I have been in Montreal for a week now so I thought I should share some of my first impressions of Canada’s greatest and most awesome city (that is how the locals describe it, I haven’t seen the rest of the country yet).
First of all, when I arrived there everything was covered in heaps of snow. The next day temperatures went slightly up and the city started to thaw and melt, but the day after that started freezing horribly again; a true recipe for disaster. So of course I went up hiking on Mont Royal.
I dodged all langlaufers and tobogganing children on my path (and it was the main hiking path, I swear!). With careful steps and perfect balance I and some other crazy tourists managed not to fall on the way to the top. And then someone whooshes past. I (carefully) turn my eyes up from those slippery slopes to see who just past me by and see a local, a local who is jogging up the mountain. And another who is jogging down. Just… how? With icy paths as smooth as a mirror they must have had jagged metal spikes coated with anti-slip stuff underneath their Nikes and offered their firstborn to the Canadian wintergods so they wouldn’t break their legs, I will not believe anything else. As I do not fancy any broken bones and do not yet know any local safety rituals, I will wait till Spring before I will try to jog here.
They say Montreal has the most restaurants and cafes per citizen in North America (yes, more than New York City or San Fran) and the food scene is incredibly divers! But while I enjoy the options of poutine, dim sum, dizzy, falafel, sushi and more for lunch or dinner, I still haven’t found that one (one!) cafe that serves good coffee for breakfast! I am typing this story with a cup of coffee that needed three extra espresso shots to be slightly palatable.
And while I am sipping this ‘coffee’ and looking up from my laptop I wonder if Canadian summer has started: within ten seconds I see a guy in shorts, a girl in a sleeveless crop top, clothing stores promoting beach wear… Clearly I miss those callous Canadians genes because I augmented my outfit with a ski jacket, woollen shawl, knitted hat and the thickest socks I own. Also there are lots of thin, black leggings worn as sexy trousers here. Funny people, that is my thermal underwear.
Clothing choices aside, the Quebecois and other Canadians are incredibly nice people. As in, everyone is nice. Everyone! I have met grumpy tourists and foreign students, but no local grumpiness. Maybe the combination of ice, snow, wind, cold, freezing cold, frostbite, hungry grizzlies and maple syrup attract all the nice people. We will see if all that niceness will melt away in the summer sun (probably not, it is just a bit surreal sometimes).
Maybe it were those high spirits that convinced me to go ice skating at night. Great fun! I really want to do that again. But maybe I should wait until my elbow heals… Note to friends and family: a broken elbow and torn ligaments do not mean I lack the ability to ice skate, you know perfectly well I can; it just means I am not proficient enough to audition for Swan Lake on ice… Maybe next winter! Now I will just learn to type singlehandedly and eat with chopsticks with my left hand (did it last night, the neighbours found it hilarious).
After a week in Montreal I feel great! No nasty cold, no frostbite, meeting great people, slightly feeling the effects of a dip in coffee intake, frustrated by braiding my hair with one hand, but having great fun! Let’s see what this week brings!