Sunday, April 17, 2011

Montreal part 3 - I could live here

In words and images, some of many reasons why I could pick up and move to Montreal RIGHT NOW...

  • It's a busy, bustling city with a well-organized walking, bus, and metro system that gets you anywhere you need to go. I love the sneak peeks down city streets at the snow topped "mountain" behind the city.
  • A city where cafes offer 3.25% milk - cause I always knew there was a middle ground between whole and 2%!
  • Where teens are hanging out, laughing, and going places together. I did not see one teenager texting the entire time! The only teen/young adult I saw with her phone out was talking into it and making plans to meet up that evening (Go me! Yay for years of French class!).

  • My sister above, digging into a plate of poutine - fries, gravy, and "squeaky" cheese". In front of the lively La Banquise on the left of the photo below, a line is forming. You don't go onto the packed-like-sardines restaurant and put your name and number of guests in. You just stand outside in line. Everyone wants in - you'll get your turn. And when you are seated, you'll choose one of a plethora of poutine dishes (chili, mexican style, classic, etc.). Vegetarians like my sister appreciate the amazingly delicious vegetarian gravy (and fall in love enough to try their hand at making poutine at home) .

  • Where there are shops dedicated to growing vertically along walls!

  • Where exterior stairs are an artform in themselves.
  • Where activism is active.
  • Where gothic beauty stands tall next to metropolitan skyscraper.
  • Where birders make homes for their feathered friends in the many green spaces throughout the city.
  • Where even the parking garage exit signs take a calm and kind approach.
  • I'm going to end with a story that for me, generalizes how I feel about the Montreal people. My sister and I were on the metro one evening. It was pretty crowded. A woman comes onto the train and falls. It was quite a scene. IMMEDIATELY, two people nearest to her each grab an arm and pick her up. IMMEDIATELY, the two people near the door stand in front of the closing doors because her legs are not through. As the woman is helped up, IMMEDIATELY, a college aged kid gets up from his seat and motions for her to sit. As we start moving and things get back to normal, I notice that the group of teenaged kids look over at her a little but there were no rolling of eyes, no snickering, no laughing, as I unfortunately believe would have happened here. I noticed that when she fell, there was no loud show of ,"Oh my gosh - are you OK?" The people on that train just quickly and silently acted. There were no falsities, no fear of jumping in to help, no waiting for a leader to emerge and tell people what to do. I have thought about this incident A LOT, and have wondered why where I'm from, people would make a big show of wanting to help, but wouldn't jump in - and why I'm sure the kids here would have snickered. My sister and I have laughed at ourselves for making such gross generalizations about a culture based on spending 4 days in a new city. The grass could always be greener... But this was not an isolated incident. There were so many little examples of the people of Montreal being kind, helpful, genuine, and an overall very RELAXED people - despite managing an extremely large and busy city. When I got on the plane back to DC, the arm of my coat was on the seat next to me. As I scooched for another passenger to get into her seat, the first thing she did was fling the arm of my coat on to my seat with a "tsk" and abruptly put the arm rest down to separate us. Yep, the familiar "chip on the shoulder" that had been missing from my life for 4 days. It feels like home - but having seen the other side, I just don't get why it has to be this way.


  1. Lovely Montreal... I could live there too as long as I can do vegetable gardening somewhere.. :)

  2. I haven't been to Montreal in some time, but I always loved it there. It's such a beautiful city and reminds me so much of a European flair. I love poutine, my in-laws live 10 minutes from the Canadian border so we eat it when we visit. It is such french fried, gravy and cheesy goodness!

  3. You make me want to visit Montreal if I have the chance. I would like to tast poutine, very curious on how it taste. I should have a sisters bonding travel time too.

  4. Always have wanted to visit Montreal. Now I REALLY want to go train...through the Canadian Rockies. You paint such a vivid word picture.

  5. Sounds like a great trip!! I've never been but someday!

  6. I am so glad you got to see the best of Montreal. It really is a very livable city and the people can be wonderful.
    BUT, after you've been there a while, and you're still scraping ice and snow off your car in APRIL, and city blue collar workers are on strike - again - so they're not clearing away the snow, and they've closed yet another major road for construction....
    well, you get the idea. No place is ever perfect, I guess.
    Funny about the poutine. That's so classic. It's the best lunch ever when you're skiing or skating and it's really cold out. I always bring "les grains de fromage" (cheese curds) back when I go up there.

  7. Sounds you really liked Montreal! I have not been there, but discovering the nice thing about a city during a short visit is always a pleasure.

  8. Good shots! I like that staircase photo the most. Montreal sounds and looks really nice. Oh your sis must be really hungry hehe...

  9. Shoot, I don't think we'll be making our Montreal trip after all this summer--too much other stuff to try to fit in--and you've made it sound so lovely!

    I wonder if part of the difference that you saw--people being so willing to jump in and help--has something to do with the litigious nature of Americans. I know good samaratin laws exist, but I think people here are afraid of doing something wrong when trying to help and either A) being sued or B) being laughed at or C) being laughed at and then sued.

    I was at a hospital here sometime last year, and a lady with a cane tripped and fell as she was walking out to the parking lot. My husband went inside to let the hospital personnel know that one of their patients just fell down and might need a wheelchair and some checking over, and the first thing, THE FIRST THING they said to the patient was, "Do you want to file a complaint?" Not, "Are you all right?", "Did you get hurt?", "Would you like to sit down?", but "Would you like to file a complaint?" Augh.

    I feel like we used to be that nice society, like you saw in Montreal, and somewhere it all went downhill. I wonder if Montreal just hasn't made it there yet, or if we just took a turn somewhere that they didn't.

  10. You've made me want to visit Montreal! I agree that every Canadian I've ever met has just seemed relaxed and not nearly as stressed. They seem to have a more quiet and engaged spirit in general. And I agree with you about Americans, too. I love my country, but people are kind of jerks. :-( I'm so glad you had a lovely visit there!

  11. Hi Wendy, glad to see you are back! Miss your posting during your hiatus period.

    I am glad to read about your observation of the positive sightings you had while in Montreal. It seems like a pleasant city to live in. How nice if everyone in the world is like that!


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