I landed in Montreal late in the evening after a tedious eleven-and-a-half-hour flight from Manchester via Ottawa. Stepping off the plane I was surprised at the heat and humidity which struck me like a wet slap. This hit me hard in my brain-dead state after hours without end aboard a plane with no amenities but my seat, food and the occasional shuffle to and from the toilet. When I arrived outside the bed and breakfast I would be staying in, I was struck by how odd it was for the stairs to the upper levels of the flat to be on the outside, open to the elements. This was prevalent in a lot of flats that I saw. Some were truly beautiful and clearly a lot of work had gone into making them look good though I always wondered how they would get a sofa or a bed into the top floors of one of these flats when you have to traverse a winding staircase just to get through the front door. Walking down the streets it was interesting to see how “American” looking the streets were, following the regimented city blocks of their neighbours across the border. It was interesting to see the mix of young people out that night. They were either going clubbing or drinking. There was one group in a large shop playing a variety of board and card games. I enjoyed seeing the diversity of interests, something that I would not experience back home. I found myself trying my best to remember what little French I learnt back in secondary school, much to the amusement of the staff in local shops and restaurants. I found that they usually appreciated the effort made in initially speaking in French then transferring to English or if they couldn’t speak English pointing at what you wanted seemed to work. Most places we went did have English menus available.
Whilst in Montreal I enjoyed exploring the city. Namely one particularly amazing restaurant, the ‘Ma Poule Mouillée’ which mixed local food with Portuguese foods. They served the cheapest, largest and most delicious poutine (a snack or meal that includes chips, gravy and cheese curds though I noticed some places added other ingredients on top) I had during my stay in Canada. I visited La Fontaine Park which featured a very curious albino squirrel who was unimpressed that I did not pay him his food tax and a lovely pond to relax next to after exploring the city. The museum of archaeology and history I found very interesting as it showed historical and archaeological artefacts from the local area dating from pre-history to the modern era. Most impressively they have in situ remains of the first Catholic cemetery in Montreal as well as sewer system that you can explore and was rather ironically filled with art and other exhibits. In addition, it had a multimedia show based on the history of Montreal, again from pre-history to the modern era. I visited the Notre-Dame Basilica and the Montreal botanical garden, although I was unfortunately unable to go into the Cathedral or Biodome as they were both shut at the time. From photos I’ve seen taken inside, I would certainly have liked to visit both.