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Bullet Points from Montreal

I’ve been in Montreal since Monday night, and it’s my first trip here, and for that matter, my first trip out of the country. I don’t have any profound essays to write but a bunch of little observations that work most easily as bullet points. So here goes.

  • It’s the little things that mess with you. Ordered a Whopper at Burger King the other night (I was craving the fries) and was asked if I wanted “the trio”. What in the world is “the trio”? Ends up that’s what I know better as a combo. [lightbulb goes on]
  • The roads are bad. They aren’t marked very well, the lanes are narrow, and the traffic is horrible.
  • The other weird traffic thing: rapidly-flashing green lights. As far as I can tell, a rapid green is equivalent to a green left arrow in the US; it’s letting you know that it’s safe to turn left, because the folks opposite you still have a red. Rather non-intuitive, but it works once you get the hang of it.
  • Sewing machine stores in shopping malls. Apparently people in Canada really like to sew or something.
  • A big report came out today in Montreal that is the result of a year-long commission holding hearings and taking suggestions on how to deal with all the ethnic and cultural issues they have in Quebec. It’s interesting listening to talk radio this afternoon to hear what people have to say about it. The commission’s conclusion is that the worst of the division is more stirred up by the media than by the ethnic groups involved. Figures.
  • Of course French is the predominant language here in Montreal, but pretty much everyone I’ve run into switches pretty much effortlessly into English. Still, it frustrates me a bit that they have to; it feels like I’m making them do me a favor rather than being able to just interact with them on their terms.
  • Tim Horton’s (a donut/breakfast chain – think a Canadian Dunkin’ Donuts) has tasty food, but no trash cans. Weird. It feels like a fast food, there are lots of tables to sit and eat… but apparently they expect you to just leave your trash on the table. Very strange.

Well, enough of that. Still, it’s been an interesting place to visit. Tomorrow I fly home.


  1. It’s the people they employ, see, who clear the garbage off the table. I find people such as those employed people to be quite handy for clearing tables.

    Was the commission and report you were listening about regarding the whole Muslim veils and whatnot concerning what constitutes properly identifying oneself? I remember there was a pretty big kerfuffel when they tried to ban veiled women from voting.

    And yeah, the flashing green lights mean advanced left turns. We’re phasing those out in Ontario. Also: You can’t turn right on a red in Quebec. Weird, but true.

  2. Eric Eric

    When you mention your first trip out of the country, do you mean ever?

  3. Yeah, Eric, that means ever. I’ve just not been much of a traveler, I guess.

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