If Brooklyn and Paris mated, their love child would be Montreal.
Grit and grace. Hard asses and romantics. The ones that won’t look you in the eye and the others who stare right at your ass.
This paradoxical city is emphasized further by its language tug-of-war. French is everywhere: the parking signs, the menus, the spoken greetings.
Yet, a sorry attempt at some high school French by an American tourist (yours truly) flips the switch. Seamlessly, as if “Bonjour” were never stumbled over, the conversation morphs into English with a peculiar flourish.
Walking down the street is a puzzling treat as English and French interlace. A couple at a table next to us bounces back and forth – a French question, an English answer, then one, then just the other – like a nail-biting tennis match for the ears.
Taking a road trip will only confuse the American more. Living in the U.S means conquering an ocean to hear that steady foreign hum.
Although Ontario looks a lot like Wisconsin, there are doors like these in the rest areas…
Eventually, there’s no more English. None. Our foreign experience creeps up on us in the form of construction signs and unpronounceable roads.
Where the hell are we? North America? Canada?
Each languid day is strange – no schedule, no obligations. And, Mr. H. and I wander around this land without time.
One of the deepest ways to connect with someone means surviving together in a place where nothing makes sense, somewhere that is the antithesis of home, routine, and grind.
Travel makes the heart open to possibilities. And, so we opened ours to Montreal and did all of this…
And, we got down at Piknic Electronik at sunset on an island. Yeah, it was cool…
But, what about the food, Britt? Montreal is one of the foodie capitals of the world, isn’t it?
Indeed, it is. So, food gets it’s very own post next week. Get ready to drool.
18 thoughts on “The Grit and Grace of Montreal”
You sassy, fun girl! I tried my best to speak French when I was there…I got the sense I should have just stuck with plain English. Thanks for the little getaway to Montreal this morning Ms. Brit!
It’s always polite to give it a shot. But, they sniffed me out as soon as I opened my mouth. : )
Sounds like a great time. Love the photos.
Thanks, Laura! It really was.
I’d love Old Montreal and I think I’d throw myself into Franglais quite happily. If that’s the music they listen to though I’ll stay away 🙂
Old Montreal has some cool buildings, but it is uber touristy…so beware if you ever go there. We dashed through and took most of our pix from afar, away from the tourista stampede.
No Piknic Elektronic for you, Roy? : )
We drove into Canada about eight years ago and spend a long weekend there. I loved it, like a mini-European country. I took French in high school, so we were able to get along in places that only had signs or menus or directions in French. Looks like you had a fab time.
It totally is it’s own mini-Europe up there. Thank goodness for my high school French…it definitely came in handy for survival basics.
And yes, we had an awesome time.
Grit and grace. You captured it.
Bam! Thanks, Tim. : )
I love the way you wrote this Britt, the title, and the first two paragraphs hooked me in and made me feel like I know this place I’ve never been to.
Thanks, Andrea. I was playing around a bit…plus travel always inspires me. : )
That photo of Mr. H could be right out of GQ, too cool! I love that video of you rockin’ too – looks like you had a blast. Of the many times I went to Montreal, I only went in the winter so it’s fun to see photos of it in the summer. I always heard there was a great music scene during the summer.
Aw, he is very GQ in that shot! : )
We had such a blast. I’m sure the winters up there are tough, as they are here. So we picked the summer very much on purpose.
[…] So, last week I chatted about our invasion of Montreal. Today, let’s talk food!!! […]
I don’t know how I missed this post. Or, how I’ve managed to miss out on Montreal for so long! Gotta remedy that in the near future, I think.
You should totally go. Very interesting place and a crazy mixture to witness!
[…] Mr. H and I hadn’t gone out of town since we moved to Portland at the end of March. Truthfully, we hadn’t been on vacation in almost a year, since our awesome road trip to Montreal last September. […]