I have always wanted to go a city I’ve never been before, and just get lost. Not the “oh my god where the heck am I?!” kind of lost, but the “I really don’t have anything to do but wander down these cool looking streets at random,” kind of lost. Montreal is only two hours away from me here in Ottawa, and yet, in the three years I’ve lived here, I have never been. It sounds completely stupid that I wouldn’t try to take advantage of my close proximity. I don’t know, I guess I never really thought about it, or just was too afraid to go by myself. I talk a lot about doing this, doing that, but deep down, there’s a fear that sometimes stops or at least hinders me. I usually have to push myself to do what I want to do, battling the mental fear and uncertainty. My friends and family are a big reason why I am able to conquer fears.
Anyway, yesterday I spontaneously went to Montreal, with my roommate Maghen. And it was such a beautiful city. Of course, Montreal would be suffering from crappy weather though. It threatened to rain the entire time we were there, but luckily only started pouring once we were safely on the greyhound bus back to Ottawa. Despite the ominous weather, Montreal still shined with beauty.
What I found most attractive about Montreal was the fact that I automatically felt completely comfortable in the city. I’m sure having Maghen beside me was a big part of that, but the feel of the city itself was very bearable. It wasn’t overwhelming with traffic or people; there was no overabundance of sky-scrappers to block out the little sunlight that did break through the clouds. Overall, I immediately commented that Montreal felt a lot like a combination of Toronto, and Ottawa. A pleasant mixture of big city with the friendlier neighbourly feel of Ottawa. We stayed in the downtown core only, so I suppose I can’t officially give any static opinions, since there’s still 98% of the city I have yet to see.
Montreal is full of art. This art spanned the spectrum too. We found contemporary structures of twisted metal, creating interesting 3 dimensional designs. There were artistic photographs blown up and safely protected yet in full view for locals and tourists alike in one of the parks on Rue Saint-Catherine. There was the traditional, historical artistic architecture of the old Christian churches, with their aged brick and spires. And then there was the mixture of murals and graffiti, which decorated the sides of shops and bars on the main streets. Art was even incorporated into the residential homes in the form of staircases! There were so many twisting styles of beautiful staircases, winding black, silver, bronze and even neon green metal. We didn’t have to do anything but walk to experience this. It was a day full of enjoying urban art for free, if you exclude the price of the Grayhound ticket, which was really reasonable.
But of course, we had to do a few silly things while playing tourist. So we bought wine at the convenience store and had a “picnic” in the park, getting very happy near the end of it. We met and became friends with a stranger who claimed to be Jesus. I proceeded to have a miniature philosophical debate with him. We parted on good terms.
Overall, it was a wonderful first experience of Montreal. I loved the city so much that I am going to consider and research the Universities there for possible graduate programs. I think I would really enjoy living in Montreal for a year or two. Of course, I’ll have to work on my French, but the idea of trying to make it somewhere new is exciting as well as frightening. Yet life is short, and I think the worst thing we can do is let the fear of trying something new, the feat of failing stop us from really doing something spontaneous. What I realize is that, sure, sometimes these random decisions can end in disappointment, but I find that if we take a risk, it can end in either failure, or it can be amazing. If we fail, well then we just pick ourselves up and try again. The world is full of opportunity if we look.
So if you have the chance, visit Montreal. The people there are friendly, and most are great with English so if French isn’t in your cache of languages, no worries! I loved it, and if you go, dear audience, I hope your day will be as great or even greater than mine!