Friday, October 8, 2021

[MONTRÉAL] Vieux-Montréal

With one full day left to spare, I had the choice of paying some sleep debt or going somewhere else to make this Montréal trip worth it, despite it already being worth it thanks to Mont Royal and McGill. The next obvious option was Old Montréal which was, like, a half an hour stroll from where my Airbnb was. Okay, succumbing to prolonged insomnia, I thought hey why not! But not before fulfilling my craving for pasta with a rather bland Bolognese from Restaurant Denos.

If you are already at the Berri-UQAM area, then you just have to walk south towards the port to get to Vieux-Montrèal. Touted as the city’s oldest neighborhood as is obviously alluded to by its name, this area’s history dates back to the 17th century. But before you get excited about the sea, remember that Montréal is landlocked. What this port serves is the Saint Lawrence River, an important body of water flowing from the Atlantic inland to the north American lakes that divide Canada and the United States.

We all know how the history of Québec has involved changing hands between the French and the British, using the region as a pawn for their game of empires before the emergence of the Dominion of Canada. That history is pretty much obvious in Old Montréal through the architecture prevalent there as well as the cobblestoned streets representative of any old European settlement. Nowadays, though, the area has become a tourist hotspot as well as a well-loved chillout spot for locals.

I guess what appealed to me the most was the Old Port itself. The Ferris Wheel is visible from afar as if beckoning you to come over and check it out. While my acrophobia is not acute, I’m just not a big fan of Ferris Wheels so I opted out. Individual tickets cost around CAD26 (~PhP1040) for adults. Considered as the tallest observation wheel in Canada, the 60-meter lift is said to allow you to see up to 28 kilometers away on a clear day, which it was when I visited. Sorry, still not interested. I’m already fine with the panoramic view of Downtown Montréal that came as a reward of my Mont Royal hike.

What I did instead was the prerequisite camwhoring at the J’ (heart) MTL sign. Every city seems to have one of these giant letters as popular selfie spots nowadays. Not content with the demure embracing-a-letter pose most tourists seem to have already mastered, I set my camera on 10-second timer and jumped on top of TL for my best shot at a superhero pose. The pose I ended up with felt like a cross between Spider-Man and Black Widow. Too bad I look so small in the picture. Hey, I have to capture the letters and some of the Ferris Wheel behind me in the same frame, okay? I’m not the attraction here.

I also saw some colorful boats there as well as a zipline. The former didn’t seem to be operational and seemed boring to me because the water is not that deep. I guess part of the thrill of such boating rides is the prospect of capsizing and almost drowning. The zipline, on the contrary, was operational. I just don’t know, though, perhaps it’s the energy drain brought about by the insomnia, but my usual daredevil self was not feeling any form of adrenaline rush that day. I was already happy just people watching and taking a peaceful stroll devoid of any excitement. Perhaps this is just another sign of getting old?

What followed was sightseeing at tourist central. You’ll know you are there because of the cobblestoned streets and alleys as well as the multitude of tourists. If and when the pangs of hunger begin to strike after an hour or two of gallivanting, this is where you look for restaurants. Or just treat yourself to poutine. On second thought, why oh why have I come and left Québec without a taste of poutine considering how big a fan I am of fries and melted cheese? Not to mention they can add bacon bits to boot if I am not mistaken? Oh well, one of life’s greatest mysteries, eh?

The tour ended at the Notre Dame which was under construction. Having already seen a more impressive and architecturally detailed Notre Dame in Strasbourg, this one did not impress me that much anymore. A few cartwheels away and I was back downtown, accidentally stumbled upon Chinatown, and then headed back home to snooze in preparation for my Québec City daytrip the next day.

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