Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Old Montreal

We drove up north into Montreal, which is about 3 hours away from Stowe. Passing through immigration was a cinch despite having a vanload of people and luggage. The only hitch in the otherwise seamless process was when the immigration officer peered at us and asked "Okay, which one of you is Tan?" and 5 confused Tans peered back at him. And somehow, my sister managed to claim first rights to the name "Lin" and I became "The Other Lin". And I thought I was the firstborn here.

I have mixed feelings about Montreal. I just don't get the French thing. I mean, I knew that it was a French-speaking city, but I wasn't expecting so much French and everything to be in French. I thought the residents, though conversant in French, would use English more widely, as with other Canadian cities (with the exception of, I guess, Quebec.) They speak English with a French accent! It was like being in a pretend France and having to remind myself that I was really in Canada, and not Europe. It was especially strange when a lady, who was clearly Chinese, tried to converse with us in French, and us having to tell her that we didn't understand what our fellow Chinese was saying. And the funny thing is, the Canadians here seem to have adopted the cold demeanour that their French counterparts are so infamous for (although I'm sure some really nice French people, when I do meet some, could prove me wrong and show me how misunderstood they are.) They were definitely not as friendly as their neighbours across the border, whose warm welcomes and cheerful conversations we have grown accustomed to.

The blustery cold Montreal weather didn't help either.

I did like walking around Old Montreal though - along the cobblestone streets and old buildings. And the waterfront promenade was also quite a nice place to hang out at, which amazingly didn't get too crowded with all the walkers, cyclists (they have bikes for up to 5 people!), Segways, in-line skaters and tram service. To cut a long story short, here are the pictures! (Also cos it's 2.30am on this side of the world and I need to get some sleep soon!)

Horse-drawn carriages still ferry visitors around the old city

Interesting building facade fronting a cafe - but there's no actual building!

Geraniums in the sunlight

A Christmas shop - open all year round

Peek a boo!

A painting of Buddha and Christmas ornaments displayed side by side

Textures of Old Montreal

We were lucky that we had timed our visit to Montreal during a food and cultural festival taking place over the last weekend of May. The narrow streets were packed with musicians, singers, artists showcasing their works, vendors selling hot food and produce from all over the world, costumed characters hosting games for kids - it was all very exciting!

Impromptu drumming session - just jump in!

A kid trying out a type of chess using pebbles with his mum

Another mother-and-child pair bonding over a traditional game

An exotic tent housing a Middle-Eastern tea party

Little kids getting to be pirates for a day. Yo ho!

Jazz ensemble crooning for the audience

Enough of the festivities? Head into one of the many art galleries or small museums for some quiet time.

Movable seats - I likey

Tired of walking or sitting around? Rent a bike at this self-service kiosk and explore the city on wheels.

Lilac bush blooming for only the 2nd time in 14 years. Wow.

An historic domed building that now houses a quaint art market

The vibrant waterfront promenade against a blend of old and new skyline.

We can be just as happy in Montreal... just let us go master some French first!


Anonymous said...

Please do not let Montreal be your lasting impression of Canada! We are good people, really...friendly...really! Get yourselves over to Vancouver before the summer is out, and enjoy some good west coast hospitality!

Yi Lin said...

Hi Jeff,

No worries, I def have a good impression of Canadians in general! We were in Vancouver and the west side and the Rockies in 2000, and it was totally different from Montreal!

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