A Magical City Called Montreal (I)

Montreal was truly a magical city when I first got there. I arrived at the Berri-Uqam at 7 o’clock in the morning. Let’s not talk about the ride up, that’s reserved for another post. Let’s not mention my confusion when it came to finding the way from the bus central to the subway and then heading back because there was only one restroom. Let’s disregard my initial fear of walking the streets around the bus station and ending up being begged at on every street corner…

My first real stop was Mont Royal. I thought I could get a fantastic view from the city in my first two hours of being here. After walking around the deserted market place, I asked a friendly-looking jogger, whom I took for a local, for specific directions. “You ‘ave to take the bus uep!” she exclaimed in a charming French accent. “It will take yu one ‘our to walk up othervise!” she went on.

I was first rather surprised by her accent and then I was appalled of having to walk up with my heavy traveler’s luggage. I therefore opted to take the 11 bus, which held just in time when I got to the stop. After asking the bus driver for directions, I ended up sitting next to a helpful lesbian Australian chick with chopped off grayish hair. She recommended I get off at the second stop on the hill, not the first as the driver had initially told me to. “It’s a much better view and you can see 180 degrees of Montreal” she advertised the platform. I thought her to be fairly knowledgeable in the whereabouts of this town and wanted to know what else is worth seeing. She mentioned a fountain here and there and then headed out because her stop was due. Not without banging against the window of the bus and giving me her e-mail address before we drove on. The friendliness of random strangers continued after I was stranded at the second stop up the hill.

I found myself helplessly looking through the gates of Cimetière Mont Royal , until turning the other direction and heading towards the green area. A guy with a dog was jogging and exercising along. Meanwhile, it was 8 AM and I was probably the only tourist around shooting pictures of the scenery. He stopped and asked if I was looking for something in particular. He then gave me directions to the ultimate platform of sight-seeing and view-intaking.

I made my way through the foggiest morning I’ve seen in a while. Mystical mists rising from the grounds, covering half of the path in front of me. After following another sign towards the platform I was standing above the city. At first everything was wrapped in fog. No view to be seen from either side. Then, slowly, the haze cleared. I saw a skyscraper here and there. 10 minutes later and I had a beautiful view on Montreal. Since I had all the time in the world, I could observe the people jogging around early in the morning. A lady with a dog stopped nearby. I asked her if this is just a special part of the town or if there is another spot in Montreal where I can catch a better panorama. Baffled, she told me about another platform where I can see more of the forest. Then she wanted to know what exactly is wrong with the view in front of me. I explained to her I cannot really see many tall buildings. She laughed and responded these are all Montreal has. Montreal looks like a small city from so far above. It has about five tall building that stretch up but the rest resembles a flat valley.

I decided to explore more of the Mont Royal, since I was there already and unlikely to return in the next two days. The tourists had awakened. I was not the only one with a camera and taking annoying pictures. A group of Japanese students noticed a squirrel in the trees and made a big fuzz about the small creature. I found it funny to take a photo of them gawking at the natural “wonder.”

Then it was off to the Oratory. Another stop on my way to the hostel. Check-in was at 1PM, I had a lot of time to kill. It was getting hot in this town. I started to notice that a summer in Canada is not always as cold as their winters are known to be. I had only been in this town for a few hours but I already cursed myself for not having brought more T-shirts and short pants. Of course I had a fat vest and sneakers but those will do no good once the temperature hits its 80 something degrees. Not only is the entire East Coast of the US humid but also Canada. Now that you know, don’t make the same mistake I did!