In 2019, I traveled to Canada to take my exploration outside of the U.S. - choosing Montreal as a week-long summer vacation spot. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I never had the means to travel far during college, so I had to get creative with my travel plans. Montreal sounded like a great place to visit in the summer - with its decent driving proximity and hassle-free entry.
From my home in New Jersey, the drive was just under 8 hours, which is a bit long for someone like me who would rather fly for 1-2 hours than drive for 8-10. But as I mentioned, college was not the time to be picky about my methods of transportation. So, I piled in a car with a few high school pals and embarked on our journey to Montreal for a few days.
My original plan was to stay in Canada for about 5 days, but unfortunately, I only made it to day 3 before I had to go back home. I got pretty ill the first night in Montreal, and it set a negative tone for the remainder of my trip. It’s hard to be sick and in an Air BnB in a foreign country, not to mention everything was in French, so I couldn’t even figure out where the local pharmacy was - which was definitely a mistake that I recognize today. With all that said, the time I spent in Montreal was still worthwhile. I wish sometimes that I didn’t have to go home early, but my body was not going to hold up with all the walking we had planned on doing. Since I was running on empty, I decided to make the most of my three days before catching a long ride back to New Jersey with my parents, who happened to be in upstate New York at the time.
Sickness aside, I started my first day in Montreal by exploring the downtown area. Our Air BnB was located in the Gay Village, a central location that was perfect for young adults. I really enjoyed staying in the Gay Village because we were within walking distance of grocery stores, restaurants, and nightlife. We were in Montreal in mid-August, and the weather was much more pleasant than I had expected. In New Jersey, mid-August means lots of hot air and the sun beaming on your body at all times. However, Montreal had a much more temperate climate, although the moisture in the air was much more prevalent than in Jersey.
In the downtown Montreal area, I felt like I was back in New York City in some ways. There were so many stores that covered the streets which almost mimicked the shopping on Fifth Avenue. We spent most of our first day shopping and checking out some of the cool Canadian stores that weren’t in America. We also made sure to get tons of souvenirs for our loved ones at home. My mom collects magnets from all over the world, so my refrigerator is full of them, and I found an entire store that was dedicated to small collectibles - like the ones she hoards.
By day two, I truly started to feel unwell. I think it was a combination of not sleeping the best since Air BnB mattresses are notorious for not being the comfiest, and some food that we ate nearby our rental apartment. But, I still mustered up the energy to check out more of the city of Montreal. For our second day, we checked out Mount Royal and the Montreal Botanic Garden. It was a day surrounded by nature, which I loved. The hike up Mount Royal was a bit tiring, but the views were so worth it! Also, the Botanic Garden was built like an oasis. It made me forget about where I was at the time - focusing only on peace and tranquility while I was in the presence of the gorgeous flowers and shrubbery.
By the third day, I was really feeling sick, so we kept it pretty relaxed and just stayed in the downtown Montreal area until it was time for me to leave. There were tons of other attractions that I wanted to explore while in Quebec, but I have my whole life to return and check those things off my bucket list. Despite not feeling good for most of the trip, I will say that Montreal was very clean and enjoyable. I didn’t fully understand everything due to French being the native language, but all of the people were willing to translate and make the language barrier more simplified. Canada’s nature is definitely unmatched and is something I’d love to experience further in the future.
While my travel experience wasn’t the best, I felt the need to share this story because it’s not always going to be sunshine and rainbows on vacation. You will sometimes run into problems, but the best thing you can do is just try to carry on and not let it affect you too much. Traveling is a passion of mine and I’m sure I will be able to relive this experience again when the time is right.
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