More from Montreal
On Friday, we jumped on the bus at South Station here in Boston, heading towards Montreal. 300 miles could've easily been driven in four five hours but bus was our chosen vehicle this day hence a slower passage through the woods of New Hampshire and Vermont towards our desired destination. There's Duende and Constitution marina as seen from highway 93.
Eight hours later we found ourselves for the first time ever on Canadian ground. We knew already from the hour long ride from the border of USA into Montreal city that this country was a bit different from where we departed, but weren't yet sure to what extent.
The country side houses that we had just driven by were all much smaller than what we had seen them in the States. And exiting the Gare d'autocars bus station in Montreal, we also became aware of the average sized cars parked on the streets which were much smaller in comparison to the ones in the xxxl-country right below. These were the first two immediate similarities with our European continent on the other side of the pond.
We checked into our humble hotel on rue Saint Denis. A simple 3* hotel for $45 CAD a night. How inexpensive, with such a great central location and all. In which other modern city can one get such a great deal these days?
We were surprised at how warm the room was, and after further inspection Alex noticed that the windows were all double, not only double glazed, but two actual windows for better winter insulation. Double the standard of what we had found in the US. The lack of such was probably the reason why most properties that we had visited in and around Boston were so freaking cold inside? Also the classic old wall mounted oil filled heat radiators were similar to the ones back home in Europe.
Alex noted that the city's Metro ventilation bore the exact same smell as the metro system in Paris, which makes sense as it runs on the same rubber tire system as its precursor. In North America, Metro Montreal serves the third-largest number of passengers overall behind New York and Mexico City, and attracts the second-highest ridership per capita behind New York.
This is what reminded me of some parts of Finland, both the brown low rise concrete apartment buildings in the background, as well as the many hockey rinks randomly scattered about in the city center.
Skiing is also a fundamental part of the culture in the cold climate country where I was born.
The Canadian hipsters seemed more punk than their equivalents over in Boston where both people and overall culture are more polished and tidy.
Cold winter streets of commerce.
What I found interesting with Montreal is that you could walk for hours and continuously discover new neighborhoods with new bars, small parks, restaurants and shops, but because of the low rise buildings and humble ambiance, you'd always feel as if you were in a small town rather than the fairly big city it is with its 1,6 million people population. I can only imagine how lovely this place is to explore in the summer.
Great architecture throughout, characterized by the juxtaposition of the old and the new and a wide variety of architectural styles: the legacy of two successive colonizations by the French and the British.
Like we noted on the bus ride and the abundance of farms in the country side, Canada and Montreal is very big on meat and dairy. And everywhere we turned, there was a rotisserie, butcher or a steak house wanting to lure us in. Quite unappetizing in my personal opinion, but Alex wanted to try out one of the famous salami sandwiches at Wilensky's whom have served Montréalais and tourists alike since 1932.
As comparison, they had posted a news article from 1908 on the same wall, showing a (for the time) modern nine bedroom stone property priced at $1.995 CAD. Not sure what one such home would be billed at today with design, labor and material included, but for sure close to hundred times that price, non?
There was a world map glued to the table. Quite fascinating to observe the drastic turned our lives had taken. We lingered around in the warm Caribbean islands for a couple years, and now we're doing our best to fight cold weather in the most Northern countries of the Americas. A change is always good, at least when you know that a new one is soon to be rolling in.