Magic of Montreal
As I discussed in my snapshot of Ottawa, I am a big fan of Canada. Out of all the trips in 2018, my Canadian experience was my favourite. It was probably the first time I landed on North American territory since more than two decades ago, so it was very much like a first experience of a brand new culture. Our short trip to Montreal was even more precious because it was about reuniting with very special friends made in Ankara (always the Big Love of my life experiences). These were friends who opened the window to a deeper appreciation of culture, intellect, wisdom and life values. They humbled us with their generosity in the time we spent together in Montreal and after a few days catching up on latest going ons within our personal journeys, those of mutual friends and exchanging similar perspectives on the current political climate, we concluded on the note that Montreal was not only a beautiful, eventful and sophisticated city but that we would always have friends for life within her.
Here’s a run through of what we saw did and ate. I do need however to make a point that the photos are nothing to write home about – during the summer, starting a blog was the last thing in my mind hence photographs captured were mainly random visuals I liked and not with the intention of exposing an audience to the city.
Farmer’s markets is my favourite way to know something raw about a city – what they produce from their earth and their best cheese! Jean Talon Market is located on Casgrain Avenue and is a sprawling outdoor complex selling all sorts of fresh produce and local delicacies. We went through stalls and stalls of vibrant, plump peonies, juicy, red strawberries, sweet, delectable cherries, massive cauliflowers, bottles of the best maple syrup… the list is endless. It’s also a great place to stock up on cheese presents for home as you can choose the size and have it individually wrapped and zip locked so it remains preserved in your luggage and long trips.
Remember to drop by at this fromagerie (link above photo) and try the cheddar assortment.
The Old Towns of most cities always tend to be the most authentically beautiful and Montreal is no exception. Cobbled streets, quirky stores, great restaurants, main historic sites and centuries old properties. I wish we were here longer! The few hours I managed to catch in this part of Montreal, I peered into the curios shops like Le Petit Dep (for pastries, cheese and quirky home items) and hung around at the square near the Notre Dame which is where the main action is.
We drove up here to get an elevated view of the city which looked surprising modern and contemporary from this angle. It’s a natural landmark of the city and an obvious go-to place especially during the summer when you can spend hours here eating at one of their cafes with a view and enjoying the outdoors. There is also a park and on Sunday mornings there are supposed to be live performances in the morning. Worth dedicating at least half a day to.
I had this misplaced idea that the Jardin Botanique was going to look quite different because the internet photos depicted a Hyde Park type set-up with hedge sculptures. Apparently those photos were taken during some kind of competition and those sculptures no longer exist. In any case it was still a lovely ‘museum’ experiment where we went through various greenhouses which curated a vast and diverse collection of all sorts of exotic plants. I was mainly intrigued by the ages of some of the bonsais that looked so fresh and petite but were in fact older than me.
One of my main requests was to taste the famous poutine dish that every Canadian guide will refer to. Our dear friends took us to this hip looking joint where we each got ourselves a dish and ravaged it at the park across the street. It was yummy in that ‘this is obviously so bad for me way’ – French fries with a cheesy-potatoey gravy.
These external fire-exit type staircases and old churches converted into properties are supposed to be a Montreal thing which I thought was quirky enough to capture.
Montreal is visually pretty. If you are a French speaker, then Montreal will probably even feel more meaningful as so much of the vibe can be better appreciated. As always, Gallic architectural influences adds a certain something to most aesthetics and if I returned I would definitely want to base myself at the Old Town which is full of ambiance and colour. There is so much to see and do and feel, and should I have been younger I would have loved to spend at least one to two years in Canada – half in Montreal and another half in Ottawa to fully embrace the Anglo-Franco dimension to this very special country. The farmer’s markets, Old Town and Mont Royale were our highlights and should probably be attempted by most newcomers to get the gist of her. As for us, we ask ourselves… why can’t Canada be a bit closer to Asia? It would definitely be a second home if it was!
Note:- Featured Image in this Page is sourced from Pexels.