Canada has been on my bucket list for many years; I’m not sure why I’d craved going. Perhaps the scenery, the vastness of the country, the mild accent and the snow?
Arriving in late September we were in for a surprise on the weather front. Clear dry days which though start out nippy, soon warm up and have you de layering by lunchtime. The evenings are warmer than the mornings (go figure) so my fantasy of wrapping up in a proper coat and boots was shot down.
Montreal is not where I had dreamt of going but its a sweet place with pretty Disney-esque architecture, a peaceful, short history and mild mannered people. Though they speak French, they are not at all French. No rushing. Like, no rushing. The food is good but the best food we had apart from the traditional Poutine (chips with gravy and curd cheese) was Portuguese.
That’s one of the great things about Canada, apart from the handsome, charming PM, a no gun policy and super chilled people; it is a melting pot of many cultures with no borders, no boundaries and no hint of racism.
Korean, Creole, Portuguese, French and Indian food all readily available with a strip along the Plateau as the place to get your picnic and head to one of the many green spaces or squares to nibble away. You can tango, yoga, Irish dance or Origami your afternoons away and practice any religion.
There’s no crass billboards, hardly any signage above ground and I don’t believe we saw any graffiti. There is an underworld – on account of the severe weather for half of the year – shops, trains, roads etc are all underground. Not fabulous for those of us who didn’t know that for 3 of their 7 days. We endured the smell of tar – it seems we aren’t the only country with crappy roads – theirs being resurfaced a la Big Dig of Boston a few years ago.
The people are comfortable. Sweats, jeans, leggings all worn all day and all night and although the shops are full of the latest fashions and same stores we have on our shores (damn globalisation) its not evident where people wear them. We were close to the business district, did a couple of different area tours, walked the length and breadth of the city, did club night, comedy nights and dinners and not one hit of a fashionista.
Montreal is home to 120,000 students but its not at all scabby like some student towns in the UK. I’d have been happy to study here. Not really sure why more Maltese dent send their kids here in fact.
There is a good industry in wine production and a relatively short drive takes you to the wine route where tastings are available. We found a small artisanal cheese producer and he directed us to a nearby (6km) baker to complete our picnic. The leaves were just starting to turn, seemingly bursting into colour one random tree at a time another two weeks and they will be like fireworks.
The best news is that soon I have to go to Toronto.