I marvel at the differences between Montreal and other Canadian cities, but in just less than six weeks, it’s taken me no time to adjust to them. I’ve noted the quirks and I’ve pocketed those routines. I hadn’t realized this until I attempted to walk on a green light in Ottawa, despite there being no “Walk” sign. Fortunately, April pulled me back. Green doesn’t ALWAYS mean “go”…only in Montreal.
They’re minute, but they’re present. Prepare yourself.
1. The booze is cheap as hell.
Well, compared to most of Canada. I bought a 12-pack of beers for $15 and nearly fainted…the same thing would cost me $25 in St. John’s. Similarly, it’s not hard to find $5 pints at most pubs, especially with daily specials. Try Brutopia during the week.
2. They do the French double-cheek kiss thing.
I wasn’t aware of this. When I first met my friend Adam, he leaned in awkwardly close and I went in for the hug. I think we did this like, three times, before I caught on. He hasn’t cheek-kissed me since, that bastard.
Just kidding, Adam. ILU.
3. If you’re driving, don’t turn right at the red light.
It’s illegal! You’ll die!
4. Make eye contact when cheers-ing.
The lovely Jodi Ettenberg taught me this one after she cooked a romantic dinner for me, and we poured a glass of wine. She wasn’t happy until I said, “SALUD!” with eye contact. I’m sketchy like that. Eye contact makes me nervous.
5. You don’t need to know French, unless you’re driving (all signage is in French).
I am stunned by the fluidity in which Montrealers can switch between languages, and also ashamed of my own lack of bilingualism. If a server greets you in French, don’t panic! Just say “hi” or “hello” and they’ll sense your Anglophone roots immediately. They’ll likely switch to English without a trace of an accent.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t make Montreal a very good environment for practicing your French. My accent blows.
6. Apportez votre vin.
Tons of restaurants let you bring your own wine, so get sloshed for CHEAP! Drinking and eating culture in Montreal is MASSIVE. More on that later.
7. Be whoever the fuck you wanna be.
Dress like a bum, wear gothic crap, be trendy, etc. There’s no way you will NOT fit into this city…it just works. While I was waiting to move into my new apartment and staying in a hostel for a few nights, I went out one morning in search of breakfast. I HATE dining alone, but I decided to suck it up and went to L’Oeuforie to sit on the terasse. No one batted an eyelash.
I have so much to say about Montreal, OMG. BUT FIRST, an announcement about where I’m going NEXT! It’s big…and it’s TOMORROW. Check back then, suckas.