I always joke when most Haitians leave Haiti , they usually migrate to Miami , New York , Boston and/or Canada . More specifically , Montreal. I've always wanted to visit and of course when I became a Fly Attendant it quickly moved up on my tangible fly list. To be honest , my knowledge of Montreal was pretty limited. I've always been told how beautiful it is , how cold it can get and how amazing summers usually are. That’s as far as my knowledge spanned . Now that I have gained a taste of this beautiful city , I’m ready to share my experience and some tips along the way .
What Makes Montreal So Fly?
Originally named Ville Marie, Montreal has an essence of natural beauty. Each building seem to carry a story of purpose , precise execution and an appeal which makes any wanderer wonder the history behind the sight. I presume not every building tells a story but I think that was the beauty while exploring for me. Wondering if there was a story or just making up my own fairy tale on the steps of each monument visited. The city is designed in a way that reminds some of Europe in many ways. Some even go as far as saying Montreal is the Paris of Canada. Although I haven't explored Paris yet , I'm not really a fan of comparing cities in such a way where it would suggest Montreal is nothing more than a basic replica of another adored city. Montreal carries its own spirit , has its own personality and breathes a different life into it's tale.
I'm a Miami girl so I am familiar with heat , humidity and when the temperature drops anywhere at or below 60 degrees, pea coats and boots. Don't judge us Florida people and definitely don't judge the fact that I was born in New Jersey. Being born in the dead of winter doesn't alter how you handle the cold! That being said , I am not a fan of the cold weather and although I've made plans to visit Montreal during the warmer months , the scheduling powers that be saw it fit to send me when it hit 27 degrees and snowfall. As long as you have a good coat , decent boots and gloves, you'll be ready to wander Montreal in the winter..... well at least in December.
Fly Things To Know:
1. Montreal is on an island ! I definitely was today years old when I found that out. Don't judge my ignorance . Judge Miami-Dade educational system ! It sets on an island in the Saint Lawrence River and named after Mount Real which is the triple peak hill in the center of the enchanted city.
2. The people are incredibly kind and friendly. At one point of the day my cousin and I read lost in our expressions and a nice woman quickly came to us , insisting she assist us in finding our way. Not like in a creepy way either. Well it was a little creepy because she walked up on me real smooth and close and the Criminal Minds brain of mine had a second of concern. That instantly faded because she sincerely meant no harm and her maternal concern for our safety was genuine. She even walked us toward the right direction.I know when traveling to a new place , the old age question of "How is it" also includes the underlying "are people nice" in particular to traveling while black. I can sincerely say it was so pleasant having people smile as you made eye contact or genuinely greet you when entering an establishment and even more important as a tourist to have folks willing to guide you.
3. Bonjour! Yes if your French is rusty maybe this is the only word you know. Don't break out your google translate just yet. Of course French is a primary language but many of the natives also speak fluent English. Yes, I'm Haitian . No , not every Haitian speaks French and NO , Haitian Creole is not the same. I personally studied French as a student for years and although my comprehension is pretty good , I lack the confidence to not fear sounding like a five year old singing Frere Jacques. Translation : I'm just as rusty as y'all. That being said , I do believe in at least attempting to conform to the culture. Learn a few basic words such as please , thank you , hello and good bye. It doesn't hurt ! … well maybe their ears but you get the point.
Fly Things To Do :
Montreal has 50 historic sites! There is no way you can fall short on scenes to visit; keeping you busy on your excursion. Research before you arrive what's near the area you're staying and map out a transportation plan that include walking , Uber or the accessible Metro! Below are a few places I would suggest :
1. #FlyEats ! Have breakfast! There's such great food in Montreal . I would definitely categorize it as a foodie town especially for your morning indulgence. My cousin , who lives in Canada, made the great suggestion of dining at Allo Mon Coco on Saint Catherine Street . There are various locations but this is a chain you don't want to skip out on. Their menu has a plethora of options so there's no way you can't find something you like. Their portions are out of this world and the taste will satisfy your sweet and savory needs . Tim Hortons and Second Cup are also great for light bites , pastries , coffee and my go to in the Winter , hot chocolate . Try some poutine while visiting and buy a bag of ketchup flavored chips ( literally my favorite chips ! Thank me later ) .
2.Visit the Notre Dame Basilica ! I have a personal obsession and appreciation of the architect of cathedrals around the world. Perhaps it is my Catholic upbringing but I tend to feel connected to churches and when I witness one built with such meticulous details , its beauty captivates me. Being the first cathedral in the diocese of Montreal , it is one the great pieces of history in the city. You're free to take pictures outside of the church but unless you're attending mass there is a fee of CAD $6.00 to enter. We learned the hard way that they only except cash so make sure you do !
3. Downtown Montreal is also a great place to enjoy your stay. Like many other downtown areas , it is indeed busy. Tall cooperate buildings fill the city along with cafes and restaurants every few feet. Although the design is modern , the cobblestone and brick pavements provided a nostalgia I didn't know I had. Unlike some metropolitan areas , I didn't feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the moments of congestion surrounding me. My personal space is needed and it was respected.
4.Old Port Montreal is a gorgeous area along the Saint Lawrence River. I imagine in the Summer it is probably crazy busy because there are many mini attractions. There is an IMAX theatre , Montreal Science Center, Montreal Clock Tower and my favorite in any city , the Old Montreal Ferris Wheel. Various festivals are held here as well. Perfect for a leisurely stroll along the river or you can be amused by any of the things listed above.
5. Place Des Arts: Satisfy your love or for the gram flex here. It's the largest cultural and artistic complex in Canada . The Musee D'art Contemporain is also located here and near is the Village filled of outdoor pieces.
6.Places Jacques Cartier is another square near Old Port and actually not too far from Notre Dame. There was construction being done when we were there but it didn't impede on the various shops and restaurants open for business. If you're looking for more unique items to bring back home , you won't be disappointed here.
7. Some other areas to put on your list to visit are Mount Royal Park , Old Montreal , Rue St Paul , Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Jean Talon Market.
My "Playover" lasted for one day but as cliché as it seems , my memories will last much longer. If possible, I would suggest at least a couple days to really enjoy the different attributes of the city. I honestly didn't want to leave. I found comfort in the scenes and warmth even among the cold. My smile couldn't be any brighter because I was with people I love and doing what I love, exploring . Journeying through different countries and cities often give me clarity and the opportunity to reflect even amid the chaos and excitement in which travel naturally includes. I will return dear Montreal . A Bientot !