Montreal is a cool city. Some describe it as a mini NYC. Well, having been there alot recently, I guess I can see what they are trying to say, but I also believe most big cities resemble each other. More people, tall buildings, public transport, taxis etc. There is a downtown area and Mi land area which is the ‘New cool place to be at’. Old Montreal is also a part of the city with a totally different feel and I love it. I have a different blog on that altogether.
I don’t think anything could come close to NYC. The mere size of it alone and the amount of people transiting through daily, allow it to flourish and continue to thrive. Back to Montreal. When you find a good eatery in the city, it’s damn good. I’ve been to a few nice ones. There is this great one i came across recently in chinatown. It is Vietnamese and has been open for a year. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of it but its right at the entrance to chinatown on the left. It’s big inside and the waitress is a crack up. They have awesome Vermicilli with Beef and chicken. I’ll go there again soon and write more info on it because I’m suffering here and may have lost your attention by now.
They have these shopping centres in Montreal with a variety of stores. They aren’t huge shopping centres or anything but have the typical food section and a few separate levels with some jewellery shops, phone shops, clothing etc. A lot of the main brand stores are on the main strips. The arts theatre area is great to sit down on the stairs and enjoy the atmosphere in Montreal. Traffic like every other city is ridiculous. Anything after 3pm and it starts. At this time of year, there is so much construction going on because they only have summer for a short period of time and all the rest of the time, it’s snowing and how can they work on the roads when it’s snowing. We are talking major construction works. I still find the roads in Sydney are in much better condition than here and even NYC especially. They are woeful. This adds to the traffic congestion and it all becomes too much to sit in really.
I always find it interesting in a city looking at the different business names that are popular. Tim Hortons is like Starbucks to the Americans. A popular chain that is everywhere and people love it. It sells coffee and donuts too. The other main two coffee shop franchises are ‘Second Cup’ and ‘Cafe Depot’. I prefer Cafe Depot because they make awesome frappucinnos. Great in the summer. The banks are the ‘Bank of Montreal’, ‘CIBC’, ‘HSBC’, ‘Desjardins’ and ‘Banque of Scotia’, “BMO’, TD Canada Trust’, ‘Royal bank of Canada’. For international relations, CIBC or HSBC are the better choices. The others are more local and don’t deal with alot of international transfers. You would have to go to Western Union to do this. They are the main ones I’ve seen everywhere.
In most adjoining suburbs they have these huge carparks with stores set up but you really need to drive to each one separately because the shops are fairly big. I have noticed a pattern of the same big stores in most of the carparks. Walmart for everything you need, like Kmart in Oz. Winners is a store like Target. Homesense has lots of things for the home which is a mixture between Target, Kmart and Big W.
Structube is a cool shop for furniture on the more expensive side of things. Modern and great quality. ‘The Party Expert’ pops up everywhere and is fabulous for a party at a really reasonable price too.
Petrol stations are ‘Petrol Canada’ and ‘Shell’ with some other French local ones too however they are frustrating because they mostly have the system where you need to swipe first and then fill up which is fantastic when it’s working however when it doesn’t, it’s a pain in the ass. The current petrol prices I’ve seen range from 134.90 to 149.90 and so when I’m filling up my jeep, it usually costs $100 for a 75 litre tank on empty. I guess for many reasons, this is why canada reminds me alot of Australia.
To buy food at the supermarkets, you need to go to Super C, IGA, or Metro Plus. If you want that Mediterranean/Greek supermarket touch, you cannot beat Adonis. My place away from home. I love the Tarama, fetta and olives and it’s a great one stop supermarket. Spot the Aussie inside type thing.
The pharmacies are called Pharmaprix and Jean Coutu which are the main two I visit. They sell prescriptions, bathroom products, some food products, sunscreen and outdoor objects, chocolate and even lotto. Actually all of them have a huge beauty section so when you walk in, the girls say ‘bon jour’ and tend to offer you something to try, in order to get you to buy a beauty product. The one Jean Coutu I go to in Mascouche also has the small post office inside which doesn’t close until 8pm. How cool is that. No long post office lines because it is open for long periods of time.
The beauty about the pharmacy set up is that you when you put a prescription in, and it has repeats, it is on their system so you never need to bring in the old prescription form. The computers talk to each other and it’s an easy system. For some reason though, I find the service always takes so long to get the prescriptions. In Sydney, You are never waiting more than 2-5 minutes. The last antibiotics I got were $59. Expensive, so the point of getting private health insurance here is a must. Medicare does not drive the prices for medication down here. The medical system in general is great here and the public medical card that everyone gets covers people for lots of things. The beauty of it though, is it covers them when they travel too. If the private insurers don’t pay, I’ve heard that people can get the expenses back from the government medical insurance. Nice to know really.
The bike shops I’ve noticed here are called Centre Velo and have alot of race bikes and mountain bikes but it is a sport that you really only can do in the small space of summer. It is way too slippery for winter cycling here.
They have co working spaces in Montreal so if you are looking for a place to work out of, visit ‘Station C’ and you can find a good location for yourself to get in and get amongst the people of Montreal. Whenever I am in other cities, I think of all the shops back in Australia like Gelatissimo and Boost Juice, and even places like JB HiFi and I wander what they would be like in Canada. The US has Best buy which is very on par with JB Hi-fi so I guess they’re covered. Quebec is a very french speaking provence and you need to be very aware of this influence when considering business choices and even building homes or shops because some areas have very strict guidelines and laws in place to keep the feel of the area and design the same.
The one thing I really miss is seeing live entertainment and movies that are in English. I like alot of choice and being in Quebec is limited in that respect. They have movies on in both english and french but not every session so the times you have available to you are not as flexible. The shows are the same and with me being spoilt, having come from NYC and the availability of the shows there, It will never compare.
Here are some shots below of the actual city of Montreal.
I love the strip / Street called Saint Denis. It is a really long strip that you can walk down and have a great choice of restaurants and small shops. It reminds me ofa really long version of Norton St, Leichhardt years ago, but much cooler. Saint Catherine is a huge strip for the big name shops with all the brands. Saint Denis is pictured in the three shots below. It looks like a street with French Styled terraces above but on ground level, really cool eateries and boutiques.