Montreal, Canada

8-13th September 2016

Way back in China, two fellow travellers said I should come to Montreal when I’m in Canada. They were sure I’d have somewhere to stay. Now a few days before I arrive in Toronto and Veronica has said I can stay with her. The excitement starts to bubble. I’d get to see newly made friends a second time and see a city I hadn’t originally planned on!

Before I get there though, my journey into Canada which consisted of a cheap Greyhound bus into Toronto was tiring from New York. Upon entry I’m questioned by border control. Everyone there was incredibly fit physical shape and rather intimidating. If I wasn’t awake before I am now, hopin I get through OK. When he asked where I planned to go in Canada and I said to meet some friends in Montreal he put my passport down, smiled and just said “Montreal? Awww you’re going to have a fantastic time there, enjoy!” And with that he stamped my passport and I’m on my way! My cheap bus was followed by an expensive train into Montreal. I was starting to get annoyed at myself for spending extra money unnecessarily and not on fun things. I spent half the journey thinking why didn’t I just get the bus for the second half too. The bus arrives in Toronto and I start running from the (delayed) bus to the train when I picked up baby this.

Canadian Hotdog

Having a full stomach filled with the best hotdog I’ve ever had put me in better spirits, for sure! Once I sat on the train the comfort, the space, the amenities made me forget all about the money. That and the lovely, interesting, older couple opposite me who are cycling the world.

I’m here! Montreal, baby! It’s off to a great start, Veronica’s very kindly meeting me at the station to guide me back to hers. She’s so lovable, sweet and caring from the moment we see each other right through. The landlord is hilarious; the dog is warm and gentle and the place is lovely and the company for the week turns out to be brilliant.

We meander around for a bit and then we’re off to do another first for me: a heavy metal concert!

Heavy Metal

It’s a fun, obviously loud, experience. It strikes me that a lot of people come to these concerts with backpacks on (from school, maybe?). The theatre of it is really enjoyable; the jumping around, the acrobatics, the sweat flying off the long hair.

Then the first drinking session occurs.

Drinking in Montreal
Drinking in Montreal

It’s called the beer tower moment. When you’re looking at which drinks to order and someone comes over and says “don’t worry gang, I’ve ordered us a beer tower to share to make it easy”. Then the next response is obviously about the price and the following response is something along the lines of…… “WHAT?!”. Ha ha.

The night is good and its fun having everyone up on the dance floor. It’s a great bunch of people and a lovely energy from it too. We’ve been trying to meet up with Sherif, one of the other guys we met in China but we keep missing each other. We finish the night at a gay bar, which is always a fun night out. Then, just as we’re leaving. BANG! I bump into someone. Sherif?!? It is! We all have a little catch up just as the night is ending and agree that we need to arrange something else. It was luck that got us together tonight and I’m glad it did!

Theo in Montreal
Theo in Montreal

Veronica explains to me that Theo is in town! “Who?” My ignorance is explained and oh my god! Theo! It’s Theo from Shanghai! This is insane. So now four out of five of our Chinese group is now all together in the same place. This is fantastic!

We have a bit to drink and catch up. Theo and all his friends speak predominately French which is both lovely and awkward to be a part of.  It makes me even more excited for next year when I plan to move to France for a month to learn French. For now though, I have these guys and Duolingo to help!

With electronic dance music not really being my thing, Theo and his friends go to an EDM party and myself and Veronica head off to see an event in the park with drums, hippies smoking weed and some glorious dance moves.

Party in the park Montreal
Party in the park Montreal

The night ends with us checking out a few park parties of our own before we met back up with Oli (Veronica’s adorable, lovable boyfriend) and then with Theo and some of his friends. I’m given a hat to keep me warm and some faux sun glasses to keep me looking hip. Someone tips the hat forward a bit, showing just a little bit of hair and then pulls it back so the bottom tips of my ears are showing. “Done! Now you’re a Montreal boy!”.

Montreal Boy
Montreal Boy

Some talk, laughs and karaoke later and the night quickly passes.

Another night, Veronica and Oli kindly brought me over to their friend’s house for a barbeque. The food was fab and the company was delightful. Then someone calls “Check this out”. The virginity chamber awaited. I’d heard rumours of its existence but never knew what to expect. Down some white steps, into a movie room, around the corner and BAM. Every kind of figurine in glass cabinets, an entire stairwell filled with perfectly aligned boxes and walls with game-art. It was incredible. “Yeah, I definitely used to have a problem” the host tells us. Then the music starts, surround sounds occupies every room and it is totally awesome.

It’s for sure a sad moment when I had to say goodbye to Veronica and to Montreal but it felt like just the right amount of time to explore the place before moving on. Now it’s time for the film festival in Toronto!

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