I have been coming to Montreal every year for the past 19 years!! I have seen the Canadian paper industry rise and decline to a pathetic low this year ... very disappointing!! Our company serves many markets and paper is one. I was very disappointed!!
Nevertheless, Montreal has its charms! Surely it is different from Toronto ... very European in flavor, more French than France and bordering on arrogance!! You can get by knowing English, but, let there be no doubt that French is the preferred language. If you want to do business, it can only be in French. If you speak only English, you are not part of the "elite" and therefore, I'd be reluctant to conduct business with you! This is the general attitude.
Surprisingly, there are a lot of Arabs here! Taxi drivers and other services are performed by Arabs. No Blacks! Pardon my ignorance (or racial slant), maybe, it is too cold for them! It is very cold here. Have a look at the photos. There are 4 of us with our elbows on an ice table that does not melt. It is really "cool" in more ways than one ... check it out.
I am staying at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel right smack downtown Montreal. The name says it all. I needn't elaborate and state that it is a fancy upscale hotel. Things are expensive here ... everything!! I don't know know how people afford stuff.
Montreal has an incredible underground set-up. Lots of walkways, stores, restaurants, etc connected underground. Really neat. During rush hour, people are literally "running" to their respective destinations!
If you ever have a chance, visit Montreal in the middle of deep winter ... it's an experience. And if you like fine wine and lobster bisque, all the more better!! Fine (exotic) dining and upscale culture are Montreal's highlights!
February 3, 2010