Montreal, a city I have lived in for over 20 years, a city I have enjoyed living in for its easiness to live in and its liveliness. Montreal is a city formed by people from all over the world, which is exactly what makes it such an amazing place to live and visit.
But like any citizen in its own city, I love to hate Montreal. Each time I return to Montreal from one of my travels, it does not take me long to realize how much Montreal might actually be way too overrated. Not because the city does not deserve recognition, but rather because we just try so hard at some things that we cannot help it but to fail.
Montreal offers many things and attractions and is definitely worth a 1 or 2 day visit. Our summer festivals make it one of the greatest summer venues in North America.
However, I think that as Montrealers, we actually overestimate the greatness of our city. We get easily impressed and talk about stuff that isn’t actually there.
Here are some things I love to hate about Montreal:
1. Our Fake Attractions
Montreal’s Underground City
Montreal’s claim to fame, the Montreal Underground City is a “destination” touted across many Montreal tourism websites and pamphlets. An experience not to be missed, one even goes as far as saying.
Dude…..it’s a shopping mall.
I hate to break it up to you but, the Montreal Underground City is nothing more than a few shopping malls connected by tunnels which themselves have even more retail stores.
A good idea? Yes.
A tourist destination? Not really…..
When I worked downtown, I used to see groups of poor souls being toured around the mall, being told about its history (i.e. when construction started and when it ended) and being told to snap photos of the metro map. I got curious and researched more on these tours. I even thought of taking one myself; but honestly, I have better use for the steep $25.00 this rip-off tour costs.
Our Swimless Beach
A swimless beach with an entrance fee boasting views to the highway, a bridge, and a beer factory. A few years ago the city had an idea to build a summer beach within its city limits to attract more people to the already overcrowded Old Port, so it dumped a few tons of sand in an unused and rather unvisited area of the Old Port.
A bunch of sand at the border of a polluted river no local would dare go in for a swim.
On paper, the idea was a great one and I won’t lie, even I got curious about what it would look like. In reality, the Clock Tower Urban Beach is a rather desolated place not worth the very low price of entry.
2. Our Crappy Nightlife
As I went through my high school, college, and university years, I always thought that Montreal had one of the best nightlifes in the world.
That all changed when I started travelling the world.
Travelling the world actually showed me how shitty Montreal’s nightlife really is.
Although better than the US’ by far, Montreal’s nightlife is an extreme far cry away from contending with the those of cities like Berlin, Amsterdam, or anywhere in South America.
- Pre-drinking can be a challenge in Montreal, especially if you don’t plan ahead. Stores stop selling alcohol at 11PM, so unless you’re skilled enough to prepare your own moonshine in your bathtub, the only other choice is to pre-drink in one of Montreal’s not-so-cheap street bars.
- Early nights: Bars and clubs close at 3AM in Montreal, which means that unless you started your night early, there won’t be much partying left once your night out begins. Hey, at least your mom does not need to worry about you coming home early when you go out in Montreal.
- Its expensive: Although not the most expensive city, going out in Montreal is definitely not cheap. From excessive cover charges in clubs to $20.00 for an almost 2L pitcher of beer in bars, it’s not unusual to go well beyond $50.00 for a chill night out. Furthermore, going cheap means drinking a glass of alley cat piss local beer (Molson and Labbatt, I’m talking about you). Fancy for a mixed drink? Expect to pay no less than $8.00 for a glass of juice with a tiny drop of alcohol in it.
3. Montreal’s Overly Inefficient Metro System
For a North American city priding itself in the modernity of its infrastructure and services, Montreal has THE ABSOLUTE WORST metro system.
Not only must Montrealers cope with the unusually common service slowdowns or stoppages throughout the day, Montrealers must also cope with year-round summer temperatures inside their metros.
Yes, our metros get incessantly hot during winter, and they reach unbearable temperatures during summer.
Summers in Montreal can get really hot (30°C hot plus humidity). Because of the lack of A/C and only hot air running inside the tunnels, temperatures inside the Montreal metro can reach an unbearable 40°C!!! Yes, it gets hotter than outside!
If you plan on using the Montreal metro during your stay, better bring an extra pair of everything to wear with you. At least our metro doubles as a sauna.
4. Montreal Is ALWAYS Under Construction
I wrote a recent article about how one of the struggles of taking photos as a travel blogger were other people and crowds.
In Montreal, the major struggle of taking photos come in the form of orange cones, fences and construction sites, and this, all over the city.
There always seems to be something breaking down in Montreal. Roads, water pipes, sidewalks, buildings, bridges, Montreal itself…..every single summer, the city seems to have to rebuild itself from a major earthquake or an alien attack that never happened.
As far as photos go, you will have to contend with construction sites or become a photoshop ninja to get a clear photo of your site.
Plus with our record-holding 53,000+ potholes in the streets of the city, it is easy to wonder how we’ve made it this far without the city crumbling to pieces.
Sorry Montreal, but there is indeed some shit that sucks about you. But not everything in this city is as bad. Don’t miss my next article on “Things I Hate to Love About Montreal” for the visit-worthy areas of Montreal.