A WEEK IN MONTREAL – SOME HIGHLIGHTS
A plethora of water fountains – fresh and good water everywhere so unlike another French speaking large city, Paris.
- Montreal of bilingual. Often, you can’t tell if they’re a native French or English speaker. However, French is the most common language is Montreal has more french speakers than any other city besides the capital of France.
People friendly in and around Montreal. If you stop and look at your map, someone will ask if they can help, especially in tourist areas. Parts of Montreal feel like Paris or parts of London except for the fact it’s not as crowded and people are less stressed and easy going.
Backwards day – climbed to the top of Mount Royal (a large hill west of downtown) and took the bus down. It’s counter intuitive to do so but I need to climb to get my muscles humming again. In fact, I often think it’s easier to climb up as opposed to climb down.
One of the busiest and most interesting streets was rue Saint-Denis (Saint Denis Street). A major north-south thoroughfare in Montreal. Great place to shop, stroll, eat or just grab a drink in an outside cafe and people watch.
Yankee hats used to be the cool item to wear – that may be passé now. By the looks of what I’ve seen in Montreal, it’s now the Chicago Bulls and Black Hawks – maybe with all the shooting on the west and south sides of Chicago, these hats may appeal to bad ass kids and bad ass kid wannabes.
Less horns, less aggressive driving, motorists more likely to yield to pedestrians in one of the largest metro areas in North America.
According to Wikipedia, Montreal’s Metro was inaugurated in 1966 and has 68 stations on four lines. Green, blue, orange and yellow lines. Typically, trains run no less than 3-5 minutes during rush hour. I found the subway very easy to maneuver. It is the busiest subway system in Canada, handling over nearly 1.3 million passengers on an average weekday. Trains utilize rubber tires, instead of steel, making it a much quieter subway. Signage is good getting in and out of the subway or when transferring lines. Many of entrances to the ticket check entrance have an open design which allows passengers to see both the inbound and outbound lines before heading to the applicable platform. Purchasing the unlimited pass enables one to traverse the city via the underground — an efficient way to get exposed to different neighborhoods in a unfamiliar city.
Very few panhandlers here or beggars. Not in your face panhandlers or gnats French spoken everyday without an attitude, unlike Paris.
Subways were clean and the stench of urine was not evident, unlike NYC and Chicago.
Didn’t see many homeless people around the subway or downtown streets.
OLD MONTREAL (VIEUX MONTREAL)
Ice cream, including dairy cream and Ben and Jerry’s. Artists creating balloons for tips to help amuse the kids on vacation. Artists doing caricatures, acoustic guitar playing flamingo music, outdoor cafes. Smoothie stands, quick Thai food done by alleyways at first glance, appear deserted. Sorbet and ice cream kiosks. Jugglers who are still perfecting their craft, sometimes comedians who aren’t always funny and may not realize we’re on vacation and as time is limited, get to the point or punch line.
As I walked around and saw all the extraneous activity, I wondered how many of these people were focused on food, music and entertainment and how many visitors just walked around admiring the area’s beauty and quaintness.
Cheering section at Stade Saputo in Montreal reminds me of what I’ve seen on TV at the Portland Timber’s game. Intimate setting, $23 for a ticket even though it was behind the goal. Some may say, better entertainment than American football? Frankly, it’s easy to get involved in the cheering, jeering and chanting. About 5 minutes from the Viau subway stop on the green line. From our downtown hotel, it was 10 stops and took approximately 25 minutes. I could get used to this efficient form of transportation.
HOTEL CANTILE MONTREAL
During our first two nights in the hotel, we were unable to find a grocery store nearby. Look, I realize it may be challenging to find a store near downtown but even a drugstore selling soda and chips would suffice. Unfortunately, no front desk staff were unable to oblige.
Breakfast included in the room price. It was served from 7 until 10 am. Eggs, sausage, diced and spiced potatoes, yogurt, cereal, fruit and coffee and tea. Very consistently delicious and service was consistently attentive during each of our 7 mornings.
We were able to negotiate the price which included breakfast for two and Wifi for the week. Just those two alone saved us close to $30 per day – plus the convenience of getting your breakfast minutes after rising.
Before we booked this hotel, we read the reviews and some commentators were upset because the Wifi service was extra – so some may argue if Wifi is not free, it may not necessarily build good will. We were able to negotiate free Wifi to be included in our room price although not all guests did. Would that be a good business decision to add that expense of Wifi but then get more favorable reviews and ultimately more business?