So a month and a half ago in March I made my first solo international trip in quite some time to Québec! I would actually recommend going a month or two later in the year considering I had to deal with freezing rain and snow for half of my trip. It was manageable but it definitely affected the amount of things I was able to do in the beginning. I was also a little rusty on speaking French after doing nothing but reading and writing it for months on end. It was especially challenging with a brand new accent- those differences I’ll tackle in another post.
I was on the trip in the first place to do research for my thesis which I’ve recently in French. Because of a generous grant I received from the College of Arts and Sciences I was able to fly to Montréal to best use my time. It was pretty surprising to me that it was less expensive to fly from Kalamazoo to Detroit to Montréal than straight from Detroit to Montréal. So I ended up taking two small planes either way which was alright since I didn’t have to lift my luggage in the overhead compartment since the overhead was so small.
Then I got to haul my suitcase through the airport to get a day metro/bus pass (10 CAD) to take the one bus that went from the airport to town where the apartment I booked on airbnb was located. It happened to be snowing, I had to walk uphill most of the way and I got a little turned around but I eventually found it. At this point it was freezing rain in my face and I was so lucky to only have a purse and a small suitcase. To my surprise my host wasn’t going to make an appearance and her newly arrived roommate from Venezuela was confused at first but made me feel at home. I left my things there and I was free to explore!
My first impression of Montréal was that it’s a very metropolitan, modern city with a mix of the old and the new and many different cultures. The murals and street art were everywhere you turn.
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ)- This beautiful library and archives was huge, five stories tall. I headed straight for the Collection Nationale for books that pertained to my research. I entered through a large door and was greeted by a man which I gave my Student ID to in exchange for a key. You put everything minus your laptop, pen or notebook in there and then begin to look around and research. This particular part of the archives was three stories high. I took my time and a lot of notes and then spent some time looking at the rest of the library when I was finished.
After a few hours at the bibliothèque I had set out all I wanted to do and headed over to the Musée d’Art Contemporain. The exhibition that I loved the most was by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson. In a large room it’s dark except for several large projected screens- each with a different musician or group of musicians but they were playing together. I thought it was stunning and you can watch what that looks and sounds like here.
That’s the end of my day one, I grabbed a quick bite to eat at the pub “Ste. Elisabeth” maybe because it was Elisabeth with an “s”. I couldn’t not check it out after I found it on my map app. The next morning I did a little more sight seeing before I was off to Québec City the following day.