Yesterday and today, we had some more time to explore the city with its sights, cafés & restaurants and incredibly friendly people. I thought Germany or Sweden were accurate with their tradition of "standing in line" for something. But guess what... Canadians stand in line at the bus stop and no one even dares to push to the front. Bus drivers kindly say "Thank you" when you scan your ticket - thank you as in 'Thank you for choosing the bus'. I read in a tourist guide that in Montreal, over 70% of the population travel around town by bus or public transport making it one of the most environmentally friendly city in the world! Might be that no one wants to find a parking spot at -20°C... This city seems to be designed for the cold: underground tunnels connect subway stations to shopping malls and universities so that passengers get to spend as much time below ground level as possible. Because the thing is: the Montreal Métro stations are heated! And just for a minute I let my mind wander and thought about "The Hobbit" and the dwarfs' mines...
The "Université de Montréal" has its own subway station as well. Actually, there's more than one station since some of the university buildings are spread all around town. So you might have to go from one lecture to another by Métro...
|Université de Montréal|
The reason why Montreal came to be named Montreal is the "Mont Royal" ("Mont Réal" in Middle French) which is a hill in the heart of the city. Apart from the fantastic views on Montreal and its landmark, the Olympic Stadium from 1976, the Mont-Royal and Plateau areas offer some of the most amazing architecture and cultural events such as live music in cafés, pubs and restaurants.
|Panoramic view of Montreal|
|Frozen waterfalls, Mont Royal|
The very down-to-earth atmosphere made me forget that I was in the second biggest agglomeration in Canada with another 3.8 million people...
A culinary highlight of the day - no actually of my entire stay so far - was trying "Poutine". Poutine is a dish typical of Quebec made with french fries and curd cheese, topped with brown gravy. I had mine with mince meat, mushrooms and sweet peppers and I absolutely LOVED it! I've never eaten anything like it but anyone who says Quebecers don't know how to cook doesn't know anything about good food!
Downtown Montreal is rather modern (as opposed to Mont-Royal and Le Plateau) with its skyscrapers, shopping malls, restaurants and outlet stores. It is, however, quite striking that you hear more people speaking English in the streets of modern Montreal than in the rather traditional parts of the city where people getting on the Métro speaking English simply don't fit in! It actually seems rather arrogant to speak English in a predominantly French-speaking public, so I can understand why French-speaking Quebecers eye English-speaking Canadians - or even tourists. It's just a subconscious feeling...
Souvenir shopping was of course a must - and while we were at it, we bought frozen yoghurt. Flavour: New York Cheesecake and s'mores!! Didn't think too much about the fact that the yoghurt had the same temperature as the air outside but I guess that's just crazy things tourists do =) And another thing only tourists would do is buy an Aviator's hat saying "Quebec" on the front... but oh well!
|-20°C - inside and out =)|
And a visit to the Olympic Stadium as well as the "Biodôme" with different climes of the American continents was another high point. From a felt -20°C (or as Quebecers say: "Osti qu'il fait frette!" / "Frikkin' hell it's cold!") into tropical rainforest, on to a Laurentian Forest climate and subpolar temperatures - a journey of the extremes:
|Olympic Stadium and Biodôme|
|Parrots in the rainforest section|
|Otters in the Laurentian forest section|
|Porcupines on trees...|
|Fish from the Gulf of St. Lawrence|
Tomorrow in the early morning, we'll catch a bus to Toronto so yet another long journey to look forward to. And yet another post to expect - about Toronto, icehockey and Niagara Falls!
So long - I hope you had fun reading through the pages!