I have been fortunate to spend a fair amount of time in Quebec for business; however I had never properly seen Montreal (the airport doesn't really count). I hitched this visit onto the end of a business trip, which suits my economical nature quite well.
It was June and the weather was perfect. I had just unpacked in my small room in the Latin Quarter and I was already running late. I needed to get to the McGill campus to see the Allouetes play, as one of my friends is on the team. Thankfully I made it on time and was able to watch the preseason game. They take their football seriously in Montreal.
The next day I rose early and ventured out to explore the city. I started by going to the Old City (Vieux-Montreal). It truly is like nothing you can see in the US, it feels as though you have been instantly transported to a French village. The architecture is old world, as are the streets with their cobbles. Truly enchanting. The old city abuts the St. Lawrence and hosts a wonderful riverside park. From here you can relax and enjoy the picturesque views of the old city, shadowed by the magnificent City Hall.
I had fantastic lunch of a BLT with a side of the famous Quebecois Putin (French fries, brown gravy and cheese curds. It is delicious. I had the good fortune on a previous trip to Quebec to go to famous shop where they made the cheese, Fromagerie LeMaire). I took the metro further inland to Mount Royal Park (Parc du Mont-Royal). This is the city’s main outdoor space, and was designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead, the designer of New York’s Central Park. The park encompasses the “mountain” that gives the city its name. I hiked up the trail to the top of the hill where there is a fantastic panorama of the city and the countryside. The view made up for the hundreds of stairs, you can take a funicular, but that is cheating.
I took the metro downtown to see more of the central business district of the city. It is similar to most city centers, tall buildings which are mostly offices. It was nice, but the real sights to see are in the old city.
That evening I met up with my friend from the Allouetts and had dinner and some drinks. We were in the heart of downtown, and a large music festival was taking place, Le FrancoFolies. After seeing some of the bands I headed back to my hotel to finally get some rest, as I had an early flight home in the morning. After visiting the region over a dozen times, I am glad to say that I have finally seen a little of this wonderful city, it truly is one of the great cities of the world. A place were the old world meets the new, and where cultures collide, forming a unique setting in North America.