By Zach Mosbarger
We are a few hundred miles into New England at this point and captivated by this early autumn weather. It’s been a couple of days since we left Canada but I’ve taken a step back to reflect on our time in Montreal and the time has come to give the city its’ due recognition. I talked a few posts ago about how I was enthralled with Toronto, but after visiting T. Dot’s neighbor to the northeast, I think I’m even more fascinated with Montreal. This place is everything that Toronto isn’t. I mentioned the sprawl of Toronto and how awesome it was and how it reminded me of Chicago, but three and a half days in Montreal provided an allure and an atmosphere we hadn’t yet encountered on this trip. From the CrossFit to the shops to the people, we were treated well in La metropole du Quebec. Here are just a few of the things that made our first visit to the city awesome:
They throw free EDM Festivals in the streets
All the fun of Tomorrowland without the massive crowd and red-eye flight! Roaming the streets as typical tourists, we stumbled upon Villa Paradizo by accident. Held on Crescent Street last weekend, the free two-day concert began in the early afternoon and raged well after dark on both Friday and Saturday. Lexi and I caught the second day and, being no strangers to an electronic music show- we went to Hardwell in Columbus this past April- we fit right in. Except for that weird guy throwing energy balls all over the street, the crowd was live and we had a blast.
Ohioans live there
With the opening week of NFL play beginning on Sunday and Ohio State set to play a primetime game on Saturday night, Lexi and I were ready for some football. In an area where the official language of the people is French, however, we didn’t expect to find much in the way of an American-style sports bar. We were finally pointed in the right direction by some locals and when we went to open the door of the place, we bumped- literally- into a fellow Buckeye on the same mission. Her name was Kathleen and she had just moved to Montreal from San Francisco for work, after growing up north of Cincinnati. She was as happy to see us as we were to see her and the three of us enjoyed the biggest pitcher of beer I’d ever seen. We even got yelled at by French-speaking patrons when we exhibited our displeasure for the way the game was turning out.
On Sunday we found the local Browns Backers group in Montreal via Facebook, which turned out to be two transplants from Ohio sitting at a bar together watching Cleveland take on the Steelers. Kathleen joined us, and the five of us traded stories and rooted on during the Browns surging second half comeback that fell just short.
They have a beautiful park in the middle of the city
Le Parc du Mont-Royal is a stunning park situated on a hill just west of the downtown area. It is a dog-lovers paradise. On our Sunday morning trip up the ‘mountain’, our canine friends could be seen frolicking in every direction under the watchful eye of their owners. It is a fitness haven for humans, as well. A visitor can run on a large, winding path up the hill, bike through countless wooded trails or, as in our case, bushwhack their way through trees to create their own route up a steep hillside. Regardless of how you get there, the view from the top is incredible.
We weren’t the only ones who stopped on the overlook to take pictures of the city, but by the weird stares we received from some of the people nearby we could tell that we were probably the only ones all day that stopped to perform pistols on the ledge.
Montrealers are very hospitable
Karine and Nic, who we met through CouchSurfing, hosted us for three nights in their home in nearby Longeuill, just across the bridge from downtown Montreal. Karine is a fitness fanatic herself and throughout the weekend we learned about her upcoming trip to France for a road rally, a ten day race that she will run with a friend to raise money and awareness for cancer. Her kids were talented as well: her 11-year old son taught me a full on the trampoline!
The Fittest Woman on Earth is from there
Though we didn’t get to meet the 2014 CrossFit Games Champion, we did hit a WOD at her gym. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and her family own CrossFit Brossard outside of Montreal. It wasn’t all fun and EDM in the city; at CFB we moved through a brutal workout involving the Concept2 rower, ring dips and toes-to-bar following a strength session of front squats. The highlight of the day had to have been when we met the champ’s mother, a solid consolation for not seeing Camille herself.
Right before we left the city we dropped in to CrossFit LaSalle and it would be unfair not to mention them here because we enjoyed their gym immensely. Brothers Marco and Peter Berardi put us through an agonizing workout and their facility was state-of-the-art. We especially took note of the espresso machine they had just meters away from the wall balls and kettlebells, where athletes get loose and sip on a cup right before their class.
Montreal was friendly to us and even though I have about fifty more cities I need to check off of my list, you can be sure I’ll be making another appearance there sooner rather than later.