The honeymoon phase of living in a new city is over when I find myself avoiding the downtown area.
Things get messy in an exciting way downtown, especially if the city has an NHL team that makes the Stanley Cup finals. If there are no sporting events or festivals, there will still be buskers to provide entertainment. Public transportation modes overlap downtown: you can drop off onto a ferry from the communal zip line.
It’s easy to see why tourists congregate downtown. There’s always that one street with all the indie stores and that other one with all the seedy sex shops. Commissioned public art sculptures are found plopped on random corners. Sticking out somewhere in the middle of the skyline is a revolving restaurant with terrible food. If the city isn’t landlocked, there will be several waterfront restaurants, and they’ll have names like Beaches or The Fish Exchange. The food will probably also be terrible here. Every city has at least one unusual-looking building.
Montréal has the Olympic stadium which looks like it was initially supposed to be a bridge, but then the engineers abandoned the idea halfway through construction and decided to turn it into a stadium to save face. You can see this building from nearly anywhere in the city.
But the thing that stood out the most about Montréal compared to all other places I’ve lived is how old it is. (In colonialism years.) Victoria, BC is 156 years old. Vancouver is 132. Calgary, 134. Halfmoon Bay is probably younger than my dad.
Montréal is 376!
I know 376 seems absurdly young to the world outside of North America. In these 376 years, Montréal got a few things right: