The Smuggs Chronicle, Part Eight
Eighth Day: August 25, 2013
We cross the same suspension bridge Mira and I alone crossed 14 years ago.
Signs for downtown lead us to the bustling streets of the city’s modern commercial center. We locate a garage in the university district.
Soon, we stroll past geyser fountains along a pedestrian walkway. Children run in and out of the streams.
St. Lawrence River
these sunbathed sidewalks and
French street signs
We walk down a cobblestone pedestrian mall on Rue St. Catherine. Pass a Hyatt with the usual chain restaurants — the ones that serve $12 burgers. The doors of an indoor Mall with the sign Jardin something beckons a block down. We pass it. Soon, we need a map. I find a hotel that turns out to be “dead-center Montreal.”
We follow directions to Rue St. Denis. But it’s not the Bistro-lined street we remember.
“This isn’t fun,” Mira grumbles.
I wonder why we came.
the sidewalk on our path
closed for construction
A lucky turn and an encounter with a local lead us to Old Montreal. Along another cobblestone street we pass bistros and restaurants—including the recommended Jardin Nelson. A block later, we arrive at Jacques Cartier Place, a location Mira and I remember.
The plaza extends down toward the old port along the St. Lawrence. Restaurants line either side. Performers occupy locations spread apart, each drawing their own crowds. A magician performing near the top of the Plaza. Peruvian musicians play near the bottom.
moving through huddled masses
at Cartier Place
We arrive at our table in the Garden of Jardin Nelson. A Jazz quartet, featuring a petite diva with a Billie Holiday white carnation in her hair, entertains the lunch crowd from an elevated pedestal stage. Large white parasols in the shape of tulip petals shade us from the sun.
I order a rabbit crepe. Mira asks for a seafood crepe, and Frankie, a personal pizza topped with local sausage. As our waiter says, perfect.
I take my first bite. An explosion of succulent flavors engulfs my tongue: Robust, juicy flavor of sautéed rabbit, tart Portobello mushroom and hardy cheese.
Satisfaction, at last!
a forest of tulips
We cross Cartier Place and follow a cobblestone street. More bistros and gift shops, offering their siren song of tourist-trap trinkets.
We turn toward the old port. Walking up and down two piers, we can’t find the bench where I “proposed.”
one lone boat against the
St. Lawrence current
A walk skirting Chinatown, and we return to “dead center” — and the way home.
a flock of pigeons
read from the beginning: Pre-Smuggs Insomnia, the Prequel
more by FRANK J. TASSONE
photograph by Cedric Servay