Some of you more keen observers might notice that the budget has risen dramatically in the last two days. No, I didn’t go out and splurge on the best casinos that Montreal has to offer. I also didn’t become addicted to pharmaceutical grade painkillers and need to feed my habit, nor did I need bail money.
I needed a bus pass! For $208, Greyound has a pass that allows me to ride as much as I like for the next 15 days. Which will get me to…conveniently…Vancouver! Huzzah! So even though I have spent over half of the budget, all of my transport should be taken care of till the end of the trip. I hope.
That doesn’t mean that I’m not money conscious. Lately I’ve been a little too focused on money, and I’m wondering if I can make it. I think I can, but it’s hard knowing that half your budget is gone and it’s only been a week…But I’ll just breathe and remember that I planned it that way!
Anyway, back to Montreal. In an effort to have full disclosure, I should tell you all that Montreal was one of only three cities across Canada that I had planned to stay with family. I was born there, and my aunt and uncle still live there, so I knew I didn’t have to worry about a place to stay.
That being said, I still had to figure out what to do, where to go, and how to get around. Montreal has a great Metro and bus system, so you can get anywhere you need to go for relatively cheap, but that isn’t always so easy when you don’t speak French. I tried my best, and usually if I stared at signs long enough I could figure out what they were saying. I looked a little on the slow side, but it all worked out because I’m alive and I haven’t accidentally joined any Montreal cults, or musical theatre troupes, or youth groups…That I know of.
I spent my first day wandering around downtown and in the gay village. The city of Montreal decided to block off about 10 blocks of Saint-Catherine St from cars, so all summer it’s just a big pedestrian walkway. There are tons of clubs and bars, lots of restaurants to choose from. It’s a very lively area, and it’s the heart of the gay neighbourhood.
I walked around there until I had the pleasure of going to CBC studios for a live interview. I was so nervous, I’m surprised I didn’t lose my voice. The CBC people were lovely and it was very fun and surreal to be invited there. After the interview I met up with an old friend and we walked around together for a while. She took me to a place on Saint-Denis where you can get $2 noodles. Seriously. $2. They are just plain chow mein noodles with a thick peanut sauce, and a McGill student probably invented them one night after too much cheap weed, but they were amazing! Really, the perfect $2 fix for your hunger. We met up with a few of her friends to walk around Chinatown (another place for incredibly cheap eats) to have dinner, and then went to a club called Skyy to share a picture of sangria and sit on the rooftop patio. A great night.
On the way home from the bus stop, though, something weird happened. This guy approached me, saying hello in French. Mustering my command of the language, I said that I don’t speak French, and kept walking. So he switched to English in order to tell me “you are beautiful girl?” (He seemed unsure of the sentiment, so I’m punctuating it with a period.) I said thanks, and then he said ever so romantically, “you show me your apartment?” It’s too bad he was trying to pick me up on a dark street corner, because clearly, this guy is a winner. Marriage material.
The second day I had a phone interview with CBC Winnipeg in the morning. The interview was a lot of fun and I was still nervous, but this time it was over the phone so no one could see my hands shake. (Thanks for listening, family.) I went out during the day to pool at the top of Mount Royal park and got to swim around for the reasonable price of $5. Then I walked back to the metro through Mount Royal Park and down through the Plateau area. I got taken out for lovely Mexican food by my aunt and uncle that night, and then early this morning I left for Ottawa.
I love Montreal, and even though I have visited before, I think it’s one of those cities where new things are always popping up, so it’s always an interesting time. There is so much nightlife, culture, good food, good music, so much to see.