Today I took the Montréal bus for the first time. I discovered that the Côte de Saint Catherine bus is one of the few that makes a semi-circle arc around the mountain. The mountain is a giant behemoth in the middle of city, and everything must go around it. I have yet to see the McGill side of the mountain, maybe next weekend.
Back to the bus: I like that you can get a pass for $18 that is good for 3 days of travel anywhere on STM (Socièté de transport à Montréal). I learned you buy these passes in the Metro Station and they can be bought with cash only -good to know when I get my Student pass. It is interesting for such a big city that the stops aren’t announced. You really need to be sure of where you are going, or at least ask the bus driver (in French). All the street names are in the French, and the Quebec flag flies everywhere. I have never seen as many BC flags as the number of Quebec flags I saw today.
After getting off the bus I met my friend Thor for lunch. He took me to this great vegetarian restaurant, “Aux Vivres” on St. Laurent near Mont-Royal. What amazing food! I had a BLT César Salade (ceasar salad, obviously) -but it had “fake bacon” made from coconut pieces. Sounds bizarre, and it was, but it was also one of the best salads I’ve ever had. After that we walked all over the plateau, checked out the Metro, and walked over to an appartment building I am considering living in. The rooms are nice, but a bit expensive. Im seeing an appartment in Thor’s building tomorrow. Wouldn’t it be funny if he and I ended up living in the same building!
I hung out on Rue Saint Denis for a long time at “Café Starbucks.” I am really surprised at how friendly the people here are. The homeless smile and try to sweet talk you into giving them money, random people sit down at your table to have a brief conversation and leave, and if you bump into someone they actually say sorry. I feel like my Vancouver manners are a bit abrasive.
The best thing today: I finally saw the Conservatoire de musique! The École des arts dramatiques à Québec is on the upper floors, and the Conservatoire is floors one and two. What a beautiful building! It is probably the size of Sears and the Bay at Metrotown put together, and completely grey in colour, with huge storey tall letters on the sides of the building exclaiming the nature of the “artist.” There are also tall glass towers above the base level. The desk guards were very nice. Only one spoke a bit of English, but he told me the building is less than 20 years old. There is a café in the foyer too. There were also squirrels outside leaping over bicycles and trees, and a park outside the front entrance. It is so beautiful.
I walked home over the next two hours along Côte de Saint Catherine, past all the huge houses, and Université de Montréal.
I stopped at a park along the way and observed some very excited French children and some rather frazzled ducks. The way Montréal has preserved its parks and greenspaces preserved is really inspiring. The city is full of buildings and concrete, but the parks are everywhere. It’s no wonder everyone looks so fit and healthy!
Tomorrow is the first day of school! I am pretty nervous, but I am glad I found my way to the building. I guess that is the first step! À Demain!