Photo Essay #6: Winter's Last Gasp

Since the week of March 13 was "March break" week for my kids (their schools were closed) we decided to take the week off and get away from it all. Of course, many of our friends went down south, to warm, sunny places like Florida or Cuba, and get an all-natural dose of vitamin D.

Instead, we decided to go to Montréal. The planning seemed sound at the time; winter seemed to be on the wane, almost all of the snow in the city had melted and the forecast for the week was looking decent, with sunny days above freezing. Montréal is a great place for us to visit, as it's close to home, we have plenty of friends & family to visit, the food is great and there's lots to do.

A few days before we were to drive down to Montréal, the weather forecast took a turn in the wrong direction, and they were now calling for a big ol' "nor'easter" to hit most of the eastern half of North America, with Montréal to get hit particularly hard on Tuesday the 14th.

We arrived in the city just as the snow was starting, around lunchtime. The drive wasn't too bad, but we could see it was going to be nasty. By mid-afternoon, a fair amount of snow had accumulated, and the wind was picking up.

You're not supposed to ride on the sidewalks, but the lee of the building seemed to be the most sensible place to be.

For some reason that I have yet to fully understand, Montréal is considered one of the world's great cycling cities. Notwithstanding a winter that seems to last for 6 months, lousy infrastructure that's always under construction, very hilly topography guaranteed to break all but the most fit into a sweat, and homicidal drivers - people ride all year long. 

It's always cycling weather, as long as you dress for it.

As the afternoon wore on, things got more intense, with stronger snow and nastier winds. Most were undaunted.

We're almost there, honey. Just a few more steps...

Dinnertime rolled around, so it was time to head out. We walked the 500m to the Métro station, where the normal 5 minute walk took us about 15 minutes. What the you can't see is the 75km/h gusts of wind that almost blew us down at the every intersection.

Rue Notre-Dame, looking southwest.

We wound up going for a great dinner at a way-too-hip-for-us joint called Lili Co. After an excellent meal of arctic char, peas prepared like crême brulée, duck kidneys and other decidedly-not-awful offal and a to-die-for apple pie served with a huge slab of foie gras it was time to head back to the hotel. The cocktails and wine were excellent, too.

It was snowing so hard by this point that I didn't dare take my non-weatherproofed camera out again after having taking this one shot just outside the door of the restaurant. Snow had started to drift and was up to 1 foot (30cm) deep in spots.

Time to go "home."

By the time everything was said and done late Wednesday, something like 40cm of snow had fallen on Montréal. 

I'll cover the aftermath in my next post.