As part of my trip to Vermont, my uncle and aunt decided to take me to a city only an hour and a half away from where they lived: Montreal, Canada.
The original plan was to go skiing. However, my back is not what it used to be and is now transformed into that of an old woman. So any stress to my back would result in pain for days. So skiing went out the window. Plan B was Montreal.
Like any college student, the first thing I noticed after crossing the border was…my cell phone now had roaming charges and I couldn’t text anyone!!!!
Actually, the first thing I noticed was how the border patrol station looked. I’ve never crossed the United States border by land before so that was a new experience. The man in the booth was nice and didn’t harass us much. My uncle and aunt knew the drill because they’ve crossed the border many times for skiing so it was a pleasant experience. The second thing I noticed was a sign that welcomed me to Quebec. I took a picture on my phone to send to my loving brother and that’s when I noticed the roaming charges. By the way, the photo of the welcome sign isn’t from my phone. There was overcast so it doesn’t look as pleasant as the one I found on the internet. Hooray for Google!
Getting into the city took a while. According to my uncle, the bridge we took (Champlain Bridge) is always full of cars. One time they drove it at 2 in the morning and it was bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Once we were in, one of the first things I noticed was that everyone wore black. In my uncle and aunt’s opinion, this is the city with the most citizens who wore black apparel they had ever visited. They proceeded to poke fun at it and poke fun at me who was a self-professed emo in my high school days and would find any way possible to wear black. My wardrobe still suffers from the Dark Days (literally). While we were being silly about the style, I found myself wanting to know where they bought everything. I loved their clothes! It was like if a hipster and an emo made a baby, that baby would live in Montreal without fear of being picked on ever. Sadly, the only shirt I bought was for my boyfriend from the touristy shop.
Another cool thing about this city was that while the dominant language is French, they do recognize the huge group of English-speaking tourists who flock to the city constantly. As an example, since they don’t card there, my aunt says that many high school kids will cross the border to party “legally.” So a lot of the signs, much like the welcome sign, will have French on the top and English right underneath it. However, most of the inhabitants of the city are not very keen on speaking English. I did have a phrasebook if I ran into one of them.
There were also parts of Montreal that were “super-touristy” where the people will speak in English first or begin conversations “Français or English?” This is where we spent dinner Friday night. We went to a restaurant where the waiter asked us that very question and then proceeded with the normal formalities. There, I tried escargo for the first time. It wasn’t bad! I don’t know how to describe it, but I liked it. We then went to a pub where my uncle and I tried the local beers, which were very tasty. At this moment I need to back track….
When we first checked in and settled down, we were told of a manger’s reception which meant two free drinks per person. Since it was only 6pm, I stuck with two glasses of red wine. Then, we went to the restaurant where my aunt and I finished a bottle of champagne. THEN, we went to the pub for beers. The beers came in pints.
Needless to say, we got pretty tipsy.
We then proceeded to wander around the city. My Aunt was more sober one who made sure we didn’t do anything too silly. While wandering around aimlessly, we found an underground shopping center connected to a hotel. It was beautiful! There were a few ceiling windows that let in the moonlight and there was a fountain that still ran despite the lack of open stores. Each store carried designer items in their display windows, some even sparkled. What made it more beautiful though was the notion that we found it on our own, wandering around the lovely streets of Montreal.
…and bonding over our shared adventure.