Thursday, October 7, 2021

[MONTRÉAL] Mont Royal & McGill

If I were to be honest, McGill is the only reason why I really wanted to visit Montréal. Why? Because that’s where the French refresher courses I am eyeing are offered, except that they are pricy AF and I don’t even know if I want to be this far north as winter approaches. In any case, getting to visit the city now means I have to check out the university and the vicinity. How was it? Well, I’m sold. Montréal is the type of city I’d gladly relocate to. But that French refresher plan will have to wait, as there are still a lot of factors left to consider.

Arriving late in the afternoon, my first day in the city was spent catching up on sleep. The three full days remaining can be split among McGill/Mont Royal, the Old Port, and a daytrip of the provincial capital. McGill has its own stop on the metro’s green line and it only took three or four stops to get there. You can purchase an OPUS pass via the ticket vending machines. If not, you can also purchase non-reloadable tickets. Single fare costs CAD3.50 (~PhP140). A two-trip ticket gets you a CAD.50 discount. If you are coming from or heading to the airport, the CAD10 (~PhP400) Day Pass is also valid on the 747 bus.

McGill’s buildings are spread out all over downtown along with the city’s skyscrapers. The central location guarantees convenience as far as public transportation accessibility and abundance of food choices are concerned. It’s probably what your alma mater’s campus would look like if it were situated in the heart of a business district like Makati and the like. Since I’m not a student, I just took a stroll along the sprawling campus which just blends in with the urban jungle of the downtown area it belongs to. Despite the proximity to the urban jungle, there are a lot of chill hangout spots and even a sunken garden.

I like the campus, there’s no question about that, but perhaps what I like even more is Mont Royal just behind it. Head north and you will end up at the foot of the hill that locals refer to as a mountain. Rumor has it that it was once a volcano that is no longer active today. Don’t quote me on that as I couldn’t remember where I’ve read it. I guess I’m glad because I’m a big city boy all along but having a lot of green spaces where you can just unwind in peace is always a welcome addition. As for Mont Royal, hiking possibilities come as a welcome bonus along with the view of the city’s skyline from above.

It isn’t a hard hike. If you have a car, there are roads snaking up the hill. If you prefer hiking, there are hiking trails as well as stairs built especially for hikers. The hill is not that steep but for people like me who are allergic to exercise, it was a challenging climb indeed. The impromptu cardio exercise is the reward and the view of downtown Montréal from one of the hill’s several viewing decks is well worth the ascent. Of course, the target is Bélvedère which has a wide-open space where camwhores converge for those sweeping views of the city’s skyline and McGill’s campus.

I also saw a café there at the top, but I am not sure if it is serving guests in this current pandemic setup. I suppose you have to be fully vaxxed to buy an overpriced coffee there, pretty much the same with the rest of the country. The descent was a breeze, as they always are. I realized that I only spent around an hour for the ascent, camwhoring, and descent. You can choose to go higher and there are other sights to see on the other side such as a cemetery, a park, and the campus of University of Montreal.

The day should have ended loitering around McGill campus just to imbibe the very same university student vibe that reminds me how fucking old I already am. But since it was still early and I didn’t want to go home and pay some sleep debt just yet, I just decided to head to the nearest cinema which happened to be Scotiabank Theater to watch a movie. I decided on Dear Evan Hansen. I wish I were joking but I was literally the only person in that particular movie hall. Oh well. Dafuq, COVID? But like I already mentioned a thousand times, this is how convenient life is here downtown, close to everything!

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