Skip to main content

Bonjour Montreal

Last week I traveled north of the border for a work-related function. I spent about 48 hours in Montreal - 18 of which I was working, 16 of which I slept, and the few remaining hours I spent seeing a small slice of a big city.

(from slack12 on Flickr)

I sat down to write this post over the weekend, but decided that, for as little time as I was able spend in Montreal, I couldn't fit all of my thoughts neatly into a single post. So I split everything into three posts, which will appear this week.

Montreal has never been a city I've had on my radar. For that matter, I've never really given any of the Canadian cities the attention that they probably deserve. With so many places in the U.S. still left for me to visit, plus the many historic urban places in Europe where I've never been; it's easy to forget that there's so much going on in our neighbor to the north.

Now, I can say that Canada's three big cities are all places I definitely will add to my travel list, though preferably, I'd like to go during the summer, if possible. As far as Montreal goes, you'll find my initial observations below.

Relax, Don't Stress
Big cities are often synonymous with high stress. It's true in New York and it's true in DC. In these cities there are always people who are stressed-out and constantly in a hurry to get somewhere and do something. I didn't feel that vibe in Montreal. Even though it's a big city, people seem more relaxed. They're interested in enjoying themselves and their city. I can't say it's true for everyone, but the locals I asked about it tended to agree.

Taxes and Benefits
Something that stood out when I went to pay for my first meal in Montreal was just how much the taxes added to my check. It's really no surprise that taxes are high in Quebec, since they're used to pay for some great services. For visitors, though, this can feel frustrating. We still pay high taxes, but don't really get to take advantage of many of the services (aside from public transportation and other broad public programs). In theory, high taxes would discourage foreigners from visiting; but there's also so much more at play - the currency exchange rate, the price of goods and services themselves, and the overall desirability to see a place. Maybe high taxes don't matter so much after all?

The World's Cuisine
I wasn't surprised that Montreal has restaurants and cuisine from nearly every part of the world. What surprised me was just how common they actually are. For example, the food court in the Underground City where I ate lunch both days, isn't like the suburban mall food court I grew up with. It has everything from Japanese to Vietnamese to Italian to French to Lebanese. Of course, it also has a Burger King, which I suppose covers the American contribution to the food court.

Comments

Mel said…
In Toronto, I recognized a HUGE vegetarian & vegan food scene. Did you notice the same in Montreal?
Rob Pitingolo said…
Mel, I can't say that it stood out to me; but I wasn't really looking for it, either. I typically don't pay attention to vegetarian or vegan options because they don't drive my eating choices.

Popular posts from this blog

In Praise of Southwest's 'C' Boarding Group

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from someone complaining that their Southwest Airlines boarding pass had been assigned A20 (meaning they would be at least one of the first twenty passengers to board the plane). Apparently this person though they should have been assigned a higher number, less their flight experience be considerably spoiled.

Despite the complaints, Southwest has resisted demands to assign seats on its flights, a decision which I personally applaud. I'll admit that I was skeptical when they rolled out the newest boarding procedure, assigning both boarding groups and a line number; but in hindsight it seems like one of the best operational decisions they've ever made. If nothing else, it effectively eliminated the infamous "cattle call" whereby fliers were getting to airports hours in advance and sitting in line on the floor as if they were waiting for the midnight showing of the new Star Wars movie.

When I was an intern at Southwest Airlines last winter, I…

So You Want to be a Southwest Airlines Intern?

My personal website must have pretty decent SEO - because in the past year, I've received about two dozen emails from aspiring Southwest Airlines interns looking to draw on my experience in search of their own dream internship. In the past two weeks alone a few new emails have already started rolling in...

(from flickr user San Diego Shooter)

If you've found your way here, you might be hoping for the silver bullet; a secret tip that will propel you above the competition. Unfortunately, I do not know any inside secrets. I can only share my experience as an internship candidate about two years ago and, rather than responding individually to future emails I anticipate to receive, I hope that potential interns will find the information posted here valuable.

Understand: Southwest Airlines is a very unique company. The corporate culture at Southwest is truly unlike that of nearly every other company. But you probably already knew that, since it now seems mandatory for every management,…

Commuting Meets Technology

I'm finally out of the dark ages. I got an Android smartphone over the weekend and have since been in the process of exploring the Android apps market.  One thing I've immediately noticed is the really wide range of usefulness in the apps. For example, the WeatherBug app is fantastic. It automatically determines your location and gives you exact conditions for that location. On the other end of the spectrum, Google's Goggles app is supposed to be a type of 'visual search' where you snap of photo of something and Google searches for it. In each of my attempts to use it, the app hasn't returned any search results. I even took a photo of a bottle of Pepsi (figuring it as a common houseful item) and got nothing.

Somewhere in the middle is this app called Waze. Have a look at their 'guided tour':



Some people might look at it and comment on the amazing evolution of technology or on the incredible value of social networks. To me, Waze says something important ab…