J’adore Montreal, Quebec! Matthew and I returned home from Montreal, Canada Sunday evening. Our trip was an eight-hour train ride away from Albany, NY, but it felt like we had travelled much further away from home. During our last night while we were waiting for the metro to take us back to Downtown where our hotel was, Matthew looked at me and asked, “What were your top five favorite moments? Not places, not events, but a moment on its own.”
I had the entire train ride back to think about these moments and there were many. If I had to sum up our weekend it would be these top five:
- Finding a seat together on the train.
When we first stepped onto the train there were many empty seats, but not one in any of the train cars together. There were at least forty people travelling alone and each one of them claimed a seat by themselves. Americans have either developed quite the fear or discomfort of being with a stranger on a train, or they were all having a terrible day and felt the need to brood on their own. Matthew and I were able to find two seats across the aisle from one another. For forty-five minutes the woman next to me did her absolute best to pretend I did not exist and Matthew and I stole seconds of holding hands between the aisle until someone had to walk by. Fortunately, at one of the stops a couple seats cleared up and we rushed to a seat to be together! As silly as it sounds, that moment of achievement (two seats together!) was the most exciting moment of the trip there.
- Seeing Napoleon’s hat.
Yes, it still exists! In fact, there are two of them in the world and one of them is right at the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal. When I think of Napoleon, I think of his silly ship-shaped black hat. And there it was, right in front of me. All of a sudden that man from the oil paintings in my old history books became a real person to me instead of the myth he has become in my imagination.
- Discovering Montreal Poutine.
And I don’t mean the food, although I must say poutine (French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds) is actually a lot better than I imagined it would be. When we made it to Old Montreal Matthew and I needed to find a restroom. After walking down several streets we saw a doorway in a wide ally. I turned to Matthew, “Let’s stop here for the restroom and we’ll rest our legs and order an appetizer.” (We later found out that the old Market building has public restrooms for anyone who needs to know where to go without paying for food in exchange for toilet privileges.) The hostess walked us through the door through a small hallway and then we were in a gorgeous stone courtyard. It was if we had walked through a portal out of the city and into a park in Provence, France.
- Dancing at night in Vieux-Montreal to the song “Hallelujah” sung by a street performer.
Oh, yes, we’re that couple. I loved this moment! We were about to walk back to the metro when a beautiful song caught our attention. All of a sudden we were dancing to “Hallelujah.” Redvers Bailey was the name of the singer and his covers are amazing. Instead of rushing back we took the moment to simply be in the moment. In Montreal, street performances are appreciated and often tipped well. We bought a CD that had his original music. The lyrics are very quirky. A fun memory.
- The kindness of strangers.
We got lost of the hiking trails of Mount Royal for almost three hours when searching for the famous look out view of the city. Dressed in our city clothes and shoes, hiking up, up, up, the mountain trails did a number on our feet. Several kilometers later we made it to a man made pond and we followed a road back into the city. There was a map that showed us that the nearest metro was nearly a mile away. Knowing we did not have a bus card, Matthew asked a bus driver if we could pay in cash. The bus driver just casually waved us on and dropped us off in front of the metro for free.
There were numerous moments through our trip that were memorable like riding in the dome car on the train back home, attempting to speak French, eating crepes at Tutti Fruiti, watching Matthew immerse himself in a drawing at the Museum, and walking the Viex-Port at night when the city turned into light. Soon I will be sharing more about the trip to Montreal as well as some of the wisdom I picked up along the way to help you plan your own adventure into Montreal.
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