When the bus arrived in downtown Montreal I knew this would be the last time I’d arrive in a new city for a while. As much as I wanted to take it all in, I was rushing since the bus was nearly 2 hours late and I had to meet my friend. Oh, and it was cold.. record-setting cold. Never before had a February 6th been so cold in Montreal, with the low temperature that day hitting -4F/-20C. I had to walk outside quite a bit and I had no gloves. Brutal.
While walking with my suitcase I had no time to admire the Mary Queen Of The World Cathedral as I wondered how long my fingers had before getting frostbitten. I ended up reaching my destination twice. The GPS on my phone hadn’t been working well and kept spinning me around in different directions. But I reached near where I was meeting my friend and waited about half an hour indoors.
We stayed in touch, more or less, for the next two years and I always had hoped to visit her in Montreal. I was aware of Quebec but knew very little about it. They speak French and voted on whether to separate from the rest of Canada. That’s about all I knew about the place.
While in Montreal I went out with Valerie to visit her Spanish-speaking friends. I could feel my Spanish was getting rusty so it was a great way to practice. We went to a cheeseburger place. People always make fun of American portions, but come on.. look at this. It’s obscene!! 🙂
I had poutine. Poutine is a Quebec creation consisting of French fries, gravy, and cheese curds. It’s pretty heavy and unhealthy, but when in Quebec…
During my time in Montreal it was bitterly cold. Like in Toronto, I didn’t go out too much. Just walking to the Metro left me feeling completely frozen. I did meet a friend who sat next to me for a term at business school. It was really nice to see him and we had much to catch up on.
Montreal has a huge English-speaking population. You hear both languages when downtown. The French-speakers tend to live in certain areas while the English-speakers tend to live in others with downtown mixed. I never had any trouble using English anywhere in Montreal, and no one ever gave me any attitude about using English instead of French.
I visited a couple museums there, one of which telling the story of Montreal as the capital of vice in North America for many decades. It was the Las Vegas before there was a Las Vegas.
In the era of prohibition, Montreal was the only state/province in the US/Canada where you could buy alcohol legally. Americans and Canadians flocked to Quebec not only to drink, but also to partake in its brothels and gambling. In fact, inter-state gambling was illegal so bookies in New York, for example, would route transactions inter-state transactions via Montreal to avoid legal troubles. It was very interesting to learn about the underside of Montreal, and seeing how it all came to an end in the 60s.
All in all, a very enjoyable and relaxing (though cold) end to the Happy Nomad Tour – a peaceful sunset if you will.