Montreal 2014 – Modulation!

So before I jump into perhaps the most EPIC trip of all time, let me first clearly define for you all the meaning of “Modulation”.  This intriguing word hand crafted and delivered to my vocabulary repertoire was gifted from my friend Rio (a real G).  Now that I have given my props, let me explain.

Modulation – the act of moving from place to place with immense, almost intoxicating swag, in which you literally have life by the balls.  

Months ago, I was contacted by my college buddy Mike Berglund about taking about booking a trip to Montreal over the upcoming 4th of July holiday. Mike and I had reconnected over the last year when I had transitioned to the same employer, Target. We had swapped travel stories over the last several months and both thought it would be cool to travel together and do some exploring. His proposal couldn’t have come at a better time. I had very recently been blindsided with a tough reality check and was really in need of an escape. I quickly acted on my gut and asked that he book our flights and within the hour it was finalized.

Over the next several months Mike and I had exchanged several ideas about the sights and experiences that we wanted to actualize during our 5 day trip. It was to be a fair mixture of Old Montreal including the best of Old Port and also the downtown area including Saint Lauraunt and the party district. The trip was fast approaching and we had one last happy hour at the Roasted Pair in BP to nail down our logistics and travel arrangements. In the back of our minds, I am sure we both were wondering what it was going to be like traveling together, but knowing Mike’s personality and style, I knew we would have a very memorable trip. I had no idea what I had really signed up for. The trip that ensued was to be epic!

Let the modulation begin…

Day 1

After a long evening of preparation for the trip, I had successfully packed everything needed. Just before we left the house to go pick up Mike, he text me stating that he couldn’t fit his suit. I told him to man up as we would need to be looking our best and he was so glad that he did, lol.

Kindly my wife drove us early to the airport and with plenty of time, stress was removed from our travel equation. We sat and had a bloodymary and some lunch before our flight. We were officially on vacation and after one last work email, I was officially OOO! We boarded our flight and only a couple hour flight we were in Canada! Getting through customs was a pretty smooth transaction, at least after being grilled with questions by the official.

Let’s modulate! Our next step was to go checkout our suite for the weekend at Le Place d’Armes in Old Montreal. By this time the looks were just rolling in everywhere from all the French-Canadian women, lol and we were only trying to catch a cab. Mike was like, let the games begin.

Upon arrival, we scoped out our pad and both were really pleasantly surprised with how huge the terrace was! Additionally, we were on the top floor and the view was awesome! The bathroom was sweet and came with a vintage style tub moderinized with jets and a separate glassed-in shower, super nice! Quickly we moved in and hung up our suits and were out the door in search of dinner in Old Port. Conveniently the hotel was located only a few blocks from everything, so it was easy for us to enjoy some sight seeing before agree to catch dinner at Pizzadelic.

Taking in some of the new sites that would be our temporary home. Love the cobble stone streets in Old Port, the city truly has a rich history and a significant french influence.  Simply beautiful!

Taking in some of the new sites that would be our temporary home. Love the cobble stone streets in Old Port, the city truly has a rich history and a significant french influence. Simply beautiful!

After sitting at the bar and getting hit on by a middle aged “dance mom”, we were eventually sat on the outside patio. This place seriously served the best tasting pizza and tap beer of my life. It was my first opportunity to see the cobble stone streets and the rich culture of the area. It is something that can only come with age, and Montreal was saturated with history and the beauty was baked into Old Port in a very organic way.

Every night we planned on stepping out, yes even on a Wednesday! So we headed to the suite and got our swag on and modulated to a couple Irish bars that we read about. After they fell short of our expectations we bailed and tried elsewhere. In the beginning we struggled to find a really hoppin spot to get turned-up, but when in doubt you just have to follow the music. Finally after a few taxi rides and some street modulation, we landed a gem, Apartment 200!

The music was on point which made dancing awesome! Mikey B has moves, who woulda thought, hahaha what a pimp! The time flew by and we tore through drink after drink blowing cash on vacation makes you feel like your dealing in Monopoly money, the drained us but we didn’t care it was so worth it. This place was packed with Montreal’s college student population and everyone was super cool, girls and guys… We got so much attention it was stupid! So as the bar closed, my buzz finally kicked in and we somehow got back to the room… To be continued tomorrow!

Day 2

I woke a little groggy but not hungover, surprisingly. Through some street clothes on and dipped out to catch my morning fix. So glad I spotted a Starbucks only a couple short blocks away, sweet! When I returned my boy was ‘Gliding’ a whole new social media inspired video messaging platform. Lol, it became a funny way to document little glimpses of our trip; through it, we may have made his friends a bit jelly of our adventures!

After we got ready, it was time to hit the streets. Super glad that he was open minded about hoofing it. So by the order of proximity we started with the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal which is less than a block from our hotel.  When fetching my cup of joe, I saw that square in front of it was already packed with visitors (not even 10am), so we had to check it out.  At only $5 entrance fee, this was a steal and the sights were amazing. Here are just a few of the amazing photos that we took.

This was so worth our time and the reasonable entrance fee... just don't try to bring in your Starbucks, lol. The detailed architecture and stained glass was incredible. This deserved a moment of silence as we stood there in awe.

This was so worth our time and the reasonable entrance fee… just don’t try to bring in your Starbucks, lol. The detailed architecture and stained glass was incredible. This deserved a moment of silence as we stood there in awe.

Here is a bigger shot at the main attractions in Notre-Dame.  I cannot believe the time and energy that must have been spent bringing these backdrops to life.

Here is a bigger shot at the main attractions in Notre-Dame. I cannot believe the time and energy that must have been spent bringing these backdrops to life.

Now that we were both feeling like better humans, it was time to roll through Old Port and make our way to the river’s edge to start our real adventure. Upon arrival we could see the Biosphere in the distance and both of us agreed to somehow get there on foot, that would be no small feet as this required serious modulation.  I was really impressed that my travel buddy was up for the challenge.  I am so glad that we decided walk it out as it gave us a chance to talk and catch up on life and share thoughts of the city.  Along the way we did stumble across a cool site, Habitat 67. A unique and modern way of living that offered some great views. Just imagine living in this complex. Check out these pics!

We saw this gem from across the river and finally got a closer look.  The unique design is quite peculiar.  Sustainable living never looked so cool!

We saw this gem from across the river and finally got a closer look. The unique design is quite peculiar. Sustainable living never looked so cool!

Reflecting on our chosen route, we both felt that we had taken the long way around and in total we must have walked seven or eight miles before getting there. I knew that Mike would be feeling it the next day for sure, but he hung in there strong.  Eventually we stood at the food of the Biosphere and were able to capture some really great pictures and checkout the surrounding gardens.  It was just a really cool site to see, enjoy!

After a quick selfie with my boy Mike, we made the acquaintance of a sand mermaid as we 'Modulated to the Biosphere!

After a quick selfie with my boy Mike, we made the acquaintance of a sand mermaid as we ‘Modulated to the Biosphere!

Here is the Biosphere in all its glory.  I think it is cool to have a few unique structures in a city to define its real character. Beautiful gardens surrounding worth a walkthrough.  Mission accomplished, we made it to the cool thing in the distance!

Here is the Biosphere in all its glory. I think it is cool to have a few unique structures in a city to define its real character. Beautiful gardens surrounding worth a walkthrough. Mission accomplished, we made it to the cool thing in the distance!

With our mission accomplished we decided to taxi it back to our digs,  and chill out momentarily.  After all that modulation we were starving and more than interested in trying one of the local dishes.  So we made our way back to old port and found a nice balcony to have dinner on.  We were familiar with this spot and we could see that they had a nice view from the street so we went in and decided to have a go with their local rendition of ‘putine’.  Essentially this dish is a pile of fries with cheese curds on top with gravy poured overtop; it was heaven.  Meanwhile, we met some local tourists also visiting from out of town that were open to stepping out with us later that night.  Things were just happening so fluidly that we were both shocked.  Ha, it made me feel like BMOC (big man on campus) for sure!

Finally I was smart enough to find a liquor store and a local convenience store for mixers, not an easy task when you don’t speak or read much French. But, politely I asked and was pointed in the right direction and familiarized myself with Depanneur.  Glad I did because Montreal had laid claims to most of my cash already and Mike and I joked that each drink in the suite was saving us $10 cash, lol. So we hosted some of our friends for some innocent cocktails on our terrace before stepping out to a cool dance club, Tokyo Bar. I felt like we danced for hours without getting tired. The place was packed and the music and vibe was on point.  Rooftop was too packed and by the end of the night we were feeling the effects of all the partying, somehow we made it back safely, awesome night!

Day 3

Happy Birthday USA! July 4th and though the average Canadian doesn’t recognize it, we decided to gear up and rep our nation hard! Mikey B with his USA hat had me cracking up, gotta love that style! Today was going to be a good day!  After my regular morning pitstop at Starbucks and relaxing on a park bench, I made it back to the suite to get another fantastic day started!

Happy 4th of July! It was a beautiful day and perfect for some much needed celebration, especially sweet when you are away from home on a worry-free vacation!  Check out this beautiful flower garden and the intricate designs we found outside a local government building, pretty sweet!

Happy B-Day USA! We enjoyed great weather as we had a morning walk and started our day… Check out this beautiful flower garden and the intricate designs we found outside a local government building, pretty sweet!

Today we took a different approach and instead of running around, we chose to find our relax and swap stories over several well spent hours of drinking. It had been quite a while since we had been able to catch up beyond the normal pleasantries that might be shared at the occasional happy hour.  Instead we dove a bit deeper and shared more about our family dynamics and some of our unique life experiences since our college days. It was really nice bonding with another guy that is as motivated and hungry for life.

Happy 4th of July... Reppin USA on the terrace and having an "Absolute"ly good time!

Happy 4th of July… Reppin USA on the terrace and having an “Absolute”ly good time!

After we got good and tight and snapped a few pics of celebrating we decided to get cleaned up and make our way to the rooftop patio for some more adventure.  This time however, we were getting fully suited and looking sharp.  Dressed to impress, even the fashion forward Montreal natives were impressed and quite open to getting to know more about Mike and myself.  Men and women alike were quite reachable with even the average conversation. This is quite different if your used to standoffish Minnesotan locals.

Suited up, we are looking good.  With a slight buzz we were off to enjoy more libations at the rooftop bar! #thegoodlife

Suited up, we are looking good. With a slight buzz we were off to enjoy more libations at the rooftop bar! #thegoodlife

Having not been up there long we were quickly meeting new friendly locals more than willing to share in ‘witty banter’ and libations.  Especially a group of girls that had traveled all the way from Scotland.  Meeting them ended up being a real treat and they were great fun in chatting and swapping stories. Like musical chairs professionals, we made our rounds at the bar and managed to rack up quite the tab, go figure.

The terrace party lasted for several hours and after fully breaking in the bar, and having the tab to prove it, we pushed off with a few locals that promised to show us a great time at a sheik local club. They promised and delivered, next stop was Joverse aka the “Rooster Bar”. After bypassing a long line, thanks to our newly made friendships, we were walked right in and were immediately surrounded by great music and drinks. Fortunately for us, the club was right next to our suite, so I was able to modulate (stumble) home with one eye open, good times!

Party, Party, Party... lasted all night long. We met some of the coolest locals imaginable. The night was great and Mikey and I both had a blast tearing it up with some new friends.  Jean-Mark and his friends showed us how to party in the classiest way possible, a big thanks to them!

Party, Party, Party… lasted all night long. We met some of the coolest locals imaginable. The night was great and Mikey and I both had a blast tearing it up with some new friends. Jean-Mark and his friends showed us how to party in the classiest way possible, a big thanks to them!

Day 4

This morning found us to be a bit on the rough side and as our last full day in Montreal we still had a lot we wanted to do. After a quick Starbucks recovery, Mike and I were ready to get out and adventure the rest of the city.  We had decided to try and trek to the top of Mont Royal and so we started out on foot. Soon thereafter, we walked several blocks from our hotel and found ourself walking into the annual Montreal Jazz Festival. We enjoyed a few live songs and took a moment to enjoy ourselves.

As we ventured on, Mike and I passed a few cathedrals and took our time at paying our respects and enjoying the maculate architecture and design features.  It really is impressing the amount of detail and time that was put into each of these incredible buildings; what better way to feel the presence of  the Lord that being in a place like this.

Some of the majestic sites that we discovered as we continued on our journey towards Mont Royal. Nothing like taking a moment for prayer.

Some of the majestic sites that we discovered as we continued on our journey towards Mont Royal. Nothing like taking a moment for prayer.

Only a few blocks further we came to a bank of bike rentals and having huffed it for over an hour now we felt that this would be a fun way to get to the top of Mont Royal. For a small fee we were happily now modulating on 2-wheels.  Quickly we ran into the “Harvard” of Canada, McGill University and toured the campus. I was happily taking some bike-selfies and a few short videos while riding the bike, so much FUN!

Eventually we climbed all the way to the top of Mont Royal, which took us about another hour of aggressive biking. With Mikey’s legs burning we arrived at the top, dismounted and took a breather.  Feeling a bit fatigued we took our time at the overpass and drank in the city’s breathtaking skyline. Here is an awesome panorama!

What a beautiful city skyline, no wonder why it was so crowded, who wouldn't want to come see this!

What a beautiful city skyline, no wonder why it was so crowded, who wouldn’t want to come see this!

Mikey B. and I getting our photo snapped at the overpass.  Looking down on the city provided a much needed moment to rest. Biking to the top was a beast!

Mikey B. and I getting our photo snapped at the overpass. Taking some time to look down on the city provided a much needed moment to rest. Biking to the top was a beast!

Once our appetite for the sites had been quenched we hopped back on our pedal bikes and made our way down the hill in search for Saint Joseph’s Oratory, one of the most iconic buildings in Montreal. It also had the view to match.  As soon as you walk in, you become overwhelmed at the massively tall ceilings and beautiful archways. It was extremely impressive!

Very unique experience it was to walk into this massive structure.  Sitting atop a hill, getting to the top meant overcoming many steps, but it was well worth it!

Very unique experience it was to walk into this massive structure. Sitting atop a hill, getting to the top meant overcoming many steps, but it was well worth it!

The inside of the Oratory was amazing and gave me a surreal feeling.  It had one of the most beautiful organs I have ever heard or seen!

The inside of the Oratory was amazing and gave me a surreal feeling. It had one of the most beautiful organs I have ever heard or seen! This is a very cool place and a must see tourist site!

After a long day of exhausting biking we grabbed some grub at Planet Poutine and relaxed before heading back. We racked our bikes and picked up some more spirits to enjoy that night before getting to our hotel. It was go-time to smash our last night in Montreal.  It was about to be another epic, gangbusters type of night. Looking quite dapper we strapped on our suit coats and kept things classy. The rooftop was our first destination and the world was our oyster!

Looking good and feeling great! We are going hard on our last night in the new Las Vegas of North America!

Looking good and feeling great! We are going hard on our last night in the new Las Vegas of North America!

Merik, a super cool bartender was making me a signature drink (whisky, smooth and smokey infused with orange peel), meanwhile Mikey B. had worked his charm on a few gals and soon we were at a different table. Knowing my boundaries, I avoided any primal tendencies and was a gentleman to everyone, while respecting what really mattered to me, my wife Nellie.

Day 5

Sadly, in the morning, I woke for the last time to once again rise and hit the streets for my Starbucks fix and to drink in the beautiful surroundings that Old Port had to offer.  I was going to miss the cobble stone streets, the incredible food, open and friendly conversations with strangers, the french influence and of course just living carefree.

As I packed my bags and counted my blessings, I knew that this was what life was really all about, happy memories!  I thought to myself, this is exactly why I travel.  MarathonJake and Mikey B. had one of the most epic trips of our lives and together, we hope to have many more!

I didn't want to say goodbye and hugged the wall of our suite one last time! Take care and God bless Montreal!

I didn’t want to say goodbye and hugged the wall of our suite one last time! Take care and God bless Montreal!

Finally after a long trip home, I was just happy to see my Nell.

God is Great! Amen!

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