Montreal makes me feel small. As if I am floating through this city while daily life goes on. Everyone speaks English, but seem to ever so subtly roll their eyes if they have to. There is a twinge of smugness in every ineraction, and the warmth I attempt to project is not reciprocated. I have found myself finding a home among crowds in public plazas, behind my latte at cafes and, admittedly, alone at peace in the stall of a public restroom. Thankfully the architecture has its own story to tell, and it is easy to see that I am not the only traveler wandering busy streets with no roots to the pavement below.
I stayed at a wonderful Airbnb in the heart of Old Montreal - only a block from Notre-Dame Basilica. My hosts were incredibly sweet, the bed felt like heaven and the bathtub made for a rejuvenating soak at the end of a long day on my feet. (Available for booking here.)
I was only in the city for one night, so I used my time to wander around Old Montreal and admire the architecture of this new city. The sun was setting, buildings were glowing, and I was reminded that no matter how different this city feels compared to home, the golden light from the sun still feels just as sweet.
I wandered to a park to watch the sunset, but instead was distracted by the fattest, cutest shiba inu I have ever encountered. It was wonderful how it's owner and I exchanged giggles at the dog's less-than-graceful actions, regardless of our language barrier.
After the day had left, I took a stroll along the waterfront at the Old Port of Montreal (just a few blocks over from my apartment). A bit touristy, but it was nice to watch as others marveled at the history just as I did.
The next morning I woke up ready to make the most of my last few hours in the city. I toured the Notre Dame Basilica and was awestruck by its beauty. What an amazing structure. The highlight was without a doubt spending time in the prayer room, where guests were welcomed to sit and contemplate with no talking and no photography. It was peaceful, beautiful and I was overwhelmed with the presence of the Lord in this sacred space. It was amazing to me to think of how many souls had encountered Jesus in this space, and how the beauty of God's heart had been revealed by the physical beauty of the church.
Something that struck me the most about Montreal is the blending of old and new types of architecture. Walking the streets, there is a stark, yet somehow seamless transition between historical buildings and modern ones. This blending gives the feeling that the city is proud of and embraces its past, yet progresses forward with contemporary changes and improvements.
I ended my time in Montreal with some really wonderful food. First, I had brunch at Cafe Parvis. Oh, my, heck. Worth every bite of gluten in that delicious sandwich they somehow call a pizza(?). Paired with the best soy latte I have possibly ever had - perfection. Later I made a (second) visit to the wonderful Cookie Stefanie - a darling gluten free bakery that I accidentally stumbled into the day before while searching for wifi so that I could figure out how to get the keys to my Airbnb. THE most delightful cakes sans gluten I have ever had. Seattle, you need to catch up. (You better bet your bottom dollar I got some little cakes to go so that I could munch on them at the airport.)