It was love at first sight. The train rolled slowly through the suburbs and the very first thing I’ve noticed was lots of the street art around. And not just some random street art but the real masterpieces. And then the downtown appeared on the skyline in the clear dusk light. That view was simply breathtaking. The taxi that took me from the train station to my hotel went through streets busy with people walking around or enjoying the dinner in the numerous restaurants. And the street where I stayed was decorated with illuminated lanterns and couldn’t be more beautiful. I knew then that my very first impression was right and that I’m gonna love Montreal.
The next 2 days made me fall for Montreal harder and harder with every passing hour. This city is clearly made for people. There are lots of green areas where inhabitants can relax, walk around, ride a bike (and there are so many bikes in this city, it’s insane!), go for a jogging or make a picnic. Two main spots for these activities are Mont Royal and Ile Sainte-Helene, both offering amazing views over Montreal. When I arrived to Mont Royal on Saturday morning it was just packed with locals and it was better to look around not to be in the way of a runner or a biker. Then, in the afternoons people move to the cafes and restaurants (there are over 7.000 of them in Montreal!) and the streets are alive, are buzzing with French and English conversations! It seems also that there’s always something going on in Montreal. The city hosts numerous festivals each year, the most famous one being International Jazz Festival and admission to many attractions are free so more people can enjoy them. For me there’s nothing better than the city that feels alive and Montreal surely was like that!
Before I went there everyone told me Montreal has a very European feel. Honestly, I haven’t notticed that. Some bohemian, artsy areas around Plateau or Mile-End reminded me the atmosphere of Berlin’s Kreuzberg or Scandinavian capitals but that’s it. The Downtown felt slightly American with tall buildings and wide streets full of shops but it wasn’t that overwhelming (any building in the city can’t be higher than Mont Royal, the mountain has to be seen from every place). And the rest of Montreal, besides Downtown, didn’t remind me of anything which made exploring it really exciting. The place was very unique to me and maybe that’s why I loved it big time. The beautiful brick houses with the high stairs outside (they were built that way because it was cheaper and to save the precious space inside), long streets full of trees on each side (too bad they still missed leaves at that time of the year), churches transformed into flats (ok, that was a little bit weird yet interesting to me) and the street art around every corner!
The city is full of students! There’re 6 universities in Montreal with almost 250.000 students – that’s one of the largest number in the world. There’re both French and English as a major language universities and since it’s much cheaper to study in Montreal young people from other Canadian provinces, United States or even Europe come to get their education there. All of that just ads to the city’s vibe and its multicultural atmosphere. And even with all that people no one is running around, people take it easy. That’s something I’m not really used to but I’d love to have in my everyday life. When I took the bus at one point the driver stopped and said he’s gonna get a coffee – no one protested as people probably understood him very well (it was morning after all;)) and not single car honked, even if the bus blocked one lane. I don’t want to think what would happen in such situation in Warsaw ;)
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So these are just my random observations about Montreal that made me fall in love with this city immediately. I feel really sad about leaving the city (but at the same time excited to discover Quebec city!) but I know it wasn’t a “good bye” but a “see you”. In next few posts I will tell you more about why Montreal is a city of art, why it’s a city for food lovers, where I found a bohemian district but also I’ll share with you my top 5 places to see there!
Have you ever loved some place from the very first moment? Which one?
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