So I went to Montreal last weekend. The plan was to go on a pilgrimage for the recent canonization of Brother Saint Andre, eat poutine and smoked meat and take in some fake French culture.
Moving on from the first two glaringly observable observations, the third thing I noticed about Montreal on the very first night we got there was that the food is delish. But I decided to hold off making any hasty reviews about food quality knowing that pond scum and lizard legs would be delish after 7 hours on a bus.
The next morning we walked everywhere looking for a nice restaurant that would serve a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs and hash browns. We had zero luck finding any such place. This could have been because Montrealers are classy French people who will only elegantly pick at croissants and sip cappuccinos for breakfast. I think though it was mostly because we completely missed the Eggspectations restaurant five feet away from our hotel.
Out of sheer hunger, we went into a bakery to get breakfast and were rewarded with the best almond croissant I had ever EVER tasted in life. I had it with a cappuccino. The food in Montreal… definatly Awesome.
The fourth thing I noticed about Montreal is the great subway system they have. Known as the Metro, this form of public transit is super easy to use, cheap, made the city very accessible and is very quick. We were all impressed. I also observed that their subway cars are significantly smaller than the Toronto subway cars. At one point, I was literally face-to-face with a fellow commuter. Hmmm, maybe it’s a French thing. Awesome. (The Metro, I mean)
The fifth thing about Montreal that got to me was the beauty of Old Montreal. After opting not to pay money to enter the Notre Dame Basilica, my friend Jocelyn and I suddenly had some time to kill. So we walked about on the cobblestones listening to fiddlers and seeing more asteroid holes. The actual architecture of the place was breathtaking. Even Chinatown was cobblestoned! Montreal by far had the most classy Chinatown in the world, beating Toronto Chinatown, New York Chinatown and China. Awesome.
For the sake of not making this post the length of a 5000 page book, the other things I found awesome about Montreal was the 24 hours Poutine place that served up some ultra fattening yum in the tum, Montreal smoked meat, French bakeries, 24 hour fruit markets and maple syrup lollipops. I must say, most of what I found awesome about Montreal is the food. I also found it rather interesting that most of the food Montreal is so famous for makes you obese and yet the people all looked slim and non-obese. I think it’s because they fool the tourists into spending money on poutine and lollipops while they sneak in to the 24 hour fruit market when no one is looking.
I also got to take in some Montreal culture which I learnt was predominantly gangsters and hobos.
In the midst of all this Montreal hoopla, it was easy to forget the real reason I was here. And that was to see one of Canada’s finest receive the highest accolade from the Catholic Church. Everything was dubbed in French and the numbers of people gathered there were a fire marshall’s nightmare. This was by far not the most enjoyable part of this trip when compared to walking on cobblestone streets, sampling decadent French pastries, shopping downtown and sharing laughs over Chamomile tea at Starbucks. And yet, when the moment came for St. Andre to be canonised, there was a jolt of energy that when through the church inspite of the tiredness, sleepiness and agitation.
I’m not going to be cliche and say that this moment surpassed all the other things I experienced. But I will say that when I think of Montreal I will remember it as being a place where it is possible to have a spiritual experience inspite of being pushed around in a crowd of 1200 at 4 in the morning.
I will also remember that when buying lollipops in Montreal, the word ” suçon” means lollipop. Not “sucette” which means hickey.