GUEST POST - MONTREAL FROM BIG BROTHER CHASE



Today we have the pleasure of hearing from one of our three brothers, Chase. He is our second oldest sibling, and quite a witty charming one at that. Chase is known for making us all laugh at his ridiculous jokes and over the years has been known to grow mullets, moonwalk, and most recently hunt his own food. He's quite the diverse man, and at one point lived in Montreal, Canada for two years serving for our church. Our sibling relationship is full of love and light-heartedness, and we like to have fun and be goofy together. We're all really good friends. Without further ado, here is his scoop on Montreal!
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1. How would you describe Montreal in three words?
Fascinating, diverse, and unexpected.

2. Tell us about Montreal. What's the scoop?
Montreal is pleasantly confusing - so many identities, cultures, languages, foods, and other stuff.  It's as if someone served you a plate with macadamia nuts, brie, tacos, kung pao chicken, Peeps, and snow cones on it.  All delicious according to my buds that taste, you just never expected them to be served up on the same platter.  You've got your anticipated Quebecois or French Canadian folks who speak French about like Brits speak English, but then you've got a melting pot of immigrants bringing in a diverse melange (French word) of Africans, Asians, Europeans, North and South Americans, and since you're in Canada you better not forget the Eskimos.  It's hot and muggy in the summer and it's freezing and frozen in the Fall, Winter, and Spring.
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Allow me to nerd out a moment...I loved the geography of Montreal, both physical and cultural. Montreal is located on an island in the middle of La Rivière St-Laurent which runs from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic.  The high point on the island is Mount Royal which is the English translation of Montreal.  I guess since the Francophones got to name the city they let the Anglos come up with a clever name for the big hill.  There is a big park on Mount Royal that is well worth a visit for some beautiful vistas of the city, the river, and beyond.  St. Joseph's cathedral is also up there somewhere it's huge and gorgeous.  The trees around the city are lovely, particularly beautiful for a couple weeks in the fall making early October a real treat of a time to visit.  
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The East Island is predominantly Francophone (French-speaking) and the West Island is generally Anglophone (English-speaking).  Downtown Montreal lies on the south end of the island which is where you'll find both the alluring skyline and cityscape as well as the old town, Vieux Montreal, which really is old.  When I first visited Vieux Montreal I felt like I was in Europe.  But upon further consideration I realized I had never been to Europe so I suppose I just felt like I was in Montreal and assuming that is what Europe might feel like.  Later when I actually visited Europe I didn't feel like I was in Montreal, so who knows.  I guess I just felt like I was not in Idaho (where we grew up).  Not that Idaho isn't cool...I digress.  

3. What are some popular destinations worth seeing?
Notre Dame cathredral is in Vieux Montreal and it boasts some great Gothic architecture that both the religious and the black fingernail polished can appreciate.  You can easily spend a day just walking around the cobblestone streets and along the river in this part of town which is great for purchasing your forgettable souvenirs (French word) and snapping your bragadocious Facebook and blog photos.  Vieux Montreal really is very cool and while it is certainly the tourist hub of the city, it's well worth a visit no matter how sustainable the materials in your clothing are.  Also, if you're on the hunt for some really cool architecture and a wide array of colors, check out the all glass structure at the Palais des Congrès convention center, whose window panes are all different colors. Beware, however, of certain parts of Ste-Catherine Street as it can be quite colorful and quite dark all in the same sentence.
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4. What language do they speak, and is it easy to navigate?
One can quite easily navigate Montreal in either English or French.  All signs are posted in both languages and you can probably find someone on every block that can translate for you if needed.  Many Montreal natives speak more than one language, frequently in the same sentence.  Latino kids often speak Spanish at home, French at school, and watch TV in English.  While French is the official language, you will hear dozens of others on the Metro or buses.  It must be very difficult for spies.

5. Tell us about the FOOD!
Food comes in a variety akin to that which you would find in a mall food court, however authenticity is much more likely to be found in Montreal.  I had some excellent El Salvadoreno pupusas, some Lebanese dishes I can't pronounce, and real good griot at Hatian hole-in-walls.  But if you really want to treat yourself to a Quebecois specialty and a greater risk of heart disease you should try de la poutine!  La poutine is a strangely delectable combination of french fries with brown gravy and squeaky cheese (in its impurest form).  Many restaurants dazzle it up with all kinds of toppings like we do pizza including hot dogs, pepperoni, peppers, mushrooms, and other unlikely ingredients that pile up nice and high on a plate.  Not only does poutine help you maintain your shoestring budget by providing your entire daily caloric intake budget in one meal, but it has a sedative effect for those who have trouble sleeping while traveling.  Poutine is a worthy investment and a must-try, but perhaps not for breakfast.  Oh, and don't order a crepe in Montreal thinking since they speak French they cook French because you'll likely get something that looks a lot like a disappointing pancake from the frozen food section.
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6. What makes Montreal unique?
Montreal is unique in that you can't approach anything or anyone with a preconceived notion or you are bound to be wrong.  If you think it's all French you're wrong and if you think it's all English you're wrong.  Montreal is a grab bag, full of surprises.  It's both normal and eclectic.  Don't count on it being what you expect it to be. 

Thanks, Chase for sharing your experience living in Montreal with us! After all this hub-bub, we're getting rather antsy to see it for ourselves one day! 
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3 comments on GUEST POST - MONTREAL FROM BIG BROTHER CHASE

  1. haha i loved this! loved hearing from chase! we should hear from jedd and bridger too about carlsbad and chicago :) now i want to go to montreal!

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  2. wow i LOVEd this post. chase is such a good writer and so funny haha. i wanna go to montreal now, it sounds so fascinating!

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  3. Tell my hubs to take me there! Chase, honey, dear...share this lovely place with your wife! (And man he writes fancy!)

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