Old Montreal in the summer is packed with tourists, portrait artists, knick-knack kiosks, food trucks, zipline rides, horse and carriages, exhibits (the excellent annual World Press Photo just opened at Marche Bonsecours) and paddleboat rides. You can get your fill of Quebec’s perennial favorite (but not mine) poutine, large sweet and doughy things called Queues de Castors (translated: beaver tails!), delicious food and jazz at Jardin Nelson and some of the best pasta at one of my old haunts, The Spaghetti Factory.
Whenever I’m back in my hometown, especially during summers, I try to squeeze in a stop down in Old Montreal – despite the hordes, and overpriced food, it’s still a magical and visually stimulating part of town. Locus of the city’s earliest history, with an abundance of well-preserved architectural beauties, including the long-abandoned “Farine Five Roses” mill, the city’s ancient quarter still calls to me.
I was walking along the promenade that skirts the port, full of cyclists, families, clowns, dogs and dripping ice cream cones, when I spotted something up ahead, glittering from the sun’s rays.
As I neared the gleaming silver, I spotted a helmeted woman vacillating on top of a hoverboard (one of the newest riding fads). I then saw a pack of rental bicycles tied together. But as I approached, those vehicles came into sharper focus and I stopped in my tracks.
No regular bicycles, they were something else altogether. Stand-up electric scooters. With.. no seat. OMG. Really?! For a steep and ridiculous price, I forked over cash for a one-hour ride on an even newer – and Quebec-designed-and-built GEEBEE.
And there I was, for a whole hour, whirring, whizzing, zipping along, at a scooter’s pace, up and down the Old Port, into a hangar, riding up and down an inclined ramp, turning corners, feeling like I haven’t felt in more than 7 years, for the first time in that long riding on a two-wheeled moving vehicle that comes closest to a bicycle, with the breeze tickling my face, and wind lifting every strand of hair from the back of my neck.