The journey continues!
After two days in Ottawa, we then drove back to Montréal where we were going to stay for two more days. This time it was during the day so I was able see the Canadian countryside.
Now before I boarded the airplane to go to Canada, I tweeted out I was heading to Montréal. My best friend @nlaramie sent me this South Park link about French Canada. I laughed my ass off. I know South Park exaggerates quite a bit, but still I was intrigued to see what Montréal had in store for me.
Many people say the Montréal is like the Paris of North America. I've never been to Pairs, France so I couldn't tell you if this is true or not. What I can say is Montréal feels like a European city that has been transplanted into a western city. First off, everywhere you go people speak to you in French. Everyone also knows English, but French is the official language of Montréal, so they usually greet you in French first. I thought is was awesome that people were all around me speaking French, and yet it didn't seem too difficult to understand. Sorta like this. French was everywhere. On street signs. In menus. After awhile I was getting the gist of it.
Montréal was originally named Ville-Marie, which was the settlement that started in the location after explorer Jacques Cartier first discovered the land for France. He named a nearby mountain, which sits in the center of the city today, Mont Royal or Mont Réal as written in that time period. Over time the mountain became known as Montréal, then the island, then the finally the city. Yes, Montréal is actually an very large island in the St. Lawrence River.
In the main part of Montréal there are skyscrapers that give it a very modern feeling, but in the Old Montréal part of town there is much different feeling. The streets are narrow and made of cobblestones. The buildings look old and regal. The streets are exceptionally clean. I thought many locations look like movie sets stuck in time. It is very much the must see tourist location in Montréal.
Old Basilicas and monuments are everywhere.
The best way to get around in Montréal is their Metro subway.
On the way to the Metro we discovered the the Underground City, which is a giant mall built completely under ground. It runs for many blocks. I couldn't tell you how many because you lose total perception as you walk under buildings and traffic moving overhead. You can't see all that but you have to imagine that it is above you.
I could tell the people are highly active in Montréal. I don't think I saw anyone looking obese. Mainly because people walk everywhere in the city. Also I saw a lot of bicycle riders on the streets. There are even bike rental locations on the streets. You can rent a bicycle at one of many locations. You swipe your credit card, take the bike and then return it to another rental location when you're done riding.
Also with more bicyclists there needs to be places to park all these bikes. There are bicycle parking spots on sidewalks. Not sure how or what you need to pay to park there.
Overall I loved Montréal. I definitely would want to return in the near future. I hear it can get really cold there in the winter. So cold that the river freezes over. I would like to see that. Two days there was not enough time.
Leaving Canada was much easier than coming into the country. I had no holdups at Customs. I guess bringing camera gear back into the U.S. is not a major deal.
For the short time I had in Ottawa and Montréal, I really enjoyed it. I never looked at Canada as being a foreign destination. Hey, you need a passport to get there. I may take a holiday to Montréal or Ottawa again in the future.
This story may not be done just yet. I plan on posting at least one more about interesting things I saw while my six days in Canada. Stay tuned.....
I did have some more to post about my brief trip to Canada, but I got back to work and then got sick. Too much time passed for me to finish my posting so I will just do it here and now.
I enjoyed going to Ottawa and Montréal. I wished I had more time to experience and see more sights and sounds. I definitely plan on returning hopefully not for work and I could take my time seeing both cities.