Friday, May 9, 2014

Montreal {Part 3}

I'm finishing up today with my last post on Montreal (Part 1 and Part 2).

Tuesday was hands down my favorite day in Montreal, and actually one of the best days I've had in a while. It was just so much fun!

On Tuesday morning we were supposed to have another company visit that ended up getting cancelled. Our professors scrambled to put something together, and we ended up doing a cultural immersion exercise. They broke us up into groups and assigned each group a cultural community. Our task was to visit the part of town where this community of people live and learn some new things about that culture through visiting their churches, eating some food, talking to locals, etc. Then we would present our findings to the rest of the group the next day.

My small group was given the Haitian community, so we headed off into the part of town our professors told us we could find the Haitian community.

We got off the Metro stop on the other side of town and immediately found a 24/7 fruit stand (seriously, who goes and stocks up on fruits and veggies at 3 AM?!). We had been given a street name as a starting point and got directions there from people in the fruit stand.

We got to the street and it pretty much looked like nothing. There were a few cops standing around on the corner, so we asked them if they knew where the Haitian community resided, and they told us they had no idea. That's when we started to get a little nervous.....

So we just started walking around the area. We found a student from the University of Montreal who said that she was unfamiliar with any Haitians in the community, but she was able to point us to the community center. Wahoooo! Surely the community center is going to be able to tell us about the Haitian community. Wrong. The woman there told us that there were no Haitians in the area, but that they were probably in a part of town on the other side of the city. Bummer. At that point we were out of time, so we pretty much went back empty handed.

When we were on our way back to the hotel, we thought that maybe our professors had given everyone the wrong directions in order to force us to problem solve and learn some other lessons. They didn't - we were the only group that ended up not being able to find their community. Ha!

After that adventure, it was time for lunch. Our professor had told us the night before that we were going to be eating at an Ethiopian restaurant and that she was so excited because the food is fabulous. I honestly didn't believe her and had pretty much accepted the fact that I would be leaving the restaurant hungry because there was no way I was going to like Ethiopian food. I can be a bit of a picky eater.....

When we got to the Blue Nile Restaurant, I was at least impressed with the decor. The restaurant was kind of upscale and everything was very modern and African themed. I absolutely loved the zebra print chairs!

When we were seated, we found out that you do not use utensils at an Ethiopian restaurant and instead just use your hands. So they brought our warm wet towels to clean your hands off before bringing out the appetizers. All of the food was brought out on a large plate that you shared with a total of 3 people.

The appetizer was a plate of diced tomatoes, chick pea hummus, and grilled vegetables. They also brought out several rolls of what is called injera. Injera is a doughy bread-like substance that serves a similar purpose of a tortilla. It doesn't have a whole lot of flavor but is kind of spongey and very light. You tear off little pieces of it and use the pieces to pick up your food, and then you pop it all in your mouth.

Well.....turns out I LOVE ETHIOPIAN FOOD. Who would have guessed?! Out of the appetizers the chick pea hummus turned out to be my favorite. I am still in shock considering I don't like a ton of different foods to begin with.

This was our main course. I can't even remember what some of the stuff was because I just stuck to the meat since it was so yummy. The meat we got was lamb, filet minion, and chicken. That was my first time trying lamb, and I was once again surprised by the fact that I liked it. I'm not sure if I have ever tried so many different kinds of food at one meal before - ha!

We also got dessert, which was phenomenal. I can be a bit of a snob about my desserts, so I was a little disappointed with the desserts we had at some of the other restaurants, but this one made up for it all. It was a little chocolate raspberry cake/mousse covered in chocolate on a stick. Delicious!

I just still cannot get over how cute and wonderful the Ethiopian restaurant was. Now I want to go to Ethiopia! Definitely the best meal we ate in Montreal.

We had a free afternoon, so a few of us went over to the part of town the woman at the community center said the Haitian community lived in. We were hoping to at least get something about the culture to present on. When we got off at the Metro station, we realized pretty quickly that we were not in a very nice part of town. Let's just say that we did not feel super safe, so we walked around one block, did not see anything that resembled the Haitian community, and got out of there.

We then met up with some more people back at the hotel and decided to go back to Old Montreal since some of them hadn't been there yet. Even though it was my third time in that part of town, I wasn't complaining since it was my favorite area of the entire city.

We ended up going back to the bakery I had gone to the previous day (Maison Christian Faure). This was not actually my idea (I didn't want everyone to think I was a total crazy person), but when some of them said they wanted to try the macarons I had talked about on Monday, I of course wasn't going to argue ;)

One of the girls got this giant croissant which looked super delicious!

I went for this mass of chocolate that was super yummy!

I also got a box of macarons to take home to my family.

We were planning on eating dinner down there, but then we had dessert first and weren't super hungry. We ended up just going to a coffee shop and getting little sandwiches and croissants to fill us up.

That evening we went to the Cirque du Soleil show Kurios! It's a new show that just opened down by the Old Port, and after touring the headquarters the day before, we were all so excited to see everything firsthand.

They even had people playing instruments up on the big top before we went in.

The show was absolutely incredible, and I am so glad we got the opportunity to see it. I've seen two other Cirque shows previously, but it had been a while, so I can't really remember enough to compare, but this one was unbelievable.

After the show, I went out with some friends and had such a fun time. When I think back to Montreal, Tuesday is what I think of - the Ethiopian food, the Kurios show, and the night out with friends was just such a fantastic day.

The next day, Wednesday, was our departure day unfortunately. I wish we could have stayed longer because there were still things I wanted to see that I never got a chance to.

That morning we had our presentations on our cultural findings. We ended up just talking about what we learned while trying to find the Haitian culture. Our group won the award for most enduring in adverse circumstances or something like that :) It turns out that the Haitian community was originally in the area we were sent to but they have since been driven out. One of the staff members at UQAM told us that they are probably out somewhere by the area we went to in the afternoon, but that was on the edge of the Metro stop, so they probably live even farther out. She also said that she has never been to that part of town because it's known for not being quite as safe. Fabulous. :)

After our presentations, a few of us stopped at Second Cup, which is like the Canadian equivalent to Starbucks. I ordered the Chocolat Chaud Glace, which is a Frozen Hot Chocolate. It was super good!

We then left for the airport, where we all pretty much crashed in the same area. We had 2 different flights coming home too, so I was on the one that left first.

We had a short layover in Atlanta before finally getting on our flight back to Cincy!

I pretty much just stared out at the clouds the entire time. The sun was setting over what looked like a sea of clouds, and it was just amazing to watch.

Doesn't that look like the ocean?

I loved how you could see the sun setting over the clouds and the moon shining above it all. Flying is my absolute favorite!

In short, it was such an amazing trip. I had a blast the entire time. I mean, what's not to love about going on a trip with 30 other people that you've shared classes, laughs, and memories with all year? I can't think of a better way to end my freshman year of college than with this trip and those people. So blessed!

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