Thursday, May 28, 2009

Trip to Canada: Day 2 - Montreal

As the second largest predominantly French-speaking city in the world, Montreal, unsurprisingly, has many parallels with France itself: the architecture, certain types of food (such as crepes), and overall atmosphere are undoubtedly French in character.

Truly, Montreal feels like a world away from the city that doesn't sleep to its southwest, Toronto. Located in Quebec province, Montreal feels almost entirely European in myriad ways, yet they are difficult to explain.

Quite simply, it is just one of those cities that has to be seen to be understood.

Its contrasts are amazing: the new downtown area full of skyscrapers and the financial district, while literally next door spans the Old Town, filled with its small, narrow streets and alleys. The promenade stretches across one side of the city, while the Latin Quarter is just a kilometer away from the Old Town itself. Quite a compact city for a city its size (some 3.6 million people live in the greater metropolitan area).

Hence, particularly such a city is hard not to fall in love with. Montreal epitomises the part of Canada (Quebec province) that has the least amount of things in common with the country's southern neighbor, the United States of America.

And that is probably another reason why this city captivated me for the day and night I was there. After all, the fact that such a European outlook in both food and architecture exists so close to the U.S. is a refreshing welcome, indeed.

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