The next step on our Cross Canada Journey was short in terms of distance but huge when it comes to culture. We left English-speaking Canada behind in Ottawa and arrived in French Canada, which feels like a completely different world. Montreal is filled with art, culture, festivals, history and lots of lots of delicious food. It seems close to Europe in its culture than North America with its multitude of festivals and beer than you can buy in the corner store. During our time here we ate Tibetan food, visited Notre Dame Cathedral, strolled down cobblestone streets and tried our awkward best to speak to people in our terrible, broken French.
Penguins, Beavers, Tropical Birds and Crocodiles: The Montreal Bio Dome
One of our favourite attractions in Montreal was the Bio Dome. Where else would you get a chance to walk through the Canadian maple forest, the Labrador Coast, a Tropical Rainforest and a Sub-Antarctic landscape all in one day? As soon as you walk into each different eco system you feel like you have been transported to another destination, as the air temperature, humidity, smells and sounds around you change dramatically. As soon as I started to sweat from the tropical heat and humidity of the rainforest, I was then putting my sweater on over my goose bumps while watching penguins frolic on ice floes. We saw crocodiles, lynxes, bats, monkeys and much more… and I felt a little bit of the dorky childhood excitement that causes me to squeeze Lee’s hand and point at creatures up in the trees saying “Ooh ooh look!”
Chips, Gravy and Cheese are a Delicacy?
Poutine is a great example of context. If you were anywhere else in the world a dish of French fries, cheese and gravy would be considered somewhat of a guilty pleasure or chubby indulgence. If you are in French Canada, it is a local delicacy and a source of patriotic pride. Although it is a simple dish, there is something about the crispiness of the fries, the texture of the squeaky cheese curds and the warmth of the gravy that makes it amazing. It’s a brilliant treat when you are super drunk on cheap Quebec beer or hung-over the next afternoon.
A View of the City
Another highlight of our time in Montreal was walking through the autumn leaves in Mont Royal Park. The trail winds through the orange, red and yellow forest and takes you to the top of the hill, which is the highest spot in the city and a perfect place to get a view of the entire downtown area. Here are some pictures from our lovely walk: Montreal, with all of its history, culture, art and French charm, is a place where I wouldn’t mind living for a while, although I would probably end up gorging myself on poutine and Montreal smoked meat sandwiches way too often! Would that be such a bad thing?