Montreal – A City That Never Ceases To Amaze!
Montreal – A City That Never Ceases To Amaze!
Mamata Krishnamurty went to Montreal and came back with memories as beautiful as the city itself.
This is her story about Montreal – A City That Never Ceases To Amaze….
Canada is a destination that is not high on travel lists for a lot of people. The extreme weather is to blame mostly. But if you’re the kind that braves nature and makes bold decisions, then you’d definitely agree with me about the beautiful experience Canada has to offer!
Canada is a big country, part of North America. It spans from east to west across three time zones. A single visit does not do any justice to the beautiful country. Harsh winters (temperatures easily plummet to -35 degree C) make Canada a difficult terrain to enjoy but even the cold and snow offer spectacular views of the mountains and the vast landscape. Nature sure has a way of making her people happy!
One of my favorite cities in Canada is Montreal. It’s truly a multi-cultural, vivid, colorful, and a historical destination. I fell in love with Montreal the minute I stepped out the bus. I have visited Montreal during all seasons – spring, summer, fall, and winter!
I was surprised to discover that Montreal was an island. It is surrounded by rivers Saint Lawrence and Ottawa. The island is about 50 km long and 16 km wide in the Canadian province of Quebec. It is highly influenced by European culture and French is the native language. The small island has a lot to offer!
A Perfect Welcome!
Montreal is a historical city. Amid the lush greenery and winding rivers, you’d see cobblestone streets, rustic buildings, and old churches.
Old Port is located in old Montreal. This historic port runs along the Saint Lawrence River. Here’s where you could see cobblestoned streets, horse-driven carriages, and shacks that offer fast food. Boats and ships are docked along the port and is a good location for cocktails parties.
A little further away from the port you can see a looming cathedral – Notre-Dame Basilica. The massive gothic structure, built in the 19th century, is one of the most awe-inspiring buildings in the world. The church is open to visitors seven days a week for a small price. It also offers musical programs, sound and light shows, and other performances. I attended one of the shows – And Then There Was Light. It was interesting and certainly a unique experience.
Downtown Montreal – Where All The Fun Begins!
Montreal is famous for its food and drink. Some of the best restaurants in the world are located in the heart of this beautiful city. You could wander amongst the hustle and bustle of the city looking at shops, restaurants, and bars. A major shopping attraction is Saint Catherine Street. This is where cosmopolitan meets culture. Crescent Street thrums with vigor and has an electrifying nightlife. Downtown resonates with life and color – music festivals, sports cars, parades, and such. If you are in Montreal and do not eat Poutine, you are missing something! Poutine is one of the most delicious native delicacies – potato fries and cheese curds in light-brown gravy sauce! Yummy!
The Underground City is a must visit. Have you ever seen malls, shops, and stations underground? Yes, Montreal is a proud owner. Harsh winters have forced Montrealers to live off the ground to combat the cold.
Summer season is when you see a lot of festivities in downtown Montreal. July hosts the very-popular Jazz Music Festival, Formula One grand-prix, Canada Day parade, fireworks competition, and small street fests. I have only one word to describe the experience – colorful!
Art Is At The Centre
As you walk along, surrounded by gorgeous Victorian architecture, museums call out to be explored. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is a haven for art lovers. Graffiti is encouraged, yes truly! You can see artists making mind-blowing graffiti on building walls. There are even contests for best graffiti!
Downtown Montreal not only boasts of splendid architecture and colorful nightlife but also of lush greenery. Some of the most beautiful parks are located centrally – Parc Maisonneuve, Parc LaFontaine, and Parc du Mont Royal. These parks provide an oasis in the middle of all the action. Whether you want to laze around, have a small picnic, play games, or read books, each park has something good to offer.
Parc du Mont-Royal is especially of significance. It is located on a hill called Mont Royal. It is a 15-minute walk from downtown or an easy bus ride to the top. You can see joggers, walkers, and love-struck couples walking hand-in-hand. This park certainly shuts you off from the noise of the city.
Parc Jean-Drapeau is famous for its location by the Lachine Rapids. The rapids attract rafters and surfers in abundance in the summer season.
As you walk out of downtown Montreal, you will find yourself along the Lachine Canal. A picturesque canal that passes through the city stretching about 15 km. The canal gets its name from the French word La Chine or China. The canal is open for recreational activities like kayaking, boating, and biking. There are guided tours of the canal during summer. Along the Lachine canal is the buzzing Atwater Market. Home to fresh produce and horticulture, there’s a lot to see and buy. At the very end of the market is a yummy pastry shop. Think of all the amazing pastries, croissants, bread, and cakes your creative mind can conjure up… done? Open your eyes and they are all there right in front of you to savor. This little (maybe not so little) secret hidden away is the Premiere Moisson pastry shop.
Explore The Outskirts
The famous Montreal Botanical Gardens is located on Sherbrooke Street near Viau. It is considered one of the best botanical gardens in the world. It spans 75 hectares and boasts of a collection of 22,000 plant species. There is a small entrance fee with discount offers for students, children, and seniors.
Some of the major attractions of the park are the Rose Garden, Chinese Garden, Japanese Garden, Arboretum, Insectarium, and the Tropical Rainforest among numerous others. You can leisurely walk around the park hand-in-hand with your loved one and breathe in all that is natural! It definitely deserves a day. You will find your nature here!
As you continue your journey discovering your inner sanctuary you can walk to the Biodome. It exhibits the four ecosystems of the Americas – the Tropical Forest (South America), the Laurentian Forest (North American Wilderness), the Saint Lawrence Marine Ecosystem, and the Arctic and Antarctic. Each exhibit is true to its name and nature. You can find native flora and fauna – tropical birds, reptiles and fishes, polar bears and penguins, and more. Children will especially enjoy the experience.
Right next to the Biodome is the famous Olympic stadium. It was built in the 1970s when Canada hosted the 1978 Summer Olympics. The dome of the stadium is in the shape of a doughnut and hence nicknamed “The Big O”! After the Olympics, the stadium housed professional baseball and football teams.
And Much More…
Montreal is a city that offers something new each time. You will be surprised to find hidden gems both in the city center and outskirts. Montreal is best explored on foot or bike. People of Montreal are extremely hospitable and friendly. Both English and French are spoken so visitors should not find it too hard to communicate. Each experience is magical and is its own!
About The Author
When I am not managing software, I am likely to be found buried in a book. I aspire to travel far and wide, finding freedom in the unknown. Among the things I love are writing, chocolate, and of course my better half!