Happy Travelling Thursday everyone. Here you go, some Canada stories finally coming your way!
Even before I actually walked through the streets of Montréal I was in heaven. The airport bus had free WiFi, way to woo an
internet addict geek like me. No, but seriously, Montréal was my first stop in Canada and everything that came afterwards had a difficult time to even come close to how much I love this city. It’s neither too big nor too small for me. Maybe reading all those Kathy Reichs novels situated out of Montréal made it feel like I already knew the city or not, but I was instantaneously in love with it. Also, everything is bilingual, so that was a huge plus for someone like me who forgot all the French I learnt in school.
Still on the airport bus en route downtown it was clear that people in the Québec providence really do have french ancestors because there was a big demonstration concerning student fees even though those in Québec are the lowest in all of Canada. It doesn’t get more french than people being on strike. #justsaying
Education is the heart of Montréal, it houses McGill University (which is like Canada’s Harvard or better even, Harvard is America’s McGill, or so my T-Shirt says at least), an english speaking University and its french speaking pendent, UQAM, the Université du Québec à Montréal. Naturally my friends and me had to take an extended stroll on the McGill campus and thanks to my home university’s insistence on only using the Eduroam WiFi network, I was able to sit in a student lounge with free internet access without any problems, making my Facebook friends jealous with all the pretty pictures I was uploading. #suckit
UQAM is not as glorious as McGill but while there was a subway accident one morning on our nearest subway line we made a detour through it to get to the next accessible line.
And that’s just another point I love about Montréal, or really any city with good public infrastructure. It was easy to get around in Montréal and not that expensive when you’re just in town for a couple of days. The subways can take you everywhere you need to be and for the rest there are busses. Maybe this is just so exciting for me because my city is stupid and too hilly to even have subways or the fact that it takes longer to get to the nearest bus station that really gets me anywhere than for me to drive to uni in the mornings but I love subways. They are fast, they are easy, what more do I need?
Foolish as our little travel group was, we started walking around the city, as I said, most things are close especially if you have time and the weather is fantastic like it was when we were there in August. So at some point around noon we arrived at the stairs that led you up to Mont Royal and we though: “Hey cool, there will be a great view of the city from the top of the hill and it doesn’t look so bad to get up there, just a few stairs.” – Oh, brother were we wrong!! Never try to go up Mont Royal at noon on a sunny late summer day. It’s exhausting and the stairs go on and on for eternity or so it seems at least. The view however was really nice and well worth the troubles, but still, maybe another time of the day would have been better.
On another day we went up Mont Royal from the opposite site. There is a chapel there with another nice view. Of course there are steps there as well but not as many and if you need your sins forgiven, you can go up on your knees.
What else is worth visiting, is the Olympic Stadium from the 1976 Summer Olympics. Again, the subways will take you there. We took a tour of the place and went up the tower which gave us, surprise, surprise, another great view of the city
and more free WiFi. Also, the DDR, internationally better known as the German Democratic Republic is still alive on the grounds of the Stadium, much to our amusement. I honestly cannot even imagine raising the DDR flag in Germany, you just can’t do it, Canada doesn’t see a problem though. Point Canada!
We also walked around old Montréal and it’s tiny streets and Vieux Port. There is one Notre Dame dome there (we came to pass a lot of Notre Dames on our holiday as every damn big churches name seemed to be Notre Dame) and it was our first so we were excited. I don’t appreciate paying for entering a church but was overruled and yes, it’s nice inside but just too much of everything for my taste.
On our last day we decided to take things slow and took the subway to Île-Sainte-Héléne, a small recreational island in the St. Lawrence river. The F1 race track Guilles-Vilneuve is attached to it and open for everyone except on race days (like once a year), so, yeah, I walked where F1 race cars usually drive, which is pretty awesome.
All in all, Montréal is my kind of city, much like Stockholm. It hosts a lot of activities during the summer, there is great public infrastructure and the most important things to see are close to Downtown. Montréal is also the place I had my first maple syrup and Tim Hortons experience
they have free WiFi and I died a little and I see myself visiting the city again.
One last thing, in the Old Town there is a shop called Maple Delights and it has everything maple, like maple ice-cream with crushed maple cookies and hot mini donuts with maple syrup on top. Sugar coma be damned, you just have to visit this place if you’re ever in the area. It was so good that we just had to go back there on our very last day in Canada to have another one of the mini donuts with ice cream and maple syrup. It’s just maple heaven! I kid you not!