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Published: October 20th 2009
It’s a hot and muggy afternoon in Florida, with the thermometer registering 97F, and I am shopping for a wool coat and long boots. The insanity is justified, however. I’m travelling to Montreal in a couple of days, and it’s minus 1 to 6 degrees Celsius (31F)!
Changing from flip-flops and orange-blue summery outfit (the Gators’ homecoming explains the choice of colors) to somber and heavy clothing, I headed to the airport under one of those stormy Floridian afternoons. Charged $25 per checked bag, I am reminded that we are still in recession mode.
On the flight to Canada, I picked up my travel book, and before I had a chance to open it, the guy next to me, who happened to be a Canadian who commutes weekly to the US where he works, started to chat. With my reputation as a chatter box, your are probably thinking I started the conversation, but I swear I didn’t. At any rate, how could I not take advantage of learning from a man of the land. He went on to give me tips such as don’t cross a pedestrian red light if you don’t want to get a ticket.
He encouraged me to try “Poutine”, which means “what a mess”. It is a mound of French fries covered with cheese and chicken gravy. He warned me that the dish packs some 1,500 calories. Ah, he also told me to drink a shot of cognac with breakfast to warm up! Yeah, right! Me getting drunk at dawn!!!
I arrived at the Celebrity Hotel in Montreal at 1am. There was a mess up, and “my” room wasn’t available. Well, too tired to care, I took a small room for the first night, which was “interesting”, to say the least. I slept under the watch of Charlie Chaplin. The next day I transfer to a really big and “weird” room. See pictures. The hotel is super funky. Talking to other guests, including the 2 Croatian women who became my travel buddies, people choose this hotel because from the website it looks cool. Well, it is more weird than cool. But again, it is different, and so, it’s an experience in itself, if you don’t mind having to ask for the phone, the light, the internet to be fixed in your odd looking room. Ah! The hotel has another plus: the very
friendly front desk guy from Tunisia.
MONTREAL: very lovely city.
Despite having influence from herds of immigrants from all over the world, Montreal still preserves the French culture and French is holding on strong as the main language. I got to practice my 5 sentences in French a lot, particularly Bonjour, Parlez-vous anglais? and Je ne se parle Francais.
The city is multiethnic, with Latin, Oriental, Middle-Easter Quarters, but it doesn’t take long before you step into a charming and very European-like area with cozy bohemian cafes.
WALKING LIKE CRAZY: It’s not winter yet, but it’s already bitterly cold. But, it hasn’t been that bad at all, since I am exploring the city on foot “programmed to fast mode”. With a wool coat, hat, gloves and a pair of legs put on super fast gear, I have actually felt even hot at times!!! I’ve taken the metro to far areas, and I walk from there on and back.
There is so much to explore. I walked all over The Plateau, Downtown, Latin Quarter, Chinatown, Old Town and up to the Parc Mont-Royal.
Ah! The island where Montral is has exactly the same shape as my home state
(Alagoas) in Brazil.
Au revoir, for now.
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