau Parc (which is both beautiful and dangerously close to my favorite, only local amusement park)

Pictures may be blury due to swarming insects.

 And Brossard? Brossard isn’t half bad.  In fact, they have a MEC, which will make me a repeat visitor.

On the way back I was pumped to make the trip (16km each way) in half the time.  No getting lost to slow me down!  Unfortunately my plans were thwarted by the world’s slowest boat taking its sweet time through my only exit (which happens to be the world’s scariest bridge).

World’s scariest bridge

 Brossard: Check.

‘Gator Cuddling 101 (and other New Orleans Adventures)

Andre and I spent the beginning of the month in sunny, sweaty New Orleans. As per our new travel tradition (imposed by yours truly), we signed up to see the city and learn some local history on two wheels.

View of Decatur

 We opted for a Creole bicycle tour of the city’s colourful neighborhoods with the highly recommended Confederacy of Cruisers.  Unlike Montreal, our tour guide cautioned us, New Orleans is not crisscrossed with fancy segregated bike lanes.  No, here we rely on the kindness of drivers and good old fashion politeness. Yes, it sounded foreign to me too.

Bike nerds

The residential streets of New Orleans are lined with intricate balconies and brightly coloured shot-gun houses, allegedly named because if one were to open the front door and back door, one could fire a shot through one side and clean out the other.  Yes, according to our very knowledgeable tour guide, these houses were built without hallways, meaning that it was necessary to travel through each room to get from one end of the house to the other (aka zero privacy).

All about the balconies

While downtown New Orleans is vibrant and many of the residential areas are charming to the point of adorable, you can’t help but notice the devastating effects of Katrina.  Seven years later, we still came across neighborhoods dotted with condemned homes and houses with dates and numbers indicating when it was searched for inhabitants back in 2005.  Our tour guide pointed out that while these markings may seem to be a sad reminder of the past, they may also be interpreted as symbols of hope, strength and survival.

We also hooked up with a swamp tour and got to play with alligators (which are, by the way, unexpectedly cute and a good deal less scary than the bears we contend with up north).

‘Gator Cuddling 101?

1. Find a swamp.

SWAMP

2. Find a ‘gator.

‘GATOR

 3. Feed him marshmallows

MARSHMALLOW

4. Give him cuddles.

CUDDLES