I'll have to admit this post is where I put a number of things I didn't really know where else to put. I'm saving the two best things for last, and both make for very thematic posts. But these here... I don't know, these are just some specific things I liked, and that made our trip that much more interesting! So, here they are...
LES HOMMES ET SES CHOSES
(of man and his objects)
One very curious thing about Montreal, at least when I compare it with other Canadian cities I've been to, are its staircases. Countless homes and buildings have staircases on the outside, leading from the street to the main or to the second floor. These are not your normal emergency escapes you see on the sides or backs of many buildings, there are the MAIN access routes for these buildings in Montreal! And something else, though this was definitely not as common, was that some of the older buildings at the corner of streets had turret-like structures in their top corners. Some seemed like just an adornment for a window, but a few seemed actually able to hold a tiny room or a living space of sorts (I want one of those!).
Of course, then there's contemporary architecture, like the Olympic Stadium and it's Tour de Montreal. Frankly, I quite liked the tower, but it really is a shame to see how such a massive, iconic building is mostly deserted, thought you can still go to the top to the tower for (not really inspiring) views of the city. So I'd say the tower is something you want to see from the outside and far, and not from the inside. Still, like I said, I thought it looked awesome, and I took many photos from all sorts of angles!
And on a different part of the city, another icon, Habitat 67, right by the river, is a crazy experiment of joining and piling dozens of identical prefabricated concrete units to create living spaces of different size and configuration. It was intended as a model of living in the crowded cities of the future, but the fact that only 150 or so living spaces were built has turned it into a rather luxury option instead of living quarters for the middle class. Still, it's a really interesting design, and I wouldn't mind myself living one day in a similar thing!
Now, by the time I took the photo below, I was probably already falling in love with the city, so perhaps even a random piece of dirty crumpled paper on the pavement could have looked beautiful to me. But I really do think I saw a high proportion of artistic or quirky posters on the streets and subway stations. I mean, I took quite a few pictures of them, so that must mean something, right?
And last, but most certainly not least by any means, we happened to find ourselves in the Jewish areas of Mile End and Outremont around the end of Shabbat (Saturday evening), and all of a sudden we started seeing numerous Hasidic Jews going out for a walk: children, families, elders, everybody! The adult men with their elaborate hats, every male with their long sidecurls, and everybody dressed in what seemed nice, fine clothes overall. Quite an experience!
There's just two more things I want to write about Montreal: the partying, and the Autumn colours. That will come in the next two posts. But hey, this is some interesting place, isn't it!?