Leaving NYC was hard, I really fell in love with it. So thanks heavens for Canadians as I've had the warmest of welcomes ;o) Even the immigration/border police people on the train were really nice and laid back. As well as being able to see all those places in between, another great thing about slow travel between countries is crossing borders... it's so much more interesting and (has generally been) easygoing and enjoyable for me. The train took me through the airondacks which is very beautiful and the ride itself really quite comfortable. You tall types would have loved the leg room!
Borrowing friends and making new friends
In my 8 days in Montreal I sayed on the plateau (which is a very cool and buzzing area to be around) with Mariam and Alex who very kindly let me stay at short notice! And then further east around Hochelega Maisonneuve with Sylvie, my first couch host... and again in the same area with second set of couch hosts - Alexie, Jade and Cynthia.
Montreal is a very cool city. Wandering around the streets, it's full of colour and people who are passionate about being there. I took it in slowly and soaked up the atmosphere. There's a lot going on and even though it's not the biggest of cities, it certainly has all those big city aspects like diversity, a buzz and lots of different perspectives. It's been really interesting seeing the french and english dynamic and I really do wish I'd been a lot less rubbish at learning french! At times it felt like being in two different places but then - that's what cities do best! Montreal, however, has been all the more wonderful because of all the lovely people I've met and let me hang out with them ;o)
Mariam, Alex and Jane took me out to Casa del Popolo for my first Canadian beer (Jamie, your money has been spent well on a couple of Cream Ales) and learnt about where to get some of the tastiest food around the Plateau including quite possibly the best croissants I've ever had from their local bakery (almond AND chocolate...you really can't beat it!). I also got to hang out and make more borrowed friends mine going for drinks and food around St Laurent and then taking a tour of Iles des Soeurs with Jo and another Alex (popular name!) where they live. I have also been absolutely LOVING couch surfing. It's enabled me to see a Montreal that I wouldn't have got otherwise as well of course as reaffirming how fabulous people are. Strangers have welcomed me to their homes, really making me feel at home, feeding me, showing me around and letting me be part of their worlds. It gave me the chance to feel like I live there doing things like going to the local grocery store, being recognised at the local cafe (love Atomic Cafe on rue Ontario) as well as going to the local pool (which is free at certain times - yay!). With my couch surfing hosts, I've been out to a family dinner where we ended up watching Sarah Brightman sing La Luna, seen the views from Mont Royal, learnt all about local wrestling and the local community spirit as well as make home made pizza and watch the hockey drinking home made coffee stout ;o)