Montréal, Canada

Despite Montréal being close to the US, I found a world of difference when I travelled there, early last month, for PyCon 2014. The conference happened in the Montreal Convention Centre in Old Montréal and I got to stay at the Marriott Springhill Suites nearby.

Once you reach Montréal, the first thing that you notice is the city’s wonderful architecture. There are numerous historical buildings in Montréal, which gives you a feeling of walking in Medieval Europe that you often see in the movies. The first day of my visit, I took a long stroll for a few miles around the town taking in the beauty and charm of the city. Unfortunately neither did I have a camera nor was the camera in my old iPhone good enough for taking pictures.

The next major difference you observe is the language. French is the city’s official language and is also the most spoken language. English comes at a distant second spoken by just around 15% of the population. Never having learnt French, all I knew was a bunch of words picked up from my brother who chose to learn French in school. From street signs to menus at McDonald’s, everything is in French. For the first time, I wished that I had learnt French in school instead of Sanskrit. 🙂

During some spare time after the conference I visited Mount Royal after which the city is named. It is a modest mountain which provides a splendid view of the city and is also a great picnic spot in the summer. Apparently it doubles up as a skating spot during snow ridden winters.

On the second day of the conference, there was a 5K fun run organized that I readily participated in. The route for the run was in the Old Port of Montréal along the St Lawrence river starting and ending at the Montréal clock tower.
Though the city offers many places to visit and explore, I didn’t quite get enough time away from the conference to fully experience it. Being just a few hours away from Buffalo and with a multiple entry Canadian Visa, another visit to this wonderful city is definitely on the cards.