As luck would have it, Jürgen and I arrived during what everyone swears is one of the worst Quebec springs in recent memory. For every sunny day, we’ve had six that were rainy and cold. But luckily Montreal has plenty of fun things to do indoors, and we still have a couple months to get outside and experience the city’s famous street life. Here are our first impressions, after one month.
Mike: So far, I’d have to say the concert we saw from the great Montreal band Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I’ve wanted to see them live for years, now, and they were as great as I expected.
Jürgen: Flying my drone
for the first time, and seeing how huge and dense Montreal is. And I loved seeing the mountains on the horizon which got me excited for the hiking we plan on doing.
Mike: We’ve had a lot of great Asian food in Chinatown, but I’d have to say my favorite meal was at Smoked Meat Pete’s. This is a super-popular joint on Île Perrot, which friends took us to. The food is great, the atmosphere is rollicking, and they have live blues every night. Tons of fun.
The Montreal bagels I had at St-Viateur
were hard to beat. Now, I just have to somehow combine it with poutine. Do Poutine Bagels exist? If not, they should!
Mike: The cultural diversity of the city’s various neighborhoods has really surprised me. Little Italy really is full of Italians, great cafes and pizzerias. Chinatown is in fact a place where you’ll find a ton of Chinese people. Gay Village? Very gay! And walking around Mile End on a Sabbath, you might as well be in Israel. There’s been some bleeding into each other, but the extent to which these neighborhoods have stuck to their roots is amazing.
That Montreal’s heart is actually a real mountain in the city center. Mont Royal is so big that you honestly could get lost on it. I hadn’t expected that.
Mike: I know Jürgen’s going to say “the weather,” so I’ll say… the weather. There’s been an arctic front hovering over Quebec, and it’s been horrible, every day bringing another disappointing gray sky and temperatures far beneath what we were expecting. We’ve been here a month, and still feel like we don’t understand the city very well, because we’ve not spent a lot of time out in the streets. But we have high hopes for the next two months.
The weather it is. It sounds silly to complain: this is Canada, after all. People have assured us that this is an exception and not normal for this time of the year. Mostly, I’ve been disappointed that I couldn’t take as many pictures as I’d have liked, due to my frozen blue fingers.
Mike: Every time somebody greets me with “Bonjour Hi,” I have to stifle a laugh. But I totally understand that it’s the polite way to cover your linguistic bases, and I love it. “Bonjour Hi” is the cutest.
They might do this in America, too, but Montreal’s the first place I’ve seen multiple toddlers attached to a big leash. It’s like dog-walking, but with kids!
How Expensive? From 1 (cheap) to 10 (expensive)
Mike: 6. I think for a big, northeastern city, Montreal is average. I’ve not been outraged by prices, but neither have I been happily surprised.
7. Food seems more expensive than I expected. But maybe I’m just fooled by the exchange rate. Ten dollars in Canada isn’t the same as ten euros in Germany.
People from Montreal Are…
Mike: … artsy, bilingual and really into backpacks. I’m always wearing a backpack, but usually it feels like a fashion faux-pas. Not so in Montreal… here everybody’s sporting one, whether they’re students, businessmen, joggers or mothers.
A bit aggressive when they’re on wheels (car, bikes) but very friendly when you encounter them on just two legs. I can’t really blame their road rage, though; the construction in this city would drive me crazy, as well.
Montreal in Three Words
Mike: diverse, cultural, cold
French, artsy, delicious