I thought on the eve of my departure from the FABULOUS city of Montreal, I'd better write about my experiences. Since I don't have time to do as good a job as you deserve, I'll instead post a letter to my parents that I wrote just last night. Enjoy!
The past few days have been great! I've been doing more and more sightseeing, and have been enjoying it a great deal. I've even managed to make friends with a local Montrealan and he showed me around yesterday, which was way cool. I had a really good time, and he showed me a lot of places that I wouldn't have otherwise seen in Old Montreal. The city has a rich history, and the more I hear about it, the more I'm fascinated by it.
The nightlife here is quite different. Bars tend to be a bit nicer and classier, as do strip clubs (not that I've been in one...ahem...). All that said, there is a red light district which is really rather seedy (a hustler tried to pick up on me a couple nights ago), but I nonetheless feel safe walking the streets of Montreal.
The public transportation is rather nice, as well. I've been able to get anywhere I've wanted to go in relatively little time. I've also done QUITE a bit of walking, so I have been getting my exercise. As of the last couple of days, my legs have started cramping up, so I've been taking some of that fabulous Asprin with codene. Needless to say, that stuff *really* works! Let me know if you'd like for me to pick you up a bottle or two.
I've been learning quite a bit of French while I'm down here. EVERYTHING is written in French for sure, including dinner menus, but most things are written in English, as well. But I know what the word for several different kinds of foods are, and I even--as a novelty--learned how to order my favorite cocktail in French.
I'm consistantly amazed at how beautiful the city is. It's an old city with rich history and very cosmopolitan views. The elderly often can't (or won't) speak English, but other than that, there has been no language barrier to speak of. As I've said, I've been learning lots of French this past week or so, and I've started using as much of it as I can. While I'm still quite a bit away from holding a conversation, I can do simple things like have transactions at the store, tell a cab where I'd like to go, and other such things.
The cuisine here is fantastic! They have all sorts of great things that I've never tried before, and I'm really liking how they also have lots of other international cuisine, as well. They even have Mexican food! To my surprise, there's quite a few Spanish-speaking people here--so I've been using three languages during my visit. The strangest thing that I've heard was this one Spanish-speaking couple speaking to each other (in Spanish) with a French accent! Those that I've talked with really seem to appreciate the novelty of Speaking Spanish in a predominatly French/English speaking country.
My last couple of nights here, I'm planning to attend the closing party for the festival at this really ritzy bar. I'm going to meet up with some new friends and enjoy their company. During the day, I'm going to plan on going to the Notre Dame Basilica and taking pictures (since I didn't take my camera during my first time). I'm sure you'd all like seeing some pictures, so I'll make sure and scan them in or make doubles.
All in all, this trip has consistently met or exceeded my expectations. The people here are great, the food here is fantastic, and the nice thing is that I've done a pretty good job of not behaving like a tourist most of the time, so people seem to be extra nice to me. I've been getting up early most mornings and taking a morning walk around downtown, and I always am finding some sort of adventure to keep me entertained.
Montreal is a wonderful city, and I think if I ever wanted to leave the country, this certainly would be a place I'd be happy living. I hear it's been 100+ in Portland; here it's been pretty warm and humid. The evenings are a little better, however. Mornings are probably the coolest time of the day here.
Anyhow, I'd better go, but I hope you enjoyed my little e-postcard. I'll make sure and take a lot more pictures so you can see all the fabulous things I'm seeing. I'm really going to miss it, but we'll try to make the most of the time I have here.
Thus ends my letter to Ma and Pa. I hope you all are doing well, and be sure to drop me a line! As usual, I love to hear from you all, even if just to say hello.
And as always, you kids behave yourselves so you don't turn out like me. ;)