If you tuned into my blog for posts about exploring Montreal and how it feels to experience a year abroad in a positive way, then congrats!
For once, instead of crying over my lack of direction or panicking that my new room smells like mouldy bananas, has hastily covered up red writing on the walls declaring my room to be ‘unlivable’ and a strange dark stain on the floor (seriously what the fuck is up with this room?), I have actually explored Montreal this weekend and have seen some truly wonderful things these past couple of days.
So let’s get started!
My exchange university offers new students the chance to explore Montreal with student guides to get a feel for the city and leave the uni bubble that it’s so easy to get stuck in. And because my crazy amount of reading assignments and my soon-to-be-started dissertation mean I will be confined to my room or the library for the rest of my stay in lovely Montreal, I figured that while I’m not too busy I should have a bit of an explore.
So my saturday this week was spent at Montreal’s Chinatown, the Notre Dame and the Old Port.
I probably got a tad overexcited for Chinatown- I’ve been to Vancouver before and the Chinatown there is truly fantastic, so I was a little underwhelmed. Montreal’s Chinatown wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t as big as the one in Vancouver, and the Chinese buffet where we stopped for lunch had better pizza than Chinese food. So while Chinatown wasn’t a massive let down- it had pretty streets, cute shops and Chinese bakeries- I had a grander picture in my head of what it would be, which is probably an unfair judgement on the place.
But a lot of beautiful places in Montreal are less aesthetically pleasing at the moment due to massive construction projects. But there was some nice street art and the company was good.
Now a lot of walking was done yesterday, in a sticky inescapable heat- my best suggestion to anyone looking to visit Montreal would be to bring good walking shoes and come in the Autumn to avoid bursting into flames.
From there we went to the Notre Dame Basilica. I mistakenly thought I had already been here, as I walked past a beautiful french-looking church (spoiler, the actual thing was much bigger), but I realised very quickly that it hasn’t. The name does encourage people to compare it to the Parisian Notre Dame, and having been there as well I can say that they are very different.
The Notre Dame Basilica was not comparable to the Paris equivalent- they are too different. The Parisian Notre Dame is intricate and if you’ve been there you’ll know that when you see it all you can do is stare and contemplate how much work went into creating such a place of beauty.
The Notre Dame Basilica was more simple, but it was still beautiful. I have heard that the inside is grander, but a wedding was taking place so we couldn’t see in, and yes we (boys as well) stayed to watch the bride walk into the church despite the heat and the midday sun, because even the most pessimistic cynic enjoys the growing excitement as you see a woman in a white dress walk into a church in a beautiful and hopeful way that (my grandmother promises) means it will inevitably be downhill from here.
Anyway, I would definitely recommend a visit to the Basilica if you’re in Montreal- the area had a great atmosphere and the building was stunning.
Now onto the Old Port. At this point I was drooping- I was full from the Chinese food/pizza for lunch, and I was too hot and tired of walking but I knew I’d get lost if I walked back by myself so I stuck around.
The Old Port has a bunch of cute stalls, what seemed to be a Labyrinth, and even a Zip Wire, and out of all the fun things we could do, my group climbed the clock tower.
A hop, a skip, around two hundred steps, a seemingly derelict spiral staircase, numerous cobwebs and dead spiders later we arrived at the top. The top could only hold about 5 people, and the bars on the windows meant it was impossible to take photos properly, but after the walk up, when I increasingly felt like an ice cream that was melting, it was pleasantly windy.
Then back down to get an electric blue ice cream, and a metro home and then I was back in the privacy and comfort of my stuffy smelly room.
So all in all it was great day and Montreal is genuinely gorgeous and I met some cool people.
The best advice I can give to anyone going to Montreal is as follows; unless you are gripped by a deep-seated desire give Chinatown a miss, although if you like bubble tea it’s the place for you. Definitely visit the Notre Dame Basilica but check before you go to make sure there are no functions on. Go to the Old Port, don’t climb the clock tower, do go on the Zip Wire, take loads of photos and make me jealous.
Thanks for reading! Like, comment or follow if you feel like giving me a good reason to buy Prosecco, and stay tuned for my next post on my Montreal food tour and some updates on my (mildly interesting) life!