There’s been many an occasion since last May when someone has brought up the city of Montreal in a casual conversation and I immediately start gushing, “OMGILOVEMONTREAL!!!!” And then I struggle to find the adequate words to describe just how much I love the city.
I almost feel traitorous to St. John’s about it all. St. John’s is a different ballgame entirely, and yet I feel like both cities can draw many parallels with its historic feel, vibrant dwellers, and fierce independence. It’s the people.
Matt and I had a conversation recently about how while we don’t know the names of many major politicians in the city, we can name and identity every eccentric character that walks the streets of downtown on a regular basis. The city is currently mourning the death of a downtown figure who constantly roamed the bars on the weekend, inquiring his signature “flowers for the lady?” and handing out flowers for men to give to their dates. It’s why I love this place.
I got that same feeling of “home” when I was in Montreal, and I was surprised. I’ve said it before: I’m no big city gal. I’m not impressed by skyscrapers or concrete blobs of government buildings. Public transit makes me squirmy. The funny thing is, I spent only four days in Montreal, but it was enough to convince me I have to live there at some point.
When people ask me why I love it, the only explanation I have is, “There’s a vibe.” An undercurrent of excitement, a pulse of happy people, and a “joie de vivre” I haven’t found anywhere else except maybe New York City.
And this is all just a long-winded way of introducing you to 10 reasons why Montreal is awesome.
1. Poutine, smoked meat, beer pubs, and Montreal bagels. Hangover cures of awesomeness (including the beer pubs).
2. The best subway system I’ve seen outside of London.
3. The historical district of Old Montreal, where artists paint in cobblestone alleyways and performers entertain for those dining on “terraces” around the square.
4. The nightlife of Crescent Street and Saint Laurent. Endless pubs, clubs and bars, many with outside decks.
5. Eye candy. I’ve never felt more attractive than when I did while in Montreal. I remember beautiful, suited men smiling at me in the street, and me thinking, “OMG is there something on my face?!” before realizing – nope – they were just being friendly. Ask me about Danny the soccer coach. Hubba hubba.
6. The Tam Tams at Mont Royal. Hippie fest. There’s a strong artsy community in Montreal, and it rocks.
7. The friendliness. From the enthusiastic security guide at the train station who pointed us in the right direction to the butcher who displayed his meat just for us in a store window so we could film it…Montrealers are just as friendly as Newfoundlanders, it seems.
9. The French. I love hearing French being spoken, even if I can barely speak the language myself after 25 years of learning it. It’s not hard to get by with English, though, and there are a billion language learning programs.
10. The anonymity . One of the biggest drawing factors for me living in a big city for awhile is the anonymity factor, something I’ve never had here. Quel surprise!
And here’s a fun fish photo from the Biodome, just for you.