Leaving Montreal was most definitely bitter sweet… Indeed, as I took the public bus, to take advantage of Montreal’s and its outskirts’ scenery for one last time (as I had secured myself a daytime flight departure) on my return trip after not having come back to North America’s Number One’s French-English bilingual city, I felt a litle tight knot getting even tighter in my throat as I had absolutely no idea on when I would travel to Canada and most particularly to Charming Montreal once again… My return trip to celebrate Montreal’s 150th Anniversary was absolutely perfect as well as its weather…:)! My bright shining star was one hundred percent with me…! My stay at Montreal’s quite affordable Y Hotel and its two front lobby clerk-receptionists, was very agreeable… I thoroughly enjoyed taking my time strolling around the different neighborhoods and taking the very clean and spotless subway (as opposed to my city of semi-residence: New York City…)! As I passed the Canadian customs, boarded on my return flight, fastened my seatbelt and settled in my window view passenger’s seat (always my preference whenever possible), flashbacks of my stay came dashing through the screen of my mind… As my flight departed the Canadian soil, I just could not help myself to sigh out loud while finding my face leaning closely against the airplane’s glass window before falling steadfastly asleep until once again landing at John F. Kennedy’s International airport in the Big Apple: my longtime city of residence… Where I would shortly be planning for a new trip and travel destiny for which to depart in the next couple of months…
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As My Montreal’s trip neared its end, I just took my time to attempt to capture almosr every single moment I ventured outdoors… (You can follow me on my instagram page via: irene’s inspirational travels). …Whether walking, strolling, on the subway, taking part as a front member audience biking tour: “La Boucle”, going on a two hour bus tour or attending a jazz feztival (even though I inadvertently left my camera at my hotel room…)!!! …Or simply hanging around: “Le Vieux Montreal”/The Old Montreal and grabbing a bite on the terrace of one of the many restairants facong the port, it was an Absolute Pleasure for me to return to a city where I lived with my family for about four years in my youth and had not since returned… Furthermore, if one does not have the means or the desire to travel all the way to France, one most assuredly gets a taste of French like culture in Montreal… :)! This, whether traveling solo, in a small or large group, with one’s significant other and/or on a 2/3 rush day business trip… :)! My personal choice was to not return to Canada in the middle of wintertime as sightseeing in the cold winter season just does not sit well with my body temperature (LOL)! There are however many outdoors’ activities one can do as well in Montreal, throughout the wintertime… :)! For U.S residents and citizens: particularly those living in the east coast, Montreal is only a couple of hours away and the only document one needs to cros over the boarder without a visa, is a valid non-expired passport with a recognizable photo on it… For any non-English speakers and Avid Lovers of French speaking people,traveling and spending several days in Montreal, will give you a sweet taste and earful of the French Canadian sounding and the actual French from France sounding as there is a significant French expatriate population very present in Montreal :)! :)! :)!
…”La Rue Sainte Catherine”/The Rue Sainte Catherine…! …A mixture of Provincial France, New York City, Boston or Chicago with its very own intermixity of a multitude of cultures, nationalities and Quebec’s as well as North America’s largest cosmopolitan bilingual city… Where French and English are equally spoken and where furthermore, one hears other languages: Spanish, German, Swedish, Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Urdu, Bengali, Creole, Lingala, Swahili, Amharic etc; due to the proximity of several of its universities, accepting thousands of freshmen and transferring students worldwide every year… …The Rue Sainte Catherine…! …With its constant bubbling wave of international tourists and national visitors, lining up for the different bus tour companies and/or simply strolling throughout the equivalent of New York City’s downtown Soho with its luxury fashion designer high end boutiques and chain clothing stores as well as its quaint and fasionable trendy cafes, restaurants, lounges, bars and jazz clubs…! …The “Rue Sainte Catherine…!” …Where one has a wide selection and choice of foods…! Indeed, one day one can choose to eat Cuban food and another day: some Vietnamese and/or some Chinese food and another day as of yet, some Indian or Thai food and still again: some French or some Italian food on another day…! …The “Rue Sainte Catherine”…! …Where one can stroll at anytime of day or night… This, most particularly: in the Sumner, Spring and Fall seasons where the outside temperatures are warm enough to not have to go to Montreal’s vast Underground City’s shopping center… Even if one is solely visiting Montreal for one or two days, The “Rue Sainte Catherine” should most definitely part of one’s itinerary… This, I do oh so guarantee… :)!
…It just happened that my airport taxi driver was a part-time cab driver and a full time free-lance professional computer analyst who stated to me, to actually own five passports from five different countries, naturally…! …He also stated what countries and how he acquired his five citizenships: by birth in Australia (1), from his parents being of different nationalities (2 & 3), having lived for many years in France (4) and having relocated to Canada and marrying a Canadian many years ago (5)… He was actually the 2nd person in my life ever, that I had met who truly legally possessed three different citizenships… (The first person I had met was one of my sisters and my own high school friend). I generously tipped my chatty non Uber taxicab driver ( I am unfortunately or fortunately also known as a pretty generous tipper by my close friends and relatives) who dropped me off across from my more than affordable place of residence for the following five days: “The Montreal Y Hotel” , which is located at the very center of downtown Montreal next to the Show District near several luxury hotels on the Rene Levesque Boulevard and just a few blocks’ walking to the internationally known Rue Sainte Catherine with all of its fashionable boutiques, restaurants and terrasse cafes….! As a side note and as I have been often asked this question, I carefully usually select my lodging according to the geographical location in which I will be staying, the amount of time I will be there, whether it is a large or small city, a town, village etc; (as I customarily will choose a more centered lodging if in a large city: Europe, North America, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa) as it will be easier and more accessible for me to come and go as I please by foot or public transportation at anytime of the day and at a fairly reasonable time at night. In the Caribbean, Latin America and/or Africa (the regions and continents I have so far lived and traveled to), I tend to choose a five star rated hotel in the capital city except for when I spend several days away from the city… I then prefer to stay at a local bed and breakfast or residential lodging, to contribute to the local economy. I however am not one to downplay the extra comforts of chain hotels and luxury resorts as the staff in these hotels are locals as well and staying there, most definitely contributes to their salaries and extra tips)! …It is therefore up to each to assess what type of lodging is best suited for them, for the geographical place in the world they are traveling to, who are they traveling with, the circumstances of their travels and more importantly; what is the safest for them (considering today’s world’s state of affairs… 😞! 😞! 😞!
I must state here that my impression of Montreal’s International airport after all of these years of not having returned was that it was much more organized and welcoming than JFK’s (as everyone who has traveled through JFK, is quite shocked at the reception one receives upon arrival, regardless whether one is an actual citizen, resident or foreign visitor by the non-Customs’ staff but the airport’s staff) and its employees (including Customs’). …As I checked in at the Hotel Y of Montreal with the very pleasant front lobby bilingual receptionist-clerk, did my rounds in my room to make sure that everything was okay, I jumped into tbe shower, changed and as it was still daytime outside, I ventured for my first Montreal walk with my camera in tow after asking for general directions to the same pleasant front lobby receptionist I had left an hour and so ago… 😞!😞!😞!
…Well here I was after so many long gone years…! I kept on repeating to myself interiorly… My airplane and flight swiftly landed after some pertubance (which the pilot had been kind enough to announce in advance). I was as well, explaining to my neighbour flight passenger, who was flying from San Antonio on her own for the very first time outside of tbe United States, to Europe in London and a few months pregnant… We passed customs together as we had been conversing at length throughout our less than two hours’ flight… And I had to make sure that she successfully transferred to her connecting flight, having to once again pass through customs considering that she was pregnant, after she did a currency change… Once she spoke to her husband on the phone to re-assure him that all was well and that she had me say hello to him via skype so that he could see that I looked harmless (LOL)!; and we exchanged personal contact numbers and said our good-byes we parted ways… I felt my heart pounding a little faster as my feet led me to Montreal-Pierre Eliott Trudeau’s International Airport’s exit’s automatic doors where I awaited at the Taxicab queue since both of my cell phones were out of batteries and I therefore could not call an Uber cab… :(!
As odd as it seems as an International traveler and a New York city semi-permanent resident, I had actually not returned to Montreal since my youth…! “-Why so…?” Some my ask themselves… The answer is quite simple… I have been traveling to and have lived in other places overseas situated in Europe, Africa, Central America, the Caribbean and even in several other states within the U.S…. Also, I think that many might agree that the closer another country geographically is from another and the more often, we strongly believe that we have all the time to visit it… Be it a country, a site, a landmark or a monument… I however did not wish to miss Montreal’s 150th Anniversary’s Celebration and as I in fact was in my city of residence: New York city for a couple of months, I booked my round-trip ticket and affordable stay as soon as I could… :)!
My youth and childhood memories of this multi-cultural city (with an estimated population of 1.75 million inhabitants), were therefore buried deeply within the shelves and cabinets of my mind. As my flight landed at The Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, I felt a sort of adventurous exciting rush to being back at last on Canadian soil after such a long hiatus :)!