Having been able to exchange one of my three days European rotations against a quick hopper to Montréal made me not only take a wonderful winter promenade up to the city´s best lookout around, but also to experience downtown in a festival of colors and lights during the annual Montréal en Lumière festivity.
It is only an eight-hour hop over from Munich to YUL airport and even though the flight was not operating at full load, I was exhausted when we finally reached the hotel.
Could have been due to the fact that I returned from Cape Town only four days ahead with a severe cold that I still had not completely recovered from yet. And from my own experience, it is not a good idea to fly when having a cold. It NEVER gets better, trust me.
Luckily, I must have been over the Jordan (as we say in German) already, because I slept the best sleep that I had for weeks and the next morning I felt revitalized and boosting with energy.
But back to arrival´s night. When the bus pulled up to the hotel´s entrance, in front of my window passed a magic wonderland dipped in an array of glowing colors and it seemed that the entire city was at their feet.
So I gathered the remaining strength that I could get a hold of and walked down towards Place de Festivals. A massive ferris wheel marked the entrance to the winter wonderland with bars, kiosks and a wide array of art installations.
People stood in line to zip line in the cold or cheered with ice-cold beer to each other. The atmosphere was relaxed and laid-back and everyone seemed to have a great time.
Being wrapped up in my super-duper winter coat, I just enjoyed walking around the area and explore the different light installations around.
It was so cold, that with every breath I took, I had the feeling that my nose was freezing inside out. So instead of getting myself a drink, I decided to find the next supermarket and head back to my room in order to get the rest that my body definitely deserved.
The next morning, I got up and felt completely recovered. My body was screaming for some fresh air, so I got dressed and made my way to the next coffee shop.
As it was still quite chilly outside, I was thinking of spending the day in the warm insides and tour one or two of Montréal´s excellent museums. But in the end, I decided against it since I would be spending again eight hours in a acclimatized tube speeding at 850 kilometers/hour later during the evening.
So why not taking a long walk and climb up Mont Royal for some panoramic views and then try to catch a few hours of more sleep before flying out in the night again?
Sounded good to me. And so I went.
The best way to reach the staircase that leads up all the way to the top of the massive rock is past the beautiful grounds of McGill University.
The Rue Peel Steps are located left hand side of the university grounds on Avenue des Pins and can easily be seen from the street.
It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to ascent, depending on your fitness. I was quite astonished how difficult breathing can be when the air is freezing.
And to avoid catching the next cold, I took a few breaks in-between and kept breathing through my nose rather than directly over the lungs.
The view was well worth it. The panoramic lookout is a popular spot for locals and visitors in any kind of season and I was happy to find a clear vista that reached out far to the horizon.
With me were only a hand full of other people up there and, of course, at least the same number of squirrels in search of food in the frozen ground.
I don´t know about you, but squirrels are my favorite rodents. We used to have two that regularly visited our yard (we named them Guenther and Ginger) and that actually became almost tame over the years.
They have the cutest big black eyes and are just so funny and entertaining to watch, absolutely adorable.
The view this morning was simply astonishing. The air was freezing cold, but at the same time so crystal clear that you could look over the entire city and the massive Saint Lawrence river in the background.
A cruise along the river during Indian Summer must be a wonderful experience to try someday. And I instantly added it to my bucket list for future travels.
But then I noticed my empty stomach. Time for a decent breakfast, so I slowly descended and walked through downtown for a hearty snack to feast on.
But before I reached the ground, that little furry fella seemed quite interested and in hope that there was something yummy to cadge from me. Unfortunately, I did not have an walnuts with me :(.
Next time, I shall be better prepared. Winter is not my favorite season, not at all to be quite frank.
But I do cherish and respect the beauty that the ice-cold is able to produce.
Colleagues of mine told me that about one hour North of Montréal, you can actually do sledging with huskies.
But this would be more fun to really enjoy when actually having a two nights layover. So will postpone this adventure to my next time, maybe next winter.
The remaining hours were just perfect for another nap. And when the phone rang for the flight back home, I though that I could not have spent the day better. Good-bye Montréal, à bientôt!