Montreal holds nearly every nationality and creed that exists on this planet. A true city of diversity. Positioned on the banks of the St. Lawrence, this sundry metropolis holds deep French roots and is touted as the most ‘cultural’ and the most ‘European’ city in North America. Step onto the streets and be engulfed in the arts. Architecture that stands through legacies of French and British creators, festivals of all genres attracting enthusiasts from all corners of the globe, and fare that is just as diverse.
I found myself wanting to explore as much of this city as I possibly could in 24 hrs. Starting near Mount Royal park I dipped into a sharp little coffee shop called Cafe Humble Lion and enjoyed a latte. From there I made a gigantic loop skimming the perimeter of Old Port Montreal. Here I found a fascinating backdrop. A dilapidated shipping terminal riddled with rusted steel silos and holding tanks, twisted planks and half-century old barges slumped over on their sides.
From the port I moved into old town Montreal and visited one of the coolest restaurants I have ever seen in my life. Olive et Gourmando. Please visit this place when in Montreal. Old town is characterized by cobble stone streets, steeples projecting from the short skyline, one-off boutique apparel and art stores underground from the street level and quality focused restaurants that will make any American shed a tear due to the deliciousness.
Montréal–Trudeau International Airport
After walking around a good portion of the city snapping photographs, I jumped on the modern but unconventional subway system made with rubber wheels, then boarded a bus to the airport. Standard procedure here: check-in, pass security, then a short walk to the Air Canada Lounge. Here, I was elated. I could clean up, grab small refreshments then I would be boarding my transatlantic flight to London. Being this was one of the few lounged I have been in, I found it quite nice. The space was unique. Flowing, wooden architecture complimented with clean, simple lines left a nice impression. Natural hardwoods offset by the signature AC red offered a cozy setting.
I first opted for a shower. The washroom was spacious and very clean. Amenities were sparse. After sprucing up, I headed for the fare. Offerings in the lounge were plentiful for North America standards. Not the best food on the market but, lets face it, who ever zealously boasts about Canadian food? The buffet was complete with hummus, pita chips, tortilla chips, salsa, carrot salad, quinoa salad, fresh vegetables and more. What really put a smile on my face was the self-serve Guiness on tap. I had my fare share. There was also a fine selection of spirits.
After relaxing for an hour, reading an article on Grantland, briefly fantasizing about how my first long-haul business class flight would be, and sending farewells to significant ones, the time had come to board.
This was a trip of high anticipation. When I say high, I really mean HIGH anticipation. Lets put this in pop culture terms. And no, it’s not like the level of anticipation you are feeling about Kim and Kanye’s wedding. I could give a shit less. Its was more like the sensation that all of Michael Jacksons admirers felt leading up to the release of Thriller. This same Michael Jackson effect succumbed me months prior during the onset of planning this trip. “Right this way” quipped an Air Canada stewardess after scanning my boarding pass, pointing me down the gangway. I rounded the elbow at the bottom of the ramp, head down, eyes allowing the steel blue berber carpet to run freely. Slowly bringing my sight upward in contact with the side of the plane, I was struck. It was as if I was staring up the stairs to heaven. I had made it. Through all the trials and tribulations, I had made it. The cabin of this A-330 was shrouded in a brilliant aurora that had me in full captivation. I was three steps from boarding my first long-haul, transatlantic business class flight.
The classic pod setup of the A-330 was appealing to me. Although it doesn’t have the widest of seats, its cool flying at a 45 degree angle. The seat itself, measuring 21″ in width, is convertible into a lie-flat mode. Grateful I could stretch all the way out, the cushion was comparable to that of a Saturn Vue passenger seat. Not the most comfortable of sorts but sleep-able nonetheless. Amenity kits were provided with shoddy socks, a toothbrush, tooth paste and a few other odds and ends.
After arranging my bags, looking over the other pods in excitement, fiddling with the twenty different seat controls, and downing a glass of champagne, the aircraft pushed back and lifted over the Montreal skyline. The cordial stewardess’ came around with a lightly seared albacore tuna plate nestled in a bed of lettuce. The main course shortly followed. I went for the “Grilled Alberta AAA Beef Tenderloin” accompanied by potatoes al gratin and french beans. As I said before, no one has ever been heard raving about Canadian food so my expectations were low. The near raw tuna left a good impression on me as thats how I like fish. It carried a nice flavor, as did the beef. I can comfortably say Air Canada exceeded expectations on all facets, for the exception of the amenity kit. Judging by the quality of material in the kit, upper management of AC source from the same suppliers as K-Mart.
Service was great, the food exceeded my expectations and flying at a 45 degree angle is epic. In conclusion, I do recommend Air Canada’s classic pod product. The blue mood lighting is also an added bonus.
Segment 1: Montreal, Canada(YUL) – London, England(LHR) – Istandbul, Turkey(IST)
Segment 2: Istanbul, Turkey(IST) – Singapore, Singapore(SIN)
Segment 3: Singapore, Singapore(SIN) – Bangkok, Thailand(BKK)
Segment 4: Bangkok, Thailand(BKK) – Hong Kong, Hong Kong(HKG)
Segment 5: Hong Kong, Hong Kong(HKG) – Taipei, Taiwan(TPE)
Segment 6: Taipei, Taiwan(TPE) – Tokyo, Japan(NRT)
Segment 7: Tokyo, Japan(NRT) – Seoul, South Korea(ICN)
Segment 8: Seoul, South Korea(ICN) – San Francisco, United States(SFO) – Montreal, Canada(YUL)