Destination: Montreal

New Travel Book: ‘Save the Deli’

New Travel Book: ‘Save the Deli’ Photo by stevendepolo via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by stevendepolo via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Here’s one for traveling pastrami-lovers everywhere.

“Save the Deli” follows author David Sax around Europe and North America in search of a shrinking number of Jewish delicatessens—and, though the project was driven by fears for a declining institution, the result seems to be a hopeful one.

In a letter to potential readers posted on Amazon, Sax addresses the “heresy” of his search for the deli in such unlikely spots as Salt Lake City or Brussels:

Three years ago, when I began working on this book, I too had fallen prey to the misguided notion that great deli was only confined to New York and Montreal. Anything outside those cities had to be a pale imitation. I, like many Jewish deli lovers, was narrow-minded, could see and imagine no further than the local delicatessen I frequented…a village simpleton who knows nothing beyond his little shtetl and the salamis therein.

But as I hit the road, in search of the story of delicatessen in American and around the world, I tasted revelation after revelation.

Publishers Weekly describes these revelations as “joyful moments in this otherwise elegiac travelogue,” and notes that the book’s “well-crafted portraits don’t string together perfectly, but individual chapters shine.”

Montreal vs. New York City: The Hotdog Showdown

Last year we blogged the great bagel debate. Now, Gadling weighs in on another staple.

Finding Leonard Cohen in Montreal and California

In the latest issue of Geist, Ann Diamond tells the story of her series of near-encounters with Leonard Cohen—with 1970 Montreal, in the midst of the October Crisis, as the grimly compelling backdrop. And if that’s not enough Cohen-related, travel-esque writing for you, check out Pico Iyer’s 1998 essay about visiting the poet/rocker at a Zen Center in the San Gabriel Mountains, outside L.A.

R.I.P. Sandy van Ginkel, Montreal Architect

The Dutch-born architect and city planner, who is credited with saving the Old Montreal we know today from development, died earlier this month at 89. In the late 1950s, van Ginkel “almost single-handedly persuaded the good burghers of Montreal to abandon plans for an expressway that would have cut through the old city, destroying much of its heritage and the ambience that still draws tourists and visitors,” writes the Globe and Mail’s Sandra Martin.

See This Now: ‘Give Peace a Chance’

See This Now: ‘Give Peace a Chance’ Photo by Eva Holland
Photo by Eva Holland

As we’ve noted, this spring marked the 40th anniversary of John and Yoko’s iconic “bed-ins” for peace, first at the Amsterdam Hilton and later (and more famously) at Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel. The commemorations in those two cities have passed, but a powerful exhibit about the Montreal bed-in has just opened at the Museum at Bethel Woods (aka the Woodstock museum), and it will remain open through the summer.

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World Hum Travel Movie Club: ‘Away We Go’

World Hum Travel Movie Club: ‘Away We Go’ Publicity still via IGN

Eva Holland and Eli Ellison debate the summer's hippest road trip flick

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Looking Back at the Bed-In

This week marks the 40th anniversary of John and Yoko’s first bed-in, at the Amsterdam Hilton. The couple spent their honeymoon, from March 26 to 31, 1969, inviting the press to visit them in their hotel room, where they sat in bed and talked peace. (A second, more famous bed-in took place in Montreal in May of ’69 and resulted in the recording of “Give Peace a Chance.”)

If you happen to be in Amsterdam this weekend, check out a few ongoing commemorative events there, or—for a virtual commemoration—head over to Yoko Ono’s for photos, video and reminiscences. You can also follow Yoko on Twitter; she’s had the anniversary on her mind. Yesterday she wrote: “I never liked ringing the service bell because it often made me realize that there was nobody at the other end.”

Emergency Rations: Lessons From a 16-Hour Amtrak Ride

Emergency Rations: Lessons From a 16-Hour Amtrak Ride Photo by salimfadhley via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by salimfadhley via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I have this theory about successful budget transit: that the key to surviving a cross-country Greyhound ride, or a bargain-basement flight with three changes (all in small regional airports without so much as a Starbucks, naturally) is to never, ever be caught without a snack. After all, the only thing worse than being forced to buy, and eat, that simultaneously-stale-and-soggy packaged tuna sandwich at the truck stop is not having the option of eating anything at all. Right?

I first started packing what I think of as my “emergency rations” on a trip to India several years ago. The granola bars I’d stuffed into every corner of my backpack were handy on long train rides—and after I (inevitably) got sick, they became invaluable, my sole source of nutrition until I could stand to contemplate curry again. That success led to more advanced efforts: I can still remember the looks I got from other passengers when I boarded a Halifax-Montreal overnight train with an enormous Tupperware full of cold stir fry under my arm. But my habit of packing lunch didn’t evolve into a full-blown theory until one fateful Amtrak ride, from New York to Montreal, around this time last year.

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