Every city has something to offer and Montreal is of course no exception. I have been living in Montreal for over a decade now; I originally moved here for school and stayed to work. In those first inaugural years here, many precious hours were spent experimenting my near-adulthood and basking in the late-night buzz of drinking games. Embarrassing yourself and others, and not really giving a shit about it.
Remember those days? Me too, barely at times. “I’ve Never..” was the drinking game friends and I returned to regularly (and Quarters – I was a pro!). Through it we all caught-up on missed experiences and not-so-innocently compared notes. The rules are simple: if you’ve done it you take a drink. There are a number of things that I’ve done. I have surfed my way to the front stage at punk shows, drunkenly scarfed down a poutine at 4am, ran up the Mount-Royal, lazed on its grass feeling the beat of the tam-tams under the warmth of the summer sun. I have seen (most of) Montreal’s museums, attended (some of) its festivals, but experienced only a fraction of all that Montreal has to offer. There is nothing like a hot bagel from St-Viateur or Fairmount after grabbing a latté at Café Olympico on a warm fall day. There is a bustling energy throughout the city in the spring when the bar terraces first open up, all the hemlines skyrocket and you linger sipping on that first sangria, urging on the heat of the months to come.
Montreal wouldn’t be what it is without its winters, every year marked by the mornings-after of heavy snowfall, the entire city temporarily immobilized under a white blanket, flawless until the morning rush settles into its winter routine. I have come a long way from my first days in the McGill ghetto, just barely venturing past the student “safe zone” of what was the St-Laurent, Guy, Mont-Royal and Saint-Catherine’s perimeter.
Finally, curiosity got the better of me (as it often does) and I slowly started discovering this city’s various eclectic boroughs. I’ve tried the famous hot spots and also accumulated a personalized list of favorites – for no other reason than the memories they ignite. There are those things that are typically Montreal that you must experience at least once, especially if you have lived here as long as I have. There are the Montreal essentials that you can’t miss, some that I’ve mentioned others to come, but others that may not be as obvious. To fully grasp a city it is all about trying things that are not necessarily your cup of tea, but need to be lived at least once.
Whether you are passing through, staying a while or settling down, break out of your own skin and truly see what experiences this city has to offer. If the world truly does end on December 21, 2012, that means that I have less than 49 weeks to let loose and scratch off all those things of my list and truly experience living in Montreal. No more coasting through this city’s day-to-day, week on end. This year I am replaying the “I’ve Never…” game but taking it to a whole other level. If I am going to start calling myself a Montrealer, then let’s make it official shall we? Over the course of this year I’ll be experiencing all the things that make Montreal, Montreal! And I’ll be sharing my experiences here, with you.
My first item on the list is Igloofest, happening the last three weekends of January on the Quay of Old Montreal, offering 9 nights of performances by various artists of the electronic scene. I’m thinking this sounds like a rave in a winter-wonderland, glow-sticks and furry boots included. Now, all I need to find is one-piece snow suit…