By Tyler Yank
On the big list of things I like to do on Friday nights, having a first-date is right at the bottom of the barrel, squashed between having-my-wisdom-teeth-pulled-again and reorganizing-the-utensil-drawer. A breeding ground for awkward silences and (his) bad jokes is all I’ve learned to expect. I admit though, my negative attitude clearly isn’t serving me any purpose, and being single in Montreal is already proving to be daunting enough (specifically because I tend to like guys whose pants are not tighter than mine).Yet, I know I’m not alone with this attitude – we have all been there. In an attempt to minimize these cringe-worthy experiences, I am here to suggest a first date location that just cannot go wrong: Montreal’s Old Port.
Gazing at tall sailboats, watching speedboats compete with the St Lawrence waves, walking beside rusty ocean liners – take my word for it, boats on first dates are like green onions on poutine: they belong together.
And here’s some proof: Last summer I took a first-date to Old Port on a Saturday afternoon. We held hands, he was cute, and his pants were just the right amount of baggy. Yet, as we strolled along the boardwalk, the conversation well began to quickly run dry. That is – until we wandered into my own personal version of Narnia: an antique boat show, being hosted by a Francophone comedian. (Yes, in Montreal, these things do exist). All of a sudden, our eyes lit up in mutual wonder and I was no longer searching for things to say, as he proceeded to join me in admiration at the wood-panelling on a 1963 Century Palamino. We laughed, we cried (the comedy was pretty awful) and we came out kissing on the other side.
Throw some weddings and crepes into the mix (yes, you read that right) and the Old Port of Montreal – south of the downtown core, below Notre-Dame Street – will simply eliminate bad dates from your life; it is the perfect place for a first, second or fifteenth date.
If admiring boats for an afternoon isn’t your cup of tea, head over to Jacques-Cartier Square, where you can browse souvenir shops, watch buskers swallow knives and fire (or knives on fire), and – for the brave at heart – wedding watch. In the summer, Old Port is a hive of nuptial activity as wedding parties pour out of the nearby churches and newlyweds have their photos taken on the cobblestone steps. Stretch limousines line the streets, white doves are released into the sky every five minutes, and park benches are ideally located for creepy on-lookers like me. If he’s not running for the hills at the sight of dozens of white gowns, then at least you know he actually may be the kind of guy you’d want to keep around for a second date.
Of course, following your forays into the worlds of watercraft and weddings, when hunger sets in, try out one of Old Port’s famous creperies. My personal favourite, and easily the most renowned in the area, is Jardin Nelson (located in Jacques-Cartier Square). Dine outdoors beneath what I can only describe as lit up, inverted parachutes, while being romantically serenaded by live piano and violin players. Just remember that the deliciousness of the food may kill conversation for several minutes.
The list of things to see and do in the Old Port of Montreal is enormous and ever-changing according to the day and the season. No matter your dating style or the fit of your date’s pants, I’m confident that this lovely part of town has the ability to soothe all first-date nerves and give even the biggest dating skeptics a reason to hope.
For details: http://www.quaysoftheoldport.com