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La Vie est Belle a Montreal

Friday morning I boarded the train to Montreal as the sun was rising. Two days before my friend Tara messaged me "I want to go to Montreal with you.  Next weekend?"

I had planned a solo weekend to write and walk but it seemed like fate.  I wrote back "This weekend?"

So together we took off on what I called our retreat weekend.   A weekend to unwind, eat good food, take it easy and enjoy each other's company.

We arrived in the afternoon and got settled in an apartment in one of my favourite neighbourhoods.  After doing some work, we bought some umbrellas and took off exploring in the pouring rain.  The colours on the trees popped in yellow, red and orange as young and old men in traditional hasidic Jewish clothing passed us.

We stopped into boutiques, strolled down Boulevard Saint-Laurent, and then feasted on raw food at Crudessence.  It was by far one of the best raw food meals of my life.  We dug into hearty "nachos", the "enchilada" special, and a "caesar salad".  All washed down with green juice of course.  It was fresh, filling, and just what we were craving.

The next morning Tara treated me to a massage at the Scandinave spa for my birthday.  We had some serious rub downs and luxuriated in the warm baths, braved the cold ones, and sweat out any sins in the sauna and steam rooms.

We spent the day strolling, admiring the buildings and the McGill campus, shopping, and indulging in another Crudessence feast at the downtown location downtown.  They had more options, including the dessert Discovery Plate, which we had to indulge in.  In case you're wondering, the brownie and tiramisu were clear winners.

For dinner we honoured are cravings.  Tara hit up  La Banquise for piping hot poutine topped with ground beef, while I ran up the street to Aux Vivres for a delux salad topped with guacamole, tempeh and miso dressing.

This morning I took off early to roam our area, and stopped to grab a big cappucino for myself and a pain au chocolat for Tara at a beautiful patisserie full of tarts, fresh pastries and bread.  Afterwards we took off on a long brisk walk, grabbed some bagels from St-Viateur to take home, and made one last jaunt to Crudessence to feed my obsession.  The breakfast burrito did not disappoint (and I snagged some raw granola to take home).

I was not as adventurous as I usually am when I travel, but it was everything I was craving.  A taste of Europe, an excuse to speak French, healthy food, inspiration, honest conversation, fun, rest and relaxation.  I had some quiet time to myself and time with a friend who brightens up my world.

As my train heads towards Toronto I am full of love and gratitude.

TravelGillian Young