From Quebec City we travelled to Montreal – the second largest city in Canada, the fifteenth largest in North America, and the second largest French speaking city in the world after Paris.
Once again, our skills in booking accommodation in foreign countries online proved to be satisfactory, but not outstanding. Despite booking months in advance we were given a decent enough room, but on the basement level of the hotel. This offered new insight to the often overlooked functionality of curtains and the street floor level windows, when combined with our location on a busy street corner, a healthy amount of pedestrian traffic, and my unabashed comfort with the natural state of the human body, led to several mildly amusing incidents.
It is hard to tell if it is the area in which we stayed or if it is the status quo of larger cities in North America in general, but Montreal, like other cities we have visited so far, has an odd mix of old-world charm, modern development, and a quasi-liberal attitude that gives one a simultaneous admiration of the individual freedoms enjoyed, and a slight disgust at the apparent disparity in quality of life enjoyed by her people.
That’s an odd sentence, but to put it plainly; it seems that people are largely free to do what they want within reasonable bounds and free from persecution as long as their behaviour does not impact others – this extends to people openly flouting any number of minor laws that might otherwise be prosecuted harshly in Australia and broadcast on prime-time television. However, homelessness and general poverty (possibly just because of the area in which we stayed?) are rife. I’m not implying that the former is somehow a cause or effect of the latter, but the apparent effects of the latter on lifestyle (that is; businesses geared towards affordability, low cost food, economic diversity, semi-legimate goods) do appear to promote a much more Bohemian culture in general.
Montreal is diverse; architecturally, culturally, ethnically and economically. One could spend paragraphs attempting to explain the intangible, but screw it, here’s some pictures instead.