My friend Fabian and I took a 5 day trip to Montreal from which I just returned a couple of days ago. I had never been to Montreal before and here are a few of my observations:
- Although I am fluent in French, there were a lot of times I had no idea what people were saying (and sometimes even my French friends had no idea). I imagine it is very much like an American English speaker going into deepest Scotland and trying to make sense of the accent and slang.
- They have a strange (to me) habit of automatically splitting the check when people are dining together. Everyone almost always gets their own check, and usually the restaurant is quite good at apportioning (say, for example, 4 of 5 people at the table split a bottle of wine it will correctly be divided by 4 and added to each of their bills). On the one hand, I think this is great (especially so that people on a budget can still go out with their rich friends), but on the other hand it somehow feels less communal and vaguely selfish.
- Also in restaurants, when paying they bring a little machine to your table to run your card, and you punch in your code (if you have one) and then it asks you to add the tip right there (giving you options for percent and the like) and then approve the final amount. I have mixed feelings about this too, as it is very handy, but also a little awkward to fill in a tip amount in front of the server (in the case of bad service, which to be fair never happened to me while there).
- They seem to love anything deep fat fried or otherwise coronary disease inducing in Montreal. (See Poutine, among other things)
- In the 5 days we were there, we passed through no less than three separate street fairs. And we stayed in a relatively centralized few neighborhoods. How many others were going on that same weekend that we missed?
- Montreal has one of the most unreliable cell phone networks I have ever seen. I would very often lose signal completely, even if the area supposedly had good coverage.
- I learned the most awesome dirty Quebecois slang words this weekend. My favorite among them: plotte.
- Finally, there must be some government program to give out mobility scooters to all manner of disabled, fat, old, or just plain lazy people. We saw them everywhere. I think Fabian and I must have counted at least 20.